Grace King’s improbable run through the Division I state soccer playoffs ended late Friday night, the Fighting Irish unable to muster another match of magic.
Instead, St. Paul’s finally found a way to end yet another season with a state title.
The second-seeded Wolves, led by junior Eric Guin, made sure there would be no upset during a long outing at Tad Gormley Stadium, controlling the entire field and capitalizing on all mistakes en route to a 3-0 shutout in front of several thousand fans.
It started with Guin’s header in the 17th minute, continued with another score from Guin minutes later and in the 51st minute, the rout continued with a shot from Cameron Robinson.
“We definitely knew what we had to do, and we went out and did it,” Guin said.
The match was delayed 1 hour, 27 minutes because of an electrical outage that occurred minutes before the scheduled start of 7:30 p.m.
Previous to Friday, St. Paul’s had lost back-to-back Division I state finals to Jesuit.
This postseason, though, the Wolves beat Jesuit 2-0 a week ago in Covington. All that was left was Grace King, which advanced to the finals with a 4-2 semifinal victory against fourth-seeded Acadiana.
“Some of the juniors and seniors that lost last two years, this was cumulation of not just one year of work, but three,” Wolves coach Sean Moser said. “So I’m real proud of them.”
Meanwhile, eight-seeded Grace King, the lowest seed to reach the Division I final in recent seasons, had no counter, unable to utilize its speed against a speedy defense, unable to slow down a St. Paul’s offense intent on controlling the game. Grace King’s performance Friday night was in stark contrast to its 1-0 quarterfinal win on golden goals against nationally-ranked Brother Martin (Feb. 18), which was also the top seed in the playoffs.
Coach Raul Hernandez took solace in the face that the Fighting Irish advanced this far.
“To lose a final, you have to be in the final,” Hernandez said. “We made it, and we’re proud of it.
“We should have been home a month ago, but we were here against St. Paul.”
Grace King goalkeeper Jeremy Brown, who separated his shoulder Monday, played through the pain, but could not cap his first and only season in the sport with a championship. After the match, he realized the difference between his program, which utilized the regular season to prepare for the playoffs as opposed to St. Paul’s, a year-round soccer factory.
“I won’t be here (in 2015),” said Grace King goalkeeper Jeremy Brown, one of four seniors. “But I guarantee you Grace King will be here next year.”
In all likelihood, St. Paul’s will be waiting.