When the final whistle blew on the brutal, winner-takes-all matchup for the Division II, District 5 title between the St. Michael and Lutcher girls soccer teams, there was no celebration or tears of joy.
The sidelines of the Burbank Soccer Complex stood still as the roughly 150 fans quietly waited for something, anything, to happen. But nothing did because after 80 minutes of play, the Warriors and Bulldogs finished in a scoreless tie.
It was the second time this season the two programs had squared off to a draw — the first being a 1-1 game in the first round of district play — and this time around, both sides were visibly frustrated and emotionally tense during postgame handshakes.
“It’s a very undramatic finish,” said St. Michael coach Jennifer Franklin, whose team moved to 9-2-6 and 1-0-2 in district. “It’s disappointing because neither team can walk off with a win or a loss either time and we would like to have a winner at this point.”
Lutcher coach Garrett Baham used the same “undramatic” phrasing as Franklin as he tried to congratulate both teams on a hard-fought game, but the disappointment continued to shine through.
“I think both teams deserved a better end to the game than this,” said Baham, whose team moved to 13-4-3, 2-0-2 in its regular-season finale. “With the new rules, we really need to look at that next year. Both teams really needed a deciding factor to who is the district champs instead of just an ending like this.”
St. Michael can tie Lutcher for the district title if it beats Plaquemine on Monday. The Warriors defeated Plaquemine 8-0 in the first round of district. The game is slated for 6 p.m. in Plaquemine.
Lutcher got out to a fast start as it put pressure on the St. Michael back line with a barrage of breakaways against starting keeper Alyssa McCarron. The sophomore came up big each time, though, shutting down most runs with an aggressive and physical presence in the box before a shot could be taken.
McCarron came up with a pair of saves before Franklin opted to switch in freshman Kendall Perryman in the second half. Perryman produced a pair of saves herself.
“It was a big game, it was district, it was for district champs,” McCarron said. “It’s still a win in my heart, no matter what the score is on the scoreboard — as long as we played well.”
Lutcher finished the night out-shooting St. Michael 8-4.
Tempers began to flare in the final minutes when Lutcher midfielder Chelsea Roussel was ejected for throwing a punch at one of the Warriors’ players. As a result of the call, the Bulldogs’ center back Wryn Williamson also was sent off with a yellow card after an unsportsmanlike gesture directed at St. Michael’s fans.
“It’s a rivalry between the two teams,” Baham said. “We’ve gotten the better of them the past three years, but this year, of course, we’re (potential) co-champs, so they’ve got a little bit better feeling than they have in years before, so congrats to them.”