At first glance, Group C may not look all that spectacular. It features teams from Louisiana, Alabama, Oklahoma and Tennessee. But don’t be fooled by their location – this group will be one of the most intriguing this weekend at the US Youth Soccer Region III Championships.
Louisiana Fire returns to the Region III Championships this year after winning their third consecutive State Cup. And in their group they see a list of familiar opponents.
The Fire finished second in the Southern Premier League, just one point behind FC Alliance Black. But the Fire won both regular season meetings with FC Alliance and the two share a newfound rivalry. Also in the group is Alabama State Cup champion Auburn Thunder, who was shut out by the Fire in last year’s Region III tournament. The girls from Louisiana enter the weekend very confident.
“Last year was the first time that we had played teams of that caliber,” says coach Louie Smothermon. “The experience and the anticipation of being there and playing teams on a national stage, it was kind of an eye-opener.”
But he says the team is more prepared this year, mentally and physically, to take on the challenge.
“We got a lot of experience from that. The girls are much more confident, composed, and focused this time around.”
Smothermon’s squad features a long list of State ODP players, including midfielders Kelly Holahan and Eleanor Pratt. The team was led in goal scoring by forward Alexandra Thomas, who scored six goals in four matches at last year’s regionals. Amalia Skalos and Cadie Higginson anchor down a defense that allowed just 22 goals in 36 games during the regular season this year.
And Smothermon says that any one of them could step up and be the difference maker when they need it most.
“On any given day, they’ve all been key players.”
Palm Beach Magic Jacks (Group A) – Resume includes championships at the Florida Cup, Atlanta Cup and Disney Showcase
Albion Hurricanes (Group B) – Finalists at the Disney Showcase, they competed in the Regional League and National League
Louisiana Fire (Group C) – Returning to regionals after strong season
Brentwood Premier (Group D) – Disney Showcase Champs this past December
SCU/MP (Group B) – Advanced to the quarterfinals last year
Under-15 Players to Watch
Alexandra Thomas, F, Louisiana Fire – Leading scorer at last year’s Region III tournament
Raymara Barreto, SCU/MP Elite – Region III ODP player
Katherine Byrne, F, Albion Hurricane – Team’s leading scorer at last year’s regionals
Ashton Adams, NASA – Region III ODP pool
Kristen Hutar, AHFC – Region III ODP