Jesuit senior Abby Cox scored twice in Tuesday's 5-0 win over Camas as the Crusaders improved to 3-0. (Photo by Jon Olson)
Jesuit senior Abby Cox scored twice in Tuesday's 5-0 win over Camas as the Crusaders improved to 3-0. (Photo by Jon Olson)

Steve Fennah has coached his share of dominant girls soccer teams during his 18 seasons at Jesuit, yielding 10 state championships.

This year's team, though, has a chance to be one of his best.

“This group has perhaps more depth than we've ever had,” said Fennah, whose team improved to 3-0 on Tuesday night with a 5-0 home win over Washington power Camas. “It goes deep into the teens, whereas maybe some of our other good teams in the past went to 12 or 13.”

The reigning state champion Crusaders not only enter the season No. 1 in the OSAAtoday 6A coaches poll, but highly regarded on a national level. They are No. 3 in the United Soccer Coaches national rankings, moving up from No. 7 in the first poll.

There is little question about Jesuit's explosive offense. The Crusaders bring back their top three scorers in senior midfielder Abby Cox (15 goals, three assists), junior forward Claudia Rose (13 goals, eight assists) and sophomore forward Mariane Dunne (14 goals, 12 assists).

In Tuesday's win, Cox scored twice and Rose, Dunne and junior Kaitlyn MacLennan had single goals. The Crusaders are counting on the chemistry between Cox (TCU commit), Rose (Loyola Marymount commit) and Dunne to spark them this season.

“Last year they developed a very good relationship, so we're hoping for the same this year,” Fennah said.

Cox is critical to the team's attack. In an 8-1 win over Cleveland on Aug. 29, she had two goals and four assists.

“Abby's essential,” Fennah said. “She's always been one of the best players in the state, but she's really stepped it up a notch.”

Very few defenders are able to keep up with Cox, who plays at a frenetic pace. She can get past opponents on the outside and also can strike in traffic from the inside.

“She's very quick and extremely fast, and with fast feet,” Fennah said. “Some kids can really sprint but they slow down with the ball. Abby is as quick with the ball at her feet as she is without it. That's really an advantage in tight areas.”

Dunne, coming off a brilliant freshman season, is playing on a minutes restriction as she continues to recover from a torn rotator cuff in her hip, suffered in last year's state final.

“We're easing her back into things,” Fennah said. “She looks strong, so it's precautionary as much as anything else.”

The frontline arsenal goes beyond last year's standouts. In the team's first two matches, sophomore Josephine Frischknecht scored three goals and freshmen Natalie Webber and Riley Weaks each scored twice.

Fennah compared Webber to Dunne.

“She's an out-and-out striker a little bit more, whereas Mariane can play in the middle, as well,” he said.

The biggest issue for Jesuit will be rebuilding a defense that allowed only four goals last season, holding its last seven opponents scoreless. Three key players graduated in Eva Grunkemeier (four-year starter), Audrey Kent and Audra Moroney.

The Crusaders are leaning on junior Sophia Stiles, a third-year starter, to buttress the back line.

“She's outstanding in her own right,” Fennah said. “That obviously is a big plus to have a player that can kind of anchor things.”

Like last season, Jesuit is rotating three players at goalkeeper in senior Claire Lindsay and juniors Zoe Anderson and Lauren Butorac. Anderson was the starter at the end of last season, but there's very little difference between them, according to Fennah.

“We feel confident in all three of them,” he said.

Jesuit has won 15 state championships since the program started in 1993, tied with Catlin Gabel for the most in the state.

VC girls start fast

Valley Catholic, last year's 3A/2A/1A girls champion, is off to a strong start in its first season under former Jesuit and La Salle Prep boys coach Chris Thurley, who replaced Morgan Fry.

The second-ranked Valiants opened with a 2-1 win at 4A No. 2 North Marion, rolled to a 7-0 win at Seaside, then defeated 4A No. 3 Scappoose 4-2 in their home opener Tuesday night. Valley Catholic's 13 goals have come from 10 different players.

Thurley compiled a record of 267-41-18 in 18 seasons at Jesuit (2008-17) and La Salle Prep (1997-2004). He won four state championships at Jesuit and two at La Salle Prep.

Streak snapped

North Salem's unranked boys team ended No. 1 McKay's 19-game winning streak Tuesday night, going on the road to upset the reigning 5A champion Royal Scots 3-2.

Senior Anthony Flores scored North Salem's first goal to make it 1-1 at half. McKay pulled ahead 2-1, but senior Cesar Villazana got the equalizer for the Vikings. North Salem got the game-winner with six minutes left on a goal by freshman Edgar Martinez.

The Vikings – who last season finished 3-9-2, going winless in their first nine matches – are off to a 2-0 start. They opened with a 5-0 home win over Ridgeview.

McKay (2-1), which went 17-0 last season, lost for the first time since falling to Jesuit 3-0 in the second round of the 6A playoffs in 2021.

Lancers win shootout

Coquille/Myrtle Point junior James Lenninger scored six goals Tuesday night, but it wasn't enough for the Red Devils as they fell 7-6 at South Umpqua in the season opener for the 3A/2A/1A boys teams.

The Lancers were led by senior Emori Pauli, who had four goals (including a penalty kick) and one assist. They also got two goals and an assist from freshman Hayden Shepherd and one goal and one assist from freshman Braxton Hamilton.

Last season, Pauli scored 33 goals.