Holy Cross had its band, cheerleaders, mascot and a much larger crowd in attendance for its first appearance in the Division II boys soccer state championship Friday night.
But in the end, St. Thomas More had what counts most: more goals.
The Cougars won their second state championship in program history with a 1-0 win over the Tigers at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans.
“(Holy Cross) outplayed us; they definitely did,” St. Thomas More coach Casey Friend said. “The team talk was, ‘Can we hold on? Can we play with as much heart and intensity?’ ”
St. Thomas More put a ball in the back of the net for a lead it would never relinquish when game MVP Ronny Rodriguez put a cross into the back post that Josh Toomey was able to head into the goal in the ninth minute.
BEN FRANKLIN 3, LAKESHORE 0: Ben Franklin’s girls soccer team has been on quite a run, and that continued in impressive fashion on Friday night.
Navy signee Cadie Higginson scored two second-half goals as the second-seeded Falcons claimed their fourth straight state crown with a dominating 3-0 win over No. 4 Lakeshore in the Division II state championship match at Tad Gormley Stadium.
Ben Franklin (21-1-1) controlled the match from the onset and took the lead in the 11th minute when senior Gabrielle Donofrio sent a shot from the corner that was mishandled by the Lakeshore keeper and rolled over the goal line for the a 1-0 lead.
The Falcons nearly extended their lead in the 29th minute when senior Noelle Higginson, Cadie Higginson’s twin sister and a Yale signee, played a long ball that Cadie Higginson ran down and poked under the keeper toward the goal until Alexis Linson cleared it away at the goal line to preserve a 1-0 halftime lead.
Cadie Higginson’s first goal extended the lead to 2-0, and she scored her 52nd goal of the season in the 65th minute on a penalty kick after Noelle Higginson drew a penalty in the box.
Lakeshore (15-7-6) struggled to create chances as the Ben Franklin defense bottled up senior forward Emma Claire Furman.
Lakeshore coach Wes Leake said his team competed hard despite some nerves in the school’s first state championship appearance.
“I guess for the first time, we had some jitters trying to get through the first 10, 15 minutes of the game,” he said. “You could tell that we had some nervous jitters going on. The plan game was to defend, but I think we got in that shell a little too long. Most of the chances that we were trying to get, we couldn’t create, but I’m extremely proud of the effort.”
The victory sealed Ben Franklin’s seventh title in school history, and coach Jose Ferrand said playing a district foe helped the Falcons.
“I think the girls were more relaxed because we played Lakeshore two times already,” he said. “We kept our shape to limit their chances, and we were very disciplined. The first goal by Gabby was a huge factor. This is probably going to be known as one of the best senior classes ever to play high school soccer at Ben Franklin and in the state. It’s a testament to all their hard work since they were 4 years old.”