It hasn’t been pretty, but Acadiana coach Jan Richard and his team of wily veterans find themselves in the quarterfinals round of the boys soccer playoffs.
After winning their bidistrict match 10-0 against Pineville, the Rams hosted a scrappy Northshore team and fought their way to an overtime 2-1 victory.
Even in the 10-0 victory, though, Richard wasn’t completely pleased with the way his team performed, saying after the win against Northshore that he was still waiting for his team to hit its stride.
Richard said the Rams have a distinct calmness about them, something he hasn’t had with the team in the past.
“We fought one off (Wednesday) night. We felt our backs against the wall and were able to perform, so I think we are up for the challenge,” Richard said. “They are hungry now.”
This marks the third consecutive year the Rams have advanced at least to the quarterfinals.
“We’ve had teams before that have had a lot of anxiety. That have worn their heart on their sleeve and been really fired up heading into games,” Richard said. “But once we got under pressure we would crack.”
“We have a calmness about us that I haven’t seen in teams before,” Richard said. “It comes from our experience I think. We have kids who have experienced the playoffs before, and it is helping us.”
And trailing 1-0 at halftime, the experience and the calmness Richard mentioned was evident.
Forward Kade Kling told his coach and his team that he would get the goal to win the game, and in the first overtime period, he delivered.
The attitude is something Richard has grown accustomed to through Kling’s time with him at Acadiana but also at the club level.
Richard said three of his players, Salvador Collins, Alex Caswell and Kling, played for him at the club level as well, and he’s seen them perform in pressure situations.
“We were in a semifinal match in Alexandria and we were down 3-1 at halftime,” Richard said of his club days with the three players. “We ended up winning 4-3 (Kling) got all three goals. So they’ve been in those situations before.”
“This postseason run reminds me a lot of that year, because it’s a lot of the same kids, and we’ve had our backs against the wall.”
Richard said his team, having almost tasted defeat, is ready to take advantage of their third straight home playoff game and advance to the next round.
“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” Richard said. “They know we are at home again for the third straight game, which is uncommon. They know what is at stake.”