The U.S. Youth Soccer Region III ODP Girls team from the 1993 birth year recently traveled to Costa Rica for a week-long tour of the Central American country and came away with three impressive victories.
After landing just 24 hours earlier, the girls ran out 1-0 winners against a Costa Rican U20 national team comprised of the younger players of that pool.
The next day, playing against a top Costa Rican women’s club team, the girls won 4-1. After a few days of sightseeing, it was time for the biggest game of the trip, a showdown with the full Costa Rican U20 national team. The girls would pass this test with flying colors, coming away with a 3-1 victory over their Central American rivals.
Head Coach Aaron Gordon pinpointed the defense as the strength of the squad. In particular, Vanderbilt commit Cherrell Jarrett, Florida State commit Carson Pickett and Taylor Narvaiz who will be playing her soccer at Texas Tech this fall.
While the positive results are the biggest story of the trip, for Gordon another huge plus is the rise of players who in the past were fairly unheralded. According to Gordon, players like Pickett, Jarrett and Narvaiz as well as Emily Sonnett, Margaret Casscells-Hamby were not necessarily thought of as the cream of the crop for the ’93’s a few years ago, but now they’re some of the most important players on the squad.
“Two years ago there were like three or four kids on the team that were on the U17 national team that failed to qualify for the World Cup…those kids are all very good players but they didn’t really stick with it (ODP) so it kind of allowed the ’93 pool to evolve and bring in different players,” said Gordon about the change in the ’93 team. “To be honest I think those kids [Pickett, Jarrett, Narvaiz etc…] have possibilities of college careers because they were given opportunities to get into this pool. It just shows that the developmental timeline is different for everybody. Cheyna Williams is a perfect example, she’s a kid out of Atlanta who was an alternate, but she’s now going to be a complete handful in college.”
Gordon uses the example of these girls to tell his other teams to never give up on their development because you never know who is watching and when you might hit your peak. It is also part of staying on for message when the value of ODP has been called into question by many club directors due to the advent of ECNL’s Player ID system and U.S. Soccer’s Market Training Centers.
“My message to the kids at regional camps when I saw all the kids there, was some of your teammates back home are rationalizing why they shouldn’t be at ODP and I applaud the kids who are there because they didn’t rationalize.” Gordon said, “They came there because there was a chance to play and train with other players, get coaching and if you’re a kid who’s 16, 17, 18, and you’re still needing to rationalize why you shouldn’t play soccer then there’s probably something wrong with you if you think that you’ve peaked when the reality is you’re just starting.”
For Gordon, the ODP camps and international trips are essential to the development of these girls as they continue with the regional teams and on to their chosen college commitment.
“It shows you that we try to make sure with the players I’m recruiting at Texas Tech or regional teams that they keep their foot on the gas not take their foot off the gas because there’s players that will pass them by and there’s only so many opportunities you get where you’re playing the best players in the country or go on international trips and stuff like that,” said Gordon. “There’s a maturity process and the more times you put yourself as a player in that position the more comfortable as a player you’re going to be once you step into the next arena that you go to.”
READ ABOUT THE REGION III 95s AND 96s STRUGGLES IN EUROPE AND COSTA RICA.
Region III ODP ’93 Girls roster for Costa Rica Tour:
Margaret Casscels-Hamby, Sarah Daane, Megan Fish, Bryana Gold, Cherrelle Jarrett, Heather Magee, Taylor Narvaiz, Carson Pickett, Taylor Schneider, Alyse Scott, Kelsey Shimmick, Cara Smith, Madison Smith, Emily Sonnett, Sara Trexler, Lauren Watson, Cheyna Williams