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SOCCER: Jefferson caps undefeated season with 3-0 win over Union in state title game
It was safe to say that the Thomas Jefferson boys soccer program has been the cream of the crop in the state of Washington for a long, long time.
It's even safer to say now.
The Raiders won their state-record eighth title Saturday night with a 3-0 thrashing of the Union Titans at Puyallup's Sparks Stadium. And all eight of the championships have come in the last 30 years and all have come in the largest classification in the state.
"There is nobody even close in the state, 1A, 2A or 3A," said TJ head coach Dave Hanson. "Nobody. That's a title pretty much every four years. That's pretty amazing."
Saturday's win capped a perfect 19-0-4 season for Jefferson and comes 30 years after the program's first state championship in 1983.
"I think being TJ soccer helps our mentality," senior Matthew Cruz said. "It makes us want to win that much more."
"This feels amazing," said senior Luis Alvaro Osornio after the win. "There are no words to even describe it. It's what we've been fighting for. I just don't have the words."
The Raiders dominated possession for the entire game Friday against Union, the champs of the Greater St. Helen's League and a winner over Roosevelt Friday night. But Jefferson had trouble finding the back of the net in the first half, despite numerous opportunities.
The Raiders' first goal came from Cruz with 19:35 remaining in the first half. Senior Isidro Prado-Huerta, the Player of the Year in the South Puget Sound League, thew the ball into the penalty box, where senior Rodridgo Robles bounced it onto Cruz's right foot. The senior calmly put the ball past the Union goalkeeper to give TJ the 1-0 lead.
"This is the best feeling in the world," Cruz said. "And scoring just makes it that much better for me."
But Cruz's goal was the only score of the first half and the Titans still had hope of tying the game early in the second 40 minutes. But that belief all changed with 25 minutes left in the match.
That's when Osornio dribbled through the teeth of the Union defense and hit a one-timer that bounced off the Union goalkeeper right onto the right foot of striker Brandon Madsen. The junior banged the ball into the back of the net for his 20th goal of the season, tops on TJ.
"This just feels awesome," said Madsen, who scored in every postseason game for the Raiders. "We were pretty relaxed coming in. We knew were going to play well."
Jefferson put the game away with 4:02 remaining when Osornio took a long pass over the top of a stretched Union defense and dribbled up the left side of the field and left-footed a shot into the goal to finalize the score, 3-0.
According Hanson, he knew that this team was special a season ago, but the results just didn't come. The 2012 edition lost in the opening round of the state playoffs.
"We had the talent last year," Hanson said. "We just didn't do it. So I changed my focus and how we played and how we compete. I just kept it simple with repetitions and the mental part of the game. Nothing was going to defeat us."
The Raiders returned plenty from last year's squad, which also won the SPSL North Division championship. But Hanson and the team got a huge lift when Prado-Huerta decided to quit his club team, Sounders FC Academy, and play high school soccer for the first time since his freshman season.
"We got a gift at the beginning of the season with Isidro leaving the (Sounders FC) Academy and coming on," Hanson said. "He is unbelievable."
Prado-Huerta, along with Osornio and Cruz, dominated possession of the ball for the Raiders in the middle of the field all season long and especially Saturday against Union. The trio's on-ball ability allows others, like Madsen, to roam free in the middle of the field.
"I won a lot of titles as a club coach," Hanson said. "But this is an achievement. This didn't start this year. It's just an attitude and a willingness to work. It's almost scary how quiet it is in the locker room with these guys. They just pay attention."
Jefferson 3, Snohomish 0 (Friday)
The Raiders remained unbeaten on the season with an ultra-impressive 3-0 win over the Snohomish Panthers Friday at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup in the state semifinals. Jefferson used their opportunistic offense to reach the semifinals for the first time since winning 4A in 2005.
Cruz opened up the scoring Friday night against the top-ranked and unbeaten Panthers with a putback into the corner of the net. The goal was set up by a blast from Osornio, which was deflected by Snohomish goalkeeper Ryan Peters.
Jefferson held the 1-0 lead until 12 minutes after the halftime break when Osornio scored on a free kick in the 52nd minute.
The lead grew to 3-0 four minutes later when Madsen connected after nice pass from Prado-Huerta. It was Madsen's 19th goal of the season and Prado-Huerta's team-high 16th assist.
The shutout in goal was senior McKay Owsley's 10th of the season.