Vandebilt Catholic boys’ soccer coach Matt Kelso said he was interested to see how his young team would handle the pressures of playing a road playoff match.
It’s safe to say the Terriers answered the challenge with flying colors.
Riding the wave of a two-goal first half, No. 9 Vandebilt made their lengthy trip to Monroe a success, scoring a 2-1 second round road win against No. 8 Neville, pushing the team to the state quarterfinals.
“It’s a very good win for us,” Kelso said. “We were playing in a very tough place at Neville, who came in with a pretty long winning streak. We knew going in there it was going to be a tough game. … But we did what we had to do to move on.”
What Vandebilt “had to do” in order to move on was get off to a fast start amidst a several hundred mile road trip – something the Terriers did to perfection.
Vandebilt dominated the opening minutes of last Tuesday’s match, using first half goals from Tyler Eaton and James Daigle to take an early 2-0 advantage.
Kelso said Vandebilt controlled the tempo and pace and had several scoring opportunities.
The coach added he was disappointed the team couldn’t put more of their chances into the net, something the team struggled with for the second-straight postseason match.
“That’s been our Achilles heel all year,” Kelso said. “If you look at our schedule and you look at the teams that we’ve played, we’ve been in every game against all of the big teams. It’s all been situations to where if we get that big goal here or there, it’d maybe be a different outcome.
“We really took it to them in the first half. We thought the score could have been three or four to nothing.”
With Vandebilt leaving a crack in the door, Neville answered in the second half and found life.
The Terriers squandered a couple more opportunities early in the second half, missing close shots, including one that struck the cross bar.
With their season on the brink and approximately 20 minutes in the match, the Tigers pushed their formation forward and fought back, adding a goal of their own to cut the Vandebilt lead to 2-1.
Neville fought for an equalizer, even scoring what appeared to be the game-tying goal late in the half, but officials ruled the goal scorer was offsides.
With renewed life, Vandebilt’s defense stiffened and thwarted every other scoring attempt to secure the victory.
“I wasn’t very happy with the way we defended in the half,” Kelso said. “Our boys did a good job in the final minutes and it’s a credit to our boys because we found a way to get the victory. But we can definitely improve on that.”
With the win, Vandebilt moved to the quarterfinals where they took on a familiar face – No. 1 St. Louis.
The game was played last night at Vandebilt with a score unavailable at press time.
The No. 1 team in Division II and also the No. 9 team in the country, the Saints have beaten the Terriers in the state finals each of the past two seasons.
Kelso said St. Louis returns several players off last year’s team and would be Vandebilt’s toughest test of the season.
Regardless of the outcome, the coach said one thing was working in the Terriers’ favor – the underdog role.
“The pressure’s not on us,” Kelso said. “The pressure’s all on them. They are the No. 1 ranked team in the state. They are the No. 9 ranked team in America. We’ve been in that situation ourselves. From what we read, they are expected to blow us out. … Sometimes it’s hard to live up to that. We’ll be ready to play.”
Elsewhere in the Tri-parishes:
While Vandebilt’s boys embraced the underdog role, the Lady Terriers continued their quest to win it all as the favorites of the Division II girls’ bracket.
The No. 1 Lady Terriers moved to the semifinals this week, following up a 6-1 win against No. 16 St. Michael in the second round with a 3-1 road triumph of No. 9 Lutcher in the quarterfinals.
Vandebilt moved to the semifinals one day later than they expected as inclement weather forced the team to postpone its quarterfinals match from Friday to Saturday.
The delay didn’t bother the Lady Terriers, who took a rowdy Lutcher crowd out of the match in the earliest minutes, using an offensive barrage to take a 3-0 first half lead.
Vandebilt fired well more than a dozen shots in the half – several of which came in the match’s earliest seconds.
Meghan Philp, who in the second round match against St. Michael became the team’s leading goal scorer, scored two of the team’s three goals against Lutcher.
Kimberly Grasso added another, which allowed the team to put away Lutcher for good.
With the win, Vandebilt moved to the state semifinals where they will host No. 4 Lakeshore. That match will be played Friday at Buddy Marcello Stadium.
Also still alive is the No. 3 E.D. White’s boys’, who moved to the Division II quarterfinals with a 3-0 drumming of Calvary.
Derrick Knight, Alan Frost and Parker Naquin did the scoring for the Cardinals, paving the way for goalie B.J. Gros, who kept Calvary Baptist off the scoreboard with a shutout.
With the win, E.D. White moved to the quarterfinals where they took on Beau Chene in a home match. The time and date of that match was unavailable at press time.
Vandebilt junior Andrew Teuton pushes the ball during the
Terriers’ first round playoff match. Vandebilt used a first half
offensive output to win a road match with Neville and reach the