The game of soccer is growing in St. Charles Parish, and the results are following on the field — at a high level, at that.
For the first time since its club program was established six years ago, St. Charles Parish captured a state championship in the Louisiana Competitive Soccer League, its 14U girls team going unbeaten in regular season play and 4-1 in Louisiana’s President’s Cup state tournament en route to the crown. In the process, it qualified to compete in the 2019 Youth Soccer Southern President’s Cup, the organization’s regional championship tournament that will take place June 11-16 in Round Rock, Texas. Success there could propel them to compete for a national crown in July.
The team, named St. Charles Soccer Dortmund – each of the league’s nine teams are named for established professional powers in the sport overcame challenges from around the state, including second place Mandeville and third place Calcasieu. It bested the Louisiana Fire in the finals by a score of 3-0.
Last season, Dortmund earned its way to the state semifinals. This year it knocked down the door.
“It’s kind of awesome to know we can actually do it,” said Kayla Martin, the team’s leading scorer. “A lot of people expected us to win … it was a new feeling. And then we went out and did it.”
Coach Mert Deger, who helped guide Destrehan to a state quarterfinal appearance and district championship, said the core of this group has been together since the program’s inception.
“They were ready to compete at a high level. We won a couple of tournaments, and were always in the top 2 … the biggest thing is how you perform at the end, though. We got to the finals and the girls did a great job to bring it home,” Deger said.
He said the semifinal run last year gave his players a taste of success that only helped spur them on this year.
“We lost in overtime last year, so it was that close … this year, everyone really wanted to win and made it happen,” he said.
The midseason addition of Faith LeVeck also helped. Her family moved to the area recently from Texas, and her offensive game proved a strong complimentary lead along with Martin.
“This team really connects with one another more than a lot of others … we have a good bond,” LeVeck said.
The regional presents an exciting opportunity for her to play close to her one-time home, as Round Rock is about an hour outside of where she lived prior.
“It’s pretty exciting. I have friends out there and hopefully I’ll have a chance to see some of them out there,” she said.
Deger said the growing success of the program only means good things for the sport as a whole in the parish. The prep landscape dictates that the teams with several club or “year-round” players boast more experience and, ultimately, more success. St. Charles Parish is seeing more and more of those athletes, and coupled with this past school year’s debut of the public school systems middle school soccer program, the chances to garner that kind of experience are multiplying.
“It’s huge. From this team, you have about 16 kids and it’s split … eight will be at Hahnville, eight at Destrehan, or close to that. It gives a huge boost with players used to playing at a high level,” Deger said. “I think this group will be more than ready.”