Wildcats absorb round two loss, optimistic about ’18
Destrehan coach Jhovanny Santamaria had more than a tinge of regret in his voice when he spoke of what might have been for his Destrehan Wildcats, who saw their season come to an end in the second round of the Division II playoffs following a 2-0 loss to third-seeded Ouachita Parish.
But he also was quick to credit his players with all that they accomplished this season, going 9-5-4, earning a No. 19 seed and earning an upset opening round road playoff win at No. 14 Lakeshore. It all came after a winless start, the team going 0-2-2 in the first four matches of what was thought to be a rebuilding season.
“After the (loss at Ouachita Parish), the players didn’t want to hear me talk about the success they had this year,” Santamaria said. “But after we sat down and had a meal, they listened … we made it this far. We got a lot of young players a lot of experience, got to the playoffs and now they realize what competition in the postseason is all about.”
The second round loss saw Destrehan and Ouachita Parish go into halftime knotted up in a scoreless tie. As the Wildcats had for much of the season, they were embroiled in a defensive slugfest — entering the match, they had allowed only six goals through 10 district matches and a playoff win.
But Ouachita Parish finally broke the tie in the 25th minute of the second half, converting a free kick set up by a penalty to make it 1-0.
“We knew that guy could kick from far away … he hit the bar and it went in,” Santamaria said.
The second goal came in the 34th minute after a foul in the box gave Ouachita Parish a short penalty kick, which was converted.
Santamaria was not in agreement with either call, particularly the second, which he felt should have been nullified by what he felt was a missed offsides call on Ouachita.
“I told the official, it wasn’t the foul itself that I was questioning. It was a foul,” Santamaria said. “But (the Ouachita player) was offsides. It shouldn’t have been in play. I felt like there were two or three offsides calls they missed, and that one cost us.”
Even so, he acknowledged the Wildcats’ own missed opportunities.
“We went over there with a lot of confidence. It was an even match … but our issue all year long has been scoring, and we had three clear opportunities to put one away in the first half that we couldn’t finish,” Santamaria said. “We couldn’t put it away and it changed the game.
“They had a lot of speed on the wings on both sides. I thought we controlled the midfield a little bit. We had lots of chances, but that’s been something we’ve had to overcome all season.”
The future still looks bright. Destrehan will lose four senior starters — goalkeeper Kyle Grieshop, defenders Philip Stratton and Justin Rigby and midfielder Kevin Vicknair — and bring everyone else back for next season.
“Our goal is to win a district championship and hopefully earn a bye (in the first round of the postseason),” Santamaria said. “We do know in our district, three of our teams won in round one, with Central Lafourche and Terrebonne moving on. The district is getting better and better, so as I told the boys, we’ll have to work even harder.”
The Wildcats’ departing seniors will be missed, he said, but he credited them for being selfless and helping their younger teammates progress rapidly.
“They’d always tell them that if they can do it better, then let’s do it again,” Santamaria said. “They wanted to get the best out of them and they told them to represent our school in the best way possible. They took a lot of pride in playing for Destrehan.”