The US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (US Youth Soccer ODP) Girls 1993 completed their third game today. Chile and US Youth Soccer Region III, both undefeated teams, compete tomorrow for the tournament championship.
Since arriving in Costa Rica a week ago the US Youth Soccer regional teams have displayed an improved and heightened level of play after undergoing three days of rest and training in San Carlos. International teams stayed in San Jose to compete in a separate tournament.
The trip is full of experiences, including for most of the girls, their first professional soccer experience abroad as they were seated overlooking the sold-out crowd of 24,000 in San Jose. The match featured 2006 and 2007 MLS Cup Champion Houston Dynamo against Saprissa who defeated the Dynamo 3:0. The experience was unforgettable and inspirational.
In regards to what the US Youth Soccer regional teams have learned in Costa Rica, both on and off the field, US Youth Soccer ODP Girls Region II Administrator Ellie Singer said, "They are learning skills on the soccer field, they will be learning new techniques, they will be taking their games to the next level because they will be challenged by soccer cultures and soccer experiences that they have not experienced before. In life, they have learned responsibility and accountability and really what it will be like to be on the National Team some day because that is the way we treat them at these international events."
Region I vs. Trinidad and Tobago; 5:0
Overcoming what seemed to be a slower than usual pace to start the game, Region I regained momentum to capture a 5:0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago. A lead pass in the 29th minute by Kristi Abbate to teammate Allie Walton, netted the first goal for Region I. Abbate went for a second assist of the game when, out of the middle, she hit Barb Platenburg who successfully shot the ball past the six foot tall goalie in the 43rd minute.
A directed halftime talk about picking up the pace resonated with the team, and set the team into action. In the 56th minute, a free kick from 35 yards out by Katy Colas put the ball in the upper 90 for the first goal of the second half. Karin Simonian powered her way past a defender to put the ball in the net in the 63rd minute. Dribbling through three defenders, Cassie Pecht put the ball away to complete the 5:0 victory.
"We were working on how to control the speed of play and that is something that we need to practice. Both teams started slow and then Region I picked it up and scored. Afterwards we should have slowed down, but we kept the fast speed," said US Youth Soccer ODP Region I Coach Peye Garcia. "Tomorrow against Honduras we will work at the speed. The kids have to leave here knowing that playing here is different than in the U.S. At home we can place fast the whole time. Here to control the speed and know when to change it is key."
Region II vs. Honduras; 7:2
Honduras again played heavy in the back, but Region II was prepared with a strategy to probe and penetrate. In the fourth minute Region II scored off an own goal. Shea Groom scored off a header from Katherine Reed and soon after Molly Rappold scored in the 16th off a corner from Groom. Rappold then assisted a goal by Groom in the 31st. Groom completed a hat trick in the 37th off a fierce 35 yard free kick. Ashley Meier scored the team's sixth goal with an assist by Groom. Honduras opened the second half with a goal, but Region II continued to challenge. Olivia Brannon hit a corner to Delaney Kiely. Honduras scored a second, but Region II held the lead.
"They have learned that they can't solve problems the way they are used to," said Paul Webster, US Youth Soccer ODP Region II Coach. "They have realized that these different teams play differently than we do at home. The girls are definitely living up to our expectations. The girls have played better each day."
Region III vs. Costa Rica; 0:0
Just before the evening rains started, Region III and Costa Rica played a physical match resulting in a 0:0 tie.
"I thought that the kids' performance was significantly better today than their last game against Honduras and better than we expected it to be. The players who came off the bench had a good impact and that was important to our success," Sandy Davison, US Youth Soccer ODP Region III Coach, said. "Tomorrow we play Chile. When we looked at the schedule before the trip, our goal was to grow with every game and improve with each day. A win tomorrow wins the tournament. We just want to keep improving and we will feel good about the week if their game just keeps getting better."
Region IV vs. Chile; 1:5
Chile remains undefeated against the US Youth Soccer ODP regional teams. Region IV made a valiant effort today to claim the top spot in the standings, but the older and more technical Chilean team prevailed, 1:5. The Under-20 National Team from Chile has earned admiration from the players and coaches this week. They are the most sophisticated team, both technically and tactically. They are a good team to watch and learn from. The lone American goal came from Region IV's Alexis Weaver scored in the 22nd.
In addition to games and study hall today, the three regions with earlier games stayed busy in the afternoon. Regions I and IV visited a community center to volunteer and play with orphans. It was a great way to give back to the country that has been such a wonderful host. Region II took a tour of downtown San Jose and visited a market to do a little shopping and relax.
Today is the final day of games and tonight all eight teams will gather for a farewell dinner and closing ceremonies. There is sure to be a lot of excitement and probably more dancing and bonding between the teams.
For the complete schedule and more information about US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program, go to www.USYouthSoccer.org
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