The Ursuline and Sacred Heart girls soccer teams stepped outside of their divisions Saturday morning in a tuneup for the upcoming high school playoffs, where both teams could do well.
It was Division III stalwart Sacred Heart that got the upper hand of Division II standout Ursuline. The Cardinals won the closely contested match 1-0 at New Orleans City Park’s Pan American Stadium.
The win didn’t come easily for the Cardinals. After outshooting the Lions 12-0 until almost the final whistle, they couldn’t score a goal. Sacred Heart (10-3-3) broke through in the 73rd minute when backline player Erin Tolar looped a shot into the top left corner of Ursuline’s box from more than 20 yards out.
The opportunistic shot couldn’t have come at a better time for the Cardinals, Tolar said. Until that point, Ursuline’s plan had been to pack the box against the Cardinals and limit good looks on goal.
The strategy was successful until Tolar jammed in the game-winner.
“We were possessing the ball really well all game, and we had a lot of shots on goal,” Tolar said. “They just weren’t going in. We just had to keep taking our shots and finally one went in.
“It can be frustrating when you shoot so many times and nothing goes in. We just had to be patient.”
Sacred Heart outshot Ursuline 14-0 on Saturday.
“The key to it is to not get frustrated, to keep doing the same thing and believing that it’s going to work, which it did,” Sacred Heart coach Tooraj Badie said. “The longer it stays tied or if the other team scores a goal, the more confident the other team gets. But in the second half, we hit the crossbar one time, and we hit the goalpost another time. That would stretch out most defenses, but Ursuline was very disciplined and stayed with their own plan.”
The Cardinals cracked off a pair of shots in the first two minutes of the game, but the close-range attempts by Caroline Licciardi and Margaret Fitzpatrick missed the mark. Sacred Heart continued to attack the goal and outshot the Lions 6-0 before halftime, but nothing found the net.
The Lions defense was spirited in the first half and denied any really good looks after the early openings Sacred Heart enjoyed.
The Cardinals’ best chance later in the half came on a chip shot by Mallory Rodriguez in the final seconds. Her shot was high of the net, though, and the game was scoreless going into the second period.
Things remained much the same in the beginning of the second half, with Sacred Heart taking its shots, but being just off aim.
Licciardi drilled a shot from the center of the box in the 48th minute that was stopped by Ursuline goalie Daniela Rocha.
Two minutes later, Madison Milano appeared to score on an open goal, but the shot was waved off by game officials.
In the 65th minute, a Sacred Heart shot ricocheted off the right post.
Ursuline (6-12-1) conceded much of its offense in the attempt to stymie Sacred Heart’s speed, Lions coach Winston Lewis said.
“Seventy-three minutes,” he said, referring to how long his team held off the Cardinals offense,” Lewis said.
“They are a much stronger team across the board than we are right now, player for player.
“We wanted to catch them on the counterattack. It just didn’t happen for us today.”