A late goal lifts Sisters past Henley 1-0 for its first state championship

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By: Grant Lucas
The Bulletin

HILLSBORO — This run for Jake McAllister started in his freshman season.

On Saturday evening, the senior ended it, along with the state title drought of Sisters High.

As soon as McAllister collected the pass from Colton Mannhalter, he knew it was the one. It was the 75th minute, and the Outlaws were in a scoreless tie with Henley of Klamath Falls.

Sisters had been relentlessly pressuring the Hornets’ defense, only to be kept off the scoreboard either by missed shots or goalie saves. But with five minutes remaining in regulation time, McAllister would not be denied.

The standout forward made his fourth shot of the night count.

McAllister netted a goal in the left corner to lift Sisters to a 1-0 victory over Henley in the Class 4A boys soccer state championship final at Liberty High School — the Outlaws’ first state title in school history.

“We’ve had games like this before where it’s just battling it out,” McAllister said. “There’s no frustration. This team is really connected, and we knew that if we kept on battling, one would go in. It wasn’t a problem for us.”

Sisters (17-1-1) opened Saturday’s title contest a bit cautiously. It was the Outlaws’ first championship final, so such an approach was understandable. But after heading into the halftime intermission in a scoreless draw, the nerves had to go.

“We got in the locker room and (Sisters coach Rob Jensen) told us, ‘Nerves are gone. Let’s play some soccer,'” Mannhalter said. “We came out, got the job done.”

“In the second half, we really started playing good soccer,” Jensen said. “We were pressing their side most of the half. … I just figured it was time to go get it, and these guys came through.”

The Outlaws, seeded seventh in the 16-team playoff bracket, came through in the 75th minute, when Mannhalter capitalized on a miscue by fifth-seeded Henley (14-4-1) that gave the sophomore possession of the ball deep in the Hornets’ territory. Mannhalter dribbled twice and dropped a pass to McAllister on the right side. The rest is already something of Sisters legend, but Mannhalter would not be able to recount the event.

“I kind of blacked out, to be honest, because I was just in the moment,” Mannhalter said. “I just remember giving the ball off to Jake, him scoring and running to the crowd.”

Goalie Keenan O’Hern and the Sisters defense recorded their second straight shutout and 12th of the season.

It was a fitting end for the Outlaws, the kind of nail-biting thriller with which they were already all too familiar this postseason. Sisters eked into its first state semifinal appearance by way of two wins decided by shootouts. That experience just prepared the Outlaws for Saturday’s final against Henley, which Sisters had defeated 2-1 earlier this season.

“We really learned how to play as a unit after those first two (playoff) games,” Mannhalter said. “We came into this with a lot of confidence, knowing that we had to take care of business to get the job done.”

Going from a first-round exit in the 2012 state playoffs to state champions in 2013 … it was all just unbelievable to Mannhalter. For McAllister, it is the perfect send-off.

“I’ve been striving to get to this exact spot since then,” McAllister said, referring to his freshman year. “It’s been a long journey. But it’s totally worth it.”

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