Lusher boys, University high girls earn Division III soccer titles in thrilling finishes
Anyone who says that a championship final is just another game really doesn’t understand how special they are.
The two LHSAA title games Thursday in Hammond at Strawberry Stadium were the latest examples of that.
Although a re-match of district foes, there was no way this match between No. 5 E.D. White and No. 2 Lusher Charter was going to be anything normal. In fact, the one certainty was that the toss of the ball would be as important as the kick for a pair of teams that thrive on throw-ins and set pieces.
The Lions from Uptown New Orleans scored the first and last goals of the Division III boys final to down E.D. White, 2-1.
It looked like overtime was in the cards. However, Lusher took advantage of a long throw-in by Aidan Kriek to set up the game-winner. The ball sailed past the 18-yard box where Mason Ogan, instead of shooting, passed it to the top of the box to Russell Brown who drilled a perfectly placed ball into the net.
E.D. White had recovered from a jittery start in the first half. They were shell-shocked.
Lusher (18-1-3) took advantage of their foe’s timidity and put shot after shot on goal. Cardinals goalie Landon Brignac exploits kept his team in the game.
Even though the score was 0-0, Lusher was in total command. Then, with 13 minutes until half, Lusher’s not so secret weapon, Kriek, threw one of his missiles into the goal area. It went wide but was re-directed into the box. Freshman Alexander Lupin was there but he was unable to score the first touch. E.D. White tried to clear it but could not, allowing Lupin to cash in on his second chance in the 27th minute to give the Lions the 1-0 lead.
The way the game was going, that looked like it would be enough to win. After halftime, onlookers witnessed a total turn-around. E.D. White head coach Roger Bimah got his team to throw away the butterflies and adjusted the formation. Suddenly, Lusher was on the defensive while the Cardinals had control of the game.
Senior Kade Folse stepped up to take a penalty kick 13-minutes into the second half against Lusher senior keeper Jourdan Schumache, who read the kick perfectly for a save that likely earned him the game MVP award.
E.D. White (17-3-4) didn’t let up. In the 72nd minute, Patick Lyons threw a long pass to Eli Servat who put the ball into the side netting to tie the match.
Two teams that knew each other, focused on how they could better their chances to win the game, faced off in the Division III girls soccer state title game Thursday.
After a scoreless match advanced to penalty kicks, No. 2 University High edged No. 1 Loyola Prep in penalty kicks 4-3.
The victorious Cubs had a defensive approach, playing numbers back and then playing direct balls trying to create havoc. Loyola Prep, knowing that would be the case beforehand, focused on what brought them to the finals – dynamic play and possession.
It was a classic soccer clash of strategy.
When the game started, there was no ‘feeling each other out’ that some final games feature. If a Loyola player had the ball, two Cubs would go after her aggressively. If University had the ball, they would play it diagonal and long where a Flyer was going to react expectantly to challenge the ball.
This ebb and flow continued all game long into overtime. The game remained scoreless with neither team budging from their tactics. If you are keeping a team scoreless, why change? Loyola certainly was playing a positive style but couldn’t risk going to broke to lose to a team primed to counter-attack.
Again, no one on the field sat around in cruise control. It was a fast paced game throughout.
University’s Olivia Schwehm, the game MVP, and Loyola’s Morgan Kleinpeter were the goalkeepers responsible for the clean sheets. Neither deserved to lose.
The first two kicks were easily made by both teams. For the third round of kicks with a 2-2 score, Schwehm moved aggressively to both sides but maintained her central body position before Hope Davis for Loyola decided to kick the ball down the middle thinking Schwehm would dive. Schwehm was right there waiting for the save.
University made their next kick putting pressure on Loyola again but Flyers freshman Cassie Campbell did not flinch and scored upper 90.
Lundyn Ladner had the next kick for the Cubs and drilled it right and true. Loyola had to make the fifth shot to stay alive but a blast by Faith Davis went high over the crossbar to give U-High the title.
Girls Prep Soccer Final Schedule for Strawberry Field/SLU in Hammond
#1 Dominican vs. #2 Mount Carmel Academy, 4:30 p.m. Feb. 27
#1 St. Thomas More vs. #2 Lakeshore, 4:30 p.m. Feb. 26
#2 University High 0, #1 Loyola Prep 0 (U-High wins 4-3 on penalty kicks)
#1 Newman 0, #10 Sacred Heart (NO) 0 (Newman wins 5-4 on penalty kicks)
#1 Catholic (BR) vs. #6 St. Paul’s, 7 p.m. Feb. 27
#1 Holy Cross vs. #3 Benton, 7 p.m. Feb. 26
#2 Lusher Charter 2, #5 E.D. White Catholic 1
#1 Pope John Paul II 2, #6 Episcopal, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 24
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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…