After 80 minutes of soccer, archrivals Hahnville and Destrehan finished at a stalemate.
The district foes battled to a 1-1 tie at Wildcat Stadium Friday night, with both goals coming within the final 20 minutes of play.
Elissa Viquez of Destrehan made a penalty kick with six minutes remaining to pull the Ladycats into a tie that ultimately was preserved at the final whistle. Viquez drew a penalty in the box at near point-blank range and was able to convert on the follow-up kick.
Hahnville previously led 1-0 on the back of Ava Fontenot’s goal with 19 minutes left to play.
It was a defensive battle for most of the night between teams jousting for playoff positioning in Division I. Destrehan (6-1-1, 0-1-1 in District 6-I) was coming off of its first loss of the season in its district opener to Central Lafourche. Hahnville (5-8-2, 1-1-1) entered with a losing record, but its strong strength of schedule nonetheless has the Tigers on the edge of potentially earning a first round game at home for the second straight season with a strong finish. With both teams entrenched in Division I’s top 20, the tie was a positive result for each – if not the most satisfying.
“For us, Destrehan-Hahnville is always like the Super Bowl,” said Viquez. “Everyone’s always coming to play and give our best. We did our best tonight … we couldn’t get that second goal, but we stepped it up from our last game against Central.”
Said Fontenot, “I definitely saw a different side of us come out because of the rivalry. It’s kind of funny, we all know each other, we play comp together … it just brings out a different side and both teams work even harder. I think that’s why we got the result we did tonight.”
The matchup came at a strong overall point for girls soccer in the parish. Destrehan reached its first-ever state semifinal match in 2018 and has established itself as a strong program over the past several seasons. Hahnville, meanwhile, earned the 10 seed in 5A last season and is trying to take another step forward, its program on a clear ascent upward.
As the programs have climbed, so have the stakes in the rivalry.
The teams were scoreless after a half, and the matchup seemed to play to the style of each team: a Hahnville team that plays a possession-heavy game against a defensive Destrehan squad that looks to counterattack. Much of the game was played on Destrehan’s side of the field, but the Wildcats found their opportunities nonetheless.
As did Hahnville. Destrehan goalkeeper Hope Berg was arguably the night’s MVP for the Wildcats, with multiple saves to her credit.
“She must have had 10,” said Hahnville head coach Alex Romero. “Kudos to Hope, she had a fantastic game all the way around.”
Romero’s Tigers broke a losing streak to the Wildcats last year, winning for the first time in five seasons. No streak would be started or broken on this night with the tie, but Romero said another matchup with a strong opponent only serves to get Hahnville more ready for the postseason.
“I thought we possessed the ball really well, worked really hard on the offensive side to keep the ball for a lot of time on their side,” Romero said. “But it’s Hahnville-Destrehan. Nothing’s settled until that last minute. They got a really good chance on the back side and got an equalizer on the PK. I’m proud of our girls’ effort, they stayed focused and really played for one another … I think this is a huge stepping stone for the rest of the season.”
Deger said the Wildcats hoped to avenge last year’s loss, but he was proud of his young team for fighting back.
“It was a fair result,” Deger said. “We knew they had dangerous players on the attack. We wanted to keep it in our half and counter attack, hoping to find some space behind them and capitalize on that. We had a couple chances there each half, and finally got one in the box. It was a good game … we’ve got a lot of young kids out here, and they gave great effort.”
Destrehan’s back was against the wall before Viquez came through in the clutch, landing a foul in the box and landed a point-blank kick.
“I know the trick to it is you’ve got to look down so the keeper has no idea where it’s going,” Viquez said. “I had to look down and kick it to one of the corners. If she doesn’t dive that way, that’s it … after that, we had to lock in on defense.”
Not allowing Hahnville’s score to rattle them was perhaps a larger key, Viquez said.
“We communicated after that and sometimes, that’s our problem. We let our level come down. So we said ‘ok, relax, don’t rush it.’ Sometimes we try to do too much and then you make the problem worse and allow another goal,” she said.
Fontenot said it was understood going into the game Destrehan wouldn’t make it easy at all to score, but eventually her time came midway through the second half.
“I knew we had to work really hard to score. I moved to my spot in there, saw the chance and put it in,” Fontenot said.