Jan Richard admits that this year’s Acadiana boys soccer team is probably not as stacked with talent as the pair of teams that lost in the state semifinals in 2014 and 2015.
But Richard is quick to point out what this year’s team does have more of than those others.
“I would put those two teams the last two years in the state championship before this team when it comes to being technically and tactically sound,” Richard said. “But the one thing this team has is that they refuse to lose. These kids have a never-say-die attitude and they also feel that they are always in the game. That’s why we are playing for a state championship.”
No. 3 Acadiana (23-2-6) will take on two-time defending state champion No. 1 St. Paul’s of Covington (26-1-3) Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in the Division I championship game at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans.
The only thing standing in the way of this year’s scrappy Wrecking Rams squad from hoisting its first state title since 1998 is a program that has won six titles overall, is looking to win three straight and is playing in its sixth straight state championship game.
“They are methodical in their approach,” Richard said. “I would compare them to St. Louis in Lake Charles and how they execute their system.
“Our guys know, and I am sure the rest of the state knows, that it is a David vs. Goliath game,” Richard said. “You’ve got to give credit to St. Paul’s. I mean your talking about six years in a row. That’s a feat.”
Richard and his Rams are quite familiar with the Wolves. St. Paul’s eliminated Acadiana in the quarterfinals, losing 2-1 in 2012 and 2-0 in 2013.
Richard admits that stopping or slowing down the Wolves’ pair of senior midfielders Colin Ross and Michael Bourdreaux, who have combined for 24 goals and 16 assists, will be a challenge.
“We are going to have to be very disciplined and very organized defensively,” Richard said. “Offensively, were going to have to make sure we counter effectively to see if we can penetrate. I think we are going to have a few chances but that is going to be it.”
To help with enforcing that discipline, Richard has tried to make this week’s preparations as normal as possible.
“Truthfully we are just staying in the routine,” Richard said. “We are not breaking away from what we have done all year. We are just trying to keep it as normal as possible. I am not going to put a lot of pressure on them or myself when it comes to the game.”
As for that grit and resolve that has impressed Richard so much this season, it has been on display throughout the Rams’ playoff run.
Acadiana received a challenge in the second round from Brother Martin before pulling out a 2-1 home victory and needed two second-half goals, one from a sophomore, to get past Byrd in the quarterfinals.
Then there was the semifinal matchup with Grace King in which Acadiana won on penalty kicks for a 0-0 (4-2) win, to earn its first trip to the state title game since 2001 and help erase the disappointment of last year’s 4-3 semifinal loss to Jesuit.
“They were just determined not to let what happen last year happen again,” Richard said. “They were determined to get to the state title game.”