The LHSAA Division III boys’ and girls’ state soccer championship matches proved to be a bitter disappointment for our two St. Tammany Parish combatants. The No. 8 seed defending Division III state champion Pope John Paul II Lady Jaguars, battled but came up short falling to No. 2 seed University High 3-1 last night on a chilly, windy evening at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans.
In boys’ championship action, the No. 3 seed Northlake Christian School Wolverines, a former state champion in their own right, suffered a heart-breaking 2-1 overtime loss, being edged by the No. 1 seed St. Louis Catholic Saints on penalty kicks in a nip-and-tuck, closely contested championship match. St. Louis goal keeper junior Connor Cutrera came up really strong in the penalty kick situation turning back three NCS attempts to secure the victory being named the NOLA The Times Picayune LHSAA Soccer State Championship Division III Outstanding Player for his clutch performance.
NCS closes out its superb season 21-2-8 under Nick Chetta. The Wolverines played without scoring leader senior Mason Cook, who sat out the championship match, cheering on his Wolverines’ teammates from the sideline after breaking his ankle in the semifinal victory. Cook authored 31 goals during the season. Chetta said, “Mason Cook is a great player. The St. Louis keeper came up big making the saves he needed to. St. Louis played a tremendous match as did my boys. Our boys played exceptionally hard. We tried to win it for Mason and the school. God is good and we’ll be back,” Chetta said.
In the first championship match of the day, PJP II coached by J. B. Mahoney and John Hall, ran into a quality University High club, which played tremendous defense. U-High only allowed six goals the entire season, entering the championship match. U-High went up 1-0 in the 10th minute on a goal by MVP Kate McKowen for a 1-0 halftime advantage. McKowen finished with two goals. The Lady Jags battled back with leading scorer senior Christina Cutura finding the range for her 28th goal netting the equalizer in the 57th minute. Christina was assisted by her younger sister, Marlena, the Lady Jags’ second leading scorer with 24 goals, giving PJP II new life to the delight of their crowd.
University High not to be denied tallied two more goals with Mary Nader scoring in the 69th minute, and McKowen closed out the scoring with a tally in the 77th minute.
PJP II coach J. B. Mahoney always gracious in victory and defeat said, “He was very proud of his team. Hats off to U-High. They were the better team tonight. I couldn’t be any prouder of this group,” Mahoney added.
PJP II finishes 14-5-5, naming Claire Cross and Rachel Edwards their top defenders in the championship match.
The Division I state championship matches are on tap tomorrow. The St. Scholastica Academy Doves, the defending state champs, coached by Mike Ortner, enter as the No. 2 seed. SSA squares off with the No. 1 seed Mt. Carmel Cubs tomorrow at 5. The unbeaten No. 1 seed St. Paul’s Wolves, the defending state champs, coached by Sean Moser, lace it up tomorrow night at 7:30. The Wolves do battle with their arch rival Jesuit Blue Jays, the No. 3 seed.

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