The last time Catholic High reached the semifinals of the boys soccer playoffs, not one of its 23 players was born yet.
For more than two decades the Bears never made it further than the quarterfinals, and they hadn’t survived that far since 2013.
Jesuit, on the other hand, has been to at least 13 consecutive semifinals, extending as far back as the LHSAA online archives — and coach Hubie Collins’ memory, for that matter — can go.
Both streaks ended Tuesday night.
No. 12 Catholic defeated the perennial powerhouse No. 4 Blue Jays 2-0 in the quarterfinals of the boys Division I soccer playoffs.
Catholic moves on to play at defending champion and current No. 1 seed St. Paul’s in the semifinals.
“I tell the guys every single game we play, ‘Whatever your record going into the game, whoever you are, it doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is winning it on the field and if you can execute,’” Catholic coach Josh McReynolds said. “You’re only as good as your last game was.
“Right now, I’m just super proud of these guys.”
For 80 minutes, Catholic (15-7-2) took everything Jesuit (23-3-3) had to throw at it, as the Blue Jays dominated possession for the majority of the night, despite not getting a shot off until the 74th minute.
McReynolds said his defense played about as well as he could expect, relying on a “bend but don’t break,” mindset, while Collins said the Blue Jays lacked creativity on offense, particularly in the first half.
The teams tied with four shots each, but the Bears had the only two shots on frame.
“They were pressing, and we were just trying to find the right moment for us to spring forward,” McReynolds said. “We knew they were going to go through No. 4 (Jesuit senior Micahel Pou), and once they give up a little space in their half, we can get a hold of the ball and exploit those chances.”
Catholic’s Michael Focht put the Bears on the board in the 47th minute with a penalty kick after a handball in the box.
Focht’s original shot was blocked by Jesuit goalkeeper Shane Lanson, but Focht followed up on the rebound.
“I was pretty nervous about it, but I was just happy I was able to get a rebound and the ball bounced right back to me,” Focht said. “There was a little bit (of panic) as soon as he saved it, but then I saw it was right in front of the goal.”
Catholic put the finishing touches on in the 66th minute when junior Max Trapp made a back-side run onto a pass from senior captain Matthew Morales and put it in the net.
But even with a two-goal deficit, McReynolds was well aware of Jesuit’s capabilities.
“I didn’t really feel comfortable until I heard there was one minute left, and we were up 2-0,” McReynolds said. “That’s when I was like, ‘OK, we’re good.’
“I’ve seen time and time again, Jesuit teams come back and win. They just have a mentality that, in big games, they play well.”