Mateo Villanueva (Northshore High Boys Soccer)

Mateo Villanueva (7) of Northshore looks to advance the ball forward in the regional round match against East Ascension.

In a match much closer than expected, the No. 3 Northshore High boys soccer team topped No. 13 East Ascension 1-0 in the regional round of the Division I state playoffs at Panthers Stadium in Slidell.

Going up against an East Ascension defense that packed it in throughout the first half, the ball stayed on the Warriors' side of the field for nearly all the first 40 minutes. Struggling to mount any offensive threat that resulted in shots on goal, Northshore (18-2-3) broke through in the 23rd minute when senior Andrew Stein’s pass was headed into the back of the net by Luke Price to give the Panthers a 1-0 advantage.

“Honestly, I don’t think we had any idea what to expect (out of EA),” Price said. “We hadn’t played them all season, and give them credit: They worked their butts off, and their keeper made some amazing saves.

“Right before the goal, I actually told Andrew what post to go to, and credit him for making a great pass. I knew where the ball was going to go, and I was able to get a good head on it and it found the back of the net.”

Northshore was able to get many more shots on goal in the second half but was unable to get past Warriors keeper Casper Crehan, who had multiple diving saves throughout the second half to keep his team in the match.

Things got chippy between the two teams in the 42nd minute when Cooper Adams, of East Ascension, and Thomas Pellizzari, of Northshore, both received red cards and were ejected from the contest.

“I thought we were going to be able to put up a couple of more goals,” Stein said. “Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out that way. Both teams played well, but we are looking forward to next week.

“Absolutely I thought EA’s focus was defensively in the first half nearly all of the time. They basically parked the bus, and you get the feeling that they were just playing for penalty kicks. That same approach was there for much of the second half as well.”

East Ascension finishes its season 13-6-2.