WATSON - Live Oak coach Kraig Zeller is breaking his own rule.
After not reviewing film of upcoming opponents all year, Zeller peeked ahead at second-seeded Lakeshore (17-3-4) ahead of Monday’s 6 p.m. Division II state quarterfinal match at Eagle Stadium.
“(The girls) will personally ask me how I much I know about a team,” Zeller said. “I tell them ‘I know as much as y’all do.’ I haven’t watched film all year, except for the match coming up. I watched about an hour-and-a-half on Lakeshore because they’re good.”
That may sound counter-intuitive, but there is a sensible method to the madness.
Zeller doesn’t want to feed his team with too much information, or pile on too much pressure, instead allowing them to focus on playing their game to the best of their abilities.
And it has worked well for him.
In terms of postseason advancement, No. 10 Live Oak (18-4-1) is in the midst of the most successful season in the program’s history.
Their quarterfinal appearance is the first in the school’s history for either the boys or girls teams, and their record has already surpassed the expectations Zeller set ahead of the season.
Zeller has decided to break from his own that philosophy simply because there is no more ignoring or downplaying the significance of the match.
“There’s no hiding anything,” Zeller said. “They know what’s at stake. For a lot of the girls they feel like they’ve made history already, but we’re not done. This is a beatable team. I think I have some horses that can go against them, but we have to play the best game of the year to win the game.
“If we put that together, I think they’re beatable,” Zeller said. “Taking nothing away from Lakeshore, they’re an unbelievable side, but sometimes there is a lot to be said for heart. The girls keep getting better each game.”
Live Oak enters the quarterfinals on the heels of 6-1 road regional last Wednesday victory over No. 7 Ouachita Parish.
The Lady Eagles received a pair of goals from Alicia Carlos, Maddie Harrouch, and Mackenzie Covington to pull off the upset over the Lady Lions.
Harrouch and Carlos, two of Live Oak’s seniors, currently sit at 27 and 26 goals, respectively, on the season.
One of Carlos’ goals came on a free kick from 38 yards away, a beautiful floater that dropped into the back corner of the net, seemingly freezing the Ouachita goalkeeper with its flight path.
While Carlos had the highlight, Zeller credits Harrouch as being the MVP of the match. Both of her goals came from high-effort plays, including the opening goal.
After a rocky start to the match, Live Oak’s provided the necessary momentum to record the program’s first regional-round victory.
“When that first goal went in, you could see the confidence start to build with them,” Zeller said. “I thought we handled them pretty well. At halftime the girls said, ‘let’s put six or eight on the board here’.”
Such a milestone victory would be cause for the program to take celebrate, but Zeller isn’t ready to call it a season. In order to avoid elimination, the Live Oak finds itself with a supreme challenge in Lakeshore, which is appearing in its fifth straight quarterfinal match and was the 2017 state champion.
It's a test Zeller believes his team is ready for.
“I want them to go in and play their game,” Zeller said. “You do what you’re supposed to do, and everybody has a job. Work for each other. Maybe this is the game where that extra run or that extra fight in you makes the difference.”
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