FOREST GROVE — It wasn’t a guess.
Jesuit goalkeeper Nolan Aylward isn’t saying exactly how he knew where Forest Grove’s Oscar Macias was going to go with the most crucial penalty kick of his life Wednesday night, but he made the block that preserved the Crusaders’ 2-1 victory in an OSAA 6A boys soccer semifinal.
No. 12 seed Jesuit (12-3-3) will kick it off against No. 2 Summit of Bend at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Hillsboro for the big trophy.
That’s because Aylward dived to his left the instant Macias touched the ball with 2:14 left in the second and last 10-minute overtime.
To set the scene, the Crusaders were nursing the slim lead, which they got from Remington Grayson’s second goal of the game with 5:02 left in the first 10-minute overtime.
They were even a man down after forward Floor Van Hameran was thrown out of the game for two consecutive yellow cards with 2:39 to go.
Twenty-five seconds after that, with the Vikings pressing as hard as they could to try to save their magic season, a Crusader was called for a hand ball in the 18-yard box. That’s an automatic penalty kick, and a golden chance for the No. 9 Vikings (13-4-1) to square the match.
And there was nobody more qualified to take the shot than Macias, Forest Grove’s talented senior striker. The Vikings had been playing kick and run with him all night, trying to free him up to make a run at Aylward. He had narrowly missed three times.
As Macias put the ball on the penalty spot and sized up the situation. Aylward came to the conclusion that he was going low to his right.
“(Second goalkeeper) Nolan Gregg and I have a system,” he said. “I’m not going to tell you what it is — sorry — but I knew that’s where he was going to go. But I give (Gregg) all the credit for that one.”
Aylward dived to his left and extended his arms. Macias’ shot didn’t have a chance, but Vikings midfielder Juan Romero Guerrero pounced on the rebound and had just as open a shot.
It went wide right by a foot.
Jesuit coach Geoff Skipper was relieved. The Vikings scared the heck out of him all night long.
“It was a frustrating call for us,” he said, “but a good call for them. But any time Forest Grove had the ball in our third (of the field), I was worried. They’re the hardest-working team we’ve played all year, and the fastest.”
Grayson’s goal was his second of the night, and gave Jesuit the winning score. He was lurking in the Viking box, waiting for an opportunity, when three Crusaders suddenly had the Vikings outnumbered on the left sideline.
One of them was Devin Slingsby, who fired a pass to Grayson about 40 feet from the Viking goal. A Forest Grove defender jumped to deflect it with his head, but missed it.
Viking goalkeeper Marco Torres charged out to try to get to the ball first, but Grayson punched it through the five hole — between his legs — to an undefended cage.
“I saw Devin in a triangle pattern (with two other Crusaders), and we made eye contact,” Grayson said. “There was a gap between two defenders, and the pass went right between them.”
The Vikings treated the Crusaders like a shooting gallery in the first half, raining shots at Aylward for 40 minutes. One of them —a long free kick by Alan Rincon from the left sideline, slithered through with 6:21 left in the first half for a 1-0 Forest Grove lead.
Grayson tied it up with 30:53 left in the second half when a scramble off a high corner kick put the ball at his feet a mere yard from the goal line right in front of the cage.
It was left then to see who took advantage of the last best opportunity to be a hero.
Nolan Aylward was ready.