NEW ORLEANS — From the biggest to the smallest and the highest to the lowest, every school at all three levels that qualified for the state boys soccer playoffs — the pairings which were announced Wednesday by the LHSAA — has a tough haul ahead.
Jesuit coach Hubie Collins, whose squad earned the No. 2 seed in Division I, and St. Martin’s Episcopal coach Matt Millet, whose team picked up the 14th seed in Division III and other New Orleans-area coaches expressed similar sentiments about their squads’ draw Wednesday.
“We’re just one of 32 teams that made it into the playoffs, and they’re all quality teams,” Collins said. “We’re one of 32, and each game is a knockout game. Everybody knows what happens if you lose.”
Meanwhile, in Metairie, Millet was preparing his boys for a fight from the outset of the playoffs, which start Friday with the bidistrict round.
“I’m fairly confident in our guys, but we know that in the first couple rounds we have a couple good teams,” said Millet, whose Saints host No. 19 seed Haynes Academy in the first round. “Hopefully we can make it to the second round.”
The only New Orleans-area school to pick up a top seed was Isidore Newman, which is pegged No. 1 in Division III and will host No. 32 Houma Christian on Friday. The top seed in Division I was garnered by Lafayette, while Alexandria tops the Division II bracket.
Newman coach Matt Jacques said while his squad might be one of the favorites to make it to the state championship game Feb. 22 at Tad Gormley Stadium, he’s telling the Greenies not to look look past their first-round contest.
“We have to take it one game at a time,” said Jacques, whose team is 15-2-3. “That’s how we do things here. We don’t look ahead. We try to accomplish the task at hand.”
Jesuit, meanwhile, is the highest Division I seed from the Crescent City at second, but Brother Martin is right behind at No. 3. The two District 9 rivals are in the same half of the Division I draw, and if each squad wins out, they could square off in a in the semifinals Feb. 16, roughly a month after Jesuit ground out a grueling, 1-0 regular-season win over the Crusaders.
Jesuit begins the playoffs by hosting No. 31 seed Natchitoches Central, while Brother Martin begins with 30th-seeded Live Oak in the bidistrict round. Both contests are set for Saturday.
In Division II, No. 8 Ben Franklin was the highest seed locally. Franklin coach Jose Ferrand said he was hoping for a bit higher seed, but the Falcons will deal with the hand they’ve been dealt — a first-round bye, then a regional date with the winner of No. 9 Lakeshore-No. 24 West Ouachita.
“I think our kids are ready,” Ferrand said. “Hopefully we can put together a run to the state championship. I think my boys are capable of it.
“They’re working hard and playing well. We’ve had a couple lapses in recent games, but I have confidence in my coaches (to get the team ready for the playoffs).”
Every team in the playoffs is shooting for a spot in the state championship games, which are scheduled for Feb. 22 (Division III) and Feb. 23 (Divisions I and II) at Gormley Stadium in New Orleans.
As New Orleans’ only No. 1 seed, Newman enters the postseason with a target on its back. While the rest of the Division III draw will be gunning for the Greenies, Jacques said it’s all part of the playoff atmosphere.
“There’s going to be pressure no matter what your seed,” he said. “It’s the playoffs. It’s win or go home.”
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