Finish third out of 1,500 teams
The U17 Vipers, comprised of soccer players from St. Charles Parish, won their regional bracket over teams from Arkansas, Texas and Mississippi but fell just short of an appearance in the nationals.
After winning the state championship, the Vipers kicked off the regional tournament with a 2-0 victory over the Arkansas Berryville Aztecas in the Region III Presidents Cup. The game was tied at halftime, 0-0, but the Vipers took the lead in the second half. Midfielder John Fourcade Jr. came through with a steal and blasted the ball into the back of the net to give the Vipers a 1-0 lead.
Later, Kyle Salles intercepted a clear ball by Arkansas and chipped the ball over the goalie to give the Vipers a 2-0 win.
In the second game, the Vipers knocked off the South Texas RC Rangers 3-1. Craig Ford scored the first goal off a perfect corner kick by Jordan Miranda. Ford and Lance Dupont then teamed up for a couple of key saves in the first half to keep the score 1-0.
Cary Cooper Jr. helped give the Vipers a 2-0 lead in the second half after he worked the ball deep into the goal box and passed it to Ryan Guidry, who knocked in the goal. South Texas cut the lead to 2-1 with a successful corner kick, but the Vipers iced the game shortly after.
Brennan Samaha laced a nice corner kick to Ford, who headed the ball into the back of the net for the 3-1 win.
The Vipers swept their bracket with a 2-1 win over Mississippi PYSL. Ford gave his team a 1-0 lead on a penalty kick and Jacob Johnson scored on a beautiful heal kick after a nice cross by Cooper. That would be all the team needed to advance to the semifinals with a 2-1 win.
The Vipers met North Carolina ACS Elite in the semifinals and took a 1-0 lead in the first half. Fourcade made a long pass to Cooper, who took the shot and grooved the ball into the back of the net. Late in the second half though, North Carolina tied the game on a corner kick.
That goal sparked North Carolina, who got another goal with only minutes remaining to seal the win.
While the Vipers didn’t advance to nationals, just getting to the semifinals was a remarkable accomplishment.
“To put it in perspective, in Region III there are 12 states that have over 1,500 U17 boys teams,” John Ford, one of the Vipers’ coaches, said. “The Vipers ended up third out of all 1,500 teams.”
North Carolina ended up winning the region by beating South Texas 3-2.