The 10th-seeded Terrebonne Lady Tigers had to grind out a 3-0 victory over No. 23 Belle Chasse on Wednesday night in the first round of the Division II soccer playoffs at Thomas B. Smith Memorial Stadium in Houma.
Terrebonne will next face No. 7 Central Lafourche (first-round bye), a district rival of the Lady Tigers, in the regional round on Tuesday in Mathews.
Emma Marcel, Allison Picou and Aaliyah Van Buren each scored a goal for Terrebonne on Wednesday.
“We worked hard and played smart enough to get the win, but Belle Chasse made life very difficult for us on the field,” Lady Tigers coach John Hebert said. “They did a great job of closing things down.”
“I was worried because we were ranked kind of low in the rankings this year. Both teams played amazingly. It was a fair, even match,” Lady Cardinals coach Valerie Jones said. “They played hard, but they played clean. I’m proud of both teams.”
There weren’t a lot of scoring opportunities in the first half as both defenses denied long runs by packing the passing lanes.
The Terrebonne (19-6-3 overall) offense came alive midway through the first half.
Gabby Champagne had a two chances in the 20th minute: a 20-yard shot that was saved and a header that bounced off the crossbar.
Marcel broke the drought in the 22nd minute when she booted a 20-yard shot that just went over the head of Belle Chasse goalie Abbie Irby (nine saves) and Terrebonne carried a 1-0 lead into halftime.
“Sara (Pellegrin) passed me the ball. I was further back, and I just cut it back and I shot it,” Marcel said. “It kind of deflected off her head and went into the corner.”
“We had a little control problem. We couldn’t get passes to our strikers, and their two middle defenders were working it,” Jones said. “Other than that, we pushed the ball as hard as we could. We kept pushing forward, and that’s all I can ask of them.”
Belle Chasse (14-4-1 overall) had a couple of chances to land an equalizer early in the second half.
In the 50th minute, Julia Poole made a long run and fired a 15-yard shot that rolled just wide of the net.
In the 58th minute off a throw-in, Joselyn Guzman belted a 10-yard that sailed left of the net.
“We made a midfield change, and we worked on switching the field more, but we just couldn’t get those shots in in the end,” Jones said.
In the 61st minute, Belle Chasse was whistled for a handball in the penalty box and Picou blasted the penalty kick passed Irby for a 2-0 advantage.
Belle Chasse was able to limit Terrebonne’s shooting barrage until the final 10 minutes when Champagne and Van Buren continuously attacked inside the penalty box.
The Lady Cardinals blocked and saved every shot except the last one when Champagne dribbled the ball close to the net and dropped off a pass to Van Buren who booted in a three-yard goal.
“We went back to our original set and spread them out. They started to chase, and we were able to get those two goals,” Hebert said. “My back line has solid all year. They’ve been great at keeping everything in front of us, and then turning it back to our attack.”
“Our defensive line works super hard. Our middle defender Kendall Stone really worked it,” Jones said. “She had everybody back and made sure the goalie was protected the whole time. Pretty much all their shots that were blocked can be credited to her.”
Terrebonne will next meet its district rival Central Lafourche for the third time this season in the second round of the playoffs.
The Lady Trojans won the previous two matches by a combined score of 9-1.
“Central Lafourche is a very good team,” Hebert said. “We have our work cut out for us, but we’ll try to figure out how we can win and we will be ready to play them.”