Brother Martin soccer knows no fear.
Just moments after dispatching West Monroe 3-0 in the opening round of the Division I boys state playoffs on Friday, the Crusaders were ready to discuss the next step in their quest for a third state title and first since 2001.
A seemingly monumental challenge awaits the No. 16- seeded Crusaders, who travel next week to face top-seeded and four-time reigning state champion St. Paul’s in Covington in a regional-round match that must be completed by Wednesday.
“We’re just going to prepare like it’s a game against any other team,’’ said senior right back Brandon Robbins, who scored the game’s first goal 11 minutes into the match via a header just left of the net from about 20 feet away. “They’re just a stepping stone to the championship.’’
Senior center back Bennett Burmaster and junior striker Dylan Nicolosi scored the match’s other goals while goalkeepers Michael Barkemeyer and Andrew Guzman combined with the Crusaders back line to post a shutout.
Brother Martin (15-6-6) broke back into the win column after ending the regular season with a 0-0 tie against Jesuit in a match that decided the District 6-I championship in favor of the Blue Jays.
“We can’t focus on (St. Paul’s) being a big name,’’ said Nicolosi, who scored the lone goal of the second half on a header from about 30 feet away with about 17 minutes left. “You can’t freak yourself out about it. You’ve just got to focus on (the match) like it’s any other game.’’
The Crusaders have played the Wolves twice this season, falling by scores of 3-0 at St. Paul’s on Dec. 22 and 4-0 in the Vandebilt Catholic Tournament in Houma on Nov. 25.
Against No. 17 seed West Monroe, the Crusaders were in control throughout while playing an overwhelming majority of the two 40-minute halves in the Rebels end of the pitch.
The Crusaders split 36 shot attempts equally between the two halves while allowing the visitors only shot six shots, including just one in the first half.
West Monroe (12-10-6) ended its season with a second consecutive defeat that dropped the wild card from District 1-I to 2-7-3 in their final 12 matches.
“Kudos to the guys in the back line,’’ McAnespie said. “We actually moved a lot of them around today. So (having depth and versatility) is a good problem to have.’’
“I think we started off slow,’’ Burmaster said of Martin’s effort versus West Monroe. “We missed a lot of shots that could have put them away. We need to work on that for the next game. But we started passing well in the second half. In the first half, we ran with the ball, we kicked it up in the air and that’s not our game. We play with (the ball) on the ground.’’
“It was a good win,’’ Robbins said. “I thought we played well. We played as a team. Now we’ve got to regroup. We’re moving on to the next game.’’