LAFAYETTE — Patience paid off for the Lafayette High Mighty Lions.
The Lions scored three straight goals to snap a 1-1 tie in an eventual 4-1 win over Baton Rouge High in a first-round Division I boys soccer playoff game Saturday.
Sami Aissi scored a pair of goals for the Lions, who will travel to New Iberia for a second-round matchup.
Lafayette coach Josh Vidrine credited an adjustment by Austin Sun Chee Fore for helping the Lions offense move forward in a more efficient manner in the second half.
“Sun Chee Fore was passing too quickly early and the Baton Rouge defense was sitting back,” Vidrine said. “Then when he held it longer, we were able to force them to commit.”
Sun Chee Fore scored the tie-breaking goal with 9:27 remaining in the first half when he converted an assist by sophomore Jacques Judice. That gave the Lions a 2-1 advantage heading into halftime. Aissi nearly got on the board via a bicycle kick with 5:30 left in the half, but that attempt went just wide left of the goal.
“Lafayette started winning balls in the air and our defense dropped off and gave them space,” Baton Rouge coach Richard Harsch said. “We wanted to work the ball wide (offensively). We had some chances, but we didn’t finish.”
The Bulldogs goal came on a long shot by Rafael Reyes that found the back of the net and evened the score with 14:46 left in the half.
That set the stage for Aissi to widen the gap in the final 40 minutes. John Brennan, who scored the first goal for Lafayette, nearly gave the Lions a two-goal advantage with 22 minutes remaining, but Bulldogs goalkeeper Clay Milneck denied that attempt with a sprawling save.
“Our goalkeeper stepped it up when we had to start pushing forward,” Harsch said. “That is a senior.”
Aissi increased the Lions’ cushion to three goals in a matter of two minutes. His first strike made the score 3-1 with 15:25 left. He took a feed from Kevin Esie and accounted for the final goal at the 13:14 mark.
Baton Rouge finished the season with an 11-12-1 record. Lafayette improved to 10-6-3.
“We should have finished a couple of opportunities off rebounds, but their keeper did well,” Vidrine said. “I’m glad we had this match instead of having a bye. I’m glad we worked through our early nerves.”