When the eighth seed meets the ninth seed, a battle typically ensues.
That certainly was the case Thursday afternoon when Lakeshore hosted East Jefferson in a Division II boys soccer regional playoff game.
In what was a rough match filled with yellow cards and two red cards, the difference was one goal. It came off the foot of Josue Espinoza in the 32nd minute, and it sent the ninth-seeded Warriors to a 1-0 win over Lakeshore.
East Jefferson (16-4-4) advanced to the quarterfinals where it will meet the winner of the St. Thomas More-Terrebonne match. It was the second consecutive year East Jefferson eliminated the Titans from the postseason.
“This is my senior year, so I did my best,” Espinoza said through interpreter and East Jefferson coach Yazmin Sarasino. “I wanted the win, and that’s what we got.”
Neither team could find any offensive flow in the first 30 minutes, which resulted in each side vying for possession on what seemed to be every inch of the field.
Lakeshore’s best chance in the first half came in the 32nd minute when Jake Leger knocked a corner kick into the center of the East Jefferson box. Jacob Bernard was there to bump a header toward the net, but the ball was wide left.
East Jefferson answered in a hurry. Less than 30 seconds later, the ball was in the Lakeshore box, and Espinoza slid his shot into the bottom right corner to put the Warriors up 1-0.
It was East Jeff’s only shot on goal in the half. Lakeshore attempted four shots before the halftime.
The second half started much like the first, with both sides looking for offense. Bernard had another close-range header for Lakeshore (11-7-6) in the 55th minute, but it was stopped. Keegan Stanworth laced an attempt to the East Jeff goal in the 67th minute but it too was deflected.
The game was delayed for more than 30 minutes midway through the second half when a Lakeshore parent went on the track surrounding the field.
Game officials said the man made threatening remarks to them and to players, and the referees waited to resume play until St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s officers arrived on site to ensure safety for all.
Game officials set the game clock at 17 minutes remaining when the teams returned to the field.
Lakeshore played that entire time a man down, as their starting goalkeeper was issued a red card just before the delay occurred. Rough play continued, though, and a second red card was issued to another Lakeshore player in the process. Both sidelines and many people in the stands became restless.
“We definitely have to go back and regroup,” Sarasino said. “We got a little hot-headed in a few plays, but all in all…(we) executed.”
Lakeshore coach Andrew Knock said he was pleased with team’s effort, even in the loss.
“Really, what can you say other than you’re proud of the way they played all year, especially the seniors,” Knock said. “We’ve been together for four years. So, we fought until the end. I wish cooler heads would have prevailed in some instances … but win or lose, I’m proud of them.”