Ben Franklin girls blank St. Thomas More for title

The band U2 has a song called “40.” That’s also how long the Ben Franklin girls soccer team’s win streak is.

The Falcons collected No. 40 by defeating St. Thomas More 2-0 in the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Division II State Soccer Championship game Thursday at Tad Gormley Stadium.

The Falcons (20-0) won their fifth state title. Ben Franklin also defeated the Cougars for a title in 2004.

With less than 2:00 left in the first half, LSU signee Alex Thomas kicked the ball straight into the net to give her team a 1-0 lead, and the sophomore said that score helped to stop the Cougars momentum.

“The momentum was like going against us, the entire first half,” Thomas said. “To get that goal, the momentum of the team shifted. Everybody was pumped up, and we knew that we were in there. The goal changed the entire pace of the game for us.”

Noelle Higginson had the final score with less than two minutes left when she dribbled down the field to score. She also said the momentum changed in her team’s favor after the first goal.

“That’s what let us win,” Higginson said.

Ben Franklin coach Jose Ferrand, who was preparing to coach the boys team against Vanderbilt Catholic, said scoring the first goal is a big key.

“Scoring that first goal gives us the momentum,” he said. “We talked all year that we have to score early. St. Thomas More put a lot of pressure on us. They did not give up. That’s one heck of a team. It could have gone either way. They had an unlucky shot that hit off the post. We were able to finish it.”

Ben Franklin goalkeeper Katrina Seal was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Ferrand said she allowed 12 goals all year.

The Falcons outscored their three playoff opponents 15-1.

At the 32:36 mark, senior Nicole Dincau dribbled down to the box and eventually set up a corner kick, however it yielded no goal.

The Cougars (13-8-5) had another shot at the 24:02 mark, but Seal jumped up to make the save. Dincau had a shot with 5:01 left, but it went over the top of the goal.

In the second half, Dincau had a shot on goal at the 34:01 mark, but Seal saved.

St. Thomas More coach Danny Foster said one of the ways he tried to get his team to generate offense is to attack from the outside.

“We didn’t create enough chances in the first half,” Foster said. “We tried to get the ball wider in the second half in order to create an attack. Once time was running out, we went with three defenders to try and put our numbers forward. When it was just a point of desperation, the second goal went in.”