Celebration or Soccer? How about both?
The Mardi Gras holiday is always a time to celebrate. There will be soccer mixed in as three Baton Rouge teams battle for LHSAA semifinal berths on Monday.
University High (25-1-2), the No. 2 Division III boys teams, travels to take on District 7 rival Riverside Academy, the 23rd seed, at 11 a.m. Fifth-seeded St. Joseph’s Academy (18-6-3) travels to play No. 4 Mandeville in a Division I girls quarterfinal also set for 11.
The second-seeded U-High girls (16-1-2) travel to face No. 10 Newman at 1 p.m. in a Division III girls quarterfinal.
There’s a degree of familiarity for both UHS teams. The Cubs beat Riverside twice in District 7 action, while the UHS girls beat Newman 2-0 in a nondistrict contest played Dec. 13.
“The big thing Riverside has now is confidence,” UHS boys coach Chris Mitchell said. “They’ve gotten better as a team, but they’d never won a playoff game before, and now they’ve won two. The thing we have to do is go get off to a fast start.
“We need to be in control. Because we played Haynes Academy in the last round, another team we’d beat earlier this year, we don’t expect it to be easy. We expect to get Riverside’s best shot.”
The contrast for St. Joseph’s is notable. The Redstickers will meet traditional power Mandeville for the first time in its quarterfinal.
“It’s hard to believe we haven’t played Mandeville,” SJA coach Stephanie Broussard said. “They’re a skilled team with quality players all over the field. They’ve got a talented forward and a midfielder who also is very good.
“We’ve got to limit the chances for them and keep chipping away at their defense, trusting that our talent will give us the chances we need to score.”
Thomas Kobetz leads the U-High boys in scoring with 35 goals. Maddy Vick has 16 goals, while Miguel Vilas has 17 assists. Goalkeeper Matthew Johnson averages 0.375 goals per contest.
Megan Johnson leads St. Joseph’s with 22 goals, while Sarah Town has 12 assists Goakeeper Ainsley Sonnier has 89 saves. Jessica Shelby leads the U-High girls in goals and assists.
The approach for the U-High girls is much like that of the UHS boys teams.
“We’ve had a tendency to let teams dictate to us at the start of games recently,” UHS coach Melissa Ramsey said. “We’ve got to be ready to go from the start. This year was the first time we’ve ever beat Newman, so there’s no chance we’ll take this one for granted.”