St. Thomas More ends Loyola's season in semifinals

St. Thomas More ends Loyola's season in semifinals

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St. Thomas More ends Loyola's season in semifinals

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Facing their first real challenge in the playoffs, the St. Thomas More girls soccer team made the right adjustments at the right time to pull out a playoff win and come one step closer to a state title.

STM got second-half goals from Gracia Boustany and Julia Richard to beat Loyola Prep 3-1 to put the No. 2-seed Cougars in the Division II state championship match. STM will face Ben Franklin on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans.

It’s the first time that the Cougars have made it to the state finals since 2008, when STM beat Barbe 3-0 to the Division I title.

STM was able to break free and score two goals in a physical matchup with the Flyers by making a couple of offensive adjustments. Meanwhile, the Cougar defense prevented the Flyers from getting any good scoring chances.

“What we tried to do was attack through the middles. There was always one open,” STM head coach Danny Foster said.

“If a ball was out wide, there was a center middle open… They showed more composure in the second half, so that was the main difference.”

Four minutes into the second half, Boustany got a great feed into the box and kicked past the Loyola goalie to make it 2-1 STM. The Cougars scored again in the in the 62nd minute as Richard blasted a 25-yard shot over the goalie’s head to make it 3-1 and seal their trip to New Orleans.

“At halftime, I just said that we would play at each other’s feet and just go quickly with the ball and know where we were at all times,” Richard said. “So when we got the ball, we would be ready to pass it to each other.”

In the first half, STM struck first as forward Nicole Dincau hit a 30-yard strike in the top right corner to put the Cougars up 1-0 in the 18th minute. But Loyola’s Shannon Anderson got the equalizer in the 28th minute as she got one past Cougar goalie Haley Clark.

At halftime, STM was able to make adjustments to open up the scoring. “That’s why we put Nicole Dincau in at center mid in the second half because she can get more room,” Foster said.

The Cougars will face No. 1-seed Ben Franklin in the championship match, who beat Vanderbilt Catholic 1-0.

“We’re really nervous, we haven’t played Ben Franklin this year so we don’t know them,” Richard said. “But we’re going to go out there with all that we can.”

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