Lady Gators cruise to first-round victory

Kyle Riviere
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

Led by a tenacious offense that never stopping attacking, the St. Amant Lady Gators made it five straight years in which they have won at least one playoff game.

In Friday night's first-round matchup against No. 22 Sulphur at The Pit, St. Amant got off to a bit of a slow start. They only led 1-0 with just two minutes remaining in the first half. However, the Lady Gators scored two goals right before the break, and then added two more in the second half to trounce the Lady Tors, 5-0.

"We weren't satisfied with the 3-0 lead at halftime," St. Amant head coach Joleigh Hartman said. "Give credit to Sulphur. They came out and played well, and we had to find little things here and there. They don't want to leave each other just yet. We want to play next week, and that showed in the second half. I'm very proud of the senior leadership that we had today and the want to win this game."

In the first eight minutes, Nya Bridgewater and Blythe Babin just missed out on scoring opportunities, but at minute 10, the Lady Gators took the lead.

Bridgewater received a pass inside the box, and she finished for the goal to take a 1-0 advantage.

Sulphur had a great chance to tie the game 11 minutes later as they had two shots right in front of the Lady Gator net. One went over the goal, and keeper Spencer Kernan made a beautiful save on the other.

The 1-0 advantage lasted until minute 38, when Camile Sheets scored on a free kick from nearly 30 yards out.

They kept attacking in stoppage time. A pass was made to Babin inside the box, and she scored to give St. Amant a commanding 3-0 advantage at the half.

Eight minutes into the second half, Bridgewater was able to maneuver through defenders inside the box and score her second goal of the game. Just two minutes later, Sadie Bourgeois scored to put the finishing touches on the dominant Lady Gator performance.

St. Amant got off 26 shots. Conversely, their defense held the Lady Tors to just six shots on goal.

"The defense kept us in games all season long, and they showed out tonight," Hartman said. "They really wanted it. It's great to know I have a senior in every third of the game--a senior at forward, midfield and defender. All the girls wanted to do this for the seniors. They knew this could be the last time we play at The Pit, so they wanted to make sure they went out with a bang for the seniors."

It was St. Amant's ninth win in their last 10 games. They now go on the road to face sixth-seeded Byrd (16-7-4).

The last time the two teams met in the playoffs was 2018, when St. Amant beat them, 1-0, in a quarterfinal game at The Pit.

"Byrd has an outstanding team every year. We're going to have to come with our A-game," Hartman said. "You have to beat the best to get to the best, and Byrd is a team we've been looking at all season long. We're very excited to be able to travel to them. We're just excited to make it to the second round--we didn't care who we played."