SCOTT – On the first one, Acadiana High’s strong-legged midfielder Aaron Clark set it up for his teammates.
On the second one, a teammate told him to take it himself.
Both worked like a charm.
Clark delivered an assist and then the game-winning goal within a four-minute span of the second half to lift the No. 2-seeded Acadiana Wreckin’ Rams to a dramatic 2-1 comeback win over No. 7 Denham Springs in front of a huge soccer crowd on Sunday evening at Bill Dotson Stadium.
The Rams will now await the winner of Tuesday’s Jesuit-Brother Martin game. Acadiana would host Jesuit or travel to Brother Martin, likely on Saturday, in the state semifinals.
“The first one was farther out, so I was just trying to get it in there to give my teammates a chance,” Clark said.
More than just a chance, Clark’s feed into the box off his first of two free kicks late gave the Rams renewed hope.
At 22:10 of the second half, visiting Denham Springs scored the game’s first goal for a 1-0 lead that put the Rams and their fans on panic alert.
The Yellow Jackets had only four shots on goal to that point in the game and hadn’t really had a scary one since the first two minutes of the match.
Denham’s keeper punted the ball and just past midfield. It seemed innocent enough until it took a high bounce over a charging Rams’ defender and immediately created a two-on-one situation for the visiting Jackets.
Zachary Kimball fed Camden Hilliard for the goal and Denham Springs led 1-0.
“I was worried,” AHS coach Jan Richard admitted. “We hadn’t been down that much at all this year and it was pretty late in the game. I was just wondering when the character of my team would show up.”
As it turned out, that wouldn’t take long. At the 16:04 mark, Clark sent his first free kick looping into the box and Kade Kling – the hero of the Northshore regional win – headed the ball into the net to tie the game 1-1.
Then just moments later, Clark was awarded another free kick, a little closer and more to the left of the goal. This time, the always-aggressive Kling told Clark to go for it himself.
It required a “once-in-a-lifetime” type kick to work, according to Richard, but Clark did just that by putting it in the right corner of the goal with 12:39 left to give the Rams the lead for good.
“That was a brilliant goal,” said Richard, who compared the effort to the goal Kling made to beat Lafayette High in the quarterfinals a year ago.
It took some physical play down the stretch, but the Rams’ defense was able to allow that goal to stand up and catapult Acadiana back into the state semifinals.
“I think our experience as far as being in big playoff games showed up again tonight,” Richard said. “The kids know what it takes to move on:
“I thought Denham Springs was unbelievable tonight. Our kids just found a way to respond.”
The Rams finished with 14 shots on goal, compared to seven for the Yellow Jackets.
•25-Fontainebleau at 1-St. Paul’s
•12-Sulphur at 4-Mandeville, 1:30 p.m., Monday
•14-Grace King at 3-Jesuit, Thursday
•6-Brother Martin at 3-Jesuit, 2:30 p.m., Tuesday
•7-Denham Springs at 2-Acadiana, 6 p.m., Sunday
•8-Neville at 1-Beau Chene, 6 p.m., Tuesday
•5-Vandebilt Catholic at 4-East Jefferson
•3-Bolton at 11-Morgan City, 3:30 p.m., Monday
•7-Ben Franklin at 2-St. Michael, 2 p.m., Sunday
•St. Louis 5, St. Charles 0
•5-Catholic-NI at 4-Newman, 6 p.m., Monday
•6-ESA at 3-Northlake Christian, 2 p.m., Monday
•2-University at 23-Riverside, 11 a.m., Monday
•8-Byrd at 1-Mount Carmel
5-St. Joseph’s at 4-Mandeville, 5 p.m., Monday
11-Natchitoches-Central at 3-Dominican, 1 p.m., Monday
7-Fontainbleau at 2-St. Scholastica, 11 a.m., Monday
1-Loyola Prep at 9-Neville, 6 p.m., Monday
•5-Lakeshore at 4-Vandebilt, 11 a.m., Monday
•Ben Franklin 5, Teurlings 1
•2-St. Thomas More 1, E.D. White 0
(SEMIFINALS: Ben Franklin at STM, 6 p.m., Friday)
•Pope John Paul 2,-Country Day 0
•12-St. Thomas Aquinas vs. 4-St. Frederick, 3 p.m., Saturday
•3-Sacred Heart-NO at 11-St. Louis, 6 p.m., Monday
•2-University at 10-Newman, 1 p.m., Monday