Riding high after four consecutive wins to wrap up the regular season, the Destrehan girls soccer team now readies for postseason battle. The Wildcats earned a No. 16 seed are set to host New Iberia tonight (Feb. 2) at 6 p.m. in the opening round of the Division I playoffs.
Destrehan (14-9-3, 4-2) defeated East Ascension, Hahnville and H.L. Bourgeois to close out its district schedule, while scoring a 4-0 non-district win at home over Pineville Saturday to cap regular season play. DHS outscored those four opponents by a combined 10-1 margin.
The Wildcats have played a difficult schedule and come through it for a winning record. It appears as a result, Destrehan will host its first playoff game, one it could be exceptionally prepared for after a tough district slate and a pre-district schedule that included seven teams that reached a state final or semifinal last season.
“Especially with being a mixture of younger players and two or three seniors, you have to be pretty pleased with the results,” said Destrehan coach Kyle Tizzard. “This year, we’ve played a lot of really strong teams … I wanted to challenge them more than last season to get them ready for our district. Teams like Dutchtown, East Ascension and St. Amant, those are always tougher games and you don’t want to jump into those without testing yourself first.”
Destrehan earned signature victories against St. Thomas More earlier this season, 2-1, and defending Division IV champion Newman, 3-1. A pair of 1-0 losses to perennial title contenders Ben Franklin and Vandebilt Catholic were also indicative that the Wildcats can stand toe-to-toe with the state’s elite.
“They’ve proven themselves and stood up to the challenge,” Tizzard said. “At times, we’ve struggled to score, but our defense has kept us in it. We’re taking each opponent one at a time, as long as we play on.”
Junior Jala Richard has been the team’s top offensive weapon, scoring 24 goals this season.
“She’s got great confidence in taking shots and she’s a tremendous athlete,” Tizzard said. “Our midfielders have done a great job feeding her the ball. That number (of goals scored) could be even higher for her if not for a few that hit the crossbar or were extremely close.”
Midfielders Noelle Kelley and Stephanie Ruiz, a sophomore and freshmen, respectively, have been among the team’s most effective players, while sophomore Morgan Rigby is among those shining at the defensive end of the field.
The winner of Destrehan/New Iberia will travel to second-seeded St. Scholastica in round 2. St. Scholastica earned a bye in round one.