Round One went to St. Paul’s. So did Round Two.
Now, the Mandeville boys soccer team will have to wait until the postseason to see if the nationally-ranked rivals meet again.
It may be in the Division I final.
St. Paul’s, ranked second in the LHSAA unofficial power rankings, got the best of top-ranked Mandeville for the second time this season on Monday evening. The 1-0 victory at Mandeville’s Sidney Theriot Stadium clinched yet another Division I, District 4 championship for the Wolves, and it gave them a very solid chance for a No. 1 seed when playoff brackets are announced on Wednesday.
Members of this Mandeville senior class have yet to beat St. Paul’s in soccer, whether it be in district play like Monday night, or in a friendly like the 1-0 St. Paul’s win over the Skippers earlier this season.
St. Paul’s senior Austin Groeneveld scored the game’s only goal. It came on a nifty shot in the left of the box, and seemingly caught Mandeville (18-2-2, 5-1-1) a bit off guard.
Groeneveld said it’s nice to have a spotless record (so far) against Mandeville, but he stopped short of saying St. Paul’s has Mandeville’s number.
“They’re a very good team,” he said. “We have to come out here and play our best against them every single time.”
St. Paul’s (22-1-3, 7-0-0) stood to take the lead in the eighth minute on a penalty kick in the Mandeville box. But the shot glanced off the crossbar and allowed the Skippers to dodge a bullet. Mandeville’s John Nicklas took a shot in the box in the 15th minute but it too sailed high.
Neither team could find a true rhythm in the half, but in the 30th minute, St. Paul’s found a seam in the Mandeville defense. Groeneveld broke through the box and bumped a shot that found the center of the net.
St. Paul’s outshot Mandeville 7-4 in the first half.
The second half started slowly, but St. Paul’s began to find a bit of momentum. The Wolves outshot Mandeville 7-0 in the half but didn’t convert.
Turns out they didn’t need to, thanks to Groeneveld’s big shot before the break. Both coaches knew that one big play would possibly decide who won Monday’s match.
“I hope we see them again. That’s the plan (if we’re number two),” Mandeville coach Aris Kyriakides said. “But that’s a long way away. Because of this result, I have to assume we’ll be No. 2, and they’ll be number one ... But overall, I couldn’t ask any more from my boys tonight. They left it all out on the field.”
St. Paul’s coach Sean Moser said Monday’s match had all the trappings of a big playoff game. And he said his team rose to the occasion.
“I thought our first 20 (minutes) and our last 10 in the first half was some of the best we’ve played (all season),” Moser said.
Mandeville entered the game outscoring opponents 61-4 this season. Both teams are ranked nationally by at least one national website this season.