The second round of the Division I playoffs was the road block for last year’s Brother Martin team, but they had no such issues Wednesday night at Pan American Stadium in this year’s second-round matchup.
The 6th-seeded Crusaders rolled past No. 11 Destrehan, 7-1, in what had the markings of a runaway win from the opening minutes. Dylan Liuzza put in the first goal of the match with a header in the fourth minute and Ali Cavdar followed soon after with a shot from about 30 feet out for a quick 2-0 lead in the 10th minute.
“I just knew we needed to make a statement for everyone not to take us lightly,” said senior Eric Milligan, who scored the third and final goals for the Crusaders. “We just wanted to go out there and do our job.”
Brother Martin (15-2-5) did that and then some with Milligan’s first goal coming in the 33rd minute as the Crusaders took a 3-0 advantage into the break. Their run continued early in the second half when Dexter Brooks found the back of the net from about 10 feet out for a commanding 4-0 lead over Destrehan (15-7-1) in the 43rd minute.
“We were down 3-0 going into the second half and we said let’s get one first — one at a time,” said Destrehan coach Jhovanny Santamaria of the Wildcats’ plan coming out of the break. “But then we allowed another early goal in the second half just three minutes in. It’s hard to come back from 4-0.”
Santamaria went on to say his team tried to be more on the attack from that point forward, a strategy that resulted in the first goal of the game in the 47th minute. Nicholas Morrow stole a pass deep in Brother Martin territory and booted the ball near midfield.
Will Bryant was able to catch the ball in stride after it ricocheted off a Brother Martin player, and outraced a couple of Crusaders to get a clean shot at the goal cutting the deficit to 4-1.
The goal prevented the Wildcats from being shut out for the first time since a January 14, 4-0, loss to Brother Martin in district play, but the Crusaders made sure there was no hope of a comeback scoring three more goals for a runaway victory.
“We just kept going forward and pushing it down their throat,” Liuzza said. “We found the net seven times and just kept pushing and didn’t let off the pedal.”
Marlon Urquia, Mason Torregano and Milligan had the last three goals of the match in the 50th, 70th and 80th minute.
The Crusaders are now set to face No. 3 Catholic-B.R. on the road in the quarterfinals. It will be the second time the two teams will meet this season with the Bears taking the first matchup, 2-1.
That match, however, was way back on November 23 and Brother Martin is looking to step up to the challenge to clinch their first semifinal birth since 2013.
“When you get into the playoffs, you can’t hide anymore,” Crusaders coach Stephen McAnespie said. “People are talking about other (teams) and now we’ve put ourself in the spotlight. My question to these guys is can they handle that spotlight and follow through.”