On a festive Saturday that celebrated the first 30 years of Catholic High soccer, Catholic and Jesuit battled through cold and wind to finish in a 0-0 tie.
Both defenses excelled with seventh-ranked Jesuit (6-3-3) getting more offensive opportunities in the first half and fourth-ranked Catholic (10-2-2) having more chances in the second half of the nondistrict Division I matchup. The Bears beat the Blue Jays 1-0 on Nov. 24.
“It was great to have our alumni back,” Catholic coach Josh McReynolds said. “It was good for our guys to learn about the proud history of our program.”
The festivities were only part of the story on a blustery day that, along with the two defenses, made it difficult for either team to find an upper hand.
“The windy conditions made it difficult to play,” said Jesuit coach Hubert Collins. “I think 0-0 is a fair result. We created a couple of good chances in first half. I’m reasonably pleased with where we are right now. I’m hoping my team will peak and play its best soccer down the stretch.”
Jesuit senior goalkeeper Shane Lanson and CHS senior Patrick Riley each had three saves. Catholic paid extra defensive attention to Jesuit midfielder Braden Brignac and forward Ashton Perkins. Catholic’s back line of Garrett Gamble, Eli Weathers, Roberto Carreras and Jacob Limbocker were up for the challenge.
“I thought it was a battle between two strong teams,” McReynolds said. “Our defense doesn’t give up many goals. In the second half, we had better offensive chances but couldn’t find the last touch. We need to work on being cleaner in the final third.”
Jesuit’s Brandon DeRojas took a free kick in the 63rd minute and Chris Tadros just missed a header in the box. Catholic’s Ben Katzenmeyer had a shot in the 76th minute following a Gamble corner kick. The Blue Jays' Jacob Torres and Tadros had shots late in the first half that Patrick saved. Catholic’s Brogan Bourgeois had a header in the 28th minute that also was deflected.
Joe Melancon, Catholic’s first coach, said 90 players tried out for that inaugural team that finished 15-1-2 and advanced to the state semifinals. CHS has advanced to the state playoffs all 30 years.
"Soccer was in New Orleans from 1968,” Melancon said. “In 1984 the LHSAA studied whether to add soccer. We jumped in that first year.”
Catholic, Baton Rouge High, Episcopal and Lee High were the four Baton Rouge teams to have soccer teams when the sport was added in the 1986-87 school year by the LHSAA. Thirty six former CHS players and coaches were recognized at halftime and at a reception afterwards.
Catholic has had 11 soccer coaches. They are Melancon (1987-89), Kevin Couhig (1990), John Cicchino (1991-1992), Ed Hardin (1993-1994), Kevin Kleinpeter 1995-1997), Rudy Valenciano (1998-2002), Rick Lewis (2002-2003), Richard Harsch (2004-2005), Kevin Landry (2006-2007), Bo Cassidy (2008-2014) and McReynolds (2015-present).