By Alonso Tacanga / Special Contributor
GEORGETOWN — Jesuit continues to stick to its game and it continues to pay off.
Its latest reward? A 4-2 shootout win over Mission Juarez-Lincoln on Friday night, which catapulted Jesuit into the Class 6A state championship game on Saturday against Arlington Sam Houston.
The Rangers (21-3-1) stuck to their defensive plan and shut out the Huskies (20-3) through 80 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime to get to the shootout. Once they got there, the writing was on the wall.
“Yes, I feel very confident,” Jesuit head coach Charles DeLong said. “We have a great goalie and we work hard all year taking penalty kicks — the philosophy of it, practice, and challenging each other.”
Ethan Moore, Christian Lerma, Tommy Flaim, and Israel Ollarzabal all placed their penalty kicks well away from Huskies goalkeeper Christopher Banda. Jesuit keeper Luke Ostrander did his part by stopping Jesus Zaletha’s attempt, and then Cesar Mata followed up with a miss over the crossbar.
“I had ice running through my veins, I felt good about it,” said Ollarzabal, who scored the fourth goal to give the Rangers the win. “I felt confident and I trusted myself as well as my team.”
The first half was evenly matched. While the Huskies had 10 shots, only three were on goal. Jesuit, with its usual defend-and-counterattack strategy on display, had two shots, both on goal.
In the second half, however, the Huskies amped up the pressure and knocked on the door of Ostrander, who finished the game with nine saves.
It was more of that in the overtimes. Two minutes into the second overtime, a Husky sent a low shot past Ostrander, but the ball hit the post. A teammate got the rebound and took aim at the goal, but the Rangers keeper made the save.
“We probably had some good fortune,” DeLong said. “That team is pretty good. You watched that second half. They were a little bit better than we were. And then you watch that overtime, and they were even more a little bit better than us.
“But we didn’t give up anything stupid, goalkeeper came up big, the two center backs played really well, and then everybody else chipped in, fighting and running.”
The final count on shots was 26 for the Huskies and six for the Rangers. The Huskies also had nine corner kicks to two by Jesuit.
But as they so often have this season, the Rangers took advantage of their opportunity. They would not miss their one-on-one shots. It’s the mark of a champion, which the Rangers hope to be on Saturday.
“Brazil won the World Cup on penalty kicks, you know? It’s OK,” DeLong said.