NEW ORLEANS — Brother Martin’s Ben Dugas had to figure out how to grapple with an emotion he had yet to experience this season on Monday afternoon.
That’s because Dugas scored the first goal of his senior season in a 1-0 victory over Catholic in the Division I soccer quarterfinals on a header during first-half stoppage time.
Should he jump up and down? Pump his fists? Better yet, roll around on the soggy field at Pan American Stadium? Dugas never got a chance to figure it out. His teammates took the initiative, celebrating with him not far from his heroics on a free kick.
“It was beautiful,” Dugas said. “I had no idea what to do.”
The third-seeded Crusaders (21-2), in the semifinals for the second time in as many seasons, await Tuesday’s quarterfinal winner between No. 7 Airline and No. 2 Jesuit. During the regular season, Brother Martin won two of three against Jesuit, its district rival.
Dugas’ shot ended the season for sixth-seeded Catholic (15-7-1), which played well enough to advance, but unlike Brother Martin, was unable to take advantage of limited scoring opportunities. Both teams struggled offensively, their shots skipping and their cleats slipping on the stadium turf.
“We just were unable to finish. We had our chances,” Catholic’s Chris Bordelon said. “I thought we created better chances. But we were unable to score and defend on that one free kick. They got that on us, and they put it away.”
During the final seconds of Monday’s match, Bordelon pushed forward on Catholic’s last scoring opportunity.
“I took a bad touch,” he said, “didn’t get my foot around it and didn’t score.”
The match ended the high school careers of Catholic’s five seniors.
“I thought we put ourselves in a good position a couple of times,” Bears coach Bo Cassidy said. “A couple times, we were late to slip the final ball... We didn’t give them a whole lot.”
Dugas, a reserve player, watched the final seconds from the bench, a place he’s spent most of the high school soccer season. As a role player, he has to stay sharp and patient, ready to enter a match like he did Monday and make an impact.
“He found himself in the right place at the right time with a good delivery,” Brother Martin coach Louie Smothermon said. “Credit to him. He got his opportunity to come in and help, and he contributed big right there a the end.”