For Dave Lapeyrouse and his Cajun Soccer Club 19U girls team, the opportunity to make history started years ago.
It began long before any of his 19 players became impact players for their high school teams, or, for 11 of them, signed scholarships to play in college.
It started when this collection of soccer players were still in middle school, when they joined the area’s top soccer club and participated on the 10U team.
“I would say half of these kids might have started on a ‘B’ team or a ‘White’ team or, at some point through their soccer career, were not on a top team,” said Lapeyrouse, CSC’s director of coaching for the girls program. “But they’ve all played for the Cajun Soccer Club.
“They’ve all kind of bought in. Parents have been supportive and bought into it. Soccer is not one of those sports where you can be good in one year. It’s a process, and you got to be patient with the development. We’ve had some really, really good coaches who have been involved in these two age groups since they were 10U.”
Because of that decade-long commitment, Lapeyrouse knew the two age groups that make up the current 19U team had the potential to be good. But what they accomplished late last month in Baton Rouge wowed even him.
The CSC 19U girls, nicknamed the Rage, became the first team in club history and only the third girls club in the state to win a United States Youth Soccer Southern Regional championship.
With the regional victory, the CSC Rage punched a ticket to the USYS National Championship Series in Overland Park, Kansas. The tournament is held from July 22-28.
The CSC Rage join only the 1997 Louisiana Fire team, which did so twice, and last year’s Mandeville Soccer Club 18U team as girls squads to reach the USYS National Championship Series.
The USYS tournament is actually the second national tournament the CSC Rage will have competed in during July. The team is currently in Commerce City, Colorado, for the National Premier Leagues Finals after winning a separate regional, the Gulf States Premier League.
Though many clubs attempt to qualify for both, the USYS tournament is the more prestigious of the two national events. Winning a USYS regional features teams from more states, and Louisiana clubs routinely qualify for the NPL Finals.
In the case of the CSC Rage, they had to play six games in seven days at the Burbank Soccer Complex in Baton Rouge. It went 5-0-1 in those games, including a 4-2 win in the title game against a club from Charlotte.
“It’s a credit to our team of (19) players that have been super committed,” said Lapeyrouse who has been involved with CSC for 12 years. “To get those results against those quality teams, you can’t depend on starters. You got to depend on all 17-18 players helping out and rotating in because there will be games where you need players to come in and give a lot more minutes.
“Because Game 5 or Game 6 of the week, especially playing in the south Louisiana heat, we play most of our games at 11 or 12 o’clock in the day.”
The CSC Rage 19U team is what is known as an “academy team,” meaning it’s comprised of the top players in the club regardless of age. Players compete to earn a spot or stay on the roster of the academy team every year.
So aside from players aging out of the club, Lapeyrouse’s personnel is not always the same.
“It’s not like you have 17 good players, and they stay on the team,” said Lapeyrouse, who coaches the Teurlings Catholic girls soccer team and led the Rebels to Division III state title this past year. “Each year, they know they’re going to have to continue to work and continue to be challenged to get on the next year’s academy team.”
Lapeyrouse’s roster is truly a who’s who of the elite players in the Acadiana area, including a few from his Teurlings team.
The majority of the roster is made up of girls who made The Acadiana Advocate’s All-Metro soccer team, including the Most Outstanding Player, Maddie Moreau. Moreau, a St. Thomas More graduate and LSU signee, was named the Louisiana Gatorade Girls Soccer Player of the Year last month.
And the CSC Rage’s top scorer in the USYS Southern Regional was Moreau’s future teammate at LSU, Rammie Noel. The Acadiana High graduate scored 11 goals to lead the tournament.
Lapeyrouse often has a great problem on his hands before matches: Who does he start? Even some of his reserves have signed college scholarships.
“The starting lineup may change every other game because the girls that come off the bench are girls that are going to play in college, so we’re really deep as well,” Lapeyrouse said. “They really get along. They have really good chemistry. But they have put so much time and effort into their development since they were 10U at the Cajun Soccer Club that it’s finally paying off for them. “Because we knew they were going to be good. But to say that we would have a real chance to win a regional, we’re playing with house money right now.”