Prior to 2018, Holy Cross had never won a state soccer championship.
Now the Tigers have won the title in successive years after a penalty kick shootout victory over Lakeshore High School Thursday night in Lafayette.
“It feels incredible. It’s so difﬁcult to do it again. The ﬁrst year with little to no expectations, winning it and the second year having to live up to those expectations. It was an exhausting year after last year for the kids, but they responded and were able to get over the ﬁnish line ﬁrst,” said Holy Cross coach Matt Millet, reflecting on winning the championship in back-to-back years.
“It’s not happy to be there anymore,” Millet continued. “It’s expecting to be there which is a different thing for athletes to deal with.”
A year ago, the Tigers won the title over Beau Chene with a convincing 3-1 win. Thursday’s match was a much tighter affair against the Titans, who were seeking their ﬁrst boys’ state title in history.
Both teams had chances in regulation, ﬁring nearly an equal amount of shots, but neither could dent the back of the net, so the match went to extra time scoreless.
The rules of extra time dictate both teams play two 10-minute halves, regardless of score. If the game is still tied, two five-minute golden goal periods, and then the penalty kick shootout if the game is still even.
The Tigers and Titans would go the distance, but not before some early ﬁreworks in the ﬁrst extra period. In the ﬁrst minute of extra time, Tigers Midﬁelder Sinjin Mills collected a ball on the right side of goal, just outside of the six-yard box, and the sophomore ﬁred a rocket into the far side netting to give Holy Cross an 81st minute lead.
The lead disappeared quickly. Five minutes later.
Titan midﬁelder Jacob Bernard capped off a nice buildup up by Lakeshore by burying a blast past goalkeeper Thomas Dugal to tie the match at 1-1.
It would stay that way despite chances by both team so the match would eventually go to penalty kicks.The Tigers made three of their four attempts while the Titans missed three of their four.
The deciding shot was saved by a sprawling Dugal as he dove to his left to palm away the shot, and the Tigers had capped their season with a second-straight title.
“It was touch-and-go pretty much all game,” Millet said. “We had a couple of chances super early to start the game that I think if we take one or two of those, the game is a bit different. That didn’t happen and it was sort of a stalemate, so to speak. This is our third time playing them and I expected that sort of game.
“We bounce into overtime, and then straight away the ball bounces to both teams’ impact players and they put the ball in the back of the net. So it was almost one of those ‘Let’s get excited to have a stalemate again’. You get to the penalty-kick situation and you hope your boys make their kicks and your keeper makes a save or two for you, which happened. So it is pretty cool how it worked out for us.”
Dugal was named the match’s Most Outstanding Player, as the Tigers hoisted the trophy for a second-consecutive year.
The Tigers end the season with a record of 23-4-3 while Lakeshore completed its best season with its ﬁrst runner-up trophy and a ﬁnal mark of 23-5-2.