NEW ORLEANS — Thanks to the heroics of senior midfielder-forward Cole Olivier, the Beau Chene soccer team is going where no other boys team has gone in school history — a state championship game.
Olivier kicked the visiting Gators into the Division II title match with a 5-4 victory on penalty kicks against Ben Franklin in a semifinal Saturday at windblown Falcon Field.
Olivier’s well-placed kick high into the left corner of the net past Falcons goalkeeper James Rousell ended a marathon match between two gritty teams and catapulted the fourth-seeded Gators (20-3-5) into the championship game against second-seeded St. Louis at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Tad Gormley Stadium.
The eighth-seeded Falcons (13-5-2) fell short in their bid to play for a third consecutive state title.
“I’m speechless,’’ Gators coach Chad Vidrine said. “I don’t have the words to explain how I feel. This was all about heart.
“We lost two kids (to ejections) and another (Brock Hollier) to a knee injury, but they never gave up.
“This was a first for me. I had never won a game on PKs at any level of soccer — high school or club — until today.’’
The match went to penalty kicks tied at 1 with both scores coming in the second half of regulation — Miles McGwire on a header off a cross from Aarian Rahman in the 65th minute for the Falcons and Reese Smith on a penalty kick for the Gators in the 78th minute.
Neither team scored during the two overtime periods and two golden goal periods, thanks in part to outstanding play from goalkeepers Jeremy Meche of Beau Chene and Rousell who responded to the challenge time and again.
Through four rounds of penalty kicks, the score remained tied at 4.
The Falcons left the door open with a miss on their fifth attempt, setting the stage for Olivier who delivered the winning goal.
Vidrine inserted Olivier into the all-important fifth position on penalty kicks only because sophomore defender Gavin Stelly had been ejected during the first golden goal session.
“I wasn’t thinking about the outcome,’’ Olivier said. “All I wanted to do was do my best and find an open spot.’’
The Falcons were attempting to join the school’s girls’ unbeaten soccer team in the state championship round, but their plans were short-circuited by Olivier.
“Both teams gave 110 percent,’’ Falcons coach Jose Ferrand said while trying to console his dejected players. “We left it all out on the field. Our kids never gave up and neither did their kids.
“When it comes to PKs, it can go either way. We won a game earlier this year, and now we’ve lost one. To lose it this way is devastating, just devastating.’’