Shreveport, LA – After an successful and exciting second season in 2017, the Shreveport Rafters are looking forward to repeat that success in 2018. The National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) has been growing and changing to help create a greater soccer footprint within the States. With this change comes adjustments, new teams and new conference alignments. In 2018, the Rafter welcome three new teams in to the Lone Star Conference; Katy 1896, FC Brownsville, and Laredo Heat, a former PDL team. These teams in addition to the returning teams, Tyler FC, Fort Worth Vaqueros, Midland-Odessa FC, Dutch Lions and the Houston Regals SC will make up a conference schedule of 10 games 5 home and 5 away. The Rafters are also excited about playing a local rival Gulf Coast Premier League team Boca FC, in the Red River Darby sponsored by Red River Brewery. Lastly, the boys in blue will face a home and away exhibition bout with the Little Rock Rangers in preseason.
NPSL Lone Star Conference play for the Rafters include ten matches, 5 home and 5 away. That new alignment, due to the additions of the NPSL, a total of nine teams as listed above. The conference structure for playoff decision has changed due to the size of the conference. With the nine teams vying for a playoff birth, the conference has been split up in to 3 groups of 3 teams:
Group Blue: Shreveport Rafters, Dutch Lions and Katy 1896
Group Red: Tyler FC Kings, FTW Vaqueros, and Midland Sockers FC
Group White: FC Brownsville, Laredo Heat and Houston Regals
The teams in each group will play a home and away match with each other and then 1 game with the remaining 6 teams, of which 3 will be home and 3 away. The top two teams from each group will advance to the 6 team playoff. The top six teams at the end of the season will move on to play in the Conference Playoffs and the winner will face off in a regional semi-final against a former South Central Conference foe from last season.
Also featured this season is the highly anticipated gave against the Rafters in town rivals Boca FC of the GCPL, in the inaugural year of the Red River Darby, on May 31st. Sponsored by Red River Brewery, this Darby game (defined: a game against two clubs from the same city) will have a pre-game party to be held at Red River Brewery (1200 Marshal) the night before on May 30th. This will be a great chance to meet players, participate in some games and give some history of a rivalry that started with the Rafters Reserves in 2016 Fall season of the GCPL.
After some unexpected scheduling issues arose with the Caddo School Board being able to rent out Lee Hedges Stadium, the City of Shreveport, Shreveport Parks and Recreation and the Rafters are working together this season are are excited about being able to call Independence Stadium the Rafters home field for the 2018 season. Also, all games have been moved up from a 7:00pm to a 6:30p start in an attempt to help families with little fans who want to see their team play.
Season tickets are still available to purchase online at the Rafters FC shop.
Any interest in meeting for the Rafters support group, Riverjacks 1836 leader, Adam Hester, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or contact via twitter using the handle @riverjacks1836. You will get updates on Riverjacks 1836 events where you will be introduced coaches and players, as well as developing original chants and traditions to be included into the game experience.