BRADENTON, Fla. (Via US Youth Soccer) — The annual US Youth Soccer ODP Boys Florida Interregional completed games on Sunday at Lakewood Ranch High School in Bradenton, Florida.
Featuring teams in the 2000, 2001 and 2002 age groups, the event includes more than 210 of the nation’s top players selected from US Youth Soccer State Association and Regional level evaluations. In each age group, players will attend scheduled training sessions and also compete in matches against each of the other regional teams.
As the teams finished their third day of games, the South 2002 team picked up a 1-1 draw and coach Ryan Lazaroe noted what is expected from the players on the final day.
“It’s a lot of games,” Lazaroe said. “Three games in three days, but these are the moments that the players have to shine in and work through it. [The players] handled it well. Our third game today was our best. I think we could have been more ruthless in the final third, but it was a good result for us today, so I’m proud of the boys.”
These type of interregional events are not only beneficial for the players but for the ODP coaches as well. Lazaroe said that his goal is to be “able to identify the best players in [the South].”
“These events are always great to test the players out and see where these players stand in not only our depth chart, but moving forward, trying to identify players for future spring events,” Lazaroe said. “It’s a real good opportunity for players to self-assess themselves, self-reflect and see what the rest of the country has. For me, it’s the comradery you have with the players and being able to meet new people and work with other coaches. It’s always an honor and privilege to work with the best in the region.”
Highlights from Day 3:
2000s | Midwest 3-1 West
The Midwest Region came back from a one-goal deficit to defeat the West, 3-1. Skyler Goo scored for the West in the eighth minute of the match. In the 35th minute, the Midwest tied up the match as Dylan Sing found Tristan Stotler to put the ball in the net. As soon as the second half began, the Midwest came out with high energy and Emmanuel Iwe was able to put the team ahead when he dribbled toward the goal and put the ball past the goalkeeper. Iwe gained some breathing room for the team later in the second half when he stepped up to take a penalty kick and placed the ball in the right side of the net.
2000s | East 2-0 South
The East Region claimed a 2-0 victory over the South on Sunday to stand on top of the 2000 age group. The South came out with high pressure to begin the game and came close to scoring several times. One opportunity occurred when Alec Palanjian took the ball in to create a 1-v-1 opportunity with East goalkeeper Levi Owen, but Owen stopped his run in time. Luis Mora also came close to scoring as he played the ball around and received it back to create some space for an open shot, but the ball traveled wide right. In the midst of the South’s pressure, the East tried to gain a rhythm and was able to after it earned a penalty kick in the 20th minute. Tate Mohney placed the ball in the bottom left corner to put the East up 1-0. It was Mohney again who scored for the East in the 46th minute, granting East a win to close out the event.
2001s | Midwest 2-1 West
The Midwest came out on top of the West Region with a 2-1 win. In the beginning, the West inched forward and put its opponent under pressure, but the Midwest defense stayed organized and prevented any dangerous shots. The West began to find more through balls and pockets of space, including an instance when Nicholas Bourgeois found Edwin Aquino, but Aquino’s quick shot was blocked by Midwest goalkeeper Peter Wagner. Eventually, the West succeeded as the ball was played across the goal, which took an unfortunate deflection off of a Midwest player and into the goal. Despite the misfortune, the Midwest was able to get back into the game and score two goals thanks to Noah Madrigal and Andrrew Feltz.
2001s | East 0-3 South
With its 3-0 win over the East, the South was the only team in the 2001 age group to earn two wins over the weekend. Connor Dowler put the ball in the back of the net in the 13th minute, and the momentum picked up from there. The South constantly moved the ball around, and in the 26th minute, Zayne Zezulka found Jaden Jones-Riley on the far left side of the field, allowing Jones-Riley to drive a shot to the back right of the net. Zezulka went on to score a goal of his own as he received a throw-in, dribbled across the face of the goal and lofted the ball over the keeper. Despite the goal margin, the West fought hard in the second half to get into the game, and it was an intense last few minutes of the match. However, the South kept its shutout and took the win.
2002s | Midwest 2-1 West
The Midwest handed the West its first loss with a 2-1 victory. Clarence Weah put the Midwest ahead in the 27th minute when he chipped the goalkeeper from outside the 18-yard box on the right flank. In the second half, Jack Finnegan made it a 2-0 game as he was on the end of Moses Nzilamba’s corner kick and directed the ball into the net. Unaccustomed to being down a goal, the West picked up its energy and fought hard to get one back. The team was able to cut into the Midwest’s lead as Michael Sedano followed up a shot after a free kick. Marcel Salceda nearly gained the equalizer when he received a pass in front of the goal, but his shot went over the goal, and the Midwest held on for the victory.
2002s | East 1-1 South
The East and South Regions played to a 1-1 draw. After a scoreless first half, both teams came out with determination, and the South was able to get a goal first in the 49th minute. The South found Kenneth Toledo wide on the left flank, who dribbled to the end line and passed to Damon Williams for him to place the ball past the keeper. The East retaliated three minutes later as a diagonal through ball was sent in front of Henry Van Wincoop, who placed the ball in the bottom left corner of the goal. Van Wincoop’s goal was a momentum changer for the match, and the last few minutes resulted in a fast-paced frenzy, but neither team could attain the go-ahead goal.