Holy Cross, Millet set for run at a fifth state title with senior stars leading the way

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Ryan Jeanfreau and Ethan Carney
Ryan Jeanfreau (left) and Ethan Carney

While St. Paul’s and Jesuit dominated Louisiana Division I soccer for over a decade prior to 2021, when Catholic of Baton Rouge interrupted that dominance, another program has been even more dominant, at a different level.

Holy Cross, winners of the last four Division II state championships, has a real shot at making it one for the thumb and winning a fifth straight title Feb. 14-17 at Strawberry Stadium.

The most recent LHSAA Division II power rankings have the Tigers placed second, trailing St. Thomas More. Holy Cross defeat STM in the 2020 title match.

Names like Sebastian Aguilar, Camden Carroll, Carlos Castellanos, Ethan Garvey, Chester Mills and Sinjin Mills have been the primary forces in the Tigers capturing the four state titles.

At the helm of the program since 2013, Matt Millet has done a tremendous job of building a dynasty with the Tigers.

The primary forces in this season’s quest for a fifth straight title are seniors Ethan Carney and Ryan Jeanfreau.

Carney was the Most Valuable Player in the state championship match two years ago. Carney is a superb student who is on track to possibly be the Valedictorian of the school this year. Carney is looking to attend SMU on an academic scholarship with the potential to continue his playing career.

Jeanfreau started his prep career at Lakeshore before transferring to Holy Cross.

What a difference Jeanfreau has made in helping keep what has become a dynasty alive and well in soccer at Holy Cross.

Jeanfreau had a goal and an assist in a 3-0 victory over Benton for the Division II state championship in Hammond in 2021. Jeanfreau would appear to have a future in the sport at the next level.

Soccer is all in the family for the Jeanfreau clan.

Emily Jeanfreau was a star for Lakeshore.

Father, Sean, was a star striker at De La Salle and played at South Alabama and has coached previously at Lakeshore and at Mandeville Soccer Club.

Jeanfreau has a pair of uncles who played at De La Salle, including Shane Jeanfreau, who directs the Mandeville soccer club and played at Wright State. Shad is another uncle who starred at De La Salle and played at Wright State and aunt Shari played at Archbishop Chapelle High School.

Older brother Sean starred at Mandeville High and played at LSU-Eunice.

His mother, Julie Drake Jeanfreau, played softball in high school but is the ultimate soccer mom.

Jeanfreau has 24 goals and 10 assists while Ethan Carney has 18 goals and 14 assists already this season.

“They are my two hammers,” Millet said. “Obviously, when that type of player becomes a senior, they are both captains and they’ve taken a leadership role. When you need goals, those seniors will come up with the goods. Ryan was offensive Most Valuable Player in the state and Ethan was the MVP of the state championship match two years ago. They have been doing it for a while. We can always lean on them. It is pretty convenient and helpful for the coach, that’s for sure!”

It is assuring to know that when the ball crosses midfield, the Tigers, thanks to their two stars, are always a threat to put the ball in the net.

“When they get the ball, if there is not an extra defender in the area, they will get by them 9.5 out of 10 times,” Millet said. “They create so many goal-scoring chances. Many times, it is one getting the ball to the other. Having them both makes it difficult for opponents to mark them and mark us. We have had these kind of players for a few years now which has produced this success. That is why our program is where it but we will certainly miss Ryan and Ethan next year.”

Millet sees three teams as definite threats to unseat the Tigers in Division II this season.

“We think St. Thomas More is certainly the team we will have to beat,” Millet said. “We played them a couple of weeks ago in a tournament in Lafayette and they beat us 1-0. Ben Franklin, out of our district, is always up at the top. For the last three years, that has been the top three. This year, East Jefferson is very good. We played them earlier in the year. We’ve seen them and they are very good. I’d like to think we are a favorite with our experience.”

The Tigers host Salmen tonight and play at Archbishop Rummel on Saturday. Matches with Ben Franklin and Brother Martin are on the horizon next week. The Tigers have already played outstanding teams in Lusher Charter, Pope John Paul II, Catholic, East Jefferson, STM, Jesuit, Caddo Magnet and New Orleans Military & Maritime and had a match with St. Paul’s postponed.

“We always strive to play a challenging schedule, to measure ourselves to be the best we can be come playoff time,” Millet said.

Rest assured, Holy Cross will be poised and prepared to make a serious run at No. 5 in February.

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