The St. Joseph’s Academy soccer team celebrated Senior Night at SJA Championship Field on January 11 with a 3-0 win over district rival Baton Rouge High School. With the victory, the Redstickers advanced to 12-0-3 on the year.
The seniors honored in a pregame ceremony were Grace Anne Crifasi, Maddie Davis, Mary Bennett Marchand, Mary Melancon, Helena Robertson, Laurel Viguerie, Riley White and Paula Zapata.
Coach Kyle Carmouche said the SJA soccer program is blessed to have eight seniors who have played critical roles in the team’s success. On the field, they have been dominant, he said, helping lead last year’s team to the first state semifinal-round appearance in nine years. That has carried into this year, when the team is unofficially ranked #1 in Division I soccer.
“The greater impact has been what this group has meant to the culture of our program,” Carmouche said. “Every one of them has served as a leader in all that we have done. They lead by example in the classroom, where it all starts. They lead on the field, not necessarily with grand gestures and big speeches, but in the simple, everyday things they do to encourage and motivate each other. Representing SJA as a student-athlete is a privilege, and that is something I hear them talk about with younger players. One of their goals was to blend our 47 players on our three teams into a soccer family. The positive impact that mindset has had on the program will be one of their legacies.
“They are a very talented group of young ladies who are great examples of what SJA student-athletes should be,” Carmouche added. “They will be dearly missed.”
Crifasi is the daughter of Julie and Chris Crifasi. She is a four-year letter winner and was named 1st Team All District and 1st Team All Metro her sophomore and junior years. “The Senior Night ceremony was great,” Crifasi said. “It was so fun to have all our fans and classmates there to cheer us on. We’re all sad that our season is ending soon, but we’re super excited to compete in the playoffs for a state title. I think our senior class definitely set a competitive standard for the SJA program, and the girls who fill our shoes in the years to come are going to keep raising the bar.”
Davis is the daughter of Jennifer and Keith Davis. A four-year letter winner, she was named 2nd Team All District, 1st Team All District (twice) and 1st Team All Metro. “Senior Night was incredible,” Davis said. “It was awesome to see so many fans come out to support us and the team. It was obviously sad to think that the season is close to ending, but I am just so thankful for the time I’ve gotten with this team. I’m always going to remember playing alongside my sister, Gracie Davis, and the amazing friendships I’ve made with my teammates.”
Marchand is the daughter of Gloria and Paul Marchand. She has earned four varsity letters and was named MVP of the junior varsity team as a freshman and 2nd Team All District as a junior. “It’s really sad to think about how my soccer career is about to end because it has been a huge part of my life ever since I can remember,” Marchand said. “I will always remember the friendships and the memories that were made during my time as a member of the SJA soccer program.”
Melancon is the daughter of Allison and Douglas Melancon. She has four varsity letters and was named 1st Team All State as a freshman, earned 1st Team All District honors three times, All Metro honors three times and was named District Offensive MVP twice, All-Metro Offensive MVP and SJA Offensive MVP twice. “Senior Night felt very special, and I enjoyed spending it with the people I have played with from the start of my time here,” Melancon said. “It makes me sad to know that I will have to leave this amazing program in a few weeks, but I also know I will always be a part of the program because SJA soccer is one big family. I will always remember this team’s fight to win. There is a hunger in every player on this team to win and just be the absolute best.”
Robertson is the daughter of Kelly and Troy Robertson. She has two varsity letters. “What made Senior Night so special for me was seeing all the support and excitement surrounding the team,” she said. “I am sad to see my soccer career come to an end, but it is not over yet. We still have a state championship to win. Winning the state championship will be the perfect ending to my career. What I will always remember about my experience as an SJA soccer player is how this team sticks together on and off the field.”
Viguerie is the daughter of Gwen and David Viguerie. She has three varsity letters and was named 1st Team All District as a junior. “I enjoyed hearing all my friends and family cheer for me when I got presented,” Viguerie said of Senior Night. “To think soccer is coming to an end is sad, but I am glad I can look back on this experience and think of all the fun memories that I have made with my friends and the amazing moments and plays that happen during the game. I will always remember the feeling you get during playoffs of winning a game and advancing to the next round.”
White is the daughter of Stephanie and George White. She has earned four varsity letters, was named 1st Team Freshman All State, 1st Team All District three times, 1st Team All Metro three times, All-Metro Defensive MVP and SJA Defensive MVP. White’s senior season was cut short by an injury, making the Senior Night all the more special. “I really appreciated Coach Kyle letting me start the game,” White said. “When I tore my ACL, I wasn’t sure I would have that chance again, so it really meant a lot, even if it was just a few seconds. I’ve been playing soccer for as long as I can remember, so thinking about it all coming to an end, especially the way my season did, is a little bit sad. But I’ll always remember how much of a family we were.”
Zapata is the daughter of Alicia Ryan and Hector Zapata. She has four varsity letters and was the recipient of the Coaches Award as a freshman and named 2nd Team All District as a junior. “What I enjoyed most about this night was my sister showing me the poster she made for me and then escorting me as I got presented,” Zapata said. “She has always been there supporting me, and it was really sweet to have her with me and make an amazing and embarrassing poster. When I think about my soccer career coming to an end, it is super bittersweet. I love the sport and do not remember a time I wasn’t playing games or having practice. It is a huge part of who I am, and for that, it makes me sad to think it is coming to an end. At the same time, I am excited to move on to a new part of my life that does not focus as much on soccer so I can experience new things. I will absolutely continue to do soccer in some aspect in the future, but it sadly won’t be as big a part of my life as it is now. I am excited for how this year is going and will always remember the friendships and inside jokes made with the SJA team throughout the years. I am excited for the rest of the season and hoping I end with a memory of winning a championship.”
Mindy Brodhead Averitt
Photos courtesy of Jennifer Davis