After playing only seven home games this season, the Catholic High soccer team may feel out of place hosting the first round of the Division I playoffs. Fortunately for the Bears, they’ll have a favorable seeding as they earned the No. 5 spot and a date against No. 28 Airline in the opening round at 5 p.m. Friday at Burbank Soccer Complex.
Catholic coach Bo Cassidy said that while the Bears’ high ranking puts them in a good spot going into the postseason, the fact he doesn’t know much about Airline (13-9-0) means he won’t be taking the game lightly.
“I’ve had teams that have lost in the first round before,” Cassidy said. “We’re just going to take it one game at a time. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s what we have to do.”
Catholic (14-1-5) is in an unusual situation for a highly ranked team at the end of the season. Cassidy hasn’t settled on a starting 11 with just a few days before he kicks off a hopeful run at the school’s first state championship since 1993.
One of the key holdups in Catholic’ lineup has been the absence of senior center back Julian Bourgeois, who is out for the season after suffering a torn ACL against Jesuit in December.
Cassidy said the situation creates domino effect as he tries to rearrange his roster, but the Bears are trying to turn the issue into a positive by focusing on the competitive atmosphere around filling the void.
“Every guy is engaged right now,” Cassidy said. “Everyone knows they could play in a game.”
Catholic’s only loss of the year came at the hands of No. 1 seed St. Paul’s (17-0-1) in the finals of the Wolves’ Holiday Tournament.
But even with the loss, Cassidy said his team learned what it would take to compete against the top talent in the state.
“Individually (St. Paul’s is) very talented, but collectively they’ll play for one another, they work for each other, they defend for each other,” Cassidy said.
“I think that’s been one of our goals moving forward is to emulate that sense of team that St Paul’s has.”
The top-ranked Wolves will start a run at their fifth consecutive state finals appearance with a game against Alexandria (4-11-5) this weekend.
The Bears won’t be the only team to represent Division I, District 5 in the postseason, as five other schools earned a bid into the playoffs.
At least one of those teams will be eliminated after the first weekend, though. No. 16 St. Amant (14-6-3) will take on No. 17 Baton Rouge High (10-5-8) in the opening round of play.
Division I, District 4 champ — and total wins leader for the state — No. 7 Denham Springs (27-4-1) sits just outside the top five seeds where it’ll play No. 26 Hammond (12-7-2).
Baton Rouge also produced a pair of No. 2 seeds in Division II St. Michael (19-4-5) and Division III University Lab (23-1-2). The Warriors will face No. 31 Ellender (1-8-2), while the Cubs take on No. 31 Christian Life (4-11).
Beau Chene and St. Louis are the top seeds in Division II and III.