Still riding the emotional high of winning its first district championship in more than a decade, the St. Amant boys soccer team earned one of its highest playoff seedings Wednesday.
The Gators are the No. 5 seed in the LHSAA Division I soccer playoffs, giving themselves a first-round bye.
The top eight seeds in each division earned first-round byes, including two-time defending Division I state champion St. Paul’s, which is the No. 1 seed for the second consecutive season.
“When the brackets come out, it’s always an exciting time of the year,” St. Amant coach Adrian Garcia said. I don’t think expectations are really that high, but we’ve never been here. We’re hungry and we want to keep playing and we want to keep winning.”
Garcia said he’s still trying to reel in his players after a come-from-behind victory over East Ascension last week in essentially a district championship game but hopes their slow start against Holy Cross in the final game of the season was enough to bring the Gators back to reality.
They’ll only have a week to plug any holes left in their game as the Gators will host the winner of No. 12 Catholic High and No. 21 Pineville in the second round. St. Amant is undefeated at home this season.
Denham Springs also earned a first-round bye at No. 7, while Dutchtown and East Ascension enter the postseason as the 16th- and 19th-seeded teams.
Baton Rouge High squeaked into the playoffs as the final team at No. 24 thanks to an automatic bid from winning a share of the District 3 title with Catholic, effectively bumping Zachary out of the playoffs.
“For the longest time our goal was to win district,” Garcia said. “Now, we find ourselves in a spot where we aren’t looking at the bye — it’s just about who we play next. Whoever it is and whatever part of the state they’re from, I think that’s our main focus and not what round it is or what seed we are.”
Woodlawn is the highest-ranked, Baton Rouge-area team in the Division II bracket but barely missed out on the first-round bye at No. 10. They’ll host No. 23 Carencro.
Woodlawn coach Andrew Barnes said he would have liked to have received the first-round bye but being one of the top-ranked teams not to earn an automatic trip to the second round has its advantages, as well.
“It really doesn’t matter if we get the bye or not, our kids just want to play,” Barnes said. “That bye can sometimes be a double-edged sword because you’re sitting out and waiting so long to get your first game in. When you’re No. 9, 10 or 11, you get a pretty decent draw, you get to play at home and you get to stay in a routine.”
Baton Rouge is well represented in Division III, with five schools reaching the postseason, including four from District 5.
University High headlines the group at No. 4, while No. 9 Episcopal hosts No. 24 Grant, No. 13 Parkview Baptist hosts No. 20 North DeSoto and No. 18 St. Michael will travel to No. 15 Loyola Prep.
No. 10 Lutcher will host No. 23 Pearl River.