All five teams from Division II, District 4 qualified for the LHSAA boys soccer playoffs, as the brackets were released Wednesday afternoon.
Acadiana locked up the No. 2 seed in Division I, despite losing the district title to Lafayette on the last day of the season.
Rams coach Jan Richard said his team was confident going into the playoffs, and he liked their chances of advancing far into the postseason.
“Two is a good spot, only one spot better than that,” Richard laughed. “Some people may think we got a favorable draw, but it’s still a tough bracket.”
Richard said his team was mentally tough, making preparation for the first rounds easier.
“I haven’t even told them who we are playing,” Richard said. “I know they’ll find out, but we’ll practice today and get ready for what we need to do.”
Crosstown rival Lafayette has a more difficult road to advance deeper into the playoffs, receiving the No. 11 seed.
The Lions could potentially face New Orleans powerhouse No. 6 Brother Martin in the second round if they defeat No. 22 Ouachita Parish in their first- round match.
In Division II, three of the five District 4 teams who qualified will face each other in the opening three rounds, as No. 1 Beau Chene, No. 9 St. Thomas More and No. 23 Opelousas are on the same side of the bracket.
Beau Chene coach Chad Vidrine said he was glad the practice of giving the top seeds in Division II a first-round bye was abolished, looking forward to getting his young team playoff experience in the first round.
The Gators lost nine seniors from last year’s squad that advanced to the semifinals.
“We start two freshman and two sophomores,” Vidrine said. “They’ve only been watching from the bench on what the playoffs are all about, so it’ll be beneficial to get them some experience before facing tougher teams later in the playoffs.”
Vidrine was wary of the threat district rival St. Thomas More could bring.
Vidrine said the Cougars are a team that has improved throughout the season and one of the more underrated teams in Division II.
“It’s hard not to look ahead and see (STM) upcoming in the quarterfinals,” Vidrine said. “Both games we played in district were close.”
St. Thomas More coach Casey Friend said he felt confident in his team’s chances in the playoffs, citing the strong finish the Cougars had to the season as one of the reasons to think they might be able to pull off a couple of upsets.
“We’re getting healthy at the right time, whether it’s from sickness or from injury,” Friend said. “But you never want to play anyone for the third time in the playoffs, no matter the opponent.”
The Cougars will face district opponent Opelousas in the first round for the teams’ third meeting this season.
Friend said he’s hoping to play the game after the Lady Cougars play at 6 p.m. Friday, but Saturday is ACT day in the area, throwing the scheduling into question.
Teurlings Catholic received the No. 15 seed, avoiding the Acadiana-heavy part of the bracket but setting up a potential match with No. 2 seed St. Michael the Archangel in the regional round. The Rebels will play No. 18 Loyola Prep in the first round.
Rebels coach Jonathan Walsh said both teams are perennial heavyweights and had relatively down years, so he expects a tough challenge from the well-coached Flyers.
“Being from north Louisiana, I’ve played (Loyola) a few times, and they are extremely well coached,” Walsh said, before addressing the possibility of playing St. Michael in the regional round. “We have not been to the point this year where we’ve had the liberty to look beyond the game at hand.”
Westgate (No. 23) and Morgan City (No. 11) round out the District 4 teams qualifying from the playoffs, playing Leesville (No. 10) and West Ouachita (No. 22), respectively.
Catholic-New Iberia received the No. 5 seed in Division III, with Episcopal of Acadiana getting the No. 4 seed, highlighting the area teams in Division III to qualify for the playoffs.
Catholic-New Iberia faces No. 28 Pope John Paul II in the bistrict round at 5:30 p.m. Friday, and if the Panthers advance, they will face either No. 12 Lusher Charter or No. 21 Opelousas Catholic.
“We’re on an outstanding winning streak right now. We haven’t dropped a match since playing Northlake Christian on Nov. 25,” said Catholic-New Iberia coach Brandon Francis.
Francis said the coaching staff was working to keep the team focused on the first-round game while in the midst of the extended winning streak.
Catholic has played a tough schedule this season in an attempt to prepare his team for the intensity of the playoffs, Francis said.
“In my five years at Catholic, we’ve always tried to play a tough schedule to get our players ready for the playoffs,” Francis said. “It’s difficult, but the guys we have on our team this year, especially our captains have that drive to be great and that is something you really can’t teach.”
Episcopal of Acadiana is in the same grouping as No. 3 Northlake Christian, a team that sat on top of the Division III power rankings for much of the season. A matchup between the two looms in the quarterfinals if both advance.
The Falcons will first play Metairie Park Country Day in the bidistrict round.
Lafayette Christian Academy (No. 18), Ascension Episcopal (No. 30) and North Vermillion (No. 10) round out the Acadiana area teams to qualify for the Division III playoffs.