Catholic High was not supposed to make it this far if the LHSAA power ratings for the Division I boys soccer playoffs held form.
The No. 12-seeded Bears defeated No. 5 St. Amant 2-1 at The Pit, where the Gators were undefeated this season.
In the quarterfinals, the Bears registered a 2-0 victory Jesuit program that had made at least the semifinals since 1998.
In the eight seasons, the LHSAA has used power ratings to seed its playoff brackets, no team higher than a No. 11 seed has made it to the semifinals in any division.
But despite everything Catholic has been through the past month, the Bears will play for a chance to reach its first state championship game in more than 20 years at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
Of course, keeping with recent trends, Catholic’s final obstacle to Tad Gormley Stadium is its biggest yet — two-time defending state champion St. Paul’s.
“At this point it doesn’t really matter what you’ve done in the past; it only matters what you do in the big moments of the game,” Catholic coach Josh McReynolds said. “For St. Paul’s, they do have guys that have proven they have the ability to make big plays at big moments. But at the same time, our group has shown we have the same ability.”
Catholic will have to find a way to exceed what McReynolds called its best performance this season in the Bears’ 2-0 quarterfinals win, in which they kept the Blue Jays from recording a shot until the 74th minute.
St. Paul’s hasn’t allowed a postseason goal since the quarterfinals of the 2014 playoffs and outscored in-state opponents 174-7 in the 46 games since then.
The game will be streamed live on SportsNOLA.com and commentated by SportsNOLA’s Ken Trahan and De La Salle coach Alan DeRitter.
Catholic isn’t the only Baton Rouge area team up against great odds this weekend.
No. 10 Woodlawn travels to No. 6 Holy Cross at 5 p.m. Saturday, only four days after taking down No. 2 Captain Shreve 1-0 at home.
The Panthers made a name for themselves this season as an offensive power behind the feet of junior forward Eduin DelCid who leads the team with 49 goals, but coach Andrew Barnes is more impressed with his team’s defense.
The Woodlawn backline has quietly been one of Division II’s most effective this season, riding a streak of eight consecutive shutouts into its first semifinal appearance since reaching the Division I final in 2008.
“It’s kind of like running the hurdles, but we’re not to the finish line yet,” Barnes said. “You’ve got to keep the kids focused on one hurdle at a time, not looking back to the last one when you have another one ahead of you.”
No. 4 University High may not be as big of an underdog in its Division III semifinal matchup, but the Cubs have plenty to overcome when it lines up against No. 1 St. Louis at 3 p.m. Saturday in Lake Charles.