GONZALES — East Ascension made two big plays, one on offense in the first half and one on defense in the second.
Dominican couldn’t find the hero it needed in the wild finish of a tight game.
The result was a hard-fought 1-0 win for EAHS in the second round of the LHSAA girls Division I soccer playoffs at Spartan Stadium on Wednesday. East Ascension advances to the quarterfinals to play Mount Carmel, which won 1-0 over Northshore in overtime.
“Unfortunately, that’s been the story of our season,” Dominican coach Al Silvas said. “We don’t have that person who’s going to put the team on their shoulders and be a hero. We had the chances, but nobody could come through and make a play. That wasn’t us tonight-it was them.”
Trailing 1-0 in the 57th minute, Dominican (10-13-5) almost came up with that play. Catching EA goalkeeper Maggie Britton out of her spot, they worked the ball across to Alex Sequeira for a wide-open shot, but defender Elizabeth Austin raced back to kick the ball away just before it crossed the line at the near post. Dominican managed another shot on the rebound, but it sailed over the goal.
EA coach Chris Goodall had some nervous moments on that play and through the final 20 minutes, but he praised his defense for hanging on when Dominican went into full offensive mode in an effort to even the score.
“Defensively we were an absolute rock tonight; we really were,” he said. “They were very calm, very collected. (Defender) Carolyn LeCoq and Maggie Britton in goal were just superb.
“We couldn’t seem to get that second goal, but I think our substitutions were key, and we were a little fresher in that last 20 minutes,” he said.
The early part of the game was back and forth in the midfield with both defenses blocking the passing lanes and preventing any balanced attacks. Dominican took the first shot in the third minute on a header that was easily saved by EA goalkeeper Maggie Britton.
East Ascension (19-2-3) answered with a couple of opportunities resulting in a shot wide right by Valeria Gonzalez and another shot by Blaire Laiche off a pass by Kelsey Richey with Katie Sidora making the save for Dominican.
The Spartans’ front line of Laiche, Gonzalez and Richey kept the heat on the Dominican defense, and Laiche finally found the back of the net in the 16th minute on a strong individual effort.
She ran down a loose ball across the field, kept control past a one-on-one challenge and buried a strong shot from 20 yards outside the left post for the big play and the only goal the Lady Spartans would need.
The match was physical, especially in the second half. Sidora left the game with an injury after a collision in the 24th minute, and Gonzalez was out for several minutes in the second half.
“It was tough, very tough. The refs let them play, and we have no complaints about that,” Goodall said.
“Overall it was very well played by both sides, a typical playoff game. It’s the second season and you can forget about rankings. We expected a one-goal game, and I think we deserved to win.”
The visitors had handed the Spartans their only in-state loss of the season, 2-0 in the Mandeville Holiday Tournament.
Goodall said he downplayed the revenge factor, but he acknowledged that his team was happy to have a second chance to play Dominican.