St. Scholastica top seed in Division I girls soccer

NEW ORLEANS — Sure, it’s a cliché, but it’s also true.

When the playoffs begin, the slate is wiped clean, and records go out the window.

Such was the sentiment of St. Scholastica girls soccer coach Mike Ortner Tuesday, when the Louisiana High School Athletic Association released the pairings for the state playoffs. Scholastica, the top-ranked team in the state in Division I, received that division’s No. 1 seeding.

Ortner said he and his players are grateful and proud of the top seeding, which he said reflects the Doves’ regular-season hard work and accomplishments. But, he added, in the playoffs, No. 1 is just that — a number.

“This is when the second season starts,” said Ortner, whose squad hosts No. 32 seed H.L. Bourgeois in the bidistrict round at 6 p.m. Thursday. “Now it’s win or go home, and we know we have some hard games in front of us.”

While St. Scholastica earned the top spot in Division I, Vandebilt Catholic picked up the highest seed in Division II, and Loyola Prep got the nod in Division III.

In Division II, the highest seed earned by a New Orleans- area school was Ben Franklin at No. 3.

Ben Franklin coach Jose Ferrand, whose team enters the postseason unbeaten, had hoped for a higher spot, but he knows some observers feel the Falcons have played a relatively weak schedule compared to squads like Vandebilt and No. 2 Teurlings Catholic.

But Ferrand said he and the Falcons won’t dwell too much on people’s perceptions of his squad, or anyone other squad, because in the postseason, none of that matters.

“People have said we haven’t played any real competition,” he said.

“It’s kind of upsetting that we were only seeded third. But now we just have to work hard and play our best, and hopefully we’ll make it to the state championship.”

Franklin received a first-round bye, as did its archrival and local power Lakeshore, which is seeded sixth. If both squads win their second-round contests, the two schools will meet for the third time this season in the quarterfinals. The Falcons swept the two regular-season contests between the programs.

“It’s kind of upsetting that we have to play (Lakeshore) a third time,” he said. “But now we just have to work hard and play our best, and hopefully we’ll make it to the state championship.”

First-round contests for all three divisions begin Thursday, with the state title games scheduled for Feb. 22 (Division III) and Feb. 23 (I and II).

Mandeville coach Sean Esker, whose Skippers picked up the No. 8 seed In Division I, said his squad is already looking forward to its bidistrict match against 25th-seeded Live Oak.

He said at his team’s practice Tuesday he told the girls everything starts over in the playoffs and not to worry about what seeding they earned.

“Sure, we’d rather be a little higher than eighth,” Esker said. “But no matter where you’re seeded, you have to win five games to win a championship, and I hope we can win five games.”