Perhaps in 2014 University High will find itself on the opposite side of the Louisiana High School Athletic Association Division III girls soccer playoff bracket from Sacred Heart-New Orleans.
Until then though, the Cubs might rest uneasy after being eliminated by the Cardinals for the third time in four years, after dropping a 3-1 decision at Boss Field/Gill Stadium on Friday night.
The Cubs overcame a shocking early own goal to tie the match at one apiece following a strike by Abbey Underwood, but goals from corner kicks by Emily Ellison and Megan Terral proved the difference for three-time defending state champion Sacred Heart.
“It was a pretty gutsy performance,” said Sacred Heart coach Tooraj Badie. “We were on our back heels for the first 20 minutes of the game. We settled down and played really good defense, and all of the set pieces we worked on this past week paid off today.”
University’s nightmare moment occurred in the first minute when Hannah Hyman knocked the ball past goalkeeper Elizabeth Bankhead for an own goal.
Far from rattled though, University responded by going on an all-out attack, and almost tied the game a minute later when Annabell Simpson forced Cardinals’ goalkeeper Megan LeBlanc into making a save.
The Cubs dominated the opening portion of the match, and finally tied it when Underwood shot into the far side of the net on the turn in the seventh minute.
“That says a lot about our seniors, and what they’re about that they weren’t going to let that fluke determine their season,” University coach Melissa Ramsey said. “They did push forward and did a very good job after that.”
As the first half wore on the encounter grew more balanced, and Sacred Heart began to get back in the match. In the 30th minute, Sarah Martin made a strong run into the Cubs’ penalty area, only to have her shot tipped wide by Bankhead.
Emily Ellison put Sacred Heart back in front in the 44th minute when her corner curved past Bankhead and into the goal.
Simpson almost leveled the game minutes later though, but she was unable to cleanly strike the long ball that found her at the edge of the penalty area, and LeBlanc knocked it into the path of a teammate who cleared safely.
The game turned physical for a spell in the second half, and University won a number of free kicks during a rough 10-minute spell.
The Cubs failed to turn any of those set plays into goals however, and the Cardinals took a 2-1 lead into the final 20 minutes.
Underwood poked the ball home and appeared to have tied it a second time in the 63rd minute, but the linesman’s flag was raised for offside and the goal was waved off.
The Cardinals then put the match out of reach in the 77th minute when Terral headed home an Ellison corner, sending Sacred Heart to their eleventh straight state final.