Lady Gators storm into quarterfinals with blowout victory
It didn’t matter what Mother Nature threw at the St. Amant Lady Gators on Wednesday night; they weren’t losing.
Steady downpours saturated The Pit and forced the referees to push the start of the game back an hour. It all could have resulted in the Lady Gators coming out flat against 13th-seed Airline, but instead, they came out hitting on all cylinders.
St. Amant made the second-round playoff matchup look more like a varsity vs. JV scrimmage. They dominated from the onset, scoring seven goals in the first half. They scored one more in the first five minutes of the second to win by way of the mercy rule, 8-0.
"With that bye, we took two days to reassure ourselves of our goal,” Lady Gator head coach Joleigh Hartman said. “We made the playoffs, and only 24 teams get in, so it was lucky for us to come away with the four-seed. That's one of our highest seeds ever. Their goal is to make it to the next game, and I think that's what we saw tonight with them scoring eight goals. They wanted to see that third round.”
The temperatures may have been cold, but the St. Amant offense wasn’t.
Just three minutes into the game, Adelaide Gaffney got into the open field and separated from the only defender between her and the net. She smoked a shot past the keeper to put the Lady Gators up 1-0.
At the 11th minute, Rachel Cretini made a corner kick into a traffic jam in front of the Airline goal. Off of a deflection, Kaylynn Broussard scored to put her team up two.
Eight minutes later, Gaffney went back to work.
With a defender in her hip pocket and standing stationary, she drilled a shot from 30 yards away that just squeezed into the corner of the net.
That’s when it became the Mya Guillory show as she scored four straight goals to end the first half.
At the 20th minute, she scored an easy one right in front of the net. Four minutes later, Naylie Rodriguez sent her a pass, she side-stepped a defender and launched a shot that hit the top crossbar, but still found a way to go in to put St. Amant up 5-0.
Guillory scored again at the 33rd minute, and she took advantage of a mistake by the Airline goalkeeper with just two minutes left in the half.
Madison Morgan sent a point-blank shot toward the goal, but the keeper made the stop. However, she wasn’t able to secure the ball. Guillory pounced on it, kicking the ball through to give St. Amant a 7-0 halftime lead.
Just five minutes into the second half, Gaffney attacked the goal and sent a beautiful cross to Blythe Babin. She scored to end the blowout.
In just 45 minutes of play, St. Amant outshot Airline 19-3.
“When you have athletes that just want to win, I think that has set us apart from other teams in the past. It's what is making this program so awesome,” Hartman said. “They don't have 'lose' in their vocabulary. These girls make this program. There are some greats that have come through, but I think we're finally putting it together this year. We have the leadership, we have the skills and speed. They're hungry, and they want more."
With a win, St. Amant drew a home quarterfinal matchup with fifth-seeded Byrd—who went 17-8-3 during the regular season.
“They're very excited about this next round,” Hartman said. “We do have to face a very competitive Byrd team, and it's going to be very intense. I think it's because of what we did in the regular season that set us up for what we're doing in the playoffs. It's them wanting to play Feb. 23, and wanting everyone to know they're coming. That's our mindset right now. We have a goal set, and these girls are all about achieving it, and I think we will.”