Toppled two-time champion Lakeshore, are scheduled to face St. Thomas More at 6 p.m. Friday
For the first time in the history of its soccer program, the Destrehan Lady Wildcats are headed to the state semifinal round and just one win away from the opportunity to play for a state championship.
Destrehan defeated host Lakeshore in a Division II quarterfinal thriller to advance to the semifinal round, where the Wildcats will travel to face No. 1 seed St. Thomas More Friday night at 6 p.m.
“The girls are pretty excited. They know they made history,” said Destrehan coach Kyle Tizzard. “They’re ecstatic, but they’re still keeping a level head all around and not overthinking things. They know the ultimate goal is still two games from here.”
St. Thomas More was the 2017 Division II state runner-up and will be competing in the semifinal round for the fifth consecutive year.
“We know they’ve earned that top seed,” Tizzard said. “You look at who they’ve played and they’ve beat some of the very best in the state. They’re a powerhouse in our division. But we know if we give all we’ve got, we can give them a good game and hopefully come away with the win.”
The Wildcats (15-6-1), Division II’s No. 5 seed, defeated defending Division II champion Lakeshore 1-0 in a match that came down to a penalty kick shootout after the teams played through regulation and two 10 minute overtime periods to a scoreless tie.
Destrehan handed Lakeshore its first-ever home playoff loss since the latter school opened in 2010 and quickly evolved into a perennial contender. Lakeshore was attempting to secure its third consecutive Division II championship.
After a defensive battle for more than 100 minutes, seven players from each team attempted shots in the shootout before the Wildcats secured the win. Especially key were three saves in the shootout by freshman goalkeeper Merritt Tompkins.
“You would have never guessed she’s a freshman, given the way she played,” Tizzard said. “She came up huge and made some big stops.
“All night, the team played great defensively. The girls gave everything they had in the tank and then some.”
Senior Elizabeth Kelley converted the fifth and final point of the shootout to propel her team onward.
““It was probably the scariest thing I’ve ever done in my life,” Kelley said. “I tried to stay calm and do like we practice all the time. When it went in, it was very exciting, but it came back to executing what we practice.”
Destrehan brought back nearly its entire starting lineup from last season and this group, Tizzard said, is especially close.
“They play club ball and they know each other from playing together almost year-round,” Tizzard said. “If someone has a bad day, someone else picks them up. It’s worked out perfectly.”
A win in the semifinals would be another major step for the program. For Tizzard, a Destrehan alumni and former Wildcats soccer player himself, it would mean the world.
“It would be amazing for the girls to have that opportunity (to play for a state title),” Tizzard said, before adding with a laugh, “I’d think that would make the girls happier than anyone, but I’m not sure they could pass me up there. I’d be thrilled.”
For senior Camille Alack, it’s truly a special time.
“It’s really crazy,” Alack said. “Since our freshman year, where we didn’t even make the playoffs, to see the team grow and come together this far down the line … it just lets us know our hard work really paid off in the end.”
DESTREHAN 6, LEE MAGNET 0 — After earning the No. 5 seed following one of the best regular seasons in its soccer program’s history, the Destrehan Lady Wildcats advanced to the state quarterfinals after they earned a 6-0 victory at home last week over No. 21 seed Lee Magnet in the second round.
Noelle Kelley’s three goals led the way for DHS (14-6-1), while Jordan Lemoine, Mallory Laumann and Morgan Rigby each added goals of their own to help pave the way for the win.
“It’s a huge win for the girls,” Tizzard said. “They’ve been working their tails off all season. To be able to host and win a playoff game is huge. I thought we came out a little sluggish, and with the (two week) layoff and the weather it was kind of expected. But we really picked it up toward the end of the first half.”
Destrehan controlled the ball on Lee Magnet’s side of the field throughout, the same kind of possession-based game Tizzard said the Wildcats have thrived with all season.
“We tried to attack the outsides more, where they seemed a little more vulnerable, and cross them in,” Tizzard said. “We executed our gameplan.”
Tizzard said his team was ready for playoff competition in part because of a challenging schedule during the regular season.
“When you can stand up to a Mount Carmel, you can stand toe-to-toe with anyone,” Tizzard said. “You get better by playing stronger teams, not weaker ones. We scheduled top competition to keep pushing them.”