The scoring barrage began early for the Inner City Mana Under-14 boys team from Houston on Monday in the quarterfinals of the US Youth Soccer Region III Championships.
Coach Brett Malone’s Baton Rouge Soccer Club 00 Black squad couldn’t keep up as it lost 3-1, his squad’s lone goal coming when the opponent put the ball in its own net.
It was the same fate suffered by countless other teams this weekend: The 00 Black’s tournament run was over, and the boys would leave the Burbank Soccer Complex without a chance to move on to the national championship next month in Germantown, Maryland.
Malone said reaching the quarterfinals was an achievement for his team to relish as the players prepare for next season.
“(We take) the mentality of what’s expected for the next level and how to get here again,” Malone said. “They all want to be back here next year. The effort that we’ll put in now in training and every game and every event we play going forward will be to get back here and get back to this stage and beat a team like this.”
Coaches from all over the South have had to stand with their players and give a similar speech in the past four days. The 2014 journey may be over, but there were valuable lessons to take from participating in such an event.
Most of the boys from the 00 Black squad will be back for another run at a title, as will thousands of other club soccer players from around the country. As they move into older age groups, they will continue to be exposed to the values that club soccer aims to instill.
“This is what being a young man or being a young lady is all about in the development of your character,” said Christopher Fetters, the 00 Black’s manager. “Putting aside what’s selfish for you and playing together as a team is what makes (soccer) different from an individual sport. Winning becomes a secondary thing.”
Only one Baton Rouge squad remains in the championships: The Under-18 girls BRSC CSC 96 Alliance plays its quarterfinal match at 8:15 a.m. Tuesday. When his players take the field, coach Willie Davis may only get one final opportunity to continue his life lesson plan.
“They learn what the true, actual meaning of commitment is,” Davis said. “I think that’s a lost thing sometimes. Some people think commitment can mean, ‘Oh, I showed up for whatever I had to do.’ That’s commitment to the schedule, but that’s not commitment to yourself.”
Aaron Cline, whose Cajun Soccer Club Rage 01 Under-13 girls team was eliminated over the weekend, said his players continue to consume values that will refine their futures. While preparing for the season and up to the regional championships, Cline required his players to dress appropriately for training to teach accountability.
Practice was the perfect classroom, and Cline wanted his players to take a valuable lesson with them whenever they happen to leave his club.
“At the end of the day,” he said, “if we’re creating great soccer players but they’re a bunch of jerks, then we haven’t done a good job in the grand scheme of things.”
In action Tuesday
New Orleans’ 96 Louisiana Fire will meet South Carolina’s CESA 95 Premier in the Under-18 boys quarterfinals at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday. ... Louisiana Fire Red 97 will play FC Dallas Youth 97 Premier in the Under-17 boys quarterfinals at 11 a.m. ... Alexandria’s Crossroads Pride squares off with Georgia’s Concorde Fire Elite in the Under-19 boys semifinals at 1:30 p.m.
On the girls side, New Orleans’ 97 Louisiana Fire Navy faces Sunrise Sting 96/97 from Florida in the Under-17 quarterfinals at 10:45 a.m. ... And Mandeville Lakers 95/96 faces Oklahoma FC 96 at 8:15 a.m. in the Under-18 quarters.