Gators have to learn how to win to build confidence

Peter Silas Pasqua
St. Amant’s Jaxson Lambert returns for his sophomore season after scoring 30 goals last year to earn all-District 6-I first-team honors.

ST. AMANT – St. Amant relied on an abundance of youth a year ago but this season, that experience gained is expected to revitalize an historic program.

St. Amant’s soccer tradition continues to spread as the state’s all-time goal scorer Jason?Garey, a Gator graduate, was recently named to ESPN’s High School All-Decade team.

“That is somebody our boys look up to and they want to bring the program back to the prominence of those days,” St. Amant head coach Adrian Garcia said. “I think the last few years, we got bit a little by talent in the area and coaching moves which kind of plays an impact on players but I think now we are starting to get players in that play soccer all year round.”

St. Amant finished 10-9-4 overall a year ago and 5-5 in District 6-I play in Garcia’s first full year at the helm. Gone from that squad is first-team selection Alberto Lopez.

“We are returning pretty much 10 starters back from last year’s team,” Garcia said. “It is basically the same crew that has been starting the last two years. Even though a lot of them are still juniors and sophomores, experience is also going to be one of our strengths.”

Jaxson Lambert, a first-team pick as a freshmen last season, leads the group after scoring a team-high 30 goals and adding 15 assists. Also returning are second-team selections Trett Bourgeois, who added 10 goals and Dillion Puccio.

Goalkeeper Michael McDonald also returns along with experience from Chase Keller, Jordan Bruno, Dylan Galatas, Dillon Schexnayder and Chase Squires. Joshua Rios, Dane LeBlanc, Dexter LeBlanc and Tony Raffary fill out the field.

“We have put a lot of work in over the summer and I think our strength is our speed and our size,” Garcia said. “How physical we can be as well as they have been playing together for a long time.

“Our weakness is learning how to win. The last few years we have not been used to winning. We just have to believe in ourselves that we can do it and gain confidence.”

St. Amant opened the season hosting Episcopal, Holy Cross and Baton Rouge before taking on Terrebonne, Hammond and Fontainebleau in the later’s tournament. After hosting Denham Springs, the Gators played Sam Houston, Sulphur, Barbe and Caddo Magnet in the Sulphur Tournament.

Home dates with Central?Lafourche and O.P.?Walker precede district before games against Woodlawn and Northlake Christian are squeezed in.

“We are playing the teams that we need to be playing to prepare ourselves for district,” Garcia said. “We are putting ourselves in position to be ready. We have a lot of respect for Dutchtown and EA just because of what they have done and continue to do. We feel like we have the players and hopefully we will have the attitude to show up on those days and compete with them. They have to meet you twice and we feel like we can compete with those two teams. You never know what will happen.

“We have to stay focused on the main goal and that is doing the best you can each game and taking it one game at a time. We want to make the playoffs and represent St. Amant as best we can.”