NEW ORLEANS – The Live Oak Eagles gave everything they had on Thursday night in attempting to move past the second round of the state playoffs for the first time in school history.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough to defeat the defending state champions.
Top-seeded Holy Cross, the defending state champion, scored a goal in the first half and added two in the second half, including one in stoppage time, to take down No. 16 Live Oak 3-0 in a Division II state regional playoff game.
“We lose a lot with this senior class,” Live Oak coach Zach Miller said of his 10-member group, fighting back tears. “They’re full of heart and they gave it everything that they had. Holy Cross is just legit. They’re the defending champs for a reason.”
Live Oak (14-12-3) managed to spend a good amount of time on the Holy Cross side of the field in the first half, pressuring them while attempting to push through and steal victory.
Goal-keeping from Garret Farris was also superb for most of the night, keeping Live Oak within striking distance, but it wasn’t enough to break through and take the win.
“We ran at them hard,” Miller said. “It was unfortunate to give up a goal in the first half. I thought if we could’ve caught them once early in the second half it could’ve been a different game. They snuck one in to make it 2-0 and they got one late when we were pushed way up.
“The way I look at it, we lost both halves 1-0 and it could’ve gone our way if we could’ve gotten a few breaks,” Miller said. “The execution wasn’t in the top two or three games that we’ve played this year and that’s what it was going to take to win this game, but Holy Cross made it hard on us. They came out and put us under pressure.”
Jackson Earle gave his best effort in earning two shots on goal for the Eagles, but ultimately Holy Cross’ size advantage and relentlessness was too much to overcome as Ethan Carney, Nolan Heitmeir and Josue Fuentes all scored goals in the 18th minute, 57th minute and stoppage time respectively.
“I thought both teams pressed very hard and them being used to their home field, I think it certainly helped them,” Miller said. “That’s certainly not an excuse form our side. We were just one little half step off all over the field. That hurt us in that execution in the middle and that final part to get the goal we needed to make them start doubting themselves. We couldn’t give them that doubt and that was the difference in the game.”
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