Catholic's Alex Leonard (12) looks toward fans after his teammate, Kamren Rome (7), scored the second goal in overtime against St. Paul's during the LHSAA Division I boys state soccer championship Feb. 27 at Strawberry Stadium in Hammond.

No one can deny Catholic High’s status as a local soccer power. The last time the Bears won an LHSAA title was a decade before its senior class was born.

Catholic had come close, finishing as the runners-up twice in the last five years. What made 2021 the year the Bears would beat defending champion St. Paul’s to win its first LHSAA title in 28 years?

Was it skill? Game-changing plays? A strong work ethic? Perhaps a little luck? Catholic coach Jonathan Brunet believes a combination of factors propelled the Bears to a 2-0 over St. Paul’s in the Division I final played at SLU in Hammond.

“If anybody knows what it was like to lose in a final, it was us. It was our second year in a row to play in it,” Brunet said. “Ultimately, it all comes down to the players … the hard work they put in, along with the mindset and mentality they presented this season.

“It’s got nothing to do to me. We are fortunate to have good players who played well together. In the playoffs you do need a little luck and for things to bounce your way. This was a special group with really good senior leaders that came together.”

The Bears grabbed the No. 1 playoff seed in Division I and finished with a 17-2 record, including the title-contest win.

“We had a lot of different phases to the season, especially in this COVID year, and we really bonded together as a team,” the Bears’ Lane Poche said. “Once we were able to finally come together there was so much joy. We just took off.”

Teammate Alex Leonard added, “We have been wanting this so bad the last couple of years. St. Paul’s is the team to beat. And to win that (title) is the greatest thing ever.”

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