Washington EPD Undefeated After Opening Day of Region IV ODP Championships
Ten Teams Compile 8-0-2 Record On First Day
Washington Youth Soccer Elite Player Development (EPD) teams in the boys and girls 1998-2002 birth years kicked off the opening day of the prestigious US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (ODP) Region IV Championships at the world-class Reach 11 Sports Complex in Phoenix.
The top players from each of the 14 western states have converged to represent their state and compete for the regional title, a chance to advance to the National ODP Championships, and to showcase their skills in front of collegiate, professional and U.S. National Team scouts at the annual event.
Washington EPD teams compiled eight wins and two ties on the opening day, outscoring opponents 30-4 in 10 games with seven shutouts. Washington EPD is trying to improve on its 2014 showing, where four boys’ teams advanced to championship matches and two girls’ teams were knocked out in the semifinal round.
The 10 Washington EPD teams began the day by gathering for a state-wide meeting in the morning. EPD coaches spoke to the group, delivering the expectations and opportunities the players faced by having earned the chance to represent Washington soccer. Players were also treated with videos from professional sides Seattle Sounders FC and Seattle Reign FC. Reign Head Coach Laura Harvey wished the players luck and advised them to work hard, listen to the coaches, play with their all and enjoy the experience. Former Sounders players and current front office personnel Taylor Graham and Roger Levesque also wished the teams luck, while also professing their admiration for EPD 2000 Boys coach Kevin Sakuda.
“These players have a great opportunity to come together from different club programs to represent their state in competition,” stated Washington Youth Soccer EPD Director Kim Calkins. “The club environment is where players grow on a daily basis, but similar to the National Team, where players from different clubs come together to represent their country, the EPD program supplements that development and prepares players for the next level of play. To be able to represent where you come from while also having the opportunity to showcase in front of so many scouts is what really makes the EPD program a special experience.”
In what became a nervous affair in the 2nd half, the ’98 Girls came out with a 5-2 win over Nevada on the opening day. McKaley Goffard (Three Rivers) put Washington in front just eight minutes in, and then Sophia Viviano (FC Alliance) and Namya Malik each scored a minute apart in the 15th to make it 3-0 going into halftime. However, Nevada came out with two goals as the second half wore on to make it 3-2. But Goffard and Vivian each grabbed their second goals near the end of regulation to get the three goal lead back and seal the game.
The ’99 Girls took care of business to start the tournament, topping Oregon 3-0. Kirstie Johnson (Eastside FC) put Washington in front just three minutes into the contest after some great combination play and an assist from Julia Mitchell (Eastside FC). Lauren Hudson (WPFC) struck again in the 31st on a corner kick in which Alexa Kirton (Eastside FC) and Rilee Castilla (Three Rivers) combined before Castilla knocked in the cross for Hudson’s finish. Olivia Van Der Jagt (Eastside FC) made it 3-0 before halftime on an assist from Kirton as the ‘99s held on through the second half for the win.
Four different players scored goals in a balanced team effort for the ’00 Girls en route to a 4-0 victory over Hawaii. U.S. National Team pool member Summer Yates (PacNW) started the scoring in the 11th minute with a great solo effort, dribbling three defenders before netting the winner. Fellow U.S. National Team pool player Sakura Yoshida (Crossfire) doubled the lead eight minutes later with an 18 yard strike. Coming out of the break, Washington put any doubts to rest as Jordan Snyder (Eastside FC) followed up her own rebound to make it 3-0, and then assisted on Nicole Souply’s (WPFC) goal 10 minutes later who one-timed the low cross into the net. Sophie Mendoza (PacNW) and Nina Lemanu (WPFC) combined for the shutout in goal, while Taylor Smith (WPFC) and Spencer Wirkkala (WA Rush) played a solid game on the backline.
The ’01 Girls got off on the right foot with a 2-0 shutout of Montana. Tori Wheeler (Crossfire) struck for the game winner just after the halftime break as she ran at the defense and drove in a low shot from 16 yards. Hailey Still (PacNW) insured the win with a 63rd minute header from Nikayla Copenhaver’s (PacNW) corner kick. Kylie Foutch (WA Rush) and Grace Collins (WPFC) shared the clean sheet in goal. The ’01 Girls are looking to improve on last season, where they fell to Cal-North 2-1 in the semifinal.
At the regional level, sometimes you need things to go your way and the ’02 Girls couldn’t seem to find that luck as they drew with Nevada 1-1. Facing a scrappy and determined Nevada side, Washington fought toe-to-toe, controlling play in the first half but unable to score as the teams headed to halftime 0-0. Play was back and forth in the second period, but the ’02 Girls finally broke through 10 minutes after the break on a Morgan Miles’ (WPFC) goal. With five minutes remaining in the match, Washington seemed to put the game away with a second goal via Campbell Neste (PacNW), but it was disallowed by the referee for offsides and Nevada jumped on the chance as they immediately went down the field and equalized. With seconds remaining, the Nevada keeper thwarted Washington again, barely tipping a shot from Neste over the bar as the game ended 1-1.
The ’98 Boys couldn’t break down New Mexico in a 0-0 draw.
The ’99 Boys came with something to prove after falling in last year’s final to Cal-South, and they showed it with a 5-0 victor over Nevada on the opening day. Jeremy “Sterling” Russell (Eastside FC) started the scoring in the 24th from an assist from Agustin Domingo (FC Alliance) as the teams headed into halftime with a 1-0 score. In the second half, Lucas Meek (Eastside FC) went off, scoring three goals to start the period and put Washington in complete control. Agustin added a goal of his own in the 77th to complete the scoring and put Washington back on track toward the championship match.
In an impressive display on day one, the ’00 Boys dismantled Colorado by a modest score of 4-0 in their quest to make it back to the championship match after falling to Cal-South in 2014. Washington made their intentions known from the opening whistle, pinning Colorado in their own end and scoring a few goals that were disallowed, while also squandering a few golden chances. Eleven minutes in, Keeton Heggerness (WPFC) put Washington in front on an assist from Evan Kim, and Jared Butler (WPFC) added the second 15 minutes later from David Masfield’s (WPFC) corner kick as the half ended 2-0. Ten minutes out of the break, Gus Diehl (Whatcom Rangers) netted on a pass from Andre Hamilton (NW United), and Ernesto Rios (PacNW) finished the scoring in a dominant performance to start the tournament. Evan Owens and Cameron Welty (FC Alliance) combined for the blank sheet in goal.
The ’01 Boys pulled things together to down Hawaii 4-0, despite a slow start to the game that went into halftime 0-0. Washington outshot the Islanders 7-1 in the first period, but couldn’t find net as they regrouped at the break. The boys came out with renewed determination in the 2nd, going ahead just two minutes after the restart when Naf Padilla (FC Alliance) made a blazing run down the right side and ripped a low, hard shot past the keeper. Five minutes later, some excellent combination play from Jonathan Gunn (Whatcom Rangers) and Mitchell Hutter (WPFC) led to Ethan O’Brian (Crossfire) slotting in Hutter’s pass to go up 2-0. Fifteen minutes into the second half it was 3-0 when Gunn outraced defenders to drop a nice pass into Padilla’s path, who made cool work of the play with a nice touch into the net. Taiga Crenshaw (Eastside FC) finished things off midway through the half, blasting Hayden Miller’s (ISC) cross into the upper corner from 15 yards out. Noah Thomas (WPFC) and Josh Hill (Crossfire) held down kept the shutout for Washington. The ’01 Boys fell short in last year’s final, and hope to atone for that loss this season.
Regional competition is all about mettle, and the ’02 Boys showed what they had after falling behind to Oregon before rebounding in the second half for a 2-1 victory. Oregon’s goal just before halftime gave them the momentum heading into the break, but Jonah Hyman (Eastside FC) struck the equalizer in the 53rd and Joshua Atencio (Crossfire) turned hero with his 64th minute strike.