Though last week brought its first defeat, Destrehan is off to a strong start on the soccer field this season and prepares to welcome rival Hahnville for a district showdown this Friday evening.
The Ladycats will host the Lady Tigers at 5:30 p.m., with both teams hungry for a victory. Last season saw Hahnville earn a 10 seed in the postseason and its first win over Destrehan in five seasons, but the Tigers have been up and down this season with a record of 5-8-1. The schedule has been particularly challenging since mid-December, with five of those eight losses coming in that span, and a win over Destrehan could right Hahnville’s course for both its district and playoff positioning.
Hahnville coach Alex Romero noted this has been the toughest schedule the Lady Tigers program has faced in his time there. A difficult slate by design was intensified further when the team drew a pair of top contenders in Northshore and St. Thomas More at the Lakeshore tournament.
“I feel like we’ve played every top 5 team in almost every classification,” said Romero. “We have a group of juniors who are third year starters, who have been to the playoffs two years in a row and are ready to make that next step … these games have been great experience for us, because these are the kinds of teams we’ll be facing down the stretch here and into the playoffs.”
The challenging schedule is accounted for in power points rankings that determine playoff positioning, so don’t be fooled by the Tigers’ record – they’re in the middle of the playoff seeding mix, and could even host a home game for a second consecutive year with a strong finish down the stretch.
Ashlyn Hooper, Ava Fontenot, Emily Wood and Kylie Dufrene have been among the leaders for the Tigers this season. Hooper, Fontenot and Wood are juniors and the veterans of the team, while Dufrene is an up and comer.
“(The three juniors) make that effort to be the best reflection of the coaching staff on the field as possible, and that’s such an asset,” Romero said. “They’ve kept the defense together, motivated and working hard. (Dufrene) has really blossomed for us as well, and those four have been working extremely hard and leading the way.”
The Wildcats, meanwhile, have been able to get just seven matches in the books due to COVID-19 related scheduling issues and a roster limited in numbers this year. The team began the season with wins in each of its first six matches, with three of those coming in tournament play late last month. Last Friday, DHS absorbed its first loss in its district opener to a Central Lafourche team with its own designs on a district crown, after also besting HHS to start league play 2-0.
A win over Hahnville would be all but necessary to keep hopes of a district crown alive for the Wildcats, as the teams will play just one round of district.
“It’s a big, important game,” said Destrehan coach Mert Deger. “These kids have grown up together, and that always makes it interesting to see what happens when they get the chance to play against one another. I’m seeing another close game upcoming.”
The aforementioned match last season was 2-0 in favor of Hahnville. This time, Destrehan hopes to give the scoreboard more of a workout, and it has the firepower to do it. Faith Leveck, Jordan Terrell and Elissa Viquez are leaders of a young core that have posted plenty of goals this season in what was a 6-0 start for the team. Terrell is a junior, Leveck and Viquez sophomores. The Wildcats’ scoring ability was on full display when it went 3-0 to win the recent Terrebonne Classic tournament.
Those three have been carrying the load and scoring a lot of goals … they’re connecting really well up top for us and when all three are clicking, we’re hard to defend,” Deger said.
It’s been an adventure at times, Deger said. The Wildcats have just 13 players on roster, and in some matches have had to roll out to play with just 11 players to go start to finish.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” Deger said. “We’ve played a pretty spaced out schedule on top of it. I think our team chemistry has been great, which is a big help. Those games with no subs, you just hope to get through them with no issues.”
While depth isn’t a luxury the Wildcats can boast, team speed qualifies.
“We’re very fast,” Deger said. “We can put a lot of pressure on teams.”