LAFAYETTE — Four years ago, Episcopal of Acadiana lost in the second round of the LHSAA boys soccer playoffs.
The next year the Falcons reached the quarterfinals before faltering. Then it was the semifinals, followed by a devastating 6-1 loss in last season’s championship game.
It’s been a long climb to the top for ESA, each year taking another step closer to its ultimate goal.
On Saturday, the Falcons finally reached the pinnacle of its journey.
ESA claimed the school’s first boys soccer title in almost 30 years with a 5-0 win over Northlake Christian in the Allstate Sugar Bowl LHSAA state championship game in Lafayette.
“It shows perseverance,” said junior Parrish Anderson, who had four goals. “We’re out here (and) coach puts us through a lot at practice. We go and ball every day, we have a plan and follow it. We just play.”
“It’s definitely been a journey. It’s everything we could’ve hoped for, though. We came out here, we did our best and that’s all we could hope for.”
His best is exactly what Anderson gave.
The speedy forward put the top-seeded Falcons on top early when he buried his own rebound in the sixth minute of play Saturday.
It was only a slight edge, but it was enough to knock No. 3 Northlake Christian on its heels for the rest of the night.
Anderson scored again when his free kick from about 30 yards out bounced off Wolverines keeper Justus Windom's arms, leaving the net open for a second-chance goal by Alex Malek in the 22nd minute.
With the game well in hand by the start of the second half, Anderson put in two more goals before the final whistle for his 70th and 71st scores of the season.
He was named the game’s Most Outstanding Player.
“I thought he played well," ESA coach JB Brunet said. "He was kind of sick, coming off of an injury, but to score 71 goals this season is exceptional.
“It’s not just him. It’s a fantastic team. I thought our midfield play was exceptional. I thought our boys in the back were exceptional. Our keeper was good. All around, couldn’t be happier.”
The early deficit was too much for Northlake to overcome, coach Nick Chetta said.
Chetta hoped his team could bounce back in the second half, but against a team that outscored opponents 23-2 in the playoffs and went undefeated in the regular season — including handing Northlake its only loss of the season — the task was too much to ask of his players.
Even though Windom allowed five goals Saturday, Chetta called him the Wolverine’s MVP for his 10 other saves against an aggressive ESA offensive assault.
Northlake finished with only three shots of its own.
“We started out slow and I think the nerves got to us,” Chetta said. “Giving up two goals in the first 15-20 minutes wasn’t a part of anybody’s plan. Definitely not ours. We needed a fast start, but you have to credit them. They’re a very good team.”