It all happened in 20 minutes.
Less than that, actually.
Junior forward Dillon Fuchs scored the first of his three goals with 18 minutes remaining, sparking a stirring comeback for the Blue Jays, who scored four goals in 20 minutes to stun Acadiana and advance to the final with a 4-3 victory.
“I knew if we could get one we would go on and do good things,” Jesuit coach Hubie Collins said. “We got one, then we got a second and a third and it’s almost a blur to me now.”
“What a great team Acadiana was and what a great performance that they put in. On another day, it might’ve been their game, but fortunately it was ours.”
The second goal came five minutes after the first. Fuchs struck again, this time off of a corner from junior Jose Aleman.
The third came even faster than the second, with Fuchs heading in another Aleman corner to tie the game at 3.
“(Fuchs) has been outstanding for us this year and put in a great performance for us,” Collins said. “He’s a poacher in and around the box, and he’s good in the air. I think he showed all facets of his finishing tonight, scoring with the feet and his head.”
By the time the fourth goal crossed the line with only four minutes remaining, Jesuit had pumped four goals through in 15 minutes, shell shocking Acadiana.
“Once we got one goal and the second goal, all the belief kind of swung to us,” Collins said. “Unfortunately for them they just weren’t able to rally a good scoring opportunity after that.”
The wind played a major factor in the comeback, with Acadiana scoring its two first-half goals playing with the wind, and Jesuit getting the same luxury in the second half with the teams switched sides.
“We said at halftime if we got a goal we would be right back in it, especially with the wind being the way it was,” Collins said. “We felt if we got an early goal we could put the pressure back on them. A 2-0 lead in soccer isn’t always what it seems.”
Despite laying siege to the Acadiana backline, Jesuit couldn’t break through in the first 15 minutes of the second half like Collins would’ve liked, with Acadiana goalkeeper Zak Elagamy making three crucial saves.
Then the Rams went further ahead, against the run of play, and changed the flow of the game.
“I thought if we could get them to 2-1 they would start second-guessing themselves and then suddenly they were up 3-0,” Collins said. “I think maybe at three goals up they thought the game might have been theirs and maybe they took the foot off a little bit.”
Collins said the coaching staff urged their team to give maximum effort in the final 40 minutes of regulation and not waver in their commitment.
“We talked about giving everything you had for the last 40 minutes to see where it took us,” Collins said. “When you’re in this round of the competition, the semifinal, it is do-or-die; basically this is your last match. I think the players felt they would give it all for their last 40 minutes.”
Jesuit will face top-seeded St. Paul’s, which beat Mandeville 3-0 in the other semifinal, in a rematch of last year’s final.
While Collins looked forward to the prospect of playing in another final, he knew his work wasn’t done yet.
“We’re very excited, but we know we have a hard week of training to put in.”