Nine New Orleans area boys soccer teams earn first-round byes as LHSAA announces playoff pairings _lowres

Advocate staff photo by APRIL BUFFINGTON -- St. Paul's Michael Boudreaux, left, and Denham Springs' Cam Hilliard battle for the ball during a Jan. 5 game at Denham Springs.

The New Orleans area had nine boys soccer teams earn first-round byes as the LHSAA announced its playoff pairings Wednesday.

The top eight teams in each bracket will receive first-round byes and host second-round matches. Besides the team with first-round byes, 17 other teams will play first-round matches this week.

The LHSAA Soccer State Championships will be held nightly beginning Feb. 24 at Tad Gormley Stadium with the Division IV championship match and concluding Feb. 27 with the Division I championship match. Each match is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.

Below is a breakdown of New Orleans-area squads in each division.

Division I

There were few surprises in the top eight of the Division I bracket as three New Orleans-area teams earned byes. District 4 champion and two-time defending state champion St. Paul’s (23-1-3) is the top seed, while district foe Mandeville (18-2-2) is second. District 6 champ Jesuit (18-2-2) is the fourth-seed, which puts the Blue Jays on course to play St. Paul’s in the semifinals if the seeds hold.

Wolves coach Sean Moser said his team, which has make five straight finals appearances, will benefit from home field advantage and showed its toughness in wins over Mandeville and Ben Franklin in the past two days.

Three other local squads earned the right to host in the first round as No. 10 Grace King (17-5-2) will host No. 23 Fontainebleau (9-7-4). No. 14 Brother Martin (13-4-3) will host 19th-seeded East Ascension. No. 15 Northshore (11-7-3) will play District 5 runner-up and No. 18 seed Destrehan (10-5-4), and the winner of that match gets Mandeville in the second round.

Division II

A trio of New Orleans area schools earned first-round byes in Division II highlighted by No. 6 and District 6 champion Holy Cross (12-5-8). District 7 champion Riverdale (13-1-2) is the seventh seed, and District 6-II runner-up Lakeshore (11-5-6) claimed the final bye as the 8th seed.

Holy Cross coach Luke Sheekey said the district title and first-round bye were important steps for his young team as it eyes a playoff run.

No. 9 East Jefferson (14-4-4) just missed out on a bye and will host No. 24 Salmen (5-8-2) in the first round. No. 11 Ben Franklin (9-7-5) hosts No. 22 Helen Cox (6-8-2) while No. 19 West Jefferson (9-4-4) will travel to 14th-seeded Ouachita Parish.

Division III

Only four New Orleans-area teams qualified for the playoffs in Division III, and only one of those schools will host in the opening round as District 6 champion and No. 12 Lusher (8-3-4) hosts No. 21 New Orleans Military and Maritime Academy (4-10-2). No. 19 International High School of New Orleans (9-4-2) travels to No. 14 Morgan City while No. 23 Pearl River (6-10-3) will battle No. 10 Lutcher.

Division IV

Second-seeded and District 8 champion Newman (13-3-3) highlight eight New Orleans area teams in the Division IV playoffs, including three with first-round byes. No. 5 Northlake Christian (12-2-5) and No. 6 Haynes (13-4-3) round out the New Orleans-area first-round byes.

Riverside (9-5-2) earned the No. 14 seed and will host No. 19 Runnels while District 7 champion Country Day (10-9-0) is the 15th seed and will host No. 18 Opelousas Catholic. District 6 champion St. Charles Catholic (6-8-2) will travel to No. 16 Pope John Paul II (10-13-0).

No. 23 St. Martin’s (8-10-2) will make the long trip to No. 10 Evangel.