By Mark Beason
The Tupelo Futbol Club doesn’t know much about the Wishbone, but it has a heckuva kicking game.
The 15-under soccer team played its way to a Mississippi Youth Soccer Association state title and has its eyes set on a bigger prize. Coached by Nathan Hall from Corinth, the all-star squad is competing in the National Youth Soccer Association Region Tournament in Little Rock, Ark., beginning today.
The team travels around the Southeast, playing strong competition at every tournament. In 12 tournaments, the TFC has won five events and finished runner-up in two.
The NYSA Regional Tournament features the state champions from 12 different states in a pool-play format. Tupelo plays in the same pool with the South Carolina, Florida and Oklahoma champs. Getting to the regional is difficult, winning there is even tougher.
“It’s kind of like the World Cup and we’re the USA,” Hall said. “We’re not expected to win, but I do think we have a chance and can compete.”
The season doesn’t end after the regionals; a majority of the team is heading to Europe for the Amsterdam Cup. They will play warm-up matches in England, before participating in the largest youth soccer tournament in the world.
“It’s an experience of a lifetime for the players and the parents,” Hall said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun and the guys are really looking forward to it.”
The TFC’s success this season has come from balanced scoring and stellar defense. Kyle Armstrong leads the team with 13 goals, but Hall says there isn’t just one go-to-guy.
Defensively, Tupelo has posted 22 shutouts in its 28 wins. Nate Coleman has been in net for most of those wins and gets a lot of help from his teammates.
“That’s one part of the game we’ve been solid in all year,” Hall said. “You just put them back there and you don’t have to worry about getting scored on very much.”