ST. AMANT — A low-scoring ballgame took an about-face in the second half as St. Amant took a 5-2 win over Baton Rouge High in regional round action in the Division I boys soccer playoffs.
Fourth-seeded St. Amant led 2-0 early in the second half, but No. 13 Baton Rouge High (13-6-4) scored twice in a four-minute span to tie the score. The Gators scored the game’s next three goals to put it out of reach.
“I tell the kids that the momentum, emotions, can all change on one play,” St. Amant coach Adrian Garcia said. “It's about understanding you’re not going to lose it on one play and you’re not going to win it on one play. You have to battle that, and I think we did.”
The win moves St. Amant (19-3-1) into the quarterfinals to face No. 5 Denham Springs, which defeated Captain Shreve 5-0.
St. Amant took a 1-0 lead into halftime, and appeared to take a commanding lead when Tyler Bridgewater scored the first of his two goals in the opening minute of the second half.
Instead, Baton Rouge High responded with inspired play.
Yvan Muenyi scored the Bulldogs first goal in the 45th minute. After a throw in, he took possession in the left corner before moving in for a shot that hit the right post and ricocheted into the net.
Three minutes later, Muenyi picked up an assist. He drew Gators goalkeeper Seth Hillegass toward him at the top of the penalty box before sending the ball right to Davis Copeland, who scored the tying goal from 15 yards out.
St. Amant came back with three goals in the in the next 10 minutes.
Bridgewater chased down a pass and scored from right of the goal in the 52nd minute. In the 55th minute, Bridgewater was shaken up after he took a hard tackle inside the penalty box.
Caleb Cretini came on to take the ensuing penalty kick, which he deposited in the left side of the net for a 4-2 St. Amant lead.
St. Amant scored its final goal on a set piece in the 58th minute. Henry Ecker sent in a low kick from the right corner that reached Matthew Parker on the far side. Parker wasted no time putting his kick into the back of the net.
“I thought when it went 2-2 our seniors settled us down,” Garcia said. “Our keeper settled us down, and I saw our intensity level rise up. That’s why we got those three quick goals.”
In the first half, Ecker put the Gators on the scoreboard early. Cretini sent a pass into the penalty box, and Ecker chipped it over Baton Rouge High goalkeeper Aidan Robin for a 1-0 lead in the ninth minute.
“It was a playoff atmosphere,” said Ecker, a senior. “A lot of emotion goes into not wanting to play your last game. Everybody leaves it out there.”