The Northlake Christian boys soccer team has only one loss this season, a 3-1 setback at home to Episcopal of Acadiana on Dec. 21.
Saturday afternoon at the Louisiana-Lafayette Soccer Complex, the Wolverines will get another shot at the Falcons, this time with a state championship on the line.
No. 3 NCS (17-1-3) is set to take on top-seeded and unbeaten Episcopal of Acadiana (21-0-1) at 2 p.m. Saturday.
“Our approach has been to simply give our best effort and go out there and win a game,” Northlake Christian coach Nick Chetta said. “This is just one game. Episcopal of Acadiana is a very good team and is responsible for our only loss of the season. Our top goal this season was to go out and capture a state championship and (ESA) is standing in our way. It’s not about getting revenge; it is about capturing a state title.
“Being around the team this week I feel like they are taking the same approach. They are focused for the game. They realize it is about playing the best they can to give ourselves a fighting chance.”
The state runner-up a season ago, the Falcons are led by junior forward Parrish Anderson, who has scored 68 goals. The state record for goals in a single season is 77, set by Jason Garey of St. Amant in 2002.
While it has been more than two months since the two teams last played each other, Chetta said there are lessons to be learned from the loss to ESA.
“The biggest takeaways I think we took from the first matchup is how technically sound ESA is,” Chetta said. “They play extremely well with the ball on the floor, and Parrish Anderson has had a phenomenal season.
“But every team makes tweaks as the season goes along. I’m sure ESA isn’t the same team that they were back then, and we are for sure not the same team we were back in the first matchup. I’m looking forward to the opportunity come Saturday afternoon.”
The 2016 Division IV state champions, Chetta’s team returns several players from that team, including the school’s all-time leading scorer in senior Clayton Gill.
“The experience in a state title game is key,” he said. “You have to try to not make the game too big. We of course know what is on the line, but you have to take the approach that it is just another game. Hopefully we can rely on our veterans to help the younger players adjust quickly. I’m anticipating a very fun championship match.”