SPORTS

Area soccer teams open playoffs at home

Peter Silas Pasqua

While there may not be a twinbill of Division I bi-district playoff matches for soccer fans this year, both Dutchtown and East Ascension boys and girls’ squads will host in the first year of seedings.

No. 8 Dutchtown, the District 6-I champion kicked off action last night by hosting No. 25 Bonnabel.

The Lady Griffins, the District 6-I champions who have won 16 straight, enter the playoffs as the No. 7 seed and will host Westgate tonight at 6 p.m. at Griffin Field.

No. 16 seed East Ascension, the District 6-I runner-up, will take on No. 17 seed Comeaux in girls action at 6:30 p.m. at Spartan Stadium.

St. Amant, the 20th seed, travels to Shreveport to tangle No. 10 seed Byrd at Independence Stadium at 6 p.m. in other girls’ play.

The Spartans, the District 6-1 runner up and 11th seed, will host Grace King Saturday at 6 p.m. at Spartan Stadium.

Dutchtown has already played the likes of Jesuit, Catholic, St. Paul’s and Caddo Magnet, all seeded higher than the Griffins.

“We feel good,” Dutchtown head coach Larry Chambless said. “We are favored but stranger things have happened so we are trying to keep the team focused. You don’t drop the one you are not supposed to drop but we feel the ability is as good as any other year we have ever had going in.”

The Griffins lost defender Caleb Alexander for the season two weeks ago with a broken leg and are experimenting with ways to replace him.

“We are playing with ideas on how to absord that loss,” Chambless said. “Our defense has been our strength all year and to lose a key person late doesn’t give you a lot of time to make adjustments.”

The winner moves on to face victor of No. 9 Fontainebleau and No. 24 Terrebonne.

East Ascension defeated Grace King in a tune-up game Tuesday 2-0 but head coach Reuben Ruiz is not expecting the same squad Saturday.

“They had three starters that they didn’t play and we had one that we didn’t play,” Ruiz said. “It is a game you are real cautious about so even though you get an idea, you don’t get a true picture.

“This first game is definitely going to tell us a lot about what kind of run we are going to have. Right now, we feel good about ourselves, so we are optimistic.”

The winner of Saturday’s match will play either No. 6 St. Paul’s are No. 27 West Monroe.

The Lady Griffins enter the playoffs for the second consecutive season having swept through district play and are hoping last years’ first round exit will serve as a learning tool.

“Right now, we are playing together as a team which was my initial goal for the season,” Dutchtown head coach Anant Vyas said. “The girls are very confident but at the same time not over confident. We will do everything we can to really focus and concentrate on each game one at a time.

“Sometimes we are our own enemies when we underestimate an opponent and face bad consequences. I was hoping the seeding would have been a little bit higher but that is actually a blessing in disguise because you play a little stiffer competition which keeps you alert and ready for the next game.”

The winner plays the victor of No. 10 Dominican and No. 23 Central Lafourche.

The Lady Spartans will face a Comeaux team which bumped Acadiana to third place in their district.

“When you have the seedings that close, it will be a really tight game. We have to execute defensively and be really sharp. In playoffs, you don’t get many offensive opportunities so you really have to make those count and set plays are going to be a huge factor.

“You have to take it one game at a time. You don’t get to play anybody if you lose. I think our season has really enabled us to go into the playoffs in our best form. We have seen a lot and are definitely poised going in.”

The victor will face either No. 1 St. Scholastica and No. 32 West Jefferson.

The Lady Gators are familiar with playing on turf having traveled to Zachary, Hahnville and Destrehan this season but head coach Jason Naquin said the field is extremely wide.

“I am looking for us to have a good ride up there,” Naquin said. “Hopefully the girls will take to the distance OK because that is always a factor. It is about as wide a soccer field as you can play on and it is turf and of course it is in this big huge stadium which we are not used to playing in. That could change things for the girls but we feel very comfortable on the turf.

“Byrd has a history of being a good team but are certainly not in the class of the best in the state.

They have a very solid, capable defense but they are not necessarily a scoring machine. I think we match up OK against them.”

The victor will face the winner of No. 4 St. Thomas More or No. 29 H.L. Bourgeois.