Fresh off a road upset in the first round of the Division I girls soccer playoffs, Destrehan looked to make it two-for-two as the No. 21 seeded Ladycats traveled to Baton Rouge to face No. 5 St. Joseph’s in round two.
But the Wildcats’ bid to make the state quarterfinal round for a third straight season ultimately came up short Tuesday night, as St. Joseph’s scored three goals in each half to capture a 6-0 victory, ending Destrehan’s season.
St. Joseph’s advances to face No. 4 Dominican in the quarterfinal round.
The Redstickers (16-5-5) put Destrehan (10-8-4) on its heels almost immediately on this night, scoring the first goal of the match in its first minute of play.
“We kind of froze … they took a shot from about 22 yards out,” said Destrehan coach Mert Deger. “That put us down. We had been playing more attacking style in past seven or eight games, but we knew we couldn’t do that against this team given their ability … we wanted to play a defensive game, but it didn’t work out. They were the better team.”
The Wildcats rallied late in the season to reel off five straight wins and qualify for the postseason. Destrehan entered Tuesday night’s game having won six straight matches. The 31 goals the team scored over that span was greater than its goal total over the previous 16 contests, allowing the defensively stout Wildcats to establish control of its matches early for the first time this season.
But on their second straight road trip – the venture to Baton Rouge was on the heels of a more than four hour trip to West Monroe in round one – the early goals sapped Destrehan of some energy.
“We put up a good fight, played hard … they did a lot of different things to break us down,” Deger said. “Different runners, shots outside the box … on the other side of it they put a lot of pressure on us and we struggled to move the ball up the field.”
Destrehan advanced to round two after felling No. 12 West Monroe 1-0 in round two. Faith LeVeck scored the eventual game-winning goal early in the second half, assisted by Caroline Rome and giving Destrehan a 1-0 lead that held the rest of the way. The Wildcats outshot West Monroe 6-2 on goal in the second half and 16-3 overall.
“West Monroe was a very physical team. The key for us was we were able to control possession most of the match and we played an attacking game,” Deger said. “We created several chances for ourselves. Especially after the long drive up there, I thought we played really well.”
The Wildcats drew two penalty kicks in the contest that could have opened things up, but failed to convert.
But when Destrehan needed to step up defensively, the Wildcats did, time and time again. One such point came when DHS goalkeeper Merritt Tompkins made a clutch save midway through the second half that kept the Rebels off the board.
After two consecutive deep playoff runs in Division II, this year’s Wildcats team was a mix of experienced, playoff savvy upperclassmen and a number of young freshman and sophomore starters as Destrehan made the leap to Division I competition. While DHS fell short of reaching the quarterfinal round for a third straight season, Destrehan proved it remained a factor in Division I after its late win streak and road playoff win, and the team’s underclassmen can now carry that experience into next season.
“To be ranked 21st and to go on the road to beat the 12 seed, playing in a higher division and with several young players … I wish we could have gone further, but the girls have a lot to be proud of,” Deger said.