Brother Martin wanted to get off to a fast start against 19th-seeded East Ascension on Friday.
Miles Francis and Bailey Nuss helped the 14th-seeded Crusaders do just that as the pair combined for two goals and two assists en route to a 2-0 Division I first-round playoff victory at Pan American Stadium.
“We really wanted to get off to a start fast, and we did that in the first half,” said Francis, who scored in the 23rd minute. “It wasn’t as good as we thought it was going to be, but I got the goal off a great flick from Bailey to give us the lead. We’re a young squad, so today was important.”
Brother Martin (14-4-3) will travel to play No. 3 Acadiana (20-2-5) in the regional round next week.
“Acadiana will be a really tough test, and I think it’s going to be a really good game,” Francis said.
The Crusaders generated three corners in the opening five minutes, including one that led to a Nuss header that was saved by junior keeper Dohnovan Aquilar.
Aguilar came up with another great save in the 15th minute to keep the game scoreless until the 23rd minute when Francis finally broke through.
The Spartans, who looked sluggish throughout the first half, nearly tied it up as Edgar Moyron just missed on a shot in the box in the 33rd minute and a header went just wide as the Crusaders held a 1-0 halftime lead.
East Ascension (11-6-5) had several chances in the second half as a pair of Luis Guatiana shots were off the mark, and Brother Martin keeper Camron Murphy came up with a big save on Moyron in the 62nd minute.
The Crusaders put the match away three minutes later on a nice combination as Francis sent a bending cross into the box that Nuss finished.
“The second goal is always huge because it gives you comfort, but we should have been three or four ahead by then,” Brother Martin coach Stephen McAnespie said. “Overall, it was a good win because East Ascension has a lot of quality. You always want to be playing your best at playoff time, and it looks like we’re getting to that spot. We’re in a good place in terms of progress.”
East Ascension coach Michael Zanco said his squad lacked possessions in the first half but rebounded well in the second half.
“Obviously, we didn’t have a very good first half,” he said. “We didn’t control the ball in the midfield, so they just kept getting chances. I think we really picked it up in the second half. We were upset with the first half, so we felt like we showed the team that we were in the second half.”