Lusher tops SCC
Published 3:30 am Saturday, February 15, 2014
By RYAN ARENA
LAPLACE — St. Charles Catholic established itself as a factor in Division III soccer after winning eight of its final 11 regular season matches.
But on Wednesday, the Comets ran into a buzzsaw in the guise of the Lusher Lions.
Andrew Malincich and Luca Alessandrini each scored three times as Lusher captured an 8-0 victory in the regional round of the state soccer playoffs, ending the Comets season, SCC finishing with a record of 9-5-3.
“The pace and speed of the game, of their decision making … they had us on our heels,” said St. Charles coach Sean LeBlanc. “We watched, they ran. We thought about it, they figured out the puzzle. They’re very good. We were just kind of outmatched tonight.”
Lusher (16-5) will face Episcopal, who defeated Episcopal of Acadiana in the regional round, in the Division III quarterfinals.
The Lions had three near misses within the first 20 minutes of play: a strong save by SCC goalkeeper Matt Templet first, then a pair of shots by Malincich and Luca Alessandrini that each sailed a bit too high.
SCC, conversely, had a chance to take an early 1-0 lead 21 minutes in, but Lusher keeper Jared Need deflected a header. Three minutes later, Neeb cleared out a ball bouncing near the goal.
But 25 minutes into the first half, the Lions finally broke through, Alessandrini making a strong kick into the net from the middle of the box to push Lusher ahead 1-0.
It opened the flood gates. Five minutes later, Malincich struck for his first goal of the day to make it 2-0, then four minutes later he scored again to make it 3-0.
With one minute left in the half, Malincich recorded an assist, finding Alex Fuselier for the night’s fourth goal, giving Lusher a 4-0 halftime lead.
“That’s been our team’s strong point,” said Malincich, who has scored 43 goals this season. “Anyone can finish at any time.”
Just three minutes into the second half, Alessandrini scored again to make it 5-0. Malincich’s third goal came four minutes later. Alessandrini scored for a third time and Lusher added an eight score on an SCC own goal.
“I’ve expressed to them all year long, this team is capable of playing a beautiful game,” said Lusher coach Daniel Perez. “Give and go, a vertical game … instead of reacting, they take it to them. They’re doing an excellent job.”
Lusher has yet to allow a goal in the postseason.
“Our defense is starting to gel right now. We’ve gotten some guys back that were injured and we’ve got our roster of defenders healthy. We’ve really been limiting mistakes.”
LeBlanc said he was proud of the Comets’ improvement this season, saying the team has come “light years” from where it started in 2012, when he took over a young team.
“In terms of understanding the game, technical ability, it’s been a world of difference for the boys,” said LeBlanc. “I’m probably most proud of their work ethic. They always tried to improve, always gave a high work rate. They talked to each other and traded ideas. They’ve been a great group to coach.”