When the Episcopal School of Acadiana girls soccer team began the season 1-5-1, the Falcons weren’t overly concerned.
For those first three weeks, coach Dione Leger fielded a team without half its starters who were either injured or dealing with COVID issues. Also, all of the losses were against larger schools.
After Leger assembled her full roster on Dec. 12, the Falcons won 10 of their next 12 games.
At 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at No. 19 Country Day in Metairie, the No. 11 Falcons can reach the Division IV semifinals for the first time since Leger returned to the program in 2020.
“We knew our situation,” Leger said of the slow start to the season. “We put it into perspective. Sometimes it’s good to lose. It helps you grow and mature mentally.”
Leger, who coached the Falcons to their first state final appearance in 2004, is also coaching her daughter for the last time this season.
Two weeks before the Falcons’ state championship game against Newman in 2004, Piper Leger was born. Piper is one of four seniors who have started since they were seventh-graders.
“We have incredible senior leadership,” Leger said of the group, which also includes Maddie Breaux, Taylor Guillotte and Lily Wu-Laudun. “It’s a real bonus having all of that experience on the field.”
Guillotte has scored eight goals with five assists. Breaux also excels at distributing the ball, Wu-Laudun brings speed and quickness to the back and Piper Leger is an ace defender.
Sophomore forward Anna Breaux (23 goals, two assists) and freshman Grace Pellegrin (17 goals, 10 assists) are the top offensive producers.
In Saturday’s second-round 2-1 win at No. 6 Episcopal, eighth-grader Lila Pugilese scored the first goal.
The defensive-minded Falcons have allowed only 11 goals in their past 17 games with 10 shutouts.
“Our goalie, Sophie Lasecki, has done a great job,” Leger said. “We really focus on high pressure and on-ball communication. “We have great defensive communication. The girls in back are very organized, and they hold themselves accountable.”
The Falcons (13-6-1) were forced to travel in the quarterfinals when Country Day upset No. 3 Houma Christian in the second round. The 5-12 Cajuns, who ousted No. 14 Highland Baptist in the first round, are hosting their first playoff game.
“Any team out of the New Orleans area is going to bring a high level of competition to the field,” Leger said. “Anytime you go to New Orleans, you can expect the opponent to have experienced club players.
“We’re looking to have an intense game. We’re going to focus on what has brought us success, and that is good communication and winning all the balls out of the air.”
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