A gaudy record and a statewide ranking and power rating in Division III’s high rent district don’t begin to tell Episcopal School of Acadiana’s soccer success story this season.
Second-year coach Jonathan Brunet certainly hasn’t utilized any of the aforementioned variables in gauging the strides his team has taken. Instead, he chooses to be more process driven than results oriented, focusing on player development and team chemistry.
“We didn’t put expectations on the season,” Brunet said. “I think that’s a little overrated. We try and improve our players every day. We have a philosophy on how we try and play, and we instill that in them. It’s more about them developing as players and becoming a good team together.”
The fruits of that philosophy have produced one of the more memorable seasons in school history with ESA forging a 14-0-5 overall record and 2-0 mark in District 4, Division III.
“Our record shows pretty good, but we still have a lot of improvement to continue throughout the season,” Brunet said. “We’re always trying to strive for that perfect game and perfect performance every time we step on the field. The records and zero in the loss column is exciting, but it’s also irrelevant to me. It’s something we haven’t addressed the team about.”
Brunet estimated returning 90 percent of his team from last year’s squad that went 9-10-3 and defeated Evangel Christian in the first round of the state playoffs before falling to Episcopal-Baton Rouge in the regionals.
It marked the third consecutive year ESA advanced out of the first round, but with a deeper team with a blend of experience and talented youth, the Falcons appear to be built for the long haul.
The state’s coaches have consistently kept ESA among the top Division III teams all season, ranking the tiny Class B school fifth among a group of Division III giants that are either Class 2A or 3A.
In the first season the LHSAA will use power ratings to determine seeding for the state playoffs, the Falcons are unofficially No. 5 with an opportunity to improve with upcoming district games against No. 2 St. Louis and No. 10 North Vermilion.
ESA made quite a statement in opening the season with victories over Division III’s No. 6 Catholic-New Iberia and No. 7 Menard before a 2-2 deadlock with No. 9 Westminster Christian.
The Falcons went 3-0-2 in the competitive Beau Chene tournament with wins over a pair of Division II teams (Class 4A), including a 3-1 victory over No. 10 Neville.
ESA atoned for last year’s playoff loss to Episcopal with a 3-0 victory and followed that with a 2-1 win over traditional Division II power Teurlings Catholic.
The Falcons also have a 4-0 win over DeRidder, a Division II program and 2-0 over Walker, a Division I program.
“We’re a very small school, so we want to play the top end of Division II and III, if possible,” Brunet said. “To strive for that perfect performance and play the right way, you always want to challenge yourself against good opponents.”
ESA’s averaging just under three goals per outing, led by sophomore striker Tolson Frantzen’s 20 goals, senior midfielder Seth Broussard with 11, freshman striker Matthew Pisani nine and sophomore striker Andrew Malek eight.
Senior centerbacks Ben Spears and Josh Dakin have played a significant role in helping solidify the Falcons’ defense, and senior goalie Robin Gollan register 12 shutouts.
“We’re definitely enjoying the season,” Brunet said. “It’s been a lot of fun, and we’ve got a good group. But we’re always more concerned with how we’re performing and are we continuing to get better.”