Hall sends Sacred Heart to State Championship

By CAMAL PETRO,

BILOXI – Sacred Heart senior Carson Hall got a little redemption Wednesday night, and it helped the Crusaders earn its second straight trip the 1A/2A/3A State Championship game Saturday.

His goal in the 57th minute of Wednesday’s South State match against St. Patrick was the only goal of the night for both teams, as Sacred Heart handed its region rival a 1-0 defeat.

“He showed up for the season with an injury,” Sacred Heart coach Joe Falla said.  “Everybody that came in, all those seniors that came in from football, I told them, ‘Everybody on this team will have a role.’”

Sacred Heart and St. Patrick have met on the pitch many times in the last few years, but it was the south state game two years that Hall wanted to talk about. He was the team’s goalkeeper then, and he allowed three St. Patrick goals in that 2017 game. The Crusaders would fall 3-1 to the eventual state champs.

But on Wednesday, he was the hero.

“Two years ago I came here and I was playing goalie at the time,” he said. “I didn’t play my best game. To come out here and win this game, it means a lot to me.”

After a scoreless first half that Sacred Heart clearly had the advantage in, it took 13 minutes into the second half to find the go-ahead goal. On a throw-in, a Sacred Heart player lightly kicked the ball toward the net, but it still was able to roll deep into the St. Patrick box. Hall slid and got one foot on the ball inside the 6-yard box, and it found the back of the net.

“That play, I just saw it coming,” Hall said. “I’m not used to this. You saw the one I shanked. It feels good to put that one in the back of the net. I’ve had a rough year. I’m not a field player.”

Falla thought it was ironic that Hall was the game saver. Like the badly missed shot Hall had earlier in the game, Falla said his former goalkeeper has missed plenty of easy shots this season.

“I think it’s funny that’s it’s Carson,” Falla said. “Going from between the pipes to being a striker, he’s missed some (easy shots) this year. The one he made, it’s huge for us. Couldn’t have happened to a better person.”

The win Wednesday is even more satisfying because it came against St. Patrick, which has become Sacred Heart’s biggest rival. The two have become region foes in the last two years, and the Crusaders and the Irish have played in the south state game four times in the last five seasons.

While Sacred Heart has its fair share of wins over St. Patrick, it lost the last two south state games against the Biloxi-based team. The Crusaders and Irish split the two regular-season matchups this season, too.

“It means a lot,” Hall said of Wednesday’s win. “It’s way more important now than beating them any other time. This means way more to me. Senior year and making it to the state championship again, we want another shot.”

Sacred Heart will now take on St. Andrews Saturday at 2 p.m. in the state championship, and unlike last year, Falla believes this year’s team is more equipped to handle the bright lights.

“We’ve relieved a whole lot of pressure, just from the things we’ve changed up,” Falla said. “We’re not going to mention (last year’s state championship). We’re just going to play the game. There’s one thing for sure, the sun will rise in the morning. If you’re playing with that attitude and have fun, that’s the main thing.”