The 2012 US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (US Youth Soccer ODP) Championships kicked off today at FC Dallas Stadium in Frisco, Texas, a suburb of Dallas.
Teams in the 1995 and 1996 age groups played their semifinal matches today and the championship pairings are set for Sunday, March 11.
State-level US Youth Soccer ODP Boys and Girls teams have earned their way to the 2012 US Youth Soccer ODP Championships by winning their US Youth Soccer ODP Regional Championships. The format, similar to the US Youth Soccer National Championship Series, provides state teams the opportunity to compete against teams from other regions in a championship tournament.
Both 1995 champions from 2011 are poised to repeat this year, with New Jersey advancing to the girls championship game and Virginia returning to the boys final.
New Jersey began its quest for a second-consecutive US Youth Soccer ODP Championship by facing a determined side from Ohio-South. A hard fought first period was capped off with a New Jersey goal just before the halftime whistle by Meghan McDonald. That score line held and set up a rematch of the 2011 championship match between New Jersey and California-South.
Cal-South started its semifinal match off with an early goal from Kayla Mills in the 7th minute. Three more goals in the first half would give the Region IV champs a comfortable 4-0 lead over Georgia at intermission. Sarah Fajnor finished the scoring for Cal-South with a strike in the 86th minute for the 5-0 victory.
Michigan made an early statement in its semifinal match when Ryan Scott nodded home a corner kick to claim a 1-0 lead over Tennessee in the 2nd minute. Tennessee would battle back and equalize just after halftime on a Connor Quiggle strike. Michigan showed resilience of its own when Donald Payne found Matt Wilson free in the 18 and Wilson slotted home the game winner in the 59th minute.
Michigan’s opponent in the championship match will be defending US Youth Soccer ODP Champion, Virginia. After creating scoring opportunities in the first half, Virginia finally broke the stalemate with Cal-South with a goal from Dale Ludwig in the 48th minute. Defensive efforts at both ends of the field held the 1-0 scoreline.
A goal by Colleen Gawkins was all that separated Michigan and Virginia in the 1996 Girls semifinal. In the late stages of the first half, Gawkins showed great individual skill, beating her defender to the endline then beating the keeper to the near post to secure the 1-0 victory for Virginia.
Cal-South took a first-half lead over Florida off a Pilar Torres strike in the 21st minute. Torres would score again to double the Cal-South lead in the 80th minute. Florida pulled a goal back off the ensuing kickoff, but the game ended 2-1 in favor of the Region IV champs.
A pair of 3-0 scorelines determined the 1996 Boys semifinal matches. Michigan put two early goals on the board against Cal-South with Don Nakashima goals in the 9th and 12th minutes. Lou Plascencia added a third goal for Michigan in the 79th to finish the scoring.
Mario Da Silva's goal in the 12th minute gave Florida first-half lead over Virginia. After being denied by the woodwork twice in the second half, Florida finally added some cushion with goals by Bradley Farias in the 77th and 80th minutes.
Ohio South 0-1 New Jersey
Goal Scorers: NJ-Meghan McDonald (45:00)
California South 5-0 Georgia
Goal Scorers: CA-S-Kayla Mills (7:00), Mellessah Rangel (22:00), Savannah Levin (32:00), MacKenzie Cerda (44:00), Sarah Fajnor (86:00)
Tennessee 1-2 Michigan
Goal Scorers: TN-Connor Quiggle (49:00)
Goal Scorers: MI-Ryan Scott (2:00), Matt Wilson (59:00)
California South 0-1 Virginia
Goal Scorers: VA-Dale Ludwig (48:00)
California South 2-1 Florida
Goal Scorers: CA-S-Pilar Torres (21:00, 80:00)
Goal Scorers: FL-Taylor Doeble (80:00)
Virginia 1-0 Michigan
Goal Scorers: Colleen Gawkins (38:00)
California South 0-3 Michigan
Goal Scorers: MI-Don Nakashima (9:00, 12:00), Lou Plascencia (79:00)
Florida 3-0 Virginia
Goal Scorers: FL-Mario Da Silva (12:00), Bradley Farias (77:00, 80:00)
Championship Matches - Sunday, March 11