NEW ORLEANS - Meeting for the third time in 12 days, the New Orleans Jesters and the Baton Rouge Capitals had no more secrets from each other. Wednesday night's match came down to pure execution.
The Jesters were far superior, taking control early and never looking back in an impressive 3-1 victory over the Capitals in a PDL Southern Conference Mid-South Division battle at Pan American Stadium.
The Jesters scored two goals in the first half to take a 2-0 lead into the intermission. Jesper Tornqvist scored in the 14th minute off of a corner kick by Jordan Schwartz while Reece Wilson added the second goal on an assist by Stuart Kirk in the 42nd minute.
Carl Reynolds sealed the victory for New Orleans (7-4-2) in extra time at the end of the game, scoring the third goal on a penalty kick.
Baton Rouge was more aggressive on offense in the second half and found the net. Former Jester Brandon Chagnard scored the only goal for the Capitals on a free kick in the 49th minute. Chagnard, a Jesuit High product, had a chance to tie the game in the 71st minute but missed wide right.
Jesters goalkeeper Andrew Tarbell made two key saves in the second half that prevented the Capitals from tying the game.
New Orleans coach Kenny Farrell was pleased with his team's effort throughout the match to handle a determined Baton Rouge squad.
"They had a great second half. We had a superb first half. We got a little bit tired. Coming off of three games in four days is very, very difficult," Farrell said. "Give credit to them. They could have thrown in the towel down 2-0 at halftime. They came at us with everything and you've got to match them mentally,"
Baton Rouge had three corner kicks while New Orleans had two. Five yellow cards were issued in the contest. Ben Callon of the Capitals was issued one in the 20th minute for shoving a Jesters player while Achille Campion of Baton Rouge received a card a bit later.
In an odd moment near the end of the game, Farrell was issued a yellow for a team violation during a dead ball when Jesters players could not find an available soccer ball to resume play.
“It is difficult. We were trying to bring them back in (from over the fence). We were not trying to hide balls or anything. The referee, by the rules, has to come and give the coach a yellow card,” Farrell said.
With the win, New Orleans kept their playoff hopes alive by remaining in third place in the Mid-South Division, two points behind second-place Laredo. The Heat have 25 points while the Jesters have 23. New Orleans is now four points clear of Baton Rouge, which remains at 19 points. Chivas El Paso leads the division with 29 points.
New Orleans has now beaten Baton Rouge twice in three games this season with the home team winning each time. The Jesters have three games remaining, including a season-ending match against the Capitals in Baton Rouge on July 23.
To make the playoffs, the Jesters likely need to win at least two of the remaining matches and draw another or to win all three to catch the Heat. The Jesters host their final home match against the West Texas United Sockers on July 15 at Pan American Stadium.
With the loss, Baton Rouge (6-6-1) saw their playoff hopes dim.
New Orleans will take the rest of the week off before heading back on the road to face the Mississippi Brilla next Tuesday night at 7 p.m.