Girls’ soccer getting rolling at SCC

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 15, 1999

MICHAEL KIRAL / L’Observateur / December 15, 1999

LAPLACE – On the list of fastest growing sports in the country, girls’ soccer would have to be near the top of the list.

Need proof? Well, in the 1996-97 school year, 74 high schools fielded girls’ soccer teams in Louisiana. This year, 104 teams will take the field,including the Lady Comets of St. Charles Catholic whose first game isFriday at St. Martin’s.The school has been trying to field a team the last couple of years. WhenNorman Brignac retired as the school’s boys’ soccer team coach after last season, he asked then athletic director Don Fernandez what was holding the team up. Fernandez said there was interest in a team but that a coachwas needed. Brignac, who had been assistant for seven years on the boys’team and its head coach in 1998-99, offered to take the job and the rest, as they say, is history.

Brignac quickly got a list of the girls who wanted to play. Twenty-twogirls originally signed up with 18 currently on the roster. The teamconsists of three seniors, eight juniors, six sophomores and a freshman and ranges in experience from six years to those who are just starting out in the sport.

“We have a mix of some of whom have played quite a bit to some who haven’t touched a soccer ball before,” Brignac said.

The player with the most experience is senior Amy Estes who spent six years with the St. Charles Parish Recreation team. Brignac said she willprobably be the middle halfback on the team and is looking to her to control the middle of the field.

“She is going to be very good,” Brignac said. “She probably has thestrongest leg on the team.”Senior Jennifer Billot also played for St. Charles Parish Recreation andhas five years of experience. She has been on the Comet boys’ team thelast three years and lettered last season.

Junior Michelle Gurdian also has five years of experience playing for Ascension of Our Lord and in the Lafreniere program. Brignac said Gurdian,who will play forward, will be the team’s scorer this season. FreshmanJessica Jones has played goalie but Brignac would like to move her to stopper if he can find another goal tender. Moving players could be thestory early on as Brignac looks to put together the best possible lineup.

“We want to get our young girls and inexperienced girls to a level where we can be competitive,” Brignac said.

Brignac said the girls who have played have come from the Ascension of Our Lord and St. Joan of Arc soccer leagues as well as the St. CharlesParish Recreation program. And with the success of the local under 14 andunder 12 programs, Brignac is expecting more to come in the next couple of years.

“I’m looking forward to the next couple of years,” Brignac said. “With theunder 14 and under 12 teams, it’s going to pick up real quick. The feederschools are going to help out a lot. That is how the boys’ team started out.It kept going and kept getting better and better.”The Lady Comets will look to get better against a tough schedule. Theyopen up Friday against St. Martin’s and then play Hahnville’s junior varsityTuesday. The team’s first home game comes against Karr Jan. 4, followedby E.D. White the next day. They then travel to the Hahnville junior varsitytournament Jan. 8-9.St. Charles Catholic will then play at Country Day before returning hometo play Ecole Classique and Destrehan’s and Hahnville’s junior varsities.

The season closes at Destrehan’s junior varsity Jan. 31. St. Martin’s, E.D.White, Country Day and Ecole Classique will play along with St. CharlesCatholic in District 7-II in 2000-01 but the Lady Comets are not playing for district honors this season.

Brignac said he realizes that there may not be many wins this season but that he will try to make it exciting for the girls, celebrating each accomplishment like the team’s first goal.

“I want the girls to have fun, to play as a team,” Brignac said of the goals for the season.

Brignac also wants to get the ball rolling, to build even more interest in the sport locally that is already on the upswing. Part of the recent growthin interest in the sport in the area comes from the general interest in the sport nationally. But Brignac said the U.S. Women’s Team’s victory in theWorld Cup this year also has played a major part, especially for girls’ teams.

“They saw that we can do that too,” Brignac said.

And even if the team’s accomplishments on the field are not many this season, they have already achieved something to be proud of.

“I tell them they are something special and unique because nobody else can come along and say ‘I was on the first girls’ team at St. CharlesCatholic,'” Brignac said. “Nobody can take that away from you and nobodyelse can say that.”

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