The Northlake Christian girls soccer team needed only to defeat Pope John Paul II to clinch the Division III, District 8 championship.
The Wolverines, despite being outshot in a lethargic first half, came out gunning in the second half. A goal in the 43rd minute was enough to pull out a 1-0 road victory in Slidell on Friday night.
The teams jockeyed for the upper hand early in the first half with both attempting two shots on goal during the first 15 minutes. Nothing found the net, however, and both continued to battle for dominance.
PJP II (7-3-4) outshot NCS 4-2 in the first half with the best looks coming on a pair of shots from sisters Marlena and Christina Cutura in the middle of the half.
Northlake Christian (12-1-4, 5-0-1) wasted no time in breaking the stalemate, however.
In the 43rd minute, Northlake’s Maddie Gill burst through the Pope John Paul II defense and laced at shot toward the net. Her aim was true and the goal put the Wolverines on top 1-0.
Pope John Paul didn’t mount much of an offensive attack after halftime. The finest attempt was in the 65th minute when Marlena Cutura wheeled to her left and fired a left-footed shot to the near post. The ball was just wide of the net though, and the Wolverines maintained their lead.
Gill said given Pope John Paul’s ability, it was important that the Wolverines take the lead as soon as possible. Though the Jaguars played gamely in the first half, the goal shifted momentum dramatically.
“We knew that to win, we needed to score early,” Gill said. “Coming out fast was important. We wanted to play a fast game. So, we were able to spread things out. But they made things tough for us. They contested all our shots and were playing tough defense.”
PJP II coach J.B. Mahoney said the Jaguars did a good job of possessing the ball but couldn’t convert when it needed to do so.
“We had plenty of opportunities, but in the last 15 minutes, we couldn’t do much of anything,” Mahoney said.
NORTHLAKE CHRISTIAN 2, POPE JOHN PAUL 1: Josh Landry scored on a put-back in the final minutes to give the Wolverines a win in a Division III, District 8 match in Slidell.
“I thought Pope played a heck of a match today,” Northlake Christian coach Nick Chetta said. “They took the momentum in the second half and were just strong. They easily could have won this game.”
Northlake (12-1-6) opened the scoring in the eighth minute when Mason Cook drove into the Jaguars’ box and booted a shot that found the back of the net. The Wolverines continued with an aggressive attack, but no other shot fell in the half.
The Jaguars’ best look came before halftime in the 34th minute when Blake Dalferes broke up the right side and fired a ball to the right post. The ball was stopped however, and the Wolverines maintained the lead.
Pope John Paul tied the match in the 56th minute when Dalferes broke up the center of the NCS box and laced a shot to upper right corner. The ball was on target and evened the match at 1.
The teams exchanged shots for the remainder of play until Landry cleared his way out of a scrum and bumped a ball just over the line to make it 2-1.
Northlake outshot PJP 15-6.