West Region vs. Dimas
Day 1 started for this year’s ODP Girls Tournament and the teams in charge of the first match were ready to entertain the audience by showing great soccer skills. West Region started pressing hard from the very beginning and tried to keep the ball possession as much as possible; they had their first chance to score, but unfortunately, the referee found the player off side and the play did not end up in a goal. On the other side, DIMAS was trying hard to keep up with West Region’s pace, but the brave players of the US regional team were tough. One of the pain points of the West Region was rangy player Erin Bridges (#16), who was always running on the right side of the court and several times creatively made her way to the middle of the field in order to face the opponent’s goal.
Despite West Region’s good pace and tempo, it was DIMAS that scored first on the feet of Daniela Contreras (#19) after a great pass from Cristel Sandi (#23) on the left hand side. After the first goal, both teams continued showing their good skills and organization on the field with the same back line organization of four players each, but Sandi kept pushing hard on the left channel and became a real headache for West Region’s defense. She made another skillful crossing, but Yaniela Arias (#21) was not able to connect the clear scoring option since West Region’s solid center defense players were there to stop her from shooting.
Later on, West Region Madison Liebman (#3) came running from the middle and tried to score a high ball, but it ended up passing close to the right pole. After several attempts, West Region reached their goal thanks to Liebman, who scored on the left side of DIMAS’s goalkeeper after a great pass from Kassandra Ceja (#10).
In the second half, the dynamic was the same with very good ball passing and accurate decision making from both teams. West Region’s Ragan Fuller (#15) displayed all her abilities and showed courage and awesome physical strength in the defense and cut many balls, leaving DIMAS with almost no scoring options throughout the stanza.
Even though both teams were actively fighting to win the midfield ball possession, Daniela Contreras was able to find a space in between lines and passed the ball to Lee Rosse Chavarria (#18) who did not have to think twice and sent the ball to the end of the net with her right foot. This last goal made DIMAS end up as winner of the match and Coach Brandi Chastain was not satisfied with the referee’s decision of calling a later off-side that could have created a goal option and represented the tie for West Region.
At the end of the match, Fuller said: “I expected a very high level since we are playing against older girls, and it really showed. They are very physical and technical and I really enjoyed playing against them. For our next match we can maybe work on playing a little quicker, quicker touches, and maybe a little more communication at certain times.” On the other bench, Coach Geovanny Vargas stated: “Definitely, playing against these teams from the US is very difficult since we have to come up with a very strong strategy due to their intensity and game pace and tempo. We need to be smarter in order to play quicker and learn to manage our timing and control their game”.
South Region vs. Moravia
South Region started the tournament with a very tight match against Moravia. The ODP girls made sure from minute 1 to pursue control over the midfield and they did. Their defense was not as solid as their midfield and in a very good individual play, Daniela Coto (Moravia, #24) managed to dribble four different players from South Region and then strongly shot and scored the first goal of the game.
After the first goal, South Region made sure to start playing with simple touches and accurately passing the ball from foot to foot. One of the most important players was high-spirited Jolie Baltzegar (#8), who moved from the center to the sides in order to help gain control of the ball and tried to create different shooting options; unfortunately, Moravia had a deadlock on the defense, and none of her intents ended in a goal.
On the second half, South Region started pressing and had a clear goal opportunity, but the favorite guest of the match was denied to them by dedicated and skillful goalie Fabiola Murillo (#1), who was impeccable in the net throughout the match. She ended up being recognized as the MVP (most valuable player) player for Moravia this time. The only time that Murillo was not accurate in her role, Sarah Dieffenderfer (#16) wasted a clear head scoring option since she came alone in front of the goal after a high and quick crossing that came from the left hand side.
Finally, the referee blew the whistle and the match was over; Moravia had won 1-0 over South Region and Coach Colin Carmichael said “I thought it was a good match and contested very well by both teams. We were missing the goal; we created a lot of good chances to score, we just couldn’t finish. The other team’s goalkeeper had a tremendous game and made four or five very good saves. Our team hasn’t played together since November and so hopefully we will be more cohesive for the next match”. Sarah also said “The game was back and forth and we both had ball possession. I hope tomorrow we can play more in the middle and get wide; I am really excited to play the next team tomorrow.” Coach Bernal Villegas (Moravia) added: “The match had a very high level; our team planned to work hard on our defense and it worked. We want to work on our passes tomorrow in order to score more goals and have a bigger advantage on the rival.”
East Region vs. Saprissa
East Region faced Saprissa in their first match of the tournament and it was a very difficult game for the ODP girls. Saprissa presented a totally dynamic and solid team with a lot of physical strength. The match had recently started when a free kick was called and left footed Maria Paula Elizondo (#6) hit the dead ball during minute 7 in order to open the scoreboard. Sofia Varela (#9) scored the second for Saprissa after receiving a pass in between lines.
Both teams were very anxious and desperately wanted to win possession on the midfield; the intensity of the match was crazy. Unfortunately for East Region, another goal came via Fabiola Villalobos (#14) and it was Mariam Ugalde (#3), who later on, doubled the lead 4-0 after another free kick from Elizondo.
On the second stanza, Saprissa gained more control over East Region. Even though they had a huge goal difference, the girls were never perceived as unorganized nor giving up on the match. Rosario Vargas (#9) came from the bench and scored the fifth goal for Saprissa by making her way to the box in between the defensive players. Finally, and after very hard work, East Region was rewarded with a goal scored by Brooke Burzynski (#4), who ran like the wind on the left channel and finally shot on the goal with great technique.
Saprissa scored their sixth and last goal of the day on the feet of Rosario Vargas, who is now the top scorer of the tournament with 2 conquests under her name. After the match, Coach Karol Robles (Saprissa) commented: “These matches are very intense; the US girls are very fast and strong players. We want to work on our game for tomorrow, but today we showed a lot of resistance which compensated the great physical strength of East Region players.”
After being asked a few questions about the game, Giovanna Castorina (#3) stated: “They play a lot quicker than us and they know a lot about soccer. They have a lot of experience and they knew where to play the ball. We have to learn that we cannot make mistakes and get away with it; we need to realize that we can’t make those mistakes and that other teams can capitalize on them.”
Stay tuned for summaries of the next matches!