This year’s Live Oak girls soccer team has gone about this season changing the course of the program’s history in dramatic fashion.
A year after winning only two matches the Lady Eagles under first-year coach Kraig Zeller has guided a team that lacks overall roster numbers to the following:
-- School’s first outright district championship;
-- 17-4-1 record;
-- school’s first home playoff victory;
“It’s a great thing for the kids, the parents, the school,” Zeller said. “It’s a big deal.”
But Live Oak hardly appears content to rest on those laurels, taking plenty of confidence and motivation into Wednesday’s 6 p.m. Division II state regional playoff match.
The No. 10 Lady Eagles travel to No. 7 Ouachita Parish (16-4-3) for the right achieve another program first: a state quarterfinal berth against the Ruston-Lakeshore winner.
“We’re going up there with some confidence but not be overly confident to take care of business,” Zeller said. “I think Ouachita is a very good team. If we can stay grounded, be confident and play our game, I think it’s a very winnable match for us and that makes history for us.
“To get two (playoff) wins and get into the top eight in the state,” Zeller said, “for a team that won two games last year, is a great turnaround for these young ladies.”
Live Oak completed its perfect run through District 4-II with a convincing 10-2 victory over Plaquemine, a game in which senior Alicia Carlos reached a personal milestone with a hat trick that put her over 100 goals for her career.
The Lady Eagles are riding the crest of a stretch of play in which they’ve won seven of their last eight matches, most recently an 8-0 mercy-rule victory over Beau Chene in last Thursday’s playoff opener.
Senior Maddy Harrouch led the Lady Eagles scoring parade with four goals, while Carlos and freshman Jenna Magee added two apiece.
Harrouch is the team leader in goals scored with 26 followed by Carlos with 25.
Senior goalkeeper Kylie Stringer picked up her 10th shutout of the season against Beau Chene.
“Beau Chene was about what we looked like two or three years ago,” Zeller said. “We were a growing team. They looked young and with some talent, but we overwhelmed them with more speed and possession. They weren’t able to keep the ball for long periods of time and played more direct than we did.
“It’s a great game for your first round,” Zeller said. “I want to put the expectation even higher. We need to get to a higher level and be more consistent and we haven’t had that with Live Oak soccer.”
Ouachita, which went undefeated in winning the District 2-II championship, is riding an eight-game unbeaten stretch. The Lady Lions are 6-0-2 during that period and received an opening-round bye.
Live Oak and Ouachita didn’t face each other during the regular season, although the Lady Eagles were scheduled to participate in the Lady Lions tournament that wound up getting canceled because of weather.
The two teams shared one common opponent – Parkview Baptist – with Live Oak taking a 5-1 victory and Ouachita a 2-0 win in the Walker tournament.
“I’m going to have to make sure the girls know this team’s going to be competitive,” Zeller said. “They’re going to come out and we can very easily lose this game. I don’t want the girls to think ahead.”