East St. John kicking up best soccer results in years

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, January 24, 2018

RESERVE —After entering the month with a strong 10-2 record, the East St. John Lady Cats soccer team lost its footing once District play commenced and suffered four consecutive losses.

Playoff prospects are grim as the team enters the week with a 0-4 District record, but head coach Mike Dardinger is proud of his players for powering through what has been the most successful season in years.

Kiara Smith is part of a resurgent East St. John High soccer team.

“Overall, 10-6 with four games left is not a bad record,” Dardinger said.

“It’s the most successful season we’ve had in the three years I’ve been here. To go from winning two games last year and three the year before that to winning 10 has been fabulous.”

The team’s recent shortfalls are the result of a very challenging District schedule, Dardinger said, noting a recent move to Division I has pitted the Lady Cats against some of the toughest teams in the state.

Ashley Fuentes, No. 20, is one of many young Lady Cats stars.

East Ascension outsized the Lady Cats by about a foot, according to Dardinger. Dutchtown, Thibodaux and H.L. Bourgeois have dominated control of midfield during games.

With a team comprised of three seniors, two juniors, seven sophomores and nine freshman, three of whom are on the starting lineup, East St. John is a young team with ample room to grow.

During practice, Dardinger has worked on building foot skills, passing control and clearing the ball.

Training new goalkeepers became a focus after a broken jaw sidelined the team’s go-to keeper.

Over the course of the season, the girls have done a good job of feeding the ball into the center of the field, Dardinger said.

According to Dardinger, certain players have been standouts: Ninth grade twin sisters Jae’Lasha and Jae’Layah Julien have made their mark as forward and sweeper, respectively.

Dardinger said Jae’Lasha is the main striker, boasting an impressive 47 goals this season. On the defensive end, Jae’Layah assists by clearing the ball and protecting the home goal.

Junior Nicolle Dardinger is a striking midfielder and a strong team player with a season total of 13 goals and 22 assists.

Dardinger also cited right forward Ashley Fuentes and midfielder Madison Duhe, both sophomores, as consistent players invested in team success.

“I could praise all of them,” Dardinger said, adding all players have good and bad days.

East St. John plays home games against South Terrebone at 5 p.m. Thursday and Hahnville at 5 p.m. on Monday to close out regular season play.

The team celebrates senior night during the Hahnville game. Dardinger said each senior would be honored with a verbal acknowledgement, balloons and a rose.