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BA Lady Cougars host soccer kickoff today

The Brookhaven Academy Lady Cougars soccer team will host its third annual kickoff classic today and Saturday. The 10-team soccer tournament will be held at the Hansel King Sports Complex.

Four games are scheduled for today. Saturday is an all-day event with both soccer fields being utilized from 9:30 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. This year’s participants are Brookhaven Academy, Copiah Academy, Adams County Christian School, Kirk Academy, Magnolia Heights Academy, Natchez Cathedral, Washington School, Loyd Star Attendance Center, Franklin County High School and Laurel High School.

The Lady Cougars will be led by their two senior co-captains Ainsley Allen and Natalie Rials. 

Allen will be a starting midfielder this year. She has played many positions for the Lady  Cougars after joining the team her sophomore year. Rials will also be a starting midfielder and is the most experienced player on the roster, a starter since her eighth-grade year.

In addition to their senior co-captains, the team returns its two leading goalscorers from last year, Anna Caroline Adams and Lucie LeBlanc, starting goalkeeper Olivia Lewis and starting defensive center backs Lindsey Norton and Maggie Sanford. 

“We are looking forward to this year’s tournament. The girls are really excited about the team we are fielding,” said coach Mark LeBlanc. “Ainsley and Natalie have stepped up and set a good example at practice this summer. The team is starting to gel. Roles are being defined. We have experience at every position this year. We return five starting juniors in addition to our two seniors and we have some really good young talent to go along with new players who will contribute this year.”

The event has been a big success for the school and the area.

“We are going to continue to make this tournament an annual event,” LeBlanc said. “This is an opportunity to showcase some of the regional girls soccer talent. This year we have added two teams from North Mississippi — Kirk Academy from Grenada and Magnolia Heights from Senatobia. These schools will be staying in hotels, supporting our local economy for the weekend and they get to take part in a fantastic tournament. The Brookhaven Recreation Department does a great job getting the facility and soccer fields in prime condition for the tournament. The feedback is positive from all of the teams that have played in previous years, mostly because there has not been a venue this large for which the high school girls teams can participate.” 

Although a difficult prospect because of summer scheduling conflicts, LeBlanc said he would eventually like to make the event a 12- or 16-team tournament.

“Some of our regular entries were not able to make it this year, but we are excited about the new teams participating.”

General admission to the tournament is $6 each day for adults and $2 for children/students. Full concessions will be available on Saturday.

Story by Brian Emory