ST. AMANT — Denham Springs came into its Division I first-round playoff match at The Pit on Friday for its third matchup of the year with St. Amant, with the first ending in a scoreless tie and the second a 2-1 Denham Springs win.
After Lady Gators freshman forward Adelaide Gaffney struck for a goal early on, the teams stayed even for the next 36 minutes. Then Gaffney punched in a ball that fellow freshman Mya Guillory had played to the front of the goal for a 2-0 lead, and ninth-seeded St. Amant (11-3-5) never looked back.
It rode a second-half offensive outburst, led by Gaffney with two more goals and Guillory with two goals, to a 6-0 win and a date with Fontainebleau, the No. 8 seed, in the second round.
“One of our team goals was to have a home playoff game, and I think we played with more intensity than we’ve had in any other game,” St. Amant coach Joleigh Hartman said, “so it’s pretty cool to come out and beat a great team like Denham Springs.
When we play at The Pit, we think of this as our home, and nobody comes into our house and beats us. It’s cool that the girls had that mindset, and we won.”
After surrendering the early goal, the Yellow Jackets’ defense stiffened and they began playing long balls on the ground to their offensive end. Anndee Barr, Erica Wilson and Payton Trepagner appeared to have scoring opportunities on balls they chased into the box, but St. Amant goalkeeper Mary Taylor Gautreaux barely beat them to the ball each time.
Gautreaux, who spent the night running down balls from sideline to sideline, finished with nine saves. Denham Springs goalkeeper Aubree Coates, replacing Cam Lambert, who was out with a broken hand, made 10 saves.
“We’ve had a tough year with injuries,” Denham Springs coach Nikki Deshotel said, “and I think it kind of affected our mindset. When we played here three weeks ago, St. Amant scored first and I think it fired us up. “Tonight, they got that second goal and it seemed like we kind of rolled over.”
Denham Springs (7-13-2) had an unsettled week regarding its playoff status.
“We weren’t in at the beginning, and then we were,” Deshotel said. “We were supposed to play Mandeville, but they (the LHSAA changed it) and we thought we were out again. It was up and down, up and down. But obviously St. Amant was way more perfect tonight.”
Gaffney spent the first 21 minutes of the second half chasing her hat trick. In that span she sent two shots over the goal and had three more clean shots saved by Coates.
“That happens a lot,” she said. “I just have to keep shooting.”
She finally got her third goal in the 67th minute with a blast from 20 yards out that pounded off the crossbar and bounced in. She followed that in the 76th minute with a 15-yard, left-footed shot with two defenders hounding her for goal No. 4.
Gaffney now has 28 goals for the season. Guillory’s two goals brought her total to 18.