PHOENIX, Ariz. (Jan. 9, 2015) – The second day of play at the 2015 US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (ODP)Championships continued on Friday as teams tried to position themselves for the knockout rounds. Four Washington Youth Soccer Elite Player Development (EPD) teams were able to clinch semifinal spots after just two days – 1998 Girls, 1999 Girls, 1999 Boys and 2002 Boys. Play will continue tomorrow at Reach 11 Sports Complex, with championship matches to be held on Sunday.
US Youth Soccer ODP and Washington Youth Soccer EPD not only offer players the chance to represent their state in competition, but to develop in a unique environment that is different from their club programs, as well as many scouting opportunities. The 1999 EPD girls battled Cal-North today and earned a spot in the semifinals in front of more than 25 college coaches, many of which were top NCAA Division I programs such as Notre Dame, Texas A&M and the majority of Pac-12 programs.
“The ODP Championships are different than just any club tournament because you’re representing your state, and the top players from every club have to come together to play with a group they’re not familiar with. I think that attracts college scouts because they want to see how players can perform in a different environment,” stated Washington EPD 1999 Girls Coach Malia Arrant. “With their club teams, players are very comfortable and know what to expect from their teammates and coaches. In the EPD/ODP program, these scouts want to see how players react and adjust to a different environment and maybe even a different position. That’s how it will be when these players move on to the Regional Team, National Team or college, and coaches want to know they’re prepared.”
The 2000 Girls have yet to secure a semifinal place, but they are well on their way with two wins, 12 goals scored and none conceded, while seven players have contributed to the scoring. The team features two players, Summer Yates and Sakura Yoshida, which have been recent invites into youth National Team camps. The EPD program was able to provide the platform from which those players were able to earn the chance to now also represent their country.
“I feel honored to coach such a talented, driven group of individuals this week at the ODP Championships,” said Scott Ford, Washington EPD 2000 Girls Coach. “To see the commitment these girls put into being the best possible soccer player they can be and the passion and heart they put into wearing the Washington jersey is unlike anything I’ve experienced. These girls get an outstanding experience, maturing and understanding the importance of the details to perform at their full potential in next game. They get fantastic exposure. But for me, it’s the friendships and life lessons they learn that stands out.”
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With seven teams in the group, the ’98 Girls claimed the top seed heading into the semifinals with two wins after taking down Idaho 4-0. Sophia Viviano (FC Alliance) led the charge with a first half hatrick to put Washington in command, and Kaysie Bruce (WPFC) put a cap on the scoring in the second half as they look towards Arizona in tomorrow’s semifinal. Viviano has scored five goals in the first two games.
Despite falling 1-0 to Cal-North today, the ’99 Girls had done enough to advance to the semifinals tomorrow. In a competitive game which drew a crowd, Cal-North was the team able to break through with their 2nd half goal as both will advance.
The ’00 Girls continued to roll on day two in a 8-0 victory over Idaho, giving them 12 goals scored and none conceded headed into their final group game tomorrow. Summer Yates (PacNW), Makena Carr (Eastside FC) and Helena Reichling (Seattle United) gave Washington a 3-0 lead at the break. Sakura Yoshida (Crossfire), Daniella Mendoza (Three Rivers SC) and Jordan Snyder (Eastside FC) struck net in the second half as Yates and Reichling notched their second goals to finish the scoring. Washington stands in good position to advance to the semifinals despite tomorrow’s result.
After an opening day victory, the ’01 Girls ran into some unfortunate luck with two draws on the second day which left them in a three-way tie atop Group C. Despite being unbeaten, Washington finished second based on goal differential and will not advance to Saturday’s semifinal.
Washington and Nevada battled it out in the first game of the day, ending in a 0-0 draw. Each team had chances to score, but Nevada’s defense held firm as Grace Collins (WPFC) and Kylie Foutch (WA Rush) combined for their second straight shutout.
In the second game, Hawaii finally broke the Washington defense just six minutes into the game to take the halftime lead. Meredith Udovich (WPFC) equalized just after the break, but the game ended 1-1 as Hawaii advanced to the semis based on superior goal differential.
After an unlucky draw yesterday, the ’02 Girls once again gave up the lead in a 1-1 draw with Utah in their first game Friday. Sally Menti (Seattle United) put Washington ahead just three minutes into the game, volleying in Maronne Suzuki’s (Seattle United) cross to assume control. Just before halftime however, Utah evened the score on a 25 yard direct kick and Washington couldn’t find the winner in the second period.
Needing a win in their final group game, Washington fell just short to Arizona as a 19th minute goal and some stellar goalkeeping from the home side kept the 02’s off the board and outside the semifinal round with a 1-0 loss.
The ’98 Boys brushed off a scoreless opening day draw to down Colorado 2-0 on Friday. Washington came out strong, dominating play and rattling the crossbar from a Ty Good (Eastside FC) shot, but entered halftime scoreless. Washington kept the momentum going in the second half, finding their first goal of the tournament just after the break when Justin Soto (Eastside FC) headed in Cage Roberge’s (Snohomish United) corner kick. Washington didn’t let down as they pursued the insurance goal, and they found it nine minutes later, again from a Roberge corner kick, but this time it was Jackson Ragen (Seattle United) who finished it off to put the 98’s in position to advance with a positive result on Saturday.
The ’99 Boys looked a little flat out of the gate, and strived to find their form which never quite came in a 3-2 loss to Utah. Washington will still advance to the semis along with Utah based on a better goal differential than the other second place group finishers. After conceding two goals in less than 30 minutes, Paul Wadsworth (Blackhills FC) pulled one back before the half as Washington tried to get on the front foot. However, Utah struck again after the restart and Manav Gill’s (PacNW) late goal wasn’t enough in the loss.
The ’00 Boys assumed command of the group with their second win after taking down New Mexico, 2-0. Ernesto Rios (PacNW) struck the game winner in the 15th minute and Jared Butler (WPFC) added the insurance goal before halftime as the defense went on lock down to close it out.
After a promising start to the tournament, the ’01 Boys were knocked out today with a pair of 2-0 losses. Arizona found a goal in each half of the morning game to put Washington in the uncomfortable position of having to beat Cal-South in the afternoon. Although scoreless at the half versus Cal-South, Washington had to press for a goal and Cal-South took advantage with two second half goals.
The ’02 Boys are really showing their toughness as they ground out a 2-1 win and 1-1 draw after yesterday’s 2-1 victory to advance to the semifinals. Washington faced Colorado in the morning and Thai Wichienwidhtaya (Seattle United) gave Washington the early advantage in the 8th minute and Joshua Atencio (Crossfire) doubled it five minutes later as the 02’s held on after a 2nd half goal from Colorado.
Washington clinched the top spot in the group in the afternoon with a 1-1 draw with New Mexico. Lucas Hakamada (FC Alliance) put the 02’s in front late in the game, but New Mexico drew level just before regulation to salvage the tie.