When the John Ehret soccer team forced a scoreless tie against Jesuit last week, it caught the attention of more than a few soccer fans around the area.
Turns out Brother Martin also took notice, and it wasn’t going to be surprised by the upstart Patriots when they met in a Division I, District 6 game Thursday afternoon in Gentilly.
Brother Martin, the No. 2 team in the New Orleans Advocate’s soccer rankings, won the match, but it didn’t come easily. The Crusaders set the tone with an early goal by Blake Robbins, and played rugged defense throughout to earn a 2-0 home victory.
Brother Martin (13-3-2) flashed its tremendous speed early. In the third minute, Robbins broke up the middle of the field and outraced three defenders into the Ehret box. The goalkeeper came out to help, as well, and Robbins beat them all — dribbling to the right post and angling a shot just inside the far post for a 1-0 lead.
It was trademark Robbins, and it was a shot in the arm for the Crusaders, who knew a fast start would be important to dampening the Patriots’ hopes.
“We had to put the pressure on the ball immediately and just get it out there,” Robbins said. “The opportunity presented itself early, and our goal was to jump on them so we could have an easier game and work on the things we needed to work on.”
Robbins’ goal sent the Crusaders into full attack mode. They fired six shots in the next 12 minutes, though none found the mark. After withstanding that flurry, Ehret’s defense settled down, and the Crusaders were forced to work more methodically for shots.
One of their best chances to add to the lead came in the 31st minute when Brandon Robbins (Blake’s twin brother) laced a shot to the right post, but the ball was stopped on a diving save by the Ehret goalkeeper.
The Patriots had two excellent chances to score in the 34th minute. One ball sailed high of the crossbar, and a putback following the ensuing corner kick bounced off a defender.
Those were the best chances for Ehret (11-5-4, 0-2-1) in the match.
“We were hoping for a corner kick or maybe a counter attack,” Ehret coach Emmanuel Hernandez said. “The boys fought hard against a top five team in the state. At the end of the day, we just don’t have the horses to keep up with them.”
Brother Martin outshot Ehret 11-3 in the first half, though shots were much harder to come by in the second half. The Crusaders added three shots after halftime, and the Patriots didn’t have an attempt in the period.
Robbins scored again in the 54th minute, when he drove through the Ehret box, spun away from the defense and booted a ball to the back of the net.
“They’ve got some good quality on that team, and you can see why (the scoreless tie against Jesuit) happened,” Brother Martin coach Stephen McAnespie said. “If you allow them to play, and they can get a better possession, they can cause you some problems. I reiterated that to the guys at the start. We had to use our strengths, which is our pace up front. And of course, that’s what happened, and that kind of settles the game.”