Newman coach Matt Jacques has put an emphasis on scoring early during the second-seeded Greenies’ playoff run, and it’s paid off.
Newman netted three first-half goals en route to a 3-1 Division IV semifinals victory over No. 3 Episcopal of Acadiana at Lupin Field on Saturday afternoon.
“Coming into the match, we wanted to be firing early, and I think we really accomplished that getting three goals in the first half,” said Newman sophomore Sam Moses, who scored on a 13th-minute header. “That was really big for us. We’ve really progressed a lot this season. The first time we played (Episcopal) it was 1-0 at their field. We were looking forward to this rematch, so we’re happy with the result.”
Newman (17-3-3) will play either No. 1 Catholic-New Iberia or No. 5 Northlake Christian in the state final at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Tad Gormley Stadium.
After earning a shot in the opening 20 seconds, Newman junior Evan DeBlanc scored in the fourth minute on a shot outside the box for a 1-0 lead that Moses’ header extended to 2-0 just 13 minutes into the match.
The Falcons (17-7-1) answered in the 25th minute when junior Andrew Malek blasted a shot into the right corner after a Newman turnover to cut the lead in half, but the Greenies responded just four minutes later as DeBlanc chipped a shot over the keeper for a 3-1 halftime lead.
“I just wanted to get it on frame, and I got lucky when it went in the corner,” DeBlanc said about the first goal. “On the second goal the ball came in from Arthur (Lemann) and I saw the keeper was out, and I was just confident enough to chip it over. It worked out well.”
Episcopal tested the Newman defense in the second half, but each time senior keeper Connor Nelson was up to the task.
Episcopal coach JB Brunet said his team’s slow start was the difference.
“We lost the game in the first seven minutes,” Brunet said. “Unfortunately, it was probably a little bit of nerves. Shockingly, sometimes games are won in a short period of time. I thought we played a lot better in the second half, but credit to Newman because they’re a good team with some talented players.”
Jacques said the Greenies’ focus on the task at hand has led the team back to its first state final since 2013.
“The last couple of games it has been our emphasis to get off to a strong start, and today was another time we were able to do that,” he said. “Our main focus has been to take this one day at a time even in practice. Obviously, it’s working for us. We’re just happy that we’re back in the finals.”