Griffin All-State forward Zayne Zezulka had to leave the game with an injury. Without Zezulka on the field, Acadiana was able to fight back and make things much more competitive.
When Dutchtown and Acadiana faced off earlier this season, it was a laugher. The Griffins made it look easy, cruising to a 9-1 victory.
In the first half of their second-round playoff matchup on Wednesday night, it looked like it was going to be a repeat as Dutchtown took a commanding 4-1 lead.
However, in the second half, Griffin All-State forward Zayne Zezulka had to leave the game with an injury. Without Zezulka on the field, Acadiana was able to fight back and make things much more competitive.
Still, the Griffins did just enough to walk away with a 5-3 victory.
“We lost the best player in the state early in the second half,” Dutchtown head coach Marcus Dyer said. “He’s a player just coming back from injuries, and he was cramping. It’s been a long break. You don’t get game practice on the practice field. It takes coming back to the game to really feel it.
“So, the way the boys came together and persevered through the struggles, that’s what this team is gonna be about in the future, and that’s what we’re trying to build.
Dutchtown’s offense was nearly unstoppable in the first half.
Just 28 seconds into the game, the Griffins scored when Brock Shadle-Colon set Cade Moreau up in front of the goal with a strong throw-in. Moreau finished to put his team ahead, 1-0.
Although, Acadiana was able to answer 11 minutes later when Erickson Flores-Palma got the ball to Marlon Jones right in front of the goal, and he scored to tie the game.
Dutchtown went back ahead not long afterward when Shadle-Colon came up with another beautiful throw-in that Zezulka turned into a goal with a header.
At the 17th minute, Zezulka was fouled inside the box. He easily made his penalty kick to extend the Griffin lead to 3-1.
And Dutchtown ended their first-half scoring barrage at the 28th minute. Hayden Sosa scored to give the Griffins a 4-1 halftime advantage.
With Zezulka missing virtually the entire second half, Acadiana hung tough in the final 40 minutes.
At minute 65, Jones was fouled inside the box. He made his penalty kick to cut the deficit to 4-2.
Dutchtown built some more separation in the 78th minute when Sosa launched a corner kick that Ayden Rawashdeh finished at the net to put the Griffins ahead, 5-2.
Acadiana added a goal on a penalty kick, but it was too little, too late.
Coach Dyer loved how his team responded to not just adversity in the second half, but to how they ended the regular season. The Griffins were blanked by Catholic, 4-0, in their finale.
“We want to take the hits and keep on hitting. That’s the difference from last year—we can take the hits. We can get back up and keep going,” Dyer said. “Our last regular season game kind of sucked, so we used that. You don’t want to feel like that again. We wanted to keep going forward and not let anything stop us from playing our game.”
With players like Zezulka cramping in the second half, Dyer said that his team will work on hydration and nutrition leading up to their next playoff game. He said they can’t afford to have starters miss critical minutes due to cramping in the next round.
The Griffins will host fifth-seeded Jesuit in the quarterfinals. This will be their second straight quarterfinal appearance.
“We haven’t had a bye in a few years, so I think that really helped us get some motivation,” Dyer said. “We’re taking the little steps each year to try to improve the program as a whole. Hopefully, we can continue that upward trend into the next round.”