NTX ODP vs. Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska … The Coaches' Perspectives
The North Texas ODP State Teams play in sub-regional games in the fall and the spring. In the fall, we traveled to Oklahoma; in the spring, we will travel to South Texas and Southern California; we will also host our own sub-regional in Dallas in June.
The sub-regional events provide an opportunity for state-pool players to play for the North Texas State Team against those from other states. The games themselves are a developmental experience, adding to the overall improvement of players as they compete at the state-team level.
We look to compete in these events when local league play is complete, so that youth players are free and available outside of their club commitments. Together with the club teams, ODP facilitates the total development of the truly elite, dedicated youth soccer players.
Below is a brief review of our teams' performances at the fall sub-regional, with insight from the coaches on how they plan to build on those experiences prior to the upcoming spring events:
'99 Girls - Jeff Hill
The North Texas '99 girls suited up 54 players onto three teams and travelled to Edmond, Okla., to take on state teams from Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska. In nine games, the three teams combined for 16 goals while only allowing five, on their way to racking up an impressive 4-1-4 record.
"I felt as though we were the best team in all nine games," says North Texas '99 Girls coach Jeff Hill. "It's just a matter of turning those good performances into results. We have a lot of work to do, but I am really happy with the progress the girls made in Oklahoma. This is a very talented age group."
'98 Girls - Cassidy Acuff
The '98 girls played in a completely new formation and showcased the team's individual talents. Saturday morning started off with a great win, 6-0, against Kansas. Despite the good win, we established some objectives and techniques to work on for the next few games to continue to improve. The girls came out ready to play in the second game against a younger Oklahoma team, focusing on establishing possession and seeking players out before we cross the ball. We dominated with a 7-0 victory and accomplished many of our objectives. The final showdown was against the tough '98 Oklahoma team. The girls pulled out another decisive victory, beating the competition 6-0.
Each game, we focused on the details of the game to really start to take each of the girls to the next level. Every player was an asset and improved over the weekend. The girls are fired up for spring training and hope to make the squads going to Alabama.
'97 Girls - Blas Guerrera
The '97 Girls State Team had a great showing at the OKC ODP event. They were competitive in all three games, playing Oklahoma '97 to a 2-2 draw, beating Kansas 1-0, and losing to Oklahoma '95/'96, 1-0. The '97 Girls Team represented North Texas in a positive manner. Congratulations to the girls on a fun, successful weekend!
'96 Girls - Gary Williamson
We had six new girls playing for the North Texas State Team for the first time. These girls were selected from the tryouts at the beginning of the fall. Despite not playing together in a competitive match, the girls came together quickly. Playing against Kansas (1-3), Oklahoma 95/96 (3-0) and Kansas 95/96 (2-1), the girls improved every half of every game. The girls adapted to the tactics for each game and were versatile enough in their skill and understanding to play one or more positions.
Despite the cold, the girls braved the elements and impressed all in attendance with a high level of attacking play and tenacious defending. Fleur Benatar, the head coach at Texas Women's University, will coach this team in the spring leading up to the Regional Camp in the summer.
'99 Boys - Vassar Cates
On Dec. 9, the North Texas state teams for the '99 age group traveled to Edmond, Okla. We took three teams, the red, blue, and white. All three teams had a very successful weekend overall and played through some cold conditions on Saturday and Sunday.
The teams the '99s faced were Nebraska, Kansas and Oklahoma. All three teams played two games on Saturday and went out on top, winning all games. On Sunday, the '99 red team had a tough game against Oklahoma and was defeated in a very competitive match. The blue and white teams finished off their Sunday with victories to end their weekends with 3-0 records.
Overall, it was a great weekend. All of the boys played hard and there was some very good soccer to be seen.
'98 Boys - Chad Rakestraw
The first team for the '98 boys played three other state teams in a sub-regional tournament in Oklahoma City. The first game was against Kansas. The game started off well, scoring in the first 10 minutes and then dominating possession for the rest of the game. The game ended in a 6-0 victory for North Texas.
The second game of the day was against Oklahoma; this was the toughest matchup we would see during the weekend. North Texas had a 2-0 halftime lead become 2-1 early in the second half. The boys maintained the majority of possession once again, but had a tougher time creating chances in the final third. The third goal to ice the win came from a half-volley just outside the 18 from Zen Cardona.
The '98 boys then played a third game that wound up being difficult, partly due to exhaustion and conditions. But, they fought through it and earned a scrappy, 2-0 win.
The boys did a good job of coming together and playing as a team. They ended the weekend with two shutouts and only one goal against, while scoring 11 goals in three games. The future of NTX soccer is looking bright with the '98s.
'97 Boys - Bryan Thompson
The '97 boys played exceptionally well in Oklahoma. The first game was a 5-0 victory over Kansas; the '97s dominated play and possession throughout the match. The '97 goalkeepers faced few shots thanks to solid defending by the '97 team's back four.
In their second game, the '97 team faced a very good Oklahoma team that controlled play in the first half. However, North Texas recovered composure in the second and managed to make the game interesting following a penalty kick. Unfortunately, the '97s were unable to bring the score closer and lost, 1-3.
The final game on Sunday involved the '97 team competing against on an older, bigger Kansas team. The '97s gave up an early goal in the first half but battled hard and stayed close throughout the game. Despite having several second-half chances, they were not able to equalize and finished with a 1-0 defeat.
'96 Boys - JT Thomas
The sub-regional in Oklahoma was a great opportunity for the coaching staff to observe and evaluate the players in a competitive game environment. This event also provided the boys with a soccer development opportunity to test their skills against opposing state team players for the first time.
Games were played against Kansas and Oklahoma, mostly '95s. All three goalkeepers played under pressure, marshaled the goal box, led from the back and made saves. The defensive players competed under a lot of pressure from several types of attacking formations, but for the most part were able to hold their own. I also observed some outstanding, hard play from the defenders. Yet, they were still able to keep the ball under control.
My biggest surprise was the play of the midfielders. I enjoyed watching their creativity as they maintained possession and controlled the ball. The midfielders also forced the opponents to turn the ball over, allowing our team to regain possession of the ball at key moments. We are still looking for forwards that can finish, but I was able to observe the attackers at times keep good possession of the ball, and make penetrating passes to create several scoring opportunities. Overall, I enjoyed coaching the boys this weekend and look forward to more games and training in the spring.