It’s frankly hard to argue against that point: Destrehan’s results speak for themselves. The Ladycats have allowed just four total goals over 11 games en route to a 9-1-1 record, with nine shutouts to their credit. They’ll take that airtight approach into Friday night’s rivalry game, as Destrehan travels to Hahnville for the former’s third district match of the season (1-0-1 in district).
“We make sure to defend the total team and not give them opportunities,” said Destrehan head coach Mert Deger. “We’ve had strong play from our defenders, but it comes down to a total team effort to get that done, not just the back line and defenders. Everyone works to deny shots on goal, and we’ve been able to really limit those this year.”
The Ladycats surged last season to the program’s first-ever state soccer semifinal, eventually falling to top-seeded St. Thomas More. Destrehan defeated two-time defending state champion Lakeshore en route to that milestone in the Division II playoffs. Destrehan finished last season with a record of 15-7-1.
This is Deger’s first season with Destrehan after taking over the program’s helm from former coach Kyle Tizzard, though Deger has worked with River Region talent before as the former head coach of Riverside.
Destrehan brings back a strong pool of returning starters, led by team captain Noelle Kelley, a senior who was named District II-5’s Offensive MVP last season. She scored 17 goals and assisted on 26 more last season.
Fellow captain and senior Hayley-Ann Heyl is the leader of the defense, while junior Stephanie Ruiz has had a strong start to the season as well.
While the Wildcats have asserted themselves as a contender that’s here to stay, they haven’t been untested by adversity. Morgan Rigby, Destrehan’s leading goal-scorer last season, tore her ACL during summer training, and the Wildcats have had to rely on several players to try to replace her productivity.
Another example of pushing through when things don’t go exactly right was the Ladycats’ win over Sacred Heart recently. In that game, Sacred Heart went ahead 1-0 and then 2-1 — and accounted for half Destrehan’s goals scored against this season in doing so— before Destrehan rallied to tie each time on goals by Ny’Jha Keller and Mallory Laumann. That set up a decisive strike by freshman Jordan Terrell to win the game, 3-2.
“We didn’t play really well, but found a way to fight back,” Deger said. “Jordan scored a big goal … she’s a very talented player who we expect really good things from. It was a resilient win and kind of put on display what a special group this is, one that can rally and win if we have to.”
Destrehan’s lone loss this season came to E.D. White on Dec. 1, 1-0, while it tied Central Lafourche in a scoreless final. Notable wins have come over Country Day, Ben Franklin and Vandebilt Catholic.
”The competition’s gotten stronger over the past few games … we’ve had some tough hurdles, but we stuck together and got those wins,” Deger said.
Now comes a matchup with Hahnville, which Deger said always is a highlight for players on both sides.
“You have a lot of players on both teams that play together in club ball and know each other so well,” Deger said. “We’re looking forward to a good game.”
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