Chalk this one up to experience.
When Jesuit beat Davis 4-0 in boys soccer on Saturday at Ron & Mary Brown Stadium — before a paid-admission crowd of almost 1,600 — the Blue Devils saw what needs to be done to compete come playoff time.
The Marauders — ranked fifth in the United States by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America — kept pressure on the locals. Jesuit eventually got 14 shots — tallying twice each half.
“We did pretty well,” longtime JHS coach Paul Rose told The Enterprise. “Our team speed is pretty phenomenal this year.
“But this game doesn’t really mean that much. There’s still the (section tournament) and all that. Next time around, I’m sure it will be a tougher game.
“It’s a learning experience for everybody. Davis is a great team with a great tradition, so I’m sure at the end they’ll be there.”
The Devils opened with inspired play as the action went end-to-end for about eight minutes. Davis wing D.J. Villegas even got off the night’s first shot — a bend-it-like-Beckham 25-yarder that was easily saved.
But 9:54 in, Jesuit midfielder Tucker Bone shook loose and met DHS goalie Derek Pleasants head-on in the box. A sliding Pleasants knocked Bone head over heels as the Marauder’s shot went awry.
However, the referee saw the play as a foul on Pleasants, and Jesuit captain Niko Hansen took the penalty kick. With Pleasants having to sit out, Andres Olmedo subbed but there was nothing he could do when Hansen was laser-sharp to the upper left corner.
At 21:51, Hansen struck again — this time on a made-for-prime-time through ball to the speedy Evan Barrett. In stride, the junior striker took the pass, got Pleasants out of position and punched home another Jesuit score.
Davis tried to regroup, but nothing seemed to be working in the first 40 minutes.
Defender Lee LeVerrier, battling an ever tightening back, sat out for seven minutes before coming back in at midfield as interim Davis coach Alex Park tried to find a meaningful combination.
Kian Bagheri, usually a midfielder, was moved closer to the attack, but the Marauders had answers — most notably backliners Matt Nemeth and Riley Harbour — and the Devils (8-4-3) couldn’t capitalize.
After intermission, Davis tried to work its way back, but shots by Collin Holtz and Bagheri didn’t find their marks and Devil fans felt cheated when they thought Jesuit committed a handball infraction in the box at 55:40.
LeVerrier hadn’t started the second half, but Jesuit’s attack nonetheless looked slowed. Alex Nelson was playing brilliantly on defense for DHS and Rami Rashmawi and Jacob Rutheiser were turning away Hansen and his friends.
(It also didn’t hurt Davis’ defensive efforts that high-scoring Jesuit forward Kaba Alkebulan left in the first period with a jammed ankle. He did not return, but reported later that he felt the injury was minor.)
As the clock ticked inside of 13 minutes, LeVerrier had returned and Davis looked primed for a late rally, but it was Hansen who supplied the dagger.
His nifty 30-yard run and scintillating juke turned his defender around and left Hansen alone with Pleasants. As the Davis keeper cut the angle, Hansen had just enough to clank a shot off the left upright and in.
With the score 3-0, Park said the air came out of his team.
“That third goal killed us,” the former junior varsity coach said. “It doesn’t mean anything to me that we won or lost the game … I’m just (happy) that the boys played better for much of the second half.
“The biggest thing for me is that they showed heart; they all showed heart. We may not have played well, but we showed that heart and I was proud of the boys.”
Jesuit (16-1-1) added a final tally at 4:20, thanks to a close-in smash from Kevin Louther.
Notes: Park expects LeVerrier (one of the team’s tri-captains with Bagheri and Pleasants) to be OK for Tuesday’s home game with Elk Grove (4 p.m.). … Late in the game, Cameron Cuvelier suffered a blow to the nose and came out holding a towel to his face. There were several hard collisions and chippy challenges. At one point — after three yellow cards had been issued — the officials summoned the captains to midfield to tell them to calm their teammates. … The game, scheduled for 8 p.m., started at 8:32 p.m. The 8 p.m. later-than-usual start was due to Davis Junior Blue Devil football occupying the stadium most of Saturday.
— Reach Bruce Gallaudet at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8047.