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Two Troy recreation soccer teams head to state

Published 11:00pm Wednesday, November 13, 2013

There will be two recreation soccer teams representing Troy while competing in the ARPA 18-U state soccer tournament in Dothan this weekend.

Arsenal Red will be composed of players more traditionally found on Troy’s 18-U soccer team. Arsenal White will be composed of younger players. Doug McLendon will be coaching both teams during the tournament.

McLendon explained the decision to have two teams compete. “As a small town, we’re a little hamstrung by the six-man rule in high school athletics,” McLendon said. “No more than six players who play high school soccer can play on the same team during the recreation season. We have 12 kids out here who will probably play for Charles Henderson this spring, so we split the kids in to two teams. We also didn’t have enough players to make a 15-U team, so we moved those kids up an age group.”

McLendon said both teams have their strengths. “The red team is aggressive and has a lot of speed,” McLendon said. “They are strong and quick to the ball.”

While Arsenal White may not have the experience the Arsenal Red has, McLendon said the team should be fun to watch. “The white team doesn’t have any pressure on them in the tournament,” McLendon said. “Nobody expects them to go out and dominate. That should free them up to play loose.”

McLendon said his main focus as a coach is to provide structure for the kids. “We have so many good players out here that I just want to provide them with a formation and a style of play,” McLendon said. “In soccer, offense is a creative endeavor. I want to give them enough of a formation that they can gain and utilize space on the field.”

Another goal of the recreation season is to get high school players ready for the varsity season. “We try to focus on maintaining possession and attacking formation,” McLendon said. “We want to keep the ball moving and move the ball from the back to the front quickly.”

Cole Labrant is a junior at Charles Henderson and started for the Trojan soccer team last season. He said the recreation season helps him to gear up for varsity soccer. “The recreation season helps us a lot,” Labrant said. “Obviously, not too many of us can play on one team, but a few of us can and that helps us build chemistry for the high school season.”

Labrant also described the recreation season as more laid-back than high school soccer. “We want to win, but we also want to have a fun experience,” Labrant said. “I have a lot of friends on the team. It’s the last year for my older brother and the first year for my younger brother. It’s nice to have all three of us on the same team.”

As for when the two Troy teams face off in the tournament, McLendon said he would do his best to help both teams. “I’ll try to coach whoever is behind,” McLendon said. “If it looks like one team needs a little more coaching, I’ll focus in on them.”

McLendon thanked the Troy Parks and Recreation department for allowing two teams from Troy to attend the tournament. “When we called the department and asked if we could send two teams to Dothan, they supported us all the way,” McLendon said. “They could have said they didn’t have the money, but they wanted to see it happen as much as we did.”

The ARPA 18-U tournament is held this Saturday and Sunday at Westgate Park in Dothan .

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