Gators earn spot in state quarterfinals

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
The Gators celebrate their return to the state quarterfinals following their 3-2 victory over Brother Martin on Tuesday night.

Tyler Bridgewater has scored St. Amant's last five goals.

With the Gators tied 1-1 with Slidell in extra time of their first-round matchup, Bridgewater scored two goals in a five-minute span that gave them a 3-1 victory last week.

On Tuesday night against Brother Martin, Bridgewater was at it again. This time, he scored all three of St. Amant's goals in a hard-fought 3-2 victory over the Crusaders that pushed them through to the state quarterfinals.

But it wasn't just Bridgewater that led the Gators to the win. In the second half, their defensive intensity increased, and they held Brother Martin to just six shots on goal. Also, goalkeeper Dillon Staal came up with a handful of great saves.

"It's a great feeling. The boys have played hard all year," St. Amant acting head coach Collin Yammarino said. "We always talk about focus and energy and how we need those things, even when we're not playing our best soccer. The rest will take care of itself. And that's what happened tonight."

Early on, the game looked like it was going to be a blowout.

Less than two minutes into the contest, Bridgewater maneuvered through three Crusader defenders in the box and scored to give St. Amant a quick 1-0 lead.

Just seven minutes later, Holden David sent a beautiful pass out in front of Bridgewater as he raced past Brother Martin defenders. The Crusader goalkeeper charged forward to make a sliding save, but Bridgewater got the kick off just in the nick of time. It got past the keeper and hit the back of the wide-open net to push the lead to 2-0.

However, the Crusaders dominated the rest of the first half.

At the 15th minute, they scored with a header to cut the deficit in half, and they scored off of a deflection in the 37th minute to tie the contest at 2-2 at the break.

At the half, the Crusaders built up a 9-6 advantage in shots.

To begin the second half, Brother Martin went back on the attack. At the 46th minute, they got off three quick shots right in front of the St. Amant net. Staal made two saves, and the final shot went over the goal.

But after that flurry, both teams struggled to mount any consistent offense.

The game looked like it was well on its way to overtime when Bridgewater was able to get past Crusader defenders and charge toward the goal. He was then fouled inside of the box before he could get off a shot.

As a result, he was awarded a penalty kick. He made the kick to give the Gators a 3-2 lead at the 75th minute. It's a lead St. Amant was able to hold on to, to earn the second-round victory.

"I think the key tonight was our ability to defend," Yammarino said. "I thought that we defended well for most of the second half, and we were able to counter and find ways to score. They made one mistake, and we didn't make any in that second half. That was the difference in the game."

The Gators won, despite getting outshot, 15-11. Staal came up big for St. Amant at goalkeeper. He made nine saves.

"Dillon was huge," Yammarino said. "He made some fantastic saves, but just him being a leader and communicating with the back line was big. The whole back line listened to him, they bought in and they made the adjustments that they needed to make."

St. Amant will now face the winner of second-seeded Jesuit and 15th-seeded West Jefferson.