Saints topple Comets for district championship

Published 11:45 pm Tuesday, January 29, 2013



LAPLACE — A second victory over St. Martin’s in a week’s time would have netted St. Charles Catholic the boys’ District 9-III championship, but the district’s defending champion wasn’t willing to give it up.

The Saints’ clinched a second consecutive district championship via a 3-0 victory at Comet Field Monday, avenging a 6-4 overtime loss a week ago to SCC.

“I think a lot of it came down to nerves for us,” said St. Charles coach Sean LeBlanc. “They’ve (St. Martin’s) been here.

“They’ve won district several times. We’ve got a team full of guys who haven’t been in this position. We’re still in that process of learning to win and learning how to control the moment.”

On a Super Bowl week that pits head coaching brothers against one another in the NFL, a pair of brothers combined to lift St. Martin’s on Monday.

Ian Jenkins scored two goals to lead the Saints (5-13, 4-1) while brother and teammate Jack Jenkins scored the other.

In the Comet win last week, the Saints led St. Charles 4-3 in regulation before the Comets tied the game in stoppage time, just before the final whistle. SCC scored two goals in overtime.

“We lost a heartbreaker to them last time,” said Ian Jenkins. “So we were determined to come out and play strong. This one means a lot.”

He said that his team came out with a different approach defensively after allowing SCC to score six times a week ago.

“We sort of rethought our defense,” he said. “We looked to clear the ball and push it up field as much as we could … just boot it and go from there.”

St. Martin’s coach Matt Millet concurred.

“We made so many errors last week, giving them opportunities to score near the goal,” said Millet. “Today, I told them that when I say clear it out, I mean really clear it out.

“Last week we lost a seesaw game with them. It left our boys really hungry to get ‘em back tonight. We played a very disciplined game.”

Ian Jenkins scored the first goal of the night with 33:55 left in the first half, giving St. Martin’s an early first half lead against SCC for the second time in two matches.

One of the night’s biggest plays came 14 minutes later, when Jack Jenkins booted a long shot that struck the top crossbar of the goal; it hit hard enough to ricochet off the ground, an unpredictable backspin carrying it into the net to make it 2-0.

“It was a great kick and kind of a fortunate bounce for us,” said Millet.

That 2-0 lead held into the second half. While SCC regrouped and generated more scoring chances in the Saints’ half of the field than in the first half, the St. Martin’s defense held tough.

SCC had perhaps its best chance to cut the lead in half with 26 minutes left on an Albert Hane header, but it went just left of the net.

“That’s just sports,” said LeBlanc. “There were a few times we had a ball in the box and couldn’t put it in. Then you have a shot like that that hits the post. You’ve just got those moments in a game that you have to play through.”

With four minutes remaining, Ian Jenkins scored his second goal and all but wrapped up the district championship for his team.

The Comets must settle for district runner-up, but with that finish clinch a return to the Division III playoffs.

“We’re disappointed, but it’s not the end of our season,” said LeBlanc. “We’ll just get back to work.”