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CHAMPIONS OF THE WEST
Washington EPD teams make winning Region IV ODP titles look as easy as 1,2,3
Two Region IV Olympic Development Program titles in 2010. Another in 2011 — including a national final. Three more Regional Championships in 2012.
Ladies and gentlemen, Washington Youth Soccer is officially on the map.
Last month's Region IV ODP Championships in Phoenix, Ariz., were supposed to be a showcase for the top players and teams from 14 Western states. Instead, the Rave Green of Washington Youth Soccer and Sounders FC's Elite Player Development program turned the weekend's festivities into a showcase of the elite youth soccer talents being produced in the Evergreen State.
A record three EPD teams — the 1998 Girls, 1998 Boys and 1997 Boys — captured Region IV ODP crowns, while a fourth, the 1996 Girls, reached finals. It's a record haul for Washington's EPD program, second-most in the region, and the surest sign yet of our state's increasing prominence on the national scene.
"What a fantastic weekend for our Elite Player Development Program," said former Washington Youth Soccer Technical Director Gary White, who oversaw the program prior to announcing his intention recently to take over the National Federation in Guam. " I couldn't be more proud of the program's success, and am confident that I am leaving Washington at a very dynamic and successful time."
The Region IV ODP Championships, held Jan. 14-17 in Phoenix, brought together elite boys and girls teams in five different age groups from the 14 US Youth Soccer state associations that comprise Region IV — Washington, Alaska, Arizona, California North, California South, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming. Teams played a round-robin format in two groups Saturday through Monday, with the top-two teams advancing to Monday's semifinal and, subsequently, Tuesday's final.
In all, five of Washington's six teams competing in Phoenix advanced out of group stages to the semifinal round, with a record four winning their semis to advance to finals.
Washington's 1998 Girls, led by coaches Malia Arrant and Lyndsey Patterson, were the first to win their crown, going 2-1 in group play before a 4-0 win in the semifinals. That set up a championship game against Cal South in which Washington again prevailed, this time by a narrow, 1-0 margin.
The 1998 Boys, led by coaches Dennis Sanchez and Willy Leiste, were even more dominant, winning five straight matches over the weekend without allowing so much as a single goal. A sweep of round-robin games was followed by a 1-0 semifinal win over Arizona and a 2-0 win over Cal North in the finals to capture their first Regional ODP crown.
The 1997 Boys, meanwhile, rallied behind coaches Jason Prenovost and Jamie Bloomstine to go 2-0-1 in group play before shutting out their semifinal and final opponents (1-0 vs. Utah and 4-0 vs. Cal North, respectively) for the Region IV crown.
"Each and every team participating in the Region IV ODP Championships should be extremely proud of their hard work and determination," said Doug Andreassen, Washington Youth Soccer President. "Our players' performance on and off the field — their professionalism, sportsmanship and talent — is a testament to the Elite Player Development program and the commitment of our coaches, players, parents and volunteers. Congratulations to all!"
The three wins by Washington Youth Soccer EPD teams were the most ever for the program in one year, and brought the total number of Region IV crowns captured by Washington's EPD since the program's inception to six. A joint venture of Washington Youth Soccer and Seattle Sounders FC, the EPD program was created to train and develop the best players in the state for regional, national and professional competition.
"The various trophies are symbolic of the efforts of all of our staff, players and parents over the past few years," said White. "The Washington Youth Soccer/Sounders FC EPD program continues to solidify itself as a leader in modern player development, both regionally and nationally — our preparation, presentation and performance sets us apart. Congratulations to all EPD players, parents and staff."
For complete results of the 2012 Region IV ODP Championships, click here! Further information on Washington Youth Soccer's Elite Player Development program can be found online at WashingtonYouthSoccer.org.
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