As a senior for St. Michael the Archangel School, Joel DeRobertis has never known what it’s like not to win the Division II, District 5 boys soccer title. And he never will.
DeRobertis posted a hat trick in his final appearance against district rival Lutcher on Saturday to lift the Warriors to a 5-0 road victory, clinching the program’s fourth consecutive district title.
“It feels great, but at the same time it’s kind of sad that you’re walking away from it — it’s the last game you’re going to play against Lutcher,” DeRobertis said. “Every game is a battle between us. I’m going to miss the fight and the battle between us to win.”
The Warriors opened scoring in the 28th minute, when fellow senior Ashton Fletcher knocked a through ball past the back line to a running DeRobertis one-on-one with Lutcher goalkeeper Nick Remondet, who was filling in for injured starter Coy Amato.
DeRobertis said St. Michael realized early on that Lutcher wasn’t adjusting to balls over the top, causing the game plan to quickly shift to putting more pressure on the back line, which pushed DeRobertis up to forward and Mitchell Williams back to center midfielder.
“We knew they knew about (Williams) because, for the last three years, they’ve tried to lock him down with their better defenders, and Mitchell recognized that,” said St. Michael coach Paul Fletcher of Williams asking to move back into the midfield. “(DeRobertis) is primarily a defender, but he can finish, and we use that when we need it.”
The swap sparked the Warriors offense late in the first half as St. Michael’s delivered what Lutcher coach Zachary Miller called the “back breaker” just before halftime.
With a minute to play before halftime, the Warriors’ Jake Buss picked up a rebound inside the 6-yard box only to fire off a point-blank shot past the inexperienced goalkeeper for the second goal of the day.
Paul Fletcher said Saturday was one of his team’s best performances in the finishing third part of the field this season as St. Michael outshot Lutcher 7-1 in the first half with all seven shots landing on goal.
“The first 20-25 minutes of the game, we’re even, the possession is even,” Lutcher coach Zachary Miller said. “We just can’t quite create enough chances in the final third.”
The wheels came off in the second half when St. Michael continued to send balls over the top of the defense for the forwards to run on to, including in the 46th minute when DeRobertis finished off a run from 10 yards out for his second goal.
He completed the hat trick in the 69th minute on another through ball from the right side as Lutcher struggled to maintain composure.
“(Having a senior class never lose a district title) is something we talk about and dream about, but for four years — and not all those years have been easy — for that to happen, this is the first time in my 10 years that we’ve been able to do that,” Paul Fletcher said.