It took second-seeded Sacred Heart about 15 minutes to score its first goal on Monday afternoon, and the Cardinals went on a roll from there.
Led by Mary Mitchell Henry’s hat trick, Sacred Heart earned a mercy rule shorted 8-0 Division III regional playoff victory over No. 15 Lusher at Pan American Stadium.
“The first 15 minutes were rough for us,” Sacred Heart senior Emily Hardie said. “Once we scored the first goal, we got a lot of momentum, but we need to do that from the start. It’s a completely mental game. We knew what we had to do, so finishing this game in the first half was the best way to do it.”
Sacred Heart (14-4-3) will play either No. 10 Ursuline or No. 7 Episcopal in the quarterfinals.
The District 5-III champion Cardinals struggled against the Lions’ defensive formation early, but Margaret Fitzpatrick scored in the 16th minute after the Lusher keeper mishandled a corner kick.
The flood gates opened from there as Catherine Crocker scored two minutes later on a 20-yard shot, and Henry followed with three straight goals for her first career hat trick.
“I don’t think I’ve had (a hat trick) before, so it’s definitely special,” Henry said. “It’s fun to shoot. I’ve had more confidence shooting this season, so I think I’m starting to find my groove. I’m definitely excited for the rest of the playoffs. We have the goal of winning state in mind, so we were really motivated to play hard.”
Freshman Addie Roemerhauser scored after a nice pass from Maggie Malone to make it 6-0, and Sarah Dawson added another goal in the 36th minute. Malone scored in stoppage time to end the match before the first half whistle.
Lusher (7-11-3) came into the match riding some program history. The Lions defeated Belle Chasse 4-1 to advance, which marked the program’s first postseason victory.
Lusher coach Joseph Locascio said he would have liked to see his team get a chance to play with the wind in the second half, but he was proud of his players’ effort.
“I think the wind helped them out,” he said. “We were hoping to get to the second half, so we’d have a couple of opportunities to score with the wind. The wind definitely affected three or four goals, but we played hard. It was the first time we made it to the second round, so I’m proud of them.”
Henry said the Cardinals will focus on starting stronger as the playoffs continue.
“We just need to start off faster and stronger, and not wait until 15 minutes into the game to start scoring,” she said. “Once we get that first goal, everyone gets their momentum going, so we need to do that right from the start.”