Fontainebleau, Ritch edge Lady Griffins
MANDEVILLE – Fontainebleau’s Lauren Ritch scored the decisive goal, her second of the night, with 14 minutes to go to push the Lady Bulldogs past Dutchtown 2-1 in a Division I quarterfinal playoff game Monday night at Fontainebleau’s Stadium.
No. 2 seed Fontainebleau (20-2) advances to the semifinals to take on sixth-seed Baton Rouge. Dutchtown ends the season with a record of 24-4-2.
Despite scoring opportunities for both teams in the first half, neither could put the ball into the goal.
“Being that our strength is offense, we really wanted to score and the strategy was to score early,” Dutchtown head coach Anant Vyas said. “We never did get our scorers open like we wanted to so we never got any quality shots.
“Early in the game, we were aggressively heckled and may have been shaken up. Their offense brought a lot of people and spread the field out constantly passing the ball left and right and changing points of attack on us. That kept the ball on our third and on counter attacks we could not find Chelsea (Cruthirds) or Lexi (Gibbs) so we had very limited scoring opportunities in the first half.”
Ritch worked her way into the box within the second minute but Dutchtown goalkeeper Taylor Kelley stopped her shot. Five minutes later Kelley leaned to her right and made a diving stop.
Gibbs attempted to sneak a shot inside the right post with six minutes left in the first half but Lady Bulldog keeper Kaitlyn Villars was on time for the save.
In the waning moments of the first half Caitlin Leumas crossed to Hannah Leumas, whose shot was wide left, sending the match to half-time scoreless.
Ritch nailed a shot to the upper right corner three minutes into the second half to put Fontainbleau ahead 1-0.
Cruthirds answered seven minutes later on a shot to the left corner of the goal.
“We were toe to toe,” Vyas said. “We actually came out stronger (in the second half) and started keeping the ball in the midfield and finding our targets.”
Lindi Robichaux nearly gave the Lady Griffins the lead in the 60th minute, but her shot hit the top of the crossbar.
“To me, that was a critical point because it was after our equalizing goal,” Vyas said. “If we had gotten that goal, we would have won the game in my opinion. Lindi’s shot was the last good shot we had.”
Ritch’s goal that won the game came in the 66th minute on a rebound off Shelby Latino’s attempt.
“Obviously, Ritch is a very quick shooter,” Vyas said. “She was quick on her feet and found the ball very quickly.”
Despite a strong finishing effort, Fontainebleau held on for the victory preventing an unbalanced Dutchtown attack from scoring.
“We pushed people up in the last 10 minutes and started putting a lot of pressure on them but we still could not find open people,” Vyas said.
It was Dutchtown’s longest playoff run since a berth in the semifinals in 2007.
“We have a team that is still young and gaining playoff experience for the first time,” Vyas said. “The opportunities we have for next year and the potential is limitless.”