Last Modified: Saturday, February 23, 2013 1:01 AM
The St. Louis Saints soccer team is one step away from the history books, needing only a win today over Beau Chene in the Division II state championship game to become the first Louisiana school to win four consecutive state titles.
The game will be played at 1:30 p.m. at Tulane’s Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans.
St. Louis (19-5-6) advanced with a 2-1 won at Vandebilt Catholic in the semifinals. Beau Chene (20-3-5) advanced by beating Ben Franklin in a penalty kick shootout. The score was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation and extra time.
The teams played in the regular season, tying 1-1 on Dec. 22 at the St. Louis Louisiana Showcase of Soccer tournament.
“We feel like we have improved a lot since then,” said St. Louis head coach Jason Oertling. “Going into this game we know they are going to be very physical. They defend very well, have a lot of numbers behind the ball. Sometimes they have as many as eight people in front of the goal, then they kick it long and try to catch you on the break. We are going to have to be on our toes on defense. They have had a lot of success with corner kicks and throw-ins.”
The Saints are led by a pair of seniors, striker Alex Kjellsten and goalkeeper Marcus McNamara. Kjellsten has four goals in three playoff games. Fellow striker Jon Lorio has scored three times in the past two games.
Oertling said his group of seven seniors instill a winning attitude.
“The seniors have done an incredible job, not only the two starters back, but the five others that have stepped up and filled roles on the team,” he said.
“Whether it be working at practice or whatever role in the game, I can’t say enough about them. Regardless of the result they have had a great career.”
While St. Louis is a regular on the big stage, Beau Chene will be playing in its first championship game. Oertling said he hopes familiarity with the atmosphere gives his team an edge.
“We bring everyone in the program to the title game so they can have that experience. They have worked hard as well. Even through a lot of these kids did not get into the game last year, they have been there. It can be an eye-opening experience, especially at Tad Gormley.”