Episcopal outlasts Menard in penalty kick shootout to take Division IV boys soccer title

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HAMMOND – For the first time, the LHSAA placed the boys championship as the first game of a state championship doubleheader to give the girls the chance to have the marquee time slot.

With regard to the Division IV boys title match, it didn’t matter. There was prime time drama all the same.

After a 2-2 draw forced penalty kicks between Episcopal and second seed Holy Savior Menard, keeper Luke Stelly made a save followed by sophomore Joss Anderson’s game winner from the spot to give Episcopal the championship 7-6 in a tense penalty kick shootout.

It was a huge final step which was a few years in the making for Episcopal. The No. 5 seeded Knights had fallen short the last two times the program reach the finals.

Episcopal (16-4-3) did not have the wind in the first half, which was significant and always is at Strawberry Stadium. Still, the Knights put pressure first on Menard with sophomore David Olinde putting keeper Gage Oser to the test twice.

As the match became increasingly physical, the Eagles were able to get a few restarts with 16 minutes left in the first half with junior midfielder Ryan Hicks notching the first goal.

With three minutes left before halftime, Episcopal played a ball into the box where Jacob Berg was pushed down. He did not get the call and pushed back. Things got very tense. The referee, however, was able to keep things under control. Five yellow cards later, play resumed.

The Knights had the wind in the second half and did not waste it. Junior forward Jose Mendoza drilled a shot home five minutes after the restart to make it 1-1.

The intensity increased.

With 23 minutes left, Olinde was able to string a pass through the Eagles defense to find senior forward Noah Russell in front of the net where he delivered, giving Episcopal a 2-1 lead.

Menard (20-5-2) equalized 11 minutes later when sophomore Luke Griffin was able to make convert a shot that forced overtime.

Both goalies, the sophomore Stelly for Episcopal and junior Gage Oser for Menard made stop after stop in the pair of five-minutes halves.

Menard drew the first kick of penalties, and Hicks nailed it to start the drama. Episcopal’s Alden Romano was able to hit his penalty as well.

Stelly, the match’s most outstanding player, came up with a save when Jad Meadaa put a good shot on target that was gobbled up by the sure-handed keeper.

Mendoza gave the Knights the lead, placing his shot dead middle before Menard freshman Leiden Poklemba hit his shot lower 90, tying the score 2-2. Episcopal’s junior Ryan Richard then stepped up to the spot and kicked the ball high.

Both teams then made their next four shots leading to the eighth and final round.

“We played music at practice and did not over analyze our opponent as we had done before,” Episcopal coach Kiran Booluck said regarding a more relaxed atmosphere for the Knights after previous title game letdowns. “This was what we worked for.”

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Alan DeRitter

Soccer Analyst/Coach

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2013 – Present…Head Soccer Coach, De La Salle High School 2007 – 2011…Head Soccer Coach, Archbishop Shaw High School 2004 – Present…Director of Coaching for Soccer Innovations of America 2006…Asst. Head Coach, St. Martin’s Girls Team 2006…ODP Louisiana Staff Coach 1986-2005…Brother Martin High School; Head coach 1986; 1994 -2004 State Champions 2000 2000 District 10 Div. I Coach of the…

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