Journal – Lady Gators earn school records for wins, shutouts in playoff opener

Captain Shreve’s fourth-ranked Lady Gators set a school single-season record for wins and dispatched No. 29 Denham Springs, 3-0, in the opening round of the LHSAA Division 1 soccer playoffs Tuesday night at Lee Hedges Stadium.

The program’s 25th win is an all-time best. Shreve got its first two goals by Kiley Rourke and the last from Maddie Aubrey. Brooklyn Lattier and Alex Knight each had an assist.

Avery Watson made five saves, including a diving effort late in the second half to preserve the team’s school-record 22nd shutout, while setting the program’s individual record of 21 zeroes.

Denham Springs freshman keeper Claire Findley kept the Lady Yellow Jackets in the game with 13 saves, six of which were high stress denials that even the Shreve fans had to cheer.

The game did not start the way the Lady Gators hoped. Denham Springs took control and had two shots on goal before Shreve possessed the ball. All that changed in the fifth minute of play when Emma Bradford got free on a breakaway and headed to goal. Denham’s Findley came off her line to dive at Bradford’s feet and made the save, but the tone changed. A couple minutes later Bradford created another breakaway, and shot earlier, but Findley made an athletic save.

This bolstered the Lady Jackets’ confidence and they were able to hold onto the ball for long periods of time in the half. In the 17th minute, Shreve’s Rourke took a free kick from 30 yards out that Findley was able to snag, but momentum took the ball over the goal line for the half’s only score. Shreve nearly doubled its lead when a shot hit the crossbar later in the half.

The second half started strong for Shreve as Lattier hit a ball just wide, then Rourke found the cross bar. In the 13th minute Lattier’s corner kick was located by Rourke, who headed it toward the net. Denham’s Findley dove, got her fingers on it, but couldn’t keep it out.

The Lady Gators’ final goal came when Knight passed to Aubrey, who took a touch around a defender and scored. The final margin would have been higher, if Shreve hadn’t struck the crossbar five times and the post once.

Captain Shreve will host No. 13 Baton Rouge in Round Two on Sunday afternoon at 2 in Lee Hedges Stadium.