Ben Franklin blanks Lakeshore in quarters

NEW ORLEANS — The third time definitely wasn’t the charm for the Lakeshore girls soccer team. Not with Ben Franklin standing in the way.

On a sloppy, puddle-pocked pitch at Ben Franklin High School on Monday, the host Falcons defeated Lakeshore 1-0 in the Division II quarterfinals, the third time this year Franklin managed to outslug its arch-nemesis. All it took was a goal by sophomore Eleanor Pratt in the game’s third minute, and the Falcons withstood the Titans from there.

“We knew this was going to be a tough game, because beating someone twice is hard, but beating them three times is that much harder,” senior Falcon captain Audrey Peterson. “We’re just excited to get through this and get to the next round.”

Added freshman defender Amalia Skalos: “(Our coaches) told us to just keep playing our game. We knew what we had to do at the beginning. Our coaches just encouraged us to keep it up.”

That next round will be the state semifinals, where the third-seeded Falcons will clash with No. 2 seed Teurlings Catholic.

With Monday’s victory, Franklin remains undefeated at 18-0-0. Sixth-seeded Lakeshore, meanwhile, heads home with a final mark of 12-9-1.

Lakeshore coach Wes Acosta said the Titans constantly stress taking advantage of a match’s lucky bounces, but that didn’t happen Monday.

“We had our chances, but we just didn’t finish them,” Acosta said. “We went out and executed the things we wanted to do, but we fell a little short. Our hats off to Ben Franklin. They played a great game.”

Probably the most glaring example of the Titans’ adverse luck came in the 27th minute, when Lakeshore’s Mayne Covey lofted a shot toward the upper part of the Falcon net. Franklin goalkeeper Katrina Seal leapt to slap away the ball with both hands, causing it to ricochet off the crossbar and back into play, where the Falcons eventually cleared it.

“That’s how cruel the game of soccer can be,” Acosta said.

The Falcons and Titans slid, slopped and skidded across a soaking-wet field on which passes occasionally stopped dead in a standing puddle. By the end of the contest, most players on both squads walked off the field drenched and caked in mud.

While the Titans are used to artificial turf on their home field, the Falcons said they’ve become accustomed to playing the occasional mudder on their pitch.

“We knew the conditions would be really rough,” Seal said. “But we knew we just had to play smart.”

Aside from a few scattered Lakeshore scoring chances, the Franklin defense held off an increasingly aggressive Titan offense that struggled to find cracks and win balls against the Falcon backs.

“That’s our main goal — don’t let anything in,” Seal said. “We’ve been doing that all season, and we wanted to do it today.”