DENHAM SPRINGS — Second-ranked St. Paul’s picked up a late first-half goal, and then dominated play in the second half as it defeated No. 4 Denham Springs 3-0 in Division I soccer action Tuesday.
The Wolves (13-0-3) struck first on Nick Isolani’s 38th minute goal. In the second half, they put the game away with late goals by Justin Savoie and Michael Boudreaux.
Denham Springs (12-5-4) went with an aggressive second-half lineup, and paid the price. The Yellow Jackets pulled a defender to insert an extra striker, but were unable to keep up with St. Paul’s.
St. Paul’s got off 20 shots, including 12 in the second half. Denham Springs managed six shots total against a Wolves defense that has only allowed four goals all season, three of which came on penalty kicks.
“I think eventually we wore them down,” said St. Paul’s coach Sean Moser, who has led the Wolves to three state titles in the past five seasons.
“I told our team at the half we needed to put our chances away. Maybe it’s 2-0 at half instead and it’s a whole different ballgame.”
The first goal, two minutes before halftime, came off of Austin Wiles’ long throw in deep into the penalty box. Jackets’ keeper Tyler Medina and another defender scuffled briefly with Isolani, who headed the ball into the net when the ball came free.
“If we don’t give up that goal at the end of the half it’s probably a better game,” Denham Springs coach Chris Thorne said. “They’re the better team right now. Their passing is crisp. They’re a machine.
“If I wasn’t coaching against them, it would be fun to watch them play.”
St. Paul’s began peppering the goal with shots in the second half. Medina, who had eight saves, was up to the task until late.
In the 64th minute, Boudreaux took a corner kick left of the goal. Colin Ross took possession and centered the ball to Savoie, who put the shot away at close range.
Boudreaux added another goal in the 71st minute after Austin Groeneveld centered the ball from the right corner. The Jackets defense forced a pass back out to Boudreaux, who placed his kick into the right corner of the net from 25 yards out.
Despite losing key players from last season’s championship team, Boudreaux said the Wolves have been able to maintain their level of play this year.
“We’ve picked up where we left off last year,” said Boudreaux, a second-team all-district selection last season who has become a force at midfielder. Our record doesn’t show it with the three draws so we still have some work to do. If we finish our chances I don’t think we’ll be stopped.”