The Mandeville Skippers were making their first appearance in the state quarterfinals since 2003.
They were not going to waste the opportunity.
Devin Pathoumthong’s goal in the 73rd minute proved to be the game-winner as No. 4 Mandeville defeated No. 12 Sulphur 1-0 on Sunday at Sidney Theriot Stadium.
Mandeville (19-2-3) advances to the state semifinals and awaits the winner of top-ranked St. Paul’s and #25 Fontainebleau, who play Monday night.
“I just got a great pass from my teammates,” Pathoumthong said of his goal. “I was able to sneak past the defender, and then the goalie came out and I was able to hit it past him. It was a great feeling.”
A physical game which featured six yellow cards between the two teams, Pathoumthong said he knew his team was going to have to play its best to come out victorious.
“Both teams were getting beat up out there, and there were a lot of yellow cards given out,” he said. “That can sometimes present you with a lot of distractions as a team, but to our credit, we pushed through it and did what we had to do to come away victorious. We just wanted to win.
“We just couldn’t be more excited as a team. We have been waiting for a chance at revenge against St. Paul’s should they beat Fontainebleau, and I like our chances. A game away from playing for a state championship now. We are in the state semifinals. It is something we want to continue for sure.”
The first half was dominated by both team’s defenses as Mandeville had nine shots on goal in the first 40 minutes. The Skippers’ best chance to break the scoreless tie came in the final two minutes of the first half with a pair of point-blank shots on goal which were turned back by Sulphur goaltender Bradley Basco.
Junior goalkeeper Spencer Hollander also helped pace the Skippers with seven key saves, including two late in the second half.
“It was a physical game no doubt,” Hollander said. “But things really didn’t get to start go get bloody until the second half. Overall, it got a little out of hand at the end of the game, but then we scored late and everyone was frantically trying to play defense and keep the ball out of the net. Fortunately, we were able to do that and come away with a big win.
“From where we started from when I was a freshman and to get as far as we have done now is truly blessed. I’m going to savor all of this and just try to get us one more step in the state semifinals. I’ve been playing the game of soccer all of my life, but I know it is a game of luck. You just go out there and play as hard as you can and see what happens.”