LHSAA Division IV boys soccer pairings
Oren Keller was involved in all three goals as Sterlington clinched the District 2, Division IV championship with a 3-1 result at St. Frederick on Monday night.
Down 1-0 at the break, the Panthers came back with authority in the second half.
Keller booted home the equalizer on a cross from Cooper Grunsky.
Shortly thereafter, Keller was denied a second goal, but Blake Stevens finished on the rebound to put the Panthers in front 2-1.
Keller then provided the clincher with an unassisted goal.
Ty Dycus worked the game in net for the Panthers, who closed out the regular season with a 12-4-4 record.
Three days prior, the Panthers dropped a 6-1 decision to perennial Mississippi power Brandon. Cooper Grunsky scored the lone goal as Sterlington crossed the state line to face coach Kyle Keyes' alma mater for the second straight year.
With the regular season officially in the books, the Panthers have turned their attention to postseason play. As the No. 7 seed, Sterlington draws a first round bye before hosting the No. 23 Evangel-No. 10 Dunham winner next week in the second round.
Sterlington defeated No. 7 Dunham 1-0 last year in the second round at Baton Rouge. Landon Green broke the scoreless deadlock in the 70th minute to send the Panthers into the quarterfinals.
This year, the seedings are reversed, which means Dunham would travel to Sterlington in the event of a rematch.
Keyes plans on making sure the Panthers don't get rusty during the layoff.
"It's always good to play at home," Keyes said. "The only down side is we have a bye in the first round. The boys aren't going to like the training too much. It's back to preseason workouts. It's preseason, postseason workouts."
Keyes says the next couple of practices will determine some lineup spots, including goalkeeper. Matthew Husser returned from an injury for the Brandon game.
"Matthew played in the Brandon game, and was a little banged up, so we put Ty back there against St. Frederick," Keyes said. "Both of them did good. I told them it's playoff time, and they are in a position battle."
Midfield has been a strength for the Panthers all season with a combination of Duke Villarreal, Ethan Thames, Cooper Reese and Jacob Dupree manning the three spots.
"Those four guys are killing it, and they have been all year," Keyes said.
Normally called upon as a substitute, Dupree has been paramount to the group's success.
"Jacob Dupree is our rotation guy," Keyes said. "If somebody gets dinged up or if I need to have a word with one of our starters, it's not a drop to put Jacob in there. He's a very dependable player. Those guys are running ragged every game, so it's important to have someone like Jacob who can come in and do the job."
Fox Bryan, Sam Gilbert, Austin Booth, Connor White and Connor Bowlin have been equally effective on the back line.
"Fox Bryan and Sam Gilbert have extremely stepped it up this year," Keyes said. "Austin Booth and Connor Bowlin are our rotation guys. Austin is super aggressive, so he's prone to getting fouls and getting in trouble with the referee. Connor Bowlin has started some games and played well for us. That's another one of those position battles were have going on before the playoffs."
Regardless of who wins the position battles, the Panthers will need everybody on board for the playoffs.
"The good thing about this team is we are pretty deep," Keyes said. "You are going to have injuries in the playoffs. People are going to get their ankles rolled and get kicked in the shin. You have to be deep in the playoffs because the games get very physical."
The complete first round pairings:
No. 1 Episcopal of Acadiana (bye)
No. 17 Houma Christian at No. 16 Opelousas Catholic
No. 24 Metairie Park Country Day at No. 9 Glenmora
No. 8 St. Thomas Aquinas (bye)
No. 5 Northlake Christian (bye)
No. 21 Fisher at No. 12 Ascension Christian
No. 20 Rapides at No. 13 Covenant Christian
No. 4 Episcopal (bye)
No. 3 Catholic-New Iberia (bye)
No. 19 Vermilion Catholic at No. 14 Calvary Baptist
No. 22 Ascension Episcopal at No. 11 Lafayette Christian
No. 6 Pope John Paul II (bye)
No. 7 Sterlington (bye)
No. 23 Evangel Christian at No. 10 Dunham
No. 18 Westminster Christian at No. 15 St. Frederick
No. 2 Isidore Newman (bye)