Cajun Soccer Club’s U19 coach Jan-Scott Richard is hopeful that putting together a good portion of the team that reached a regional semifinals three years ago can recreate some of that same magic.
“The boys have talked for a year about putting together this team after their first year of college,” said Richard, the longtime coach at Acadiana High. “This team is comprised mostly of the team that made a run in 2013. We’ve picked up some kids and are looking to make a run.”
The CSC U19 Fury begin their quest for a possible repeat of their semifinal appearance of 2013, opening play Friday in the U.S. Youth Soccer Region III tournament at Mesa Soccer Complex in Greenville, South Carolina, with a match at 8:30 a.m. against Raleigh, North Carolina.
The top two teams in each pool advance to bracket play Monday, which concludes Thursday with the championship match.
“It’s a good group of kids. They’re pretty dynamic,” Richard said. “The impressive part is we’re explosive as far as speed. If we can get them (forwards) behind (the defense) and create some chances and finish, we can do well.”
The U19s are part of a four-team delegation from the Cajun Soccer Club in regional play, three of which won their Competitive I State Cups.
The U19s are also joined by coach Dave Lapeyrouse’s state champion U14 girls and coach Jonathan Brunet’s state champion U17 Alliance team, a group with 11 players from CSC and six from the Baton Rouge Soccer Club.
The U14s face Oklahoma City at noon Friday in their opener, while the U17 Alliance team led by forwards Austin Sun Chee Fore of Lafayette High and Josh Hughes of Westminster Christian meet Little Rock, Arkansas, at 4:15 p.m.
The U16s of coach Corey Talley, a state runner-up team, received a wild-card entry and begin play against Tulsa, Oklahoma, at 12:15 p.m. Friday.
“You feel like you’re doing something right if you’re sending multiple teams to regionals,” CSC Executive Director Michael Ritch said. “We have some teams that have a good shot to do some things and get out of bracket and move on. I’m pretty excited about it.”
Because of the makeup of the team — 13 players who have completed their first year of college — Richard hasn’t had a lot of time with his U19 team until last month.
Once players completed their spring semesters, they’ve been able to train and even competed in local scrimmages, twice against the CSC men’s team and once last week against the U17 Alliance team.
“It’s hard to do,” Richard said. “We maximized what we could, but you’re not going to know until you get there. The guys are competitive. A lot of them played in college in the fall. They’ll be prepared and know what the game’s going to be like. I’m excited to see how we fare.”
Two of the team’s offensive centerpieces: Kade Kling and Bailey Deroussel had all-state careers for Richard while at Acadiana. They are expected to combine with former Brother Martin and IMG Academy forward Christian Canales and St. Thomas More’s Peyton Marler to provide scoring punch.
Richard said his midfield with players such as Dylan Castaneda, Salvador Colin and Irvin Colin — all of Acadiana — and Thomas Kobetz of University High should be solid but will need his back line defenders to mesh quickly with new goalkeeper Hayden Mays of Mississippi College.
Zachary Booth of Denham Springs and Michael Fleurant of Lafayette High are two defenders Richard is counting on to help solidify his team’s defense.
“It will be a matter of taking advantage of situations when we get opportunities and defensively being as sound as we can and not giving up silly mistakes,” Richard said.