STM Girls Soccer Team Wins State Championship
Mar 08, 2018 03:08PM
● By News Desk
After ten years of clawing their way back to the top, Saint Thomas More High School’s Lady Cougar soccer team has re-claimed the title of State Champions in the LHSSA Division II State Final on February 22 against the Central Lafourche Lady Trojans in a 1-0 win.
STM athletics over the past decade has claimed several state titles and even more state playoff appearances. But, for the Lady Cougar soccer team, it’s been a 10 year dry streak since their last state title despite being district champs five times since and state runner-up in 2014 and 2017. Finally, after a long fought season, going 18-6-3 and undefeated in district play, the Lady Cougars clinched their 5th state championship.
“It’s so exciting for these girls, all of their hard work paid off,” shared Assistant Coach Nicole Dincau. Dincau is an STM alumni and former varsity soccer player. “We got so close to winning when I was here, so it made the win all the better.”
Coach Daniel Underwood has been with the team for the past three seasons and is elated with the girls’ win.
“We’ve been getting closer and closer over the past four years,” he started, “four years ago we lost in the finals against Ben Franklin, then we lost out in the semi’s the next two years. And last year we lost in the finals against Lakeshore. So this win is so special for these seniors who have fought for it year after year.”
Something else that makes this win all the more sweet was the fact that the game winning goal came from a header. The team, according to Underwood, has always been a bit hesitant when using their heads to score in the game, but when they do, they make it count.
“Two of our biggest goals of the season were off of headers. We had one against Ben Franklin in the quarterfinals and, obviously, the one in the final,” said Underwood.
The senior class mutually agreed the quarter final game against Ben Franklin was a pivotal moment for their season.
“This is it, this is real,” said Emily LeJeune. Her teammates echoed her response saying after defeating Ben Franklin, they had “no doubt in their minds” they were going to win it all.
Fueled by last year’s overtime loss against Lakeshore, the Cougars started off their final game strong, striking and scoring in the 15th minute of the game. Mattie Marks, a senior, is to credit for the only goal of the game.
After a beautifully placed cross shot from Peyton St. Pierre, Marks acted on reflex and headed the ball into the net, out of reach from the goalie.
In fact, thanks to her game winning header and her continued hard work throughout the final, Marks was awarded Most Outstanding Player of the game.
Caroline Morton, a senior right-back, said “Mattie scored and it really eased our nerves as a team. After that we were like ‘Okay, we got this.’” Morton, after high school, has signed to play for Nicholls State and said she is so excited to get out there.
The first half of the game saw a lot of defensive work played by the Lady Cougars only allowing three shots on goal compared to their seven.
Defense was key for this Lady Cougars soccer team this season and Underwood said he always tells the girls “defense wins championships” and obviously, he was right.
“We really leaned on our defense this season. They time-and-time again stepped up when we needed them and didn’t disappoint. We have some really strong players in the back,” praised Underwood.
Despite starting the game off with an early goal, the Lady Cougars were unable to connect with the net again, but thanks to a stellar performance by starting sophomore goalkeeper, Paityn Gautreaux, the Lady Trojans were kept off the boards, unable to answer the Cougars’ one goal.
Paityn worked hard the second half of the game as the opposing offense had seven shots on goal, matching the Cougar’s first half performance. Within the last five minutes of the game, she killed a close, on-target free kick.
“The free kick came at her like a laser. Normally, most keepers give up a rebound opportunity on free kicks but she stuffed it and held on,” shared Underwood. Despite being such a young player and having lacked varsity experience prior to this season, the young keeper really stepped up and showed up for her team. During her three play-off games in goal, she held her opponents to zero goals the whole state tournament. If she continues to grow and play the way she’s playing, then this young player is definitely one to keep an eye on in the future.
This season was special and bittersweet for many.
Colleen Vidos has started for STM the past three seasons. Unfortunately, towards the end of her senior season, she tore her ACL and was unable to play the tail end of the season.
Lindsey Reaux has been team-captain for the past two years and has proven herself to be a vocal leader and like Vidos, also suffered an injury this season.
“I had to miss three of the biggest games of the season, it was so hard not being out there,” she shared. She then admitted it was bittersweet seeing her best friend unable to play after having worked so hard with her over the years and seeing her have to miss out.
“We kind of dedicated this win and this season to Colleen,” she admitted. “We wanted to do this for her.”
Reaux said she and her teammates were inspired by a bible verse this season; Ezra 10:4, “Rise up, take courage and do it.” And that’s exactly what Colleen was able to do in the final minutes of her last soccer game.
In the last few minutes of the game, Underwood decided to put Colleen in the game to finish out her soccer career the right way; by leaving everything she had on the field.
“It was something special to see,” admitted Underwood. “You ask these kids to give you so much, and watching her go out there and leaving it all on the field? That’s what it's all about.”
Colleen, after weeks on the bench, was given one last chance and she didn’t hold back. She stepped up and cleared a ball from the corner before driving it down field, narrowly missing a goal.
“What a way to end my senior year,” said Colleen, thankful for her coach’s decision to put her in. Unfortunately, given her most recent injury, she won’t be going on to play college ball, but looks forward to healing and getting better.
This state title was the first in ten years for the girls program and the news has brought past winning alumni back to their old stomping grounds.
“Three women from the 2008 state championship team came visit us today,” said Assistant coach Katie Breaux. “This is the type of thing that brings the community together.” With a community as close as Lafayette, it’s no wonder these past players came back to celebrate their team’s win.
Three seniors on the team, as mentioned above, have signed to continue playing soccer during their collegiate careers once graduating from STM.
Mattie Marks signed with Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi. During her time as a Lady Cougar, Mattie was honored as District Offensive MVP, was 1st team all-state and academic-all-state.
Lindsey Reaux signed with Southeastern out of Hammond. Lindsey, who was a two year team captain, also has a few titles under her belt; All-district defensive MVP, 1st team all-state and was an all-star selection.
Another senior is Caroline Morton, who Underwood has labeled as “a strong player and leader,” has been 1st team all-district and has signed with Nicholls State out of Thibodaux where she plans to continue her soccer career.
Seniors were not the only shining stars of the season, in fact, two juniors have already committed to their schools of choice. Julia Spielmann and Maddie Moreau have committed to St. Edwards and Louisiana State University, respectively. Maddie has been district MVP and joined a few of her teammates as 1st team all-state as well.
“She’s the real deal,” added Underwood referencing Moreau.
Senior Emily LeJeune and junior Claire Werther also stood out during the season and were, each on their own, honored as Advertiser Player of the week.
The Lady Cougars are sad to see their seniors go, but look forward for the seasons to come and wish their teammates good luck. Underwood and his assistant coaches, Dincau and Katie Breaux, former Lafayette High School girls coach of 12 years, all plan on returning to the pitch next season.
Way to go Lady Cougars! Keep making Lafayette proud and good luck with all of your future endeavors!
The team’s motto was Ezra 10:4 “Rise up, take courage and do it.”
The St.Thomas More Varsity Girls Soccer ended the 2017-2018 season with an overall record of 18-6-3, was 4-0 in District play, ranked 10 in the State (LA) and 48th Nationally.
2017-2018 Roster: Avery Wright, Paityn Gautreaux, Mattie Marks, Anna Guillory, Lindsey Reaux, Riley Leblanc, Avery Quoyeser, Maddie Moreau, Julia Spielmann, Peyton St. Pierre, Taylor Tucker, Colleen Vidos, Emily Champion, Natalie Roy, Emily LeJuene, Ainsely Morgan, Amelie Etcheverria, Claire Werther, Kate David, Addison Wright, Caroline Morton, Lexi Cheramie, Erin Bednarz, Ann Marie Alack, Meredith Arnold, Harper Skrasek Continued>
Staff: Daniel Underwood Head Coach, Katie Breaux Asst. Coach, Nicole Dincau Asst. Coach, Tommy Wilder Asst. Coach, Tim Sharlow GK/Asst. Coach.
Photos submitted by Elizabeth Champion, Martha Manuel LeJeune and multiple team parents.