At least one team from District 7 will advance to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Division III boys soccer final next Friday at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans.
With three teams in the semifinals, the Baton Rouge-based league could make history by placing two teams in the final. How this scenario unfolds depends on the outcome of two Saturday semifinals.
Second-seeded Episcopal (20-6-1) battles No. 11 Parkview Baptist (12-7-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Parkview in all-District 7 affair. Meanwhile, fifth-seeded University High (16-4-5) plays at top-seeded Newman (18-1-3) at 5 p.m. Saturday at Lupin Field. Episcopal has won 14 straight and is the district champion with University second and Parkview third.
“I don’t feel like Baton Rouge boys teams in Division III have gotten the respect statewide that they deserve,” Episcopal coach Chris Stewart said. “We’ve got three competitors from our district in the semifinals, and hopefully one of us will win state.”
“I’ve been around high school soccer a long time, and I can’t recall one district having three of the final four teams,” University coach Chris Mitchell said.
Episcopal is in the semifinals for the third time in six years. University is in the semifinals for the fifth time in six years, while Parkview is in the semifinals for the first time since 2003.
University made the Division III final in 2009 and 2010 and dropped 2-1 decisions to Newman both times. Newman also made the 2008 finals and finished as runner-up. Here is a semifinal breakdown:
“Playing in our district got us ready for the playoffs,” PBS coach Roger Charcap said. “It made us mentally tough. We haven’t been down yet in the playoffs. “The boys are pumped about this opportunity. They peaked late in the season and are playing their best soccer.”
Led by nine seniors, Parkview has knocked off the No. 6 and 3 seeds.
Parkview junior Danny Myers has 23 goals. Freshman Ayser Sheikha has scored in every playoff game, including the quarterfinal game winner.
Other Parkview players to watch include midfielders Brandon Temple, Dillon Hoglen, Tyler Fontenot, Chase Christiansen and Truman Loupe and defenders Kelly James (senior center back) and junior Austin James (left back).
Episcopal has beaten its three playoff foes by a 17-1 margin. Episcopal has given up just 24 goals on the season with 13 shutouts.
“We’re a well-balanced team,” Stewart said. “We’ve got good attackers, good defenders and a good goalkeeper. Our strength is being physical and winning the ball in the air. We have a well-rounded attack: from the outside, up the middle or over the top.”
Adam Clausen, a 6-foot-5 junior, is Episcopal’s leading scorer with 25 goals and eight assists. Clement Mubungirwa (15 goals) and senior Will James (11 goals) are also in Episcopal’s three-forward attack. Sophomore midfielder Cody Mitchell (nine goals) leads the team in assists with 21. Junior Austin Couvillion (14 goals, nine assists) is another threat.
“Newman is a possession-oriented team,” University’s Mitchell said. “They have creative players with good skills. They are a difficult team to compete against.
“All year long we’ve been a pretty consistent team. We’ve turned the corner and became a better team in the playoffs by winning two heated and contested games. We pride ourselves in being physically fit and able to compete to the last whistle.”
Matthew Berg, a 6-2 senior who handles long throws, is the Cubs’ leading scorer. Other leading scorers for U-High are Luke Wagner and Carter Stone. The goalkeeper is eighth-grader Matthew Johnson.
Newman has two players remaining from its 2010 state championship team in seniors David Harkins, a striker, and defender Miles Meckstroth.
Harkins (12 goals, 11 assists), Andrew Stall (18 goals, 8 assists) and Robert Poche (17 goals) are Newman’s top goal scorers, and McCord Frampton is the defensive anchor.
“We have good chemistry and really bonded well as a team,” Newman coach Matt Jacques said. “We play a rotating series with University every year and know they will be competitive. We’re not looking ahead to the state finals.”
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