Advocate staff photo by PATRICK DENNIS -- Alexandra Thomas (1) celebrates her second goal during 97 Louisiana Fire Navy U17's 4-1 semifinal win over 97 Norcross Fury Premier from Norcross, GA Wednesday in the Regional III Soccer Tournament at the Burbank Soccer Complex.

When 16-year-old 97 Louisiana Fire Navy striker Alexandra Thomas’ grandfather died, she had one simple request.

“She walked in the room with my mother and mother’s brothers and sister and said, ‘Please just don’t (have the funeral) on Saturday because we have a soccer game,’ said Erika Mann, Thomas’ mother. ‘Grandpa wouldn’t want me to miss a soccer game.’ ”

For Thomas, soccer has become everything, and soon enough she will be taking her abilities to play for LSU.

The rising junior at Ben Franklin High School talked to TCU, SMU, Texas, Memphis, Duke, Wake Forest and Georgia during the recruiting process.

Though she didn’t intend on going to LSU initially, Thomas said Baton Rouge was the place to be after one visit.

“I like everything,” she said. “I don’t like too big, and LSU is big, but they have a closed-off section for the athletes. Plus, the facility is amazing. As soon as I saw it, I loved it.”

Thomas began playing recreational soccer at age 8 in New Orleans under the Carrollton Boosters, and has steadily moved up. Now a junior who plans on graduating early, Thomas has her sights set on joining the Tigers squad when she arrives on campus in 2015.

Her goals for the next year involve two key areas.

“I have to get my entire senior year experience during my junior year, which is going to be tough with school and soccer,” Thomas said. “Basically, I’m just going to do what I’ve been doing. I’m fine how I am, so I’m just going to keep my grades up and work on soccer.”

For the time being, she’s contributing to her current team’s success, scoring eight goals in five games, including three in the LA Fire’s Wednesday semifinal win against the 97 Norcross Fury Premier.

“She brings leadership, a dynamic game and the goal-scoring ability,” Fire coach Stephen Mcanespie said. “If you take her away from the team, then we have to find new ways to win. It’s great for her, and she’s so humble. That’s the great thing about her, she’s still just a little girl, but she just loves playing the game.”

Thomas brings natural athleticism to the soccer field, a trait she uses to her advantage while playing basketball and softball and running track for Ben Franklin.

That being said, soccer stuck for a reason.

“The feeling you get in soccer is greater than in basketball or softball,” Thomas said. “There’s a ton of points scored in a basketball game, and in softball you’re just running home.

“Scoring a goal, the feeling is so much greater than the other sports.”