Jesuit came into Monday’s regular-season finale against Division III Vandebilt Catholic needing a win to ensure a first-round playoff bye.
Senior Jose Aleman’s first-half blast was the difference as the Blue Jays earned a 1-0 non-district victory at John Ryan Stadium.
“Dillon (Fuchs) played me a beautiful pass, and I just finished,” said Aleman of his 35th-minute score. “We just really wanted to get this win to count toward our power rankings. Now, we’re getting ready for playoffs. We’re still trying to reach our pinnacle, so we’re ready to see where that takes us in the playoffs.”
The District 6-I champion Blue Jays came in at No. 7 in the latest unofficial Division I LHSAA power rankings, while Vandebilt is No. 2 in Division III. The playoff seeds will be released Wednesday with the top eight teams in each division earning a bye.
The Blue Jays (22-3-2) controlled the first half and were rewarded with a 1-0 lead after a few near misses. In the 15th minute, Charles Rice’s shot sailed over the crossbar, and 10 minutes later, Dillon Fuchs narrowly missed on a header over the crossbar.
In the 35th minute, the Blue Jays finally broke through as Fuchs played a ball into the box that Aleman ran on to and beat the keeper for a 1-0 lead.
“I thought we found a rhythm and created three or four great opportunities in the first half,” Jesuit coach Hubie Collins said. “When we found the mark, it settled us. We could have scored some other goals, but their keeper made a great save in the second half. I thought the last 10, 15 minutes, we did well to see out the game.”
Jesuit nearly extend its lead in the 53rd minute as Christopher Pitre’s shot was turned away by Vandebilt keeper Charles Doskey, and the Terriers offense tried to respond.
In the 60th minute, Jesuit’s Shane Lanson came up with a nice save, but the best chance came about 10 minutes later as Vandebilt (21-2-7) sent a shot off the post.
Terriers coach Paul Shenton said the District 7-III champs can learn a lot from the loss.
“I wasn’t happy with our first half performance,” he said. “We were just soft. We never got started in the first half, so I was disappointed in that. You always learn more from a loss than a win, so maybe this could be the kick in the butt that they need. Our second half performance was much better than the first, so I was happy in that regard.”