The NYW 99 Girls ODP Team travelled to Phoenix, AZ as the USYS Region 1 champion, beating out 14 other state associations at last summer’s regional tournament, for the right to attend the ODP National Final Four. The Final Four which was held on February 26-March 1 included the 99G’s ODP state teams from IL, FL and Cal-South. After enduring a weather related travel odyssey that included cancelled flights, multiple layovers and 48 hours of travel, the NYW girls arrived at their Phoenix hotel a day late and in the wee hours on the eve of their semifinal game against verses IL. The travel delays forced tournament organizers to move the game from its originally scheduled Friday 1pm time slot to a 9am Saturday time slot. Despite the travel ordeals and after a tenuous first twenty minutes of the game in which the team’s defense was outstanding, the girls settled down and began to play with confidence. NYW carried much of the play, but despite creating several good scoring chances, were unable to find the back of the net. IL struck first with a goal against the run of play in the 60th minute. After the game’s first goal, the play on the field proceeded to open up considerably elevating the pace of play in the final 20 minutes. IL would catch NYW with players pushing forward for a second goal, but then had to survive an onslaught of pressure that saw NYW pin them in their own half. NYW pulled a goal back, but in the end IL fought off the late NYW charge to end the game. With the 2-1 loss, NYW moved on to play FL in the consolation game at 8:30am the next day.
NYW played its best soccer of the weekend in the consolation game (despite playing its second game in as many days and against a team who had the benefit of a rest day between their two games). The team played with more poise, combined well, possessed the ball and played through thirds of the field, often putting the opponent back on its heels for much of the first half. The team took a 1-0 lead into half time. With NYW unable to get the elusive second goal, the talented FL team hung around, gained some momentum and scored a spectacular goal of their own 15 minutes into the second half. Similar to the first game, play opened up considerably in the final 20 minutes with end to end action and with both teams throwing players forward trying to find the winning goal. The game would end in a 1-1 draw and with a NYW team that was physically and emotionally drained from leaving everything they had out on the field.
The 99G’s final saw Cal-South and IL draw 0-0 in regulation play and two overtimes before Cal-South claimed the title after prevailing in penalty kicks.
The NYW 99G’s gained valuable experience both on and off the field during this event. Head Coach, Carrie Bonus: “The competitive maturity and composure that these young ladies exhibited in light of everything that was thrown at them during this trip was remarkable. We are extremely proud of how they represented themselves and NYW, both on and off the field.” NYSWYSA Technical Director, Dean Foti: “NYSWYSA clubs and their coaching staffs should be applauded for their outstanding player development efforts. They should take great pride in knowing that, despite any of the challenges that they may face in our area, they are still developing youth players as good as any in the country – these 99G’s are living proof of it.”