Hahnville hoped to get off to a fast start in its district matchup with Destrehan – Ethan Maher ensured the Tigers got just that.
Maher’s goal with just 15 seconds elapsed in Friday’s match set the tone in what became a 5-1 Hahnville victory, spurring the Tigers’ record to 9-6-3 in what’s been a breakout season for the team. Maher’s goal was his first of two on the night. Owen Fontenot also scored two goals while Allen Dugas added another. Each also garnered an assist on the night.
“This game, for us, was all about team effort and heart,” said Maher. “We come out here and hustle our butts off. We struggled a little in the second half and needed to step it back up, and we did that.”
Maher and Chad Breaux are the lone seniors on this Tigers team, which has taken a large step forward after a 2020 season that began promising before a swoon late in the season. This year, the team began 4-0-1, and though it hit a lull after that, Hahnville has regained its form and is unbeaten in its past six matches – 4-0-2.
“I think we’re playing great … there are a lot of young guys playing, and a couple of freshmen really stepping up,” Maher said. “Chad and I are the seniors and we’ve been trying to really step up our leadership.”
It was one of those freshmen, Fontenot, who took the ball once play began and raced up the sideline and sent a cross to Maher, who lofted the ball high and into the net to give his team a 1-0 lead.
“I got the ball right after kickoff, went up the sideline and played it inside … (Maher) put it in the back of the net. That was a huge adreneline rush,” Fontenot said. “We wanted to start fast and attack them quick and we went for it right off the kickoff.”
Fontenot doubled the lead with a score of his own to make it 2-0, then added a third goal with four minutes remaining in the first half.
For a freshman experiencing his first Hahnville/Destrehan rivalry clash, it was as strong a start as one could imagine.
“It was really big, to play in this one and score a couple,” Fontenot said. “I think we have a lot of guys here who have been playing together for awhile. Good friendships, staying positive with our teammates … there’s just a good chemistry between players.”
Dugas earned a free kick in the ox, which he booted through to make it a 4-0 advantage.
That score held until late in the second half, when Destrehan’s Max Laumann scored off a rebound in the box to cut the lead to 4-1. But the Tigers turned back two other golden opportunities to score for the Wildcats, who earned two separate free kicks in the box that Hahnville defended well and cleared out.
Just before time expired, Maher finished the night with the Tigers’ fifth and final goal.
Hahnville head coach Matt Oubre called Maher’s goal to start the match a huge momentum boost, and likewise the score to cap the match off a strong way to finish after the team had lost a little footing midway through the second half.
“I think we kept the pressure on from there, didn’t let up the whole half,” Oubre said. “In the second half a little way in, we made some silly mistakes, some fouls, let Destrehan back into the game. So, it was good to see us finish with that goal. We had a lot of quality chances tonight and that was the difference.”
Oubre said the team’s downturn after its hot start – the Tigers lost four straight and five of six after an unbeaten start – was concerning, but that the team has answered the bell and is discovering itself as the season unfolds.
“We’re figuring out who we exactly are. We’re starting to see that when guys can play with speed and intensity, we’re doing well with that. We still have some tests coming up,” Oubre said.
For Destrehan, 2021 has been a rebuilding season. A team heavy on freshmen and sophomores has gone winless thus far, though the Wildcats showed their willingness to keep battling hard even when trailing significantly on Friday.
“We have an inexperienced team … but we fight. We don’t give up,” said Destrehan head coach Jhovanny Santamaria. “That’s all I can ask, all I want from them. We’ve been down all year, but these guys never give up. They counter attack. They’re trying to score … we had three chances tonight, two on dead balls. We’re still learning to put those balls in the net … but they keep battling and playing.”