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Gators earn first-round win in extra time

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
St. Amant's Tyler Bridgewater scored two goals in the Gators' 3-1 playoff victory over Slidell.

Two-time All-State forward Tyler Bridgewater was held in check for most of St. Amant's first-round playoff game against Slidell, but when his team needed him to come through, he did.

Much of Bridgewater and the Gators' speed was negated at The Pit last Friday night as the game was played on a wet and sloppy field, and the rain poured down sporadically throughout the contest.

The game was deadlocked at 1-1 at the end of regulation. That score remained after the first 10-minute half of extra time. But in the second half, Bridgewater took over. He scored two goals that led to a comfortable 3-1 victory for St. Amant.

Offense was tough to come by on Friday night as both teams had trouble staying on their feet due to the wet track.

"I think it made it tough for both teams. It was tough to get your footing, tough to do anything that you wanted to do," Gator acting head coach Collin Yammarino said. "But both teams had to play in it. It's just Louisiana high-school soccer in February."

The first shot on goal didn't come until the 13th minute when the Gators' Ulrich Gaffney got off a shot from 30 yards away, but it was saved.

St. Amant finally got on the board at the 33rd minute. Josh Barbera scored on a free kick from nearly 30 yards out to give the Gators a 1-0 advantage.

However, less than a minute later, Slidell got a shot off from 35 yards out that went over the head of St. Amant goalkeeper Dillon Staal to tie the contest.

The game remained tied at the half, despite St. Amant holding a 9-3 advantage in shots.

In the second half, Slidell didn't get many scoring opportunities, but Gaffney had two chances to give the Gators the lead.

At the 60th minute, he had a shot go just wide left of the goal. At the 77th minute, he got off a nice shot, but it was saved.

That was the closest either team would come to scoring in regulation. The game then went into extra time.

In the first 10-minute half, both Gaffney and Bridgewater sent shots toward the Slidell net, but both were saved.

But right at the beginning of the second 10-minute half, Bridgewater came alive. He raced past defenders and sent in a hot shot that was good enough to give St. Amant a 2-1 lead.

Five minutes later, Staal made a great save that kept the Gators ahead.

Then Bridgewater put the game away. Again, he outran Slidell defenders and smoked the ball past the goalkeeper to give St. Amant a comfortable 3-1 advantage.

"Tyler's the type of player that can be silent all game, but you can't take him off of the field because he can have moments like that where he can take over," Yammarino said. "It took him all of 90 minutes to do it, but then he scored two goals and made it look easy. That's exactly why he's such a special player."

St. Amant finished with a 20-11 shot advantage.

The Gators have now won six of their last seven games, but Coach Yammarino said that they're not getting ahead of themselves.

"We have to worry about the next game. Our potential is the second round," Yammarino said. "That's what's up next, so we have to take it one game at a time. Slidell came in and was every bit the challenger that we thought they would be. We know we're going to have an even tougher challenge in the next round."