A Golden Goal for Gabe Gordon, A State Title for Jesuit Soccer
“This finals match in particular had more drama, more up-and-down, and more complexity than most.”
– Head soccer coach Hubie Collins
In dramatic fashion and off the foot of Gabe Gordon, the Jesuit soccer team became 2018 LHSAA state champions on Saturday with a 2-1 golden goal victory over nationally-ranked St. Paul’s. While the finals match is illustrated with three goals—a 72′ St. Paul’s penalty kick, an 80′ game-saver by junior Chris Tadros, and Gordon’s game-winner—the Blue Jays led by senior keeper Shane Lanson created highlight moments throughout the contest.
“Every finals game in which I have coached has been a great event. And obviously, the ones you win are very spectacular. This one in particular had more drama, more up-and-down, and more complexity than most,” said head coach Hubie Collins.
The 15-seeded Blue Jays upset the one-seeded Wolves with two buzzer-beater goals. Even before the 40-yard Tadros goal (80′) during stoppage time, though, the 2018 final was so physically intense that a 72′ penalty called inside Jesuit’s box almost destroyed the chances of an underdog victory. There was 8:41 remaining on the clock, and fans stayed in shock as they watched the Wolves convert on the PK. The 0-0 stalemate had not broken until that point in the game, but in order to feel the full effect of the wild finish, Jesuit players and fans continued to hope for an equalizer.
The Tadros equalizer made overtime a reality and the game-winner a possibility.
The game at Ragin’ Cajun Field was the first Jesuit state finals match in which Jesuit scored a stoppage-time regulation goal, the first that would require overtime, and obviously, the first one to end on a golden goal. In fact, head soccer coach Hubie Collins confirmed that both Jesuit goals came in the last offensive possessions of their respective periods.
Midfielder Chris Tadros was named Most Outstanding Player after scoring the game-tying regulation goal and assisting the game-winning golden goal. Junior Ashton Perkins showed awareness by clearing the path for Tadros, while Gabe Gordon’s hustle brought the Jays to their final golden goal possession. And of course, another notable performance by goalie Shane Lanson kept the Jays in confident form both offensively and defensively. Lanson, who allowed no goals in every pre-finals playoff game, made crucial saves in regulation and overtime.
With under 1:00 in the second golden goal period, Gordon fought for a ball along the sideline where he drew a penalty on the competing Wolves’ defender. That penalty allowed Jesuit to reset their attack and call on Tadros to take an indirect free kick. The rest is history, and Gordon knew it had to be done.
“Braden [Brignac] told all of us to come inside the 18-yard box. So, I knew all I had to do was run up at the right time,” said Gordon. “I told myself, ‘just run up there,’ because they hadn’t seen the opening at the front post. So, I ran front post and saw that ball coming my way. I knew I had to do something for my team.”
Stoppage time, or extra time, was in effect throughout the game because of substitutions and penalties. The physicality of the game was not due to vengeance but to passionate players who put their hearts on the line for their respective teams. St. Paul’s defeated the Jays twice during the regular season by identical 2-0 scores on Nov. 14 and Dec. 22.
In the end, Jesuit (24-3-7) gave the Wolves (27-3-1) their first in-state loss this season.
“This would not be possible without our senior leadership,” Coach Collins noted. “We traveled on the road for every game in the playoffs, and this was the first time St. Paul’s had to travel. I guess we were seasoned road warriors on that stage. All that aside, congratulations and hats off to St. Paul’s for a phenomenal run and outstanding game. They’re absolutely fantastic, and we feel very honored and privileged to be state champions.”
St. Paul’s and Jesuit have combined to win the last ten Division I state titles. This 2018 victory gives the Blue Jays their first title since 2013 and the eighth for head coach Hubie Collins.
The team will be honored as 2018 LHSAA State Soccer Champions on Tuesday, March 6, at 6:15 p.m. at John Ryan Stadium. The ceremony will precede the first pitch of Jesuit’s baseball game against Warren Easton.