COVINGTON — It looks like there’s going to be a new No. 1 in the state Division I girls soccer poll.
With a 4-2 victory on penalty kicks over No. 1 Fontainebleau Friday night, No. 2 St. Scholastica might have guaranteed that it would ascend to the top spot when the new Louisiana High School Soccer Coaches Association power rankings are issued Monday.
It also means Fontainebleau will tumble after losing its second straight heartbreaker to another top-10 team. On Wednesday, the Bulldogs suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of No. 7 Mandeville.
After battling through a physical, sometimes chippy regulation session and two overtimes marked by stellar midfield play but few real scoring chances, St. Scholastica and Fontainebleau found their fates coming down to penalty kicks.
Each of the squads’ first shooters netted a goal, but Doves keeper Elena Naccari scooped up Fontainebleau’s Danielle Sabathe’s second shot before Rebecca Beatty snuck the Doves’ second shot past Bulldogs goalkeeper Kristen Guidotti.
The two squads then traded goals with their third shooters before Fontainebleau’s fourth girl up, Christina Pando, sailed her shot over the crossbar. Then it just took St. Scholastica’s Maegan Due’s goal to complete the Doves’ 4-2 triumph.
“It’s so mentally challenging,” Due said of penalty kicks. “I’m glad I came through for the team.”
Naccari said she, too, felt the penalty kick pressure, but she bore down and made the crucial save against Sabathe.
“I’m not particularly fond of (penalty kicks),” Naccari said. “I was just trying to do my best. From the way (Sabathe) was standing and the way she ran up, I could tell which way she was going to go, and I just dropped on it.”
It was a thrilling conclusion to a back-and-forth contest in which both teams at times seemed to be playing for penalty kicks, with neither the Bulldogs nor the Doves producing many scoring chances.
Neither squad played its sharpest game of the year, but the Doves and Bulldogs were evenly matched for the entire contest.
The match was contested on the turf at St. Paul’s School’s Hunter Stadium after the host Doves’ grass pitches were deemed too soggy for play.
Of the two squads, St. Scholastica offered more offensive pressure, while Fontainebleau maintained a more defensive stance, tactics that yielded a 0-0 standoff after a total of 100 minutes of play.
The victory boosted the Doves’ season mark to 12-1-2 and 9-1 in Division I, District 6 play, while the Bulldogs fell to 12-3-2, 8-2-0. The contest also sets up yet another top-10 showdown for St. Scholastica next Friday when it faces district rival Mandeville.
With such a challenge still looming ahead, the Doves are trying not to let the triumph over the Bulldogs go to their heads.
“It was a pretty huge win for us, but we have to stay focused because we have more games to play,” Due said.
For Fontainebleau, it left the Bulldogs nursing injuries, licking their wounds and bravely soldiering on toward the playoffs despite the consecutive defeats.
“It’s a tough loss,” Bulldog coach Carly Hotard said. “The girls played hard, and I’m proud of them all. They played with a lot of heart.”