By Steve Hunt
Special Contributor to USYouthSoccer.org
FRISCO, Texas (March 20, 2009) - Any time wind is a factor, a soccer coach's approach is simple - have the wind at your team's back in the second half. California South coach Daniel Codina adhered to that tried and true principle, and in the end, his team got the only goal they needed in the second half with the wind at their backs to prevail 1-0 over North Texas in the 1993 Girls final of the 2009 US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (US Youth Soccer ODP) Championship at Pizza Hut Park.
"We had to battle," Codina said. "We knew Texas would give us everything they had and they did. They made a little bit of an adjustment but luckily, we set it up so we had the win at our back (in the second half). We just kept going at them."
California South's goal was scored in the 70th minute by Kylie McCarthy, who converted from the left side of the pitch. The play started on the right side before a cross drew the North Texas goalkeeper out before the ball found its way to McCarthy on the opposite flank. Aware that the keeper was out of position, she summarily chipped the ball over her head and into the right side of the net for her side's only goal of the day.
"The players are smart," Codina said about the goal. "She (McCarthy) read that, saw the goalie was there and hit a nice little chip in the back side and it went in."
For most of the first half, it was North Texas who controlled the run of play and also generated the bulk of offensive chances. The closest that North Texas came to converting was in the 22nd minute when a free kick by Clarissa Wedemeyer from around 40 yards out drew iron and struck the crossbar. A 26th minute shot by Catherine Meyer also hit the post for North Texas.
After California South took the lead, North Texas made a strong push to bring the match level and possibly force overtime. However, the wind remained a big factor and with it on California South's side, they were able to keep their lead for the final 20 minutes and thus bring home the hardware.
For Codina, speed was a big factor in today's victory. "With the speed that we have, we can out hustle teams and go for a full 80 minutes," he said. "When I make a sub, usually it's putting two new people in who are going to make the game different in a positive way."
California South advanced to today's final after a 1:0 win over Minnesota on Friday. While he was pleased with the win, Codina still wanted to see more out of his team. He saw that desired improvement this morning.
"We played a little smarter today," he said. "Friday, I wasn't as impressed with the first half or the intelligence we played with or the mistakes we made. Today, we read the game a little better and that made a huge difference in this game. We were a little smarter in this one."