Class 6A boys soccer state championship

Who: No. 2 Summit (17-1) vs. No. 12 Jesuit (12-3-3)

When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: At Hillsboro Stadium

Notes: Summit is coming off three straight overtime playoff victories, including a 2-1 semifinal win over David Douglas on Tuesday. Winners of 12 consecutive matches, the Storm are led by four first-team all-Mountain Valley Conference players: junior midfielder Simon Kidder, junior midfielder/forward Kamdon Simmons, senior defender Emory Steele, and junior goalkeeper Khael Engelman. Jesuit is coming off a 2-1 overtime victory over Forest Grove in the other semifinal on Wednesday. Winners of seven straight games, the Crusaders are led by two first-team all-Metro League players: senior goalkeeper Nolan Aylward and senior forward Devin Slingsby.

Tickets: $8 for adults; $5 for students

Information: www.osaa.org

Live video stream: www.nfhsnetwork.com/associations/osaa

Ron Kidder admits he gets emotional sometimes.

Especially over the last two weeks, as his No. 2-seeded Summit boys soccer team has survived three straight overtime playoff matches to advance to the Class 6A state final.

“It is brutal, because I am an emotional guy, and I’ve historically been a bit too emotional on the sidelines,” says Kidder, whose team faces No. 12 Jesuit in the championship game Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium. “And my energy can sometimes make them just that much more nervous. So I’ve really tried hard to just bite my lip this season, but there is a lot of emotion that is built up by the end of those games, for sure.”

Kidder — who guided Summit to a 5A state title in 2013 — could take a lesson from his young team, which has maintained its poise in each of those close matches. But the down-to-the-wire finishes for the Storm (17-1) did not just start in the playoffs. Summit has been winning tight games all season behind a core of junior players and a stout defense that has allowed just seven goals.

Summit has won nine games by one goal this season, including three of its four playoff wins. Those included a 1-0 first-round victory over McMinnville, a 4-2 second-round win over Liberty in overtime, a 1-0 quarterfinal victory over South Eugene in overtime, and Tuesday’s 2-1 semifinal win over David Douglas, also in overtime.

Summit’s players say that because many of them have played together since elementary school they have forged a team unity and confidence that has them believing they simply cannot lose.

“It’s very intense,” says the Storm’s leading goal scorer, Kamdon Simmons, about the close matches. “But I feel like we’re very confident because we’ve been in that situation a lot this season. We definitely know how to finish matches. We’ve all played for the same clubs and the same teams, so we’ve been playing with each other since we were little kids. I think the main thing we have against other teams is chemistry, for sure.”

In the Storm’s thrilling win over David Douglas, they gave up a goal with less than one minute left in regulation and found themselves in overtime after leading for nearly the entire match.

Kidder might have been overcome with emotion, but his players were not, and freshman Nathanial Deperro volleyed in what proved to be the winning goal late in the first overtime.

“One of our strengths as a team and the reason we keep finishing games in overtime is we’re always positive,” says Summit senior defender Emory Steele. “We’re always looking forward and believing in each other. That’s really why we beat teams in the closing minutes of the game. We don’t turn on each other and we don’t blame any one person. Everything we do is as a team. So when we’re down a goal, we know we can score. It’s all positive.

“We don’t have any weak links. It’s just one of the most positive and productive teams I’ve ever played on.”

Part of the Storm’s positivity stems from a resolute faith in their defense, anchored by goalkeeper Khael Engelman, who has been the last line of defense for a team that has recorded 13 shutouts this season — the most in Class 6A. While most of the team’s 11 juniors grew up in Bend playing together, Engelman is an outlier. He moved to Bend from Southern California in August, giving Summit the missing piece it needed for a championship-caliber team.

“It’s definitely been nerve-wracking,” Engelman says of all the close calls. “We’ve been working really well as a defensive unit. I think we have a very physically strong team and that helps us keep up with a lot of senior groups. We know Jesuit will be a very strong team physically. I definitely think we’re the favorites. We have a lot of confidence going into it.”

The Storm will take that supreme confidence to Hillsboro, where they will face a senior-laden Crusaders team that defeated Forest Grove 2-1 in overtime in the other 6A semifinal on Wednesday. Jesuit (12-3-3) has 11 seniors on its roster, while Summit has just two.

But all those juniors are “battle tested,” according to Kidder, not just from a season of narrow victories but from a lifetime of playing club soccer together and forging a bond that has brought them to the brink of a state title.

“They’ve gained composure from previous soccer experiences, and they’ve done a great job of creating this collective belief amongst their team this year,” Kidder says. “It’s a positive group. There’s no negativity. I know it’s a cliché, but man, it’s been so important to their success this year. They’ve been playing together for many, many years. They all get along. I knew coming in that it would be a very coachable group and a competitive group. And they’ve delivered.”

Summit senior defender Logan Wehrman likes his team’s chances of bringing home a state championship trophy.

“We have a lot of momentum and everyone believes that we will win,” Wehrman says, referring to his teammates. “It’s not cockiness, it’s just confidence. It’s like when you read a book for the second time and you know what’s going to happen. That’s how I feel. And I think that’s the general belief among our team.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0318,

mmorical@bendbulletin.com

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