US Youth Soccer ODP Girls Region I team reaches finals of Menton Tournament in France
After a 1-1 draw against FC Bobruichanka (Belarus) in the opening match, Region I strung together three straight wins against Selection Mahoraise (France), Etoile De Menton (France) and ZNK Dinamo Maksimir (Croatia).
“I think we did really well considering we only had one real training session together before our first friendly,” Region I coach Mike Idland said. “The girls competed well against some well-polished teams that in some instances were much older and more mature tactically.”
In the finals, Region I faced off against FC Bobruichanka in a rematch of their first game. Like the first match, a winner was unable to be determined in regulation, but ultimately FC Bobruichanka was able to win in penalty kicks 0-0 (4-2).
“I thought FC Bobruichanka was by far the strongest and most sophisticated team we played, and it was evident in the first match when they were able to control possession for the majority of the game before we were able to get a late equalizer,” Idland said. “I thought the team came full circle in the final match because it was a much more balanced game. I think it showed how far we came as a group to give as good as we got in the final game.”
Virginia’s Myra Konte (Northern Virginia Soccer Club) was selected as the player of the tournament for a team that featured players from nine different US Youth Soccer State Organizations.
|New England Aztec
|New York West
|Syracuse Dev Academy
|New England Wave
|Academica Futbol Club
|New York West
|Syracuse Dev Academy
|Eastern New York
Before the tournament started, Region I had the opportunity to play friendlies in Lugano (Switzerland) and right outside of Milan (Italy). Idland recalls the team’s match in Switzerland as a particularly special experience.
“After the match the girls were grabbing their stuff and we were all set to find a restaurant to eat, but the opposing players and coaches invited us into their clubhouse where they served us dinner,” Idland said. “They were all wonderful, and the opposing coach stuck around for a while to chat. It felt like we were in a completely different culture that definitely benefitted us.”
Idland emphasized that since players do not have a lot of time to play with each other beforehand, international trips like this are an excellent opportunity for them to develop.
“These trips really allow for the players to grow because they are in a competition where something is on the line, and it is taken to the next level in a foreign country where you have to deal with things like the language barrier and being in a different culture,” Idland said. “For me, this is the final piece of ODP for the players to experience the worldliness of the game, and they were wonderful.”
While Idland has made the player development aspect of these trips very clear, he also points out the development the coaches go through as well.
“This was my first experience on an international trip with ODP Region I, and there is plenty of development on the coaching side, as well as the players,” Idland said. “You can learn so much as a coach on these trips. I know I certainly did.”
While soccer was certainly the focus of the trip, Idland explained that the ODP did a great job of balancing soccer with the opportunity for the players to sightsee. Idland also accentuated the importance of getting the players out of their comfort zone this trip — something that could come in handy in the near future.
“They are definitely taking a brave plunge into a new environment, and considering these girls are at Under-16 and Under-17 ages, they will be taking a similar plunge soon when they go play in college,” Idland said. “The experience and exposure will make them more prepared than some of the other players who have done everything domestically.”