BATON ROUGE – Bossier boys soccer coach Brad Bernard wasn’t going to allow a season-ending defeat to curb his enthusiasm for the future of his program.
“We had our first playoff win in seven years,” Bernard said of last week’s 3-0 first-round win over The International School of New Orleans. “We’ve been building with a lot of young kids. We only lose our two captains and have some kids coming back that didn’t play. We’ll also get our goalie (Kaleb Ortega) back.”
No. 8 Episcopal put No. 9 Bossier on its heels with a goal three minutes into Monday’s Division III state regional playoff game and expanded on a two-goal halftime lead with two more in the second half for a 4-0 victory at Episcopal’s Memorial Field.
The Bearkats, second to Loyola in District 2-III, finished with a 13-6 record.
“I think the biggest thing it’s one of those private school intimidation things,” Bernard said of Episcopal, which won the 2013 state championship and advanced to its second straight quarterfinal. “They’re a top-tier program year in and year out.
“It’s like a deer in headlights and then we finally settled in. I thought we played pretty well.”
Ortega rebuffed an early scoring opportunity, deflecting Andrew Gould’s 1-on-1 chance that bounded to Chima Mbagwu in the left side of the penalty area, resulting in a point-blank goal.
The Knights made it 2-0 in the 36th minute when Gould got around Ortega, who aggressively came out high to challenge, resulting in a short tap-in.
Ortega finished with eight saves, keeping Bossier within striking distance until Episcopal struck for goals at the 47th and 72nd minutes.
Episcopal (15-4-1) switched formations and unleashed a flurry of five shots on goal coming off four straight corner kicks, with leading scorer Trevor Bisson converting a rebound into the net.
Prior to that possession Bossier, which was outshot 23-6 overall and 17-4 on target, threatened with its best scoring chance when Episcopal goalie David Tatman saved a header in the box from Hafid Algahim.
Rene Alvarado also got a hold of a header off the Bearkats’ first corner in the 74th minute, but it rolled harmlessly to back-up goalie Johnny Davis.
“Sometimes you just play a better team than you are,” Bernard said. “It started slipping away, but not because of something we were doing. It just truly showed how good they are.”