Ready to Roll
The St. Mary’s High School boys soccer team routed East Linn Christian Academy 6-0 in a first-round match of the Class 3A/2A/1A state playoffs Wednesday evening at U.S. Cellular Community Park in Medford.
The Crusaders recorded 28 shots on goal compared to East Linn’s five by way of a methodical passing game and nearly impenetrable defense.
St. Mary’s freshman forward Weston Grant scored two goals on five shots, his first coming in the 59th minute of play and his second on a hard header set up by a beautiful crossing pass from junior midfielder Bryce Parsons in the 109th minute to give the Crusaders a 5-0 lead.
“Just trying my hardest, doing what coach says,” Grant said of his outing. “Today was a pretty good day for me, this season has honestly been a blessing.”
Grant played junior varsity for much of the season until St. Mary’s head coach Paul Coughlin saw fit to bring him up to the varsity for the remainder of the regular season and playoffs.
He pulled his weight Wednesday. Led by Grant, the Crusaders were propelled to victory by goals from five different players.
St. Mary’s senior forward Bren Catt put the Crusaders on the board first in the eighth minute. Next, junior forward Hunter Rothfus booted a bomb of a shot from near midfield over a group of defenders and the reaching hands of East Linn junior goalkeeper Bryant Mizei.
Grant’s first goal closed out the first half, while senior forward Zach Lewis dribbled past three East Linn defenders and blasted the second half’s opening goal in the 79th minute.
Following Grant’s header, St. Mary’s junior forward John Wang recovered a missed shot on goal of Grant’s and found net from just outside the goal box for the Crusaders’ final score.
It was a special first-round performance, Coughlin said, but his team expected nothing less.
“We play for the playoffs, that’s just how we play,” said the coach. “You’re expected to win at St. Mary’s and I am glad to say usually we do. We’ve been to the state championship the last three out of four years and that’s not an accident. We belong at that level and hopefully we’ll continue that tradition.”
Twelfth-seeded East Linn finished the season with an 11-3-1 record out of the 2A Tri-River Conference.
For its second-round match, fifth-seeded St. Mary’s (10-4, 6-2 Southern Cascade League) will face fourth-seeded Creswell on Saturday at Creswell High School at a time to be announced.
“It’ll be a tougher game, but were ready for it,” said Coughlin of his SCL champions. “We’re absolutely healthy across the board. We’re looking for another deep run.”
Reach freelance reporter Sam Wheeler at email@example.com