GONZALES — The Gonzales Arsenal equipped itself quite well in its first major interstate tournament this past weekend.
The 13-and-under boys team represented the Gonzales Soccer Club and the state of Louisiana in the U.S. Youth Soccer Region III Presidents Cup in Decatur, Ala. The team earned a berth in that tournament by winning the Louisiana State Cup last month.
Arsenal was one of the last four teams standing in the semifinals Sunday morning following pool play in the 12-team tournament, becoming the first team from the Gonzales Soccer Club to make a regional semifinal appearance.
The team won its first game of the tournament Friday morning, defeating the Homewood Freedom from Mississippi, 3-0.
Arsenal came back later that afternoon and dropped its second game controversially. The team’s opponent, the Arkansas Wizards, was 20 minutes late to the game, which by tournament rules meant the Arsenal could have won via forfeit. However, the team chose instead to play the game.
“It was not their players’ fault that they showed up late, and our players had trained to play at least three games, so we decided to play the game,” Chip McCorkle, the Arsenal manager and assistant coach, said. “We were complimented by another coach and some officials for good sportsmanship. Of course, we lost 2-0, but our boys played hard.”
The loss to the Wizards set up a must-win game on Saturday for the Arsenal to have any shot at advancing out of pool play.
And win is just what the Arsenal did, beating Mobile United, 3-0. The team outscored its opponents in pool play, 6-2, with goals coming from Preston Stafford, Alec Snell and Eric Diaz, McCorkle said.
The team’s regional run — and any hope of advancing to the four-team national Presidents Cup next month — ended Sunday morning with a 4-0 loss to the South Texas International. Arsenal finished 2-2 in the tournament, and its two losses came to the tournament champion, South Texas International, and runner-up, Arkansas Wizards.
“We had a great experience and are very proud of our team,” McCorkle said.
The Gonzales Cyclones, a 15-and-under girls team, finished 0-3 in its pool play at the regional Presidents Cup for the second straight year. The Cyclones won the U-14 State Cup last year and repeated their championship run last month.
They lost to teams from Mississippi and North Texas on Friday and then to Florida on Saturday morning, scoring four goals in the three games but giving up 13.