There have been growing pains over the course of the season for a young Hahnville Lady Tigers soccer squad, but things might just be coming together in time for a postseason push – and this week could go a long way to propelling the Tigers on that route.
Hahnville will host H.L. Bourgeois at 5:30 p.m. Thursday and host Destrehan at 6 p.m. on Friday in back-to-back District 7-I battles. The Tigers just captured their first district win of the season, a 1-0 victory over Central Lafourche that evened HHS’ record in league play to 1-1. Overall, Hahnville is 4-6-1.
The win over Central snapped a five-match losing streak for Hahnville, which had lost by just a single goal in three of its previous four games. Ashlyn DeSoto’s goal proved the difference in the game. HHS head coach Edgar Fuentes said the victory was much needed – and hard-earned.
“It took every bit out of every player to really execute. It wasn’t pretty soccer, but it was effective soccer,” said Fuentes. “We played a great game defensively. On the attack, we had numbers constantly and made the back line stay on their toes the entire game. We made good on the one chance we had and put it away.”
Fuentes said there have been some tough losses thus far, but that it’s part of the growing experience.
“We’ve left about four on the table that we probably should have won,” he said. “We’ve a very young team. Very skilled, but small and young. This team has definitely grown. For the younger ones, they had to go through some battles to know what’s expected of them. They’ve gotten used to being put on the spot, having to step up and play … they don’t think about it now. It’s second nature.
“I think we’re getting cranked up at the right time, just before the playoffs.”
DeSoto has stepped up into a new role this season and has been one of the Tigers’ leaders. HHS suffered a major blow when striker Addison Agnelly suffered an injury that would sideline her for her junior year. DeSoto stepped into the striker role at the top of the Hahnville attack and has led the team in goals scored this season.
“This was supposed to be a big year for (Agnelly). She was hungry and she put up great big numbers in her freshman and sophomore seasons. That was a tough blow,” Fuentes said. “So, moved Ashlyn to striker and she leads the attack … she’s been a machine for us.”
Riley Foles is another player who sets the tone for the Tigers.
“Those two have really taken over and been leaders for our team,” said Fuentes.
Defensively, Hahnville has had to grow up fast in order to allow the retooled offense time to blossom. Jillian Michel and Allie Harmon have led the way in stabilizing the defense in their senior seasons.
“I think that was our biggest concern coming into the season, how the defense was going to come together,” Fuentes said. “Allie and Jill have led the way. The first couple of games, I won’t lie, we looked like a deer in the headlights. We needed that experience. As the season has gone on, we’ve gotten better and better.”
Today’s game against Bourgeois was initially set for Tuesday of this week, but weather concerns necessitated the move. Thus, the Tigers will see a rare set of district games on back-to-back days.
The team’s focus is all upon Bourgeois for now. Of course, Friday brings the latest chapter of the Hahnville-Destrehan rivalry – no matter the sport, those stakes are always high. Destrehan is 5-8-1 thus far this season but is playing its best soccer, winners of five of its last seven matches after a slow start to the season.
“You know how rivalries go. It doesn’t matter where the records are – both teams are gonna show up and both are looking forward to it,” said Fuentes. “I love the rivalry. The banter, everything that goes with it … I coach players from Destrehan as well (in club ball) and the entire environment is pretty great. We’ll be ready for them and I’m sure they’ll be ready for us. It should be a great game.”