LAFAYETTE, La. (The Daily Advertiser) – After 30 minutes of a relatively tight affair between the Lafayette Lions and the Acadiana Rams the game opened up in pretty dramatic fashion.
Acadiana winger Jacob Judice produced a piece of magic down the left flank, cutting inside the Lafayette Lions’ right back and delivering an inch-perfect cross to Noah Anderson and promptly sent the ball past Lions’ keeper Sami Borchalli to give the Rams’ a 1-0 lead before halftime.
Then, as happens all too often in soccer, the Lions immediately responded.
An innocuous free-kick near midfield turned into a disaster for the Rams who failed to clear the ball out of the air only to see it bounce to Lafayette forward Austin Sun Chee Fore who immediately pounced on the mistake and drilled the ball into the bottom left corner to tie the game 1-1.
The score would stay deadlocked for the rest of the game and the 1-1 tie earned Lafayette the out-right District 3-5A championship.
“There’s a soccer motto if you will that you are most vulnerable as soon as you score a goal and we just took advantage of it,” Lafayette coach Craig Minnick said. “That wasn’t the prettiest game of soccer you will ever see, but you had 22 kids that were playing with all of their heart and we got through it and we took care of business.
“Hats off to Acadiana — it’s always a fun game and they brought everything just like we did.”
Acadiana coach Jan Richard said he was proud of his team’s effort in the game and other than the one mistake on the free kick thought the Rams were the better side throughout.
“We had one mistake tonight, but I thought we dominated the game,” Richard said. “No disrespect to Lafayette, and kudos to them for being the district champions, but I thought we were clearly the better team tonight. We just couldn’t get that second goal.”
The Rams had a major opportunity in the final minutes of the game to get the winner but were stoned on an incredible snap save by Borchalli.
In a similar situation to the Lions’ goal, Acadiana junior forward Noah Elagamy won a ball in the box and sent a low shot toward the bottom left corner, but Borchalli shot out a leg to save the Lions’ district championship.
“I don’t know how he saved that one,” Richard said.
“Sami is a phenomenal goalie. He has a lot of clean sheets and that is what helps us stay in these games,” Minnick said. “But everybody stepped up tonight, there really wasn’t one big player.”
Minnick said the result would give the Lions a boost heading into the postseason with only one game remaining in the regular season against Carencro on Tuesday.
The Lions have a chance to go into the postseason as the second ranked team.
“When you play a top 10 team like Acadiana especially on your home turf it’s such a mental boost for the kids and it puts us in the right direction,” Minnick said. “We would’ve been in the playoffs no matter what, but by winning district it gives us that next thing that they need to take the next step.
“I told the boys, ‘I’ll take you as far as you want to go.’ And they want to go far. And when you coach a bunch of kids like that, it makes it easier to coach because they have the passion and want to be here.”