By the Grace of the Irish, Jays Advance to a Quarterfinals Parade with the Crusaders
Chase Rushing Strikes in 77th Minute and the Jays Scrape by Grace King, 1-0
A couple of weeks ago, Jesuit and Grace King met on Alumni Field at John Ryan Stadium for a non-district soccer match. The Jays scored three goals and shut out the Irish.
So why would Thursday night’s regional playoff game between the 14th-seeded Irish and the 3rd-seeded Blue Jays — the same two teams on the same field — yield a different result?
In a word the Jays don’t want to hear for the rest of the playoffs: complacency.
“I think we were a little complacent, to be honest,” said Jesuit’s Chase Rushing, who knocked in the lone goal for the Jays with three minutes left in the match. “We just thought we’d go out there and beat them. But they’re a great team. If we play Brother Martin like we played tonight, we have no shot of winning. We have to get a lot better with our focus and practice hard. We can’t take anything for granted.”
Having played the Jays two weeks ago, the Irish “knew what it would take to stop our attack,” said Jesuit head coach Hubie Collins. “We took them a little too lightly so we have to learn from that. Previous games don’t matter.”
Jesuit (19-4-4) struggled all night to find their rhythm against an aggressive Grace King team and missed several opportunities, including a ball that grazed the Irish’s crossbar and skipped over. Also in the first half, Rushing was open on a corner kick but his shot from six yards out was off-target and landed inches outside the far post. Jesuit goalie Otto Candies made a handful of saves and did his part in thwarting the Irish offense.
The game remained scoreless in the first half and for 37 minutes in the second half. With thoughts turning toward overtime, the Jays’ Jack LaForge took a free kick at midfield in the 77th minute and placed it just outside the penalty box. Chris Pitre got a piece of the ball which skidded over to an open Rushing who didn’t hesitate to pull the trigger. Rushing’s kickball shot had some zip on it. The Irish goalie just missed deflecting it and watched the ball careen into the center of the net.
“Grace King was very intent on their challenges,” said Coach Collins. “We need to work on moving off the ball and get open because we were a little static in that regard. The Irish were basically playing five across the back with four in front of them and trying to counterattack us, so they made it difficult. They had a good game plan. They learned from the last time we played them. But we’re delighted with a 1-0 win and we move on to the next round.”
That next round is the quarterfinals match against the 6th-seeded Brother Martin Crusaders, who beat 11th-seeded Lafayette, 2-1, in overtime. The game will be played at John Ryan Stadium on Tuesday (Mardi Gras).
N.O. Advocate: Jesuit edges Grace King to advance to quarterfinals