Coming off a physical District 4-I clinching win at Mandeville, St. Paul’s wanted to take control early in its regular season finale at Ben Franklin.
The Wolves did just that as senior Nick Isolani scored in the fifth minute, and St. Paul’s earned a 2-0 nondistrict victory on Tuesday.
“It was good to get a goal early because we just came off a big win against Mandeville, so we were all pretty tired,” Isolani said.
“My goal started with a good ball by Reiss (Thieler) behind the outside back, and the goalie kind of stuttered a little bit so I was able to tap it in. I was kind of nervous that the wind would take it out of the goal, but it still went in.”
The Wolves, who will be a top 2 seed in Division I playoffs, were without four regular starters and were missing several other players due to injury or rest. Despite the inexperienced line-up, St. Paul’s (23-1-3) was tough.
Ben Franklin nearly took the lead in the opening minutes, but backup keeper Austin Means made a quality save on a Miles McGuire shot in the box. The Wolves answered in the 5th minute after junior Reiss Thieler played a long pass into the box that Isolani ran down and directed past the keeper for a 1-0 lead.
St. Paul’s generated some more opportunities in the first half but never connected again as Ben Franklin (9-6-5) also had some chances highlighted by a Donte Oliver cross that traveled through the box in the 35th minute.
The teams exchanged scoring opportunities in the second half as well as the Falcons’ best chance came off corners like in the 66th minute when Nicholas Atencio’s shot was deflected in the box.
The Wolves added a second goal in the 78th minute by senior Michael Boudreaux off a corner kick.
“Coach told me to bend it toward the goalie, so I did,” Boudreaux said. “It was a nice little goal to finish the game. We can’t really stop now because it’s playoff time. Even though we came off a big win last night, we have bigger things to look toward, so it was a good win. We finished strong even though we didn’t play some of our starters.”
Sitting at No. 11 in the Division II Power Rankings, Ben Franklin coach Jose Ferrand said his squad will benefit from the experience.
“We had our opportunities tonight, but we allowed a couple of goals that we probably shouldn’t have,” he said. “We’re learning as a team, so playing a team like St. Paul’s is going to help us.
It was a great match by St. Paul’s, so I think that it showed a lot of character in our kids that they can hang with St. Paul’s.”