Defense leads Menard past RA in bi-district

Published 11:45 pm Friday, February 7, 2014


LAPLACE — Her jersey adorned with mud, her team eliminated from the postseason after a 2-0 bi-district round home loss to Menard, Riverside senior Jordan Duhon had no regrets.

“It’s always going to be emotional, it being my last game,” she said. “But everyone out here gave their all. It was all I could ask for.”

The Rebels (9-6-4) and Yellowjackets faced off on a frigid night and a wet, muddy Mickey Roussel Field. The Jackets’ defense proved the major difference. Menard controlled the ball for the majority of the first half. Riverside took the action into Menard territory more consistently in the second half, but a Yellowjackets team protecting a two goal lead committed more defenders and kept the Rebels at bay. 

“Do not let them turn on the ball … that’s what we stressed,” said Menard coach Corey Clampit. “You stay on them, play them tough, and don’t give them a chance to turn. We spend a lot of time working on our defensive shape.”

Said Duhon, “We knew coming in that they have a very tough defense. We knew we couldn’t rely totally on our offense today, that they’d make it difficult.”

Menard struck early. Virginia Rozanski surged open and put a short shot into the net with eight minutes gone in the first half. 

The Yellowjackets generated a number of first-half opportunities thereafter, but repeatedly came up short largely due to the efforts of Riverside goalkeeper MacKenzie Saucier-Meyer, who made numerous impressive stops. 

During one sequence, Menard got three shots on goal, the first hitting the crossbar and the next two off of rebounds. Saucier-Meyer dove to stop the first, then recovered to deflect the second as Menard’s bench howled in frustration.

“Kenzie’s been playing for a long time and we like to see her in these kinds of games. She only gets better,” said Riverside coach Mert Deger. “The good thing for us is that she’s just a freshman. We should have a strong goalkeeper for the upcoming three years as well.”

Riverside’s best chance to perhaps tie things up came in the fourth minute of the second half, when Menard was whistled for a foul against Duhon, who earned a free kick opportunity. Duhon’s shot was blocked by a Yellowjackets defender — Duhon followed the shot, but Menard swarmed and would not allow a score. 

Two minutes later, the visitors extended their lead when Rachel Engelsman got the ball past Saucier-Meyer, who had come out to contest. 

From there, the Rebels saw plenty of the ball but opportunities came few and far between. A Duhon shot with 10 minutes left just missed the net, and Menard held firm thereafter.

Deger said that given the conditions of the day and the field, the more physical team was at the advantage. 

“They’re a little more experienced than we are,” said Deger. “They were more physical and we never could get into our game.” 

Duhon, the Rebels’ leading scorer this season, was a big part of the core of a Rebels soccer program that’s been built into a consistent winner. The Rebels had never won a district crown prior to 2011; Riverside won district championships in the 2011-12 and the 2012-13 seasons and placed as district runner-up this season.

“After losing all of those seniors from last year’s team, we set a goal to get back to the playoffs,” said Duhon. “Most people told us that this was going to be a down year.’

“We knew U-High was a powerhouse in our district, but we won our other games and took runner-up. I’m proud that we did and that we made it back (to the playoffs).”