BATON ROUGE -- Walker dropped a tough match to Baton Rouge High, 5-0 on Thursday.
After hanging tough for a half, the Lady Cats couldn’t stop spinning the tires offensively and allowed the game to slip away from them with the Lady Bulldogs’ four-goal second half.
BRHS (6-8-6, 1-0 District 3-1) had its way with Walker (8-6-2, 0-2-0) all night, controlling possession from whistle to whistle. Walker specifically had issues with connecting with every touch: Passes, through balls, lobs, throw-ins, corners, free kicks.
The Lady Cats couldn’t find a way to consistently transfer the ball from player to player and kept losing possession to the Lady Bulldogs, who were more than grateful to press the attack.
“We’re not winning the 50-50 balls and we’re giving the ball away,” Walker coach Mike Lockhart said. “It’s easy for them to attack. The only way teams can throw wave and wave of attack is if they have their foot on the ball. We keep giving it to them. Or on free kicks and goal kicks we watch them go to the ball. We can’t keep doing that.”
BRHS finished with 21 shots total, 11 landing on target with seven corner kicks. By comparison Walker only took two serious shots all night, with Abby Crotwell placing the only Lady Cats’ shot on target well after the game was out of hand.
“We have to understand that we have got to play 80 minutes, especially against good teams,” Lockhart said. “Until we understand that, it’s going to be a struggle. That was evidenced (Thursday). We really competed in the first half. But we didn’t in the second. … Our team as a whole still doesn’t understand a commitment to excellence, every night for every game. We don’t get that yet. I guess it’s going to take some more time until we do get it.”
After 19 minutes of relentless pressure to open the game, the Lady Bulldogs bagged a goal as a reward for their dominance of the opening stages when Tanzanea Villacis set up Hannah Fishbein on a quick one-two inside the box.
BRHS kept the pressure going well into the second half, but couldn’t find another goal to cushion its lead until the 57th minute when Fishbein took a shot that banged off the underside of the crossbar. Walker goalkeeper Kylie Hodges lost the ball long enough for CC Monett to track it down and put a foot on it and direct it into goal.
“The first half we competed and played hard,” Lockhart said. “The goal they got was a fluke. We misplayed the ball in the air and they shouldn’t have scored. In the second half we didn’t compete. Period. Our defenders stood and watched, our midfielders and forwards didn’t do a good job of handling the ball and our touches were horrendous in the second half.”
Two minutes later the Lady Bulldogs opened the floodgates and scored their third goal when Amelia LaCour fielded Fishbein’s short corner kick, twisting around to kick it into the goal from point-blank range.
BRHS scored two goals in the final 5 minutes, one from Maya Verma’s free kick that was redirected in by Meg Martin in the 75th minute and the second on an Annabel Phillips breakaway two minutes later.
“As a coach, I can’t do it for them,” Lockhart said. “I can’t put desire and fire into a kid’s belly. That’s something they’ve got to do. Playing hard is a choice. In the first half we played hard and in the second we didn’t and it showed. When you combine not playing to a high intensity level and poor ball-handling, then this is the result you get.”
Walker will have to sit with this loss for four days until facing Denham Springs High at home on Tuesday. With the Lady Cats dropping their first two district matches, the meeting with Denham is critical for Walker’s shot at a playoff spot.
“We have six games left,” Lockhart said. “We have a long mountain to climb if we want a shot at the playoffs, but we will see.”