St. Charles Parish’s U13 Arsenal soccer club was the youngest team in its league, and as one might expect given that fact, the smallest team.
But when it came time to decide a state champion, the Arsenal also proved to be its best team. The girls soccer club captured the championship of the President’s Cup State Tournament earlier this month and did it in dramatic fashion, scoring overtime wins that went to shootouts in each of the semifinal and final rounds.
The state championship battle saw the team overcome a team from Houma that had felled the Arsenal in each of the previous three encounters between the clubs. This time, a tough, physical battle for 70 minutes of regulation gave way to two 10 minute overtime periods and, ultimately, a shootout won by St. Charles Parish, 3-1, with kicks made by Rylee Larousse, Isabel Dial, and Lilly Hooper.
“This game probably had meant the most because they always seemed to have our number, but this time the girls fought to the end and then some,” said Arsenal manager Jarrad Larousse.
“Winning the championship felt great, “said starting defender Gabby Touchard. “It was exciting because we were one of only three St. Charles Parish teams, ever, to win a state championship. So I think that it is a pretty big accomplishment. Our team worked hard and really pulled together to win. Especially when both games went to overtime and were decided by PKs. I can’t wait to see what we do in Alabama.”
Because Arsenal is a smaller club, it combined age groups to make one team, and therefore must play up in age for league play. Larousse noted while the team’s competitors are widely comprised of players born in 2008, the St. Charles club rosters 10 girls born in 2009 or 2010, of the 16 total players on the team.
“We’re always the smaller team,” Larousse said. “What helps us is we’ve tended to be more skillful and quicker than the bigger girls. Our girls were definitely excited to come out on top because this was our first tournament win of the season.
“I think we just put together a complete game. It was kind of special to come back and beat that team in a game where it meant most.”
The win means the U13 club moves on to regional play in Decatur, Alabama, beginning June 8.
Arsenal showed resiliency to win the President’s Cup, after it fell in its opening game to eventual championship game opponent Houma, 3-1, in the preliminary round of the tournament contested a week prior to the semifinals and final.
The team turned it around after that, bouncing back with a win over the Lafreniere Fire, 3-1. After scoring that win, St. Charles only needed a tie to secure a spot in the semifinals against Mandeville, the second seeded team. Arsenal got the exact result it needed, a 1-1 tie, avenging a 2-0 loss earlier in the season to Mandeville.
The semifinal game came against a top-seeded club from Ascension Parish. Arsenal trailed 1-0 most of the day before Chloe Burford booted home a game-tying goal off a corner kick. That forced overtime, where Rylee Larousse and Touchard each made kicks to earn a 2-1 shootout win for Arsenal. Selah Rodriguez also had a big game as goalkeeper, earning some critical saves on the day, including in the shootout.
This will be the first regional trip for the team since it was established. Among some of the team’s standouts during the state tourney were Touchard, a key defender, Cooper, the team’s midfielder, and forwards Burford and Rylee Larousse.