By DAVID ERSOFF, Journal Sports
A tune up for the state girls soccer playoffs sent Byrd High south to Cajun country, where the Lady Jackets didn’t find much warmer weather but did pick up valuable lessons and experience.
Ranked ninth in Division I, Byrd met 2021 D1 state champion Mt. Carmel (ranked 10th currently) and D1 No. 2 Dominican on neutral ground at St. Thomas More. With the loss of Elizabeth Klotzbach to a knee injury and the limitations of All State forward Khiana Roraback and starting center back Skylar Burke, due to nagging leg injuries, Byrd was forced to change tactics to a more defensive posture.
Friday’s 0-0 tie with Mr. Carmel was truly even, with both teams getting chances to score. Byrd’s senior keeper, ULM signee Emerson Roberts, had 10 saves. The offense was able to put seven shots on frame, none of which could secure the victory.
Saturday was a different story in a 7-0 loss to Dominican. Byrd’s offense could only muster one corner kick and one shot on goal. Dominican rode four goals and two assists from reigning Louisiana Gatorade Player of the Year Kelsey Major. Ella Goings scored two goals and had an assist.
The bright spot for the Lady Jackets was Roberts, with 13 saves including two 1-on-1’s by the potent Dominican offense. The first half was dominated by Dominican, as they scored three goals in the first 30 minutes. With three minutes left in the half, Dominican went full on attack and scored three more times before the halftime whistle.
The second half was played more in the middle of the field, with the Lady Jackets only yielding one more goal. They gained some much-needed confidence by possessing the ball much more and connecting passes the way we are used to seeing them do.
Byrd will look to rebound this week, busy with games against Airline, Lafayette, Natchitoches Central and Loyola.
Before the three-hour ride south, earlier last week Byrd beat Alexandria 3-1. The Lady Jackets got goals from Landry Jones, Ellie Lawrence and Elizabeth Whitton. Roberts had 5 saves, her lone goal given up was a penalty kick. They also beat Southwood 8-0. Jones, Whitton and Claire Flurry had two goals each. Ainsley Davis and Khaela Roraback scored a goal each. Roberts had one save in the game.
Photo: by EMILY SMITH