In the nine years the LHSAA has seeded its boys soccer teams for the playoffs, Catholic High has been a top-10 team seven times.
The two exceptions have been the past two postseasons, when the Bears were the No. 12 and No. 11 seeds.
The low seeds don’t seem to bother Catholic, though, because the lower the seed, the farther the Bears seem to run.
Before last season, no matter how high it was ranked, Catholic failed to reach the semifinals since the mid-1990s.
But Catholic reached its second straight semifinal this season with a 1-0 win over No. 3 Brother Martin on Monday.
The Bears travel to No. 7 Mandeville on Saturday where they will try to reach their first state championship since losing to Jesuit in the 1995 title game. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.
“We graduated 12 seniors, so we have a lot of guys who this is their first playoff semifinal,” Catholic coach Josh McReynolds said. “So in a lot of ways, there’s still that lack of experience, but at the same time, the guys who have been around are going to know what it feels like and know what it’s going to take to get the job done.”
Catholic and Mandeville met once in the regular season in a 2-0 win for the Bears on their field. It was one of only three nondistrict, regular-season wins for Catholic this year.
(8) Episcopal at (4) Bolton: Episcopal coach Miles Vaughn doesn’t want to go so far as to say his team was overlooked or underestimated, but it’s hard to ignore the impressive résumé the Knights amassed this season.
First, Episcopal dethroned University High off its district champion perch during the regular season, and earlier this week, the Knights took down No. 1 seed and eight-time state champion Vandebilt Catholic in penalty kicks.
Now, Episcopal will try to reach a state final for the first time, since hoisting the Division III trophy in 2013, when it hosts Bolton at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
“Most people who follow our division and high school soccer know what we’re capable of,” Vaughn said. “The power rankings had us seeded a little low, but at the end of the day, you have to beat everybody to win the title.”
The Knights strategy for the game is to be decided as one of its primary leaders, midfielder Trevor Bisson, might be ruled out because of a broken radial shaft in his arm he suffered against Vandebilt.
Vaughn said he’s hopeful Bisson will be able to play with a cast, but the injury might require surgery that cannot be put off.
“Part of what we’ll do this week is design a tactical scheme around another player at that position and prepare as if (Bisson) won’t be able to play,” Vaughn said. “If he can, then that’ll be a bonus.”
(5) Woodlawn at (1) St. Thomas More: The Panthers know exactly what they’re about to walk into at No. 1-seeded St. Thomas More at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Not only is Woodlawn playing in its second straight semifinal, but it faced St. Thomas More just two weeks ago to close the regular season.
The Panthers lost that game 2-1, but coach Andrew Barnes is feeling good about his team’s chances this time around.
“It’s not like we’re a deer in the headlights anymore,” Barnes said. “We know what’s there. It’s just a matter of going out and playing and doing what we need to do.”