NEW ORLEANS — Isidore Newman entered the playoffs atop the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Division III power rankings. And now the top-seeded Greenies are headed to the title match, thanks to a powerful shot by Julian Sutton.
Sutton’s goal gave Newman a 2-1 victory over longtime playoff rival University High after 74 grueling minutes Saturday at Newman.
“I was just trying to direct it to the corner, away from the goalie and low to the ground,” Sutton said, following a postgame celebration of hugs and high-fives with teammates near midfield.
“We know every time we play them, it’s going to be a physical battle. I think we wanted it just a bit more in the end.”
With the victory, Newman advances to play another Baton Rouge team in the Division III final set for 7:30 p.m. Friday at Tad Gormley Stadium.
Episcopal ousted Parkview Baptist, 3-1, in its Saturday semifinal.
The winning goal was especially sweet for Sutton, who missed much of the season with a foot injury. The Greenies (19-1-3) and Cubs (16-5-5) played to a tie during the regular season.
“We talk about composure and keeping your head in the game the whole time, because you only get one chance a game and you go to finish it,” Sutton said.
Sutton’s winning goal came at a pivotal time. The Cubs had the momentum in a match the Greenies had previously dominated in time of possession and shots on goal.
At the 64-minute mark, the Cubs converted a penalty kick after Matthew Berg busted through the defense and was knocked down by the Greenies goalkeeper. A penalty kick by the Cubs’ Carter Stone tied the score at 1.
Next, U-High’s Christian Garon came up with a defensive stop at midfield, sending fans of both schools to their feet for the thrilling final minutes.
“We really worked hard and put ourselves in a position to advance,” University coach Chris Mitchell said. “We just came up a little bit short. But it was not for a lack of effort.”
Newman took a 1-0 lead 15 minutes in on a goal by senior David Harkins. The Greenies attempted 15 shots on goal compared to seven for the Cubs.
Newman’s ability to stay on offense was in largely because of the strong defense and deep kicks of senior defender McCord Frampton. However, UHS’ Stone, whose aggressive play provided many of the Cubs’ sparks, had his header shot careen hard off the left post at the 31-minue mark and, at the 36-minute mark, an offside penalty negated a goal made by Luke Wagner.
The Cubs also got a boost from goalkeeper Matthew Johnson, who registered 22 saves.
Newman coach Matt Jacques will compete for his third state title in five years in Friday’s game.