Jesuit's Drew Pedersen works against La Salle Prep's Nathaniel Taylor (center) and Seamus Gwyn. (Photo by Fanta Mithmeuangneua)
Jesuit's Drew Pedersen works against La Salle Prep's Nathaniel Taylor (center) and Seamus Gwyn. (Photo by Fanta Mithmeuangneua)

Two of the state's top boys soccer teams played to a 1-1 draw Thursday night when two-time reigning 5A champion La Salle Prep played host to 6A power Jesuit.

The Falcons (2-0-1), ranked No. 1 in the OSAAtoday 5A preseason coaches poll, struck first on a goal by sophomore forward Vance Sheffield in the sixth minute.

The Crusaders (1-0-1), No. 2 in the 6A poll, got the equalizer three minutes before the half when senior Richard Anderson converted a header off a corner kick by junior Nathan Peters.

La Salle Prep had the edge in play early but Jesuit's size and physicality shifted the balance as the game unfolded.

“It was a great learning experience,” La Salle Prep coach Monty Hawkins said. “It was a little bit frenetic. To play a powerhouse like this from 6A, we learned a lot of things tonight. We can use this as a positive to build going forward.”

Jesuit, a semifinalist last season, was looking for some payback after losing to La Salle Prep 3-1 last season.

“I think we were a little bit nervous coming in to face them,” Crusaders coach Geoff Skipper said. “Losing last year, these guys feel a lot of pressure. They feel like they've got to win all the time.

“We played pretty tight at the start of the game. We just need to relax and play our game. La Salle's pressure contributed to us not knocking the ball around like we wanted to, but we were pretty tight.”

The Falcons were playing without their top two returning scorers from last season in senior forward Quentin Strange and junior midfielder Kevin Serrano-Maldonado, both 5A second-team picks in 2021.

Strange, who scored five goals as La Salle Prep beat Bend 2-0 and Caldera 8-0 on a road trip last week, was out for personal reasons. Serrano-Maldonado missed his third consecutive game while on a trip to Brazil.

“Those guys weren't here tonight, but other people stepped up and they accounted for themselves,” Hawkins said. “They weren't feeling sorry for themselves. They found a way to compete.

“When we went to Bend, it really wasn't a huge test for us. The teams didn't put us under the pressure these guys did. We're grateful to get to play these guys.”

Jesuit was coming off a 3-1 win at co-No. 10 South Salem on Monday. In that game, senior Omar Barajas scored twice off assists from Gonzaga-bound senior Drew Pedersen, who also had a goal.

Skipper likes how his team is coming together.

“This is a very solid group,” he said. “I think we're going to compete with anybody.”

Next up for the Crusaders is a Tuesday home date against West Linn, the team that beat them 1-0 in the semifinals last year.

Eagles survive heat, Pirates

Three-time reigning small-school champion and top-ranked Catlin Gabel opened its season Tuesday with a 1-0 nonleague road win over No. 3 Riverside, extending its winning streak to 20.

The Eagles scored in the first half of the game, which was played in triple-digit temperatures. Capitalizing on senior George Pritchard's play in the midfield, junior Sofiane Smahi pushed the ball to the endline, and after a blocked shot, senior Sam Bailey converted the rebound from close range.

Riverside (0-2), which opened its season with a 2-0 loss at Oregon Episcopal on Aug. 26, was unable to counter against a Catlin Gabel back line that featured junior defender Raul Rendon Benitez and senior goalkeeper Ansel Wallace.

Aardvarks on point

Oregon Episcopal, ranked second in 3A/2A/1A, opened with two wins over ranked teams.

Senior Alex Chen scored twice, one on a penalty kick, in a 2-0 win over No. 3 Riverside on Aug. 26. Sophomore goalkeeper Ben Korngold made several big saves for the shutout.

The Aardvarks followed that win by beating No. 4 Dayton 2-1 on Monday. After spotting Dayton an early goal on a penalty kick, OES pulled even when sophomore Tobias Karl scored off an assist by freshman Lincoln Weiler. Chen scored the go-ahead goal off a free kick with 15 minutes left.

Tornado alert

Host North Medford, unranked in 6A, got a goal from junior Koby Ibarra with about 10 minutes left to knock off 4A No. 4 Phoenix 1-0 on Tuesday in the season opener for both teams.

Ibarra took a pass from junior Jesus Duarte and hit a shot from about 20 yards out into the upper corner of the goal. The Black Tornado defense, led by junior center back Colson Rumrey, held the Pirates at bay to seal the win.