ODP 98, 97, 96 Boys Attend
Copa Rayados Internacional
College Showcase

North Texas sent three teams to the first Copa Rayados Internacional College Showcase in San Antonio over the Thanksgiving weekend. The competitive format was unique for a showcase of this nature. Teams were matched on competitive ability as a result of the outcome of each match, and advanced or dropped accordingly.

A total of 300 matches were played. Of the 30 champions, 20 were from the USA, nine were from Mexico, and one from Nigeria. Of the nine Gold Champions and age division winners, four were from the USA and five were from Mexico, including four professional club academies (Monterrey Rayados 2001, Santos Laguna 1999, Monterrey Rayados 1998, and UNAM Pumas 1996).

North Texas ODP sent three teams down to San Antonio to compete. Here are the coach reports on each team:

Eric Oakley, 98 Boys

98B NTX ODP vs ACADEMIA TIGRES AZUL Y ORO [4–1]
After a long day of travel for the boys the day before, the team came out with a lot of energy and took the game to their opponent. The boys created many chances early on, but couldn’t find the break. You could see a sense of worry growing, since they hadn’t found a breakthrough. In a period of possession, the boys found the ball wide and delivered it into the box. After it bounced around, Jakey LaRoe was quick to react and volleyed home from short range. The boys lit up and continued to be on top of their opponents into the dying moments of the first half. Tigres sent a hopeful ball forward that skipped off a player’s head, giving them their first opportunity of the half and one they took advantage of, leaving the sides level at the interval. Myself and Gary Williamson, NTSSA Director of Coaching and Player Development, rallied the boys at halftime in hopes of giving a much-needed boost after dominating, but still being level. A few changes were made early into the second half. The boys who came on had an immediate impact. Chandler Parrish served a ball in from 40 yards that was snatched up at the back post by Christian Presley. The boys did not look back after regaining the lead. Jay Lee then made it three with a great take inside the 18-yard box. To finish the game, Luis Chia made use of some quality ball work in the corner to serve the ball in to a waiting Christian Presley, who finished with great aplomb. The boys were pumped after finishing the game with a deserved win and looked forward to what they could take out of the weekend.

98B NTX ODP vs CVFC Boys Red [3–1]
After a strong start in the previous match, the boys came out a little slower than we would have liked. They weathered the storm, as the team from Oklahoma came out with a lot of energy and an eagerness to win. The boys were solid defensively and managed to pick up a goal against the run of play with a great build-up from the back. Jay Lee found himself running in on goal and finished before the onrushing keeper could make a save. This goal set the tone for the remainder of the game, and the boys did not look back. They controlled the game deep into the second half, where Jay Lee latched on to a deep ball forward and poked it beyond the keeper’s hands before walking in on goal to give us a comfortable lead. The boys then made it three with a good piece of wide work from Luis Chia again to find Josue Munoz, who showed off his skill, flicking the ball up about eight yards out, then volleying it home. The game finished 3-1 as the boys made their only mistake of the game, allowing too much space in the midfield, letting the attackers in behind the defense. After the game, the boys started to grow more confident that they were going to do anything to play in the final; they just needed to take care of the next game first.

98B NTX ODP vs FB Prepa TEC [2-0]
With the confidence from the first two games, the boys took to their opponent early and stayed on top for the majority of the game. The boys showed signs of fatigue, but continued to battle hard and gave their opponents no room. After a surging run forward, Jay Lee found himself in on goal when he fell awkwardly, and picked up a high ankle sprain that held him out for the remainder of the weekend. We would have to make do without our leading goal scorer in the tournament so far. The game went into the second half as we pushed hard for a goal. Josue Munoz brushed off a few tackles to find himself deep in the penalty area, where he found Christian Presley, who finished well to give us a much-deserved lead. Presley then made it two, becoming our leading goal scorer when he latched onto a rebound from a great strike from Luis Chia from 25 yards out. We also earned our first shutout of the tournament, which gave boys even more confidence. The boys ended the group stage having gone 3-0 and booked a place in the final.

98B NTX ODP vs FB Prepa TEC [2–0]
Unfortunately, in the final the boys faced the same opponent that they played the previous day. Beating an opponent twice is never easy, let alone having to do so in a two-day period. The boys were ready, though, and up for the task. As the game got underway, the boys continued the work rate they had all weekend long, and did not allow the opponent to establish a footing in the game. The game was similar to the previous day, with the teams scoreless at halftime. In the second half, a great combination play throughout our midfield led to a favorable bounce which sprung Waleed Cherif in on goal, where he finished to give us a deserved lead. A good run from Luis Chia led to an opponent’s handball in the penalty area, giving us a penalty kick. Having caused the play, Chia stepped up and finished off the goal. As the final whistle blew, the boys were enthusiastic and thrilled that their hard work had paid off. They left everything on the field that weekend. As their coach, I couldn’t have been more proud of their work rate and effort. The boys got what they deserved, a CHAMPIONSHIP.

John Thomas, 97 Boys

97B NTX ODP vs Prepa Tec CSC B [3–1]
(2 Caleb Cohen, 1 Tyler Munzel)  Caleb Cohen was able to use his skills to receive the ball from his team mates Parker Catagnus, Bobby Carlton (97 BODP Region III Pool Player) and Tyler Munzel. They played as a unit, circulating the ball through their opponents to create scoring opportunities. Tyler Munzel made a great lone run from the outside to put himself in position to fake the keeper and push the ball by him for his goal. Overall, a good start to the Showcase.

97B NTX ODP vs Dallas Tigres Academy 97B [0-1]
At times, this was quite a physical game. Despite this, the boys created several opportunities to score, and were unfortunate not to put the ball in the back of the net. There was good, skillful team play; however, the goal seemed to be closed for the team for this game.

97B NTX ODP vs Lamar Legends [1-0]
(1 Bobby Carlton) This game was hard-fought from the first whistle to the last. The goal keeper, Alastair Stark, assisted by his back four Hector Sanchez, Paxton Stratton, Robert Watson and Matthew Simpkins, did well to keep the ball out of the net with a solid defensive performance. The win put us in the finals for the silver bracket.

97B NTX ODP vs MSK97B-Rayados [2-3]
(1 Alexander Vonholle, 1 Robert Hayden Watson) Abraham Lazo, 98 BODP Region III Pool Player, created a lot of scoring chances with his flair and skills. The players fought hard and had about 14 shots on goal, but where unlucky in the end not to put the ball in back of the net. The players look forward to more training and showcases.

There was a lot of good competition and soccer played all weekend. We had great play from goal keeper, Lowell Castolenia, in the net, Khalid Khalil in the midfield, with Tristan Pennington playing both midfield and forward at times. Sorobabel Lopez worked hard in the defensive midfield trying to prevent the opponent attacking down the middle of the field.

Sammy Ekeme, 96 Boys

96B NTX ODP vs Esc. Rayados-Waller [2-1]
We arrived in San Antonio on Nov. 27. We had a meeting at 7:30 p.m. with the boys to go over strategy, logistics, discipline, and the tournament. The next day, we had our first game against a very good team from Monterey. We played the NTX ODP 4-3-3. The boys started the game positively, dominating in possession with good combination play throughout the field. The boys were well organized, especially from set pieces. That paid dividends when Darius Strambler, 96 BODP Region III Pool Player, slotted a throw in to Martin Melchor, 96 BODP Region III Pool Player, to beat the goalie in the near post. The team from Monterrey, however, reacted and equalized right before halftime. In the second half, the boys raised their game and got another goal from a set play. Martin Melchor played a brilliant ball into the box for Darius Strambler to head in, making it the game winner. The boys kept their composure and defensive discipline to win the first game 2-1. Thanks to North Texas State Soccer Association, the boys celebrated with a good Thanksgiving dinner at the hotel later that evening.

96B NTX ODP vs KC Legends WC 95/96 [2-0]
In the second game, we played Kansas City, K.C. Legends. With full confidence after our victory in the first game, the boys came out jumping all over their opponents. Darius Strambler was tough for the defense to handle, drawing a penalty kick that Julian Basey smartly scored to make it 1-0. In the second half, the boys kept the pressure on their opponents, resulting in a second goal from a brilliant combination that started from the right back. Jonathan Otto found Martin Melchor, who nicely controlled the ball with the inside of his foot before brilliantly finding Darius Strambler, who wasted no time tapping it into the net to provide the 2-0 final score.

96B NTX ODP vs Spring Branch MyFC [2-5]
After a great start, the boys were pumped up for chance to be in the finals, but had to win in the semifinals first against a very good team from Houston. That for sure was not going to be easy due to the fact we only had 16 players on our roster, and coupled with the fact that fatigue and injuries started creeping in. The boys came out swinging and playing as they had in the previous two games, controlling the game with good possession play. After missing several opportunities in the first half, they made two fatal defensive errors and were punished. The score at half time was 0-2. The boys came out at the start of the second half less confident, which immediately showed as we gave up two more goals. The boys played with a lot of heart and competitive spirit, even though playing fatigued, injured and, at one point, down to 10 men. Darius Strambler scored two goals from individual actions to bring the score to 2-4, which gave the team a second wind before conceding a final goal to finish 2-5.

96B NTX ODP vs Kicks FC [2-2]
After losing that semifinal game, the boys were beat up physically and mentally. We evaluated those that could receive some treatment to be able to play for third place on Sunday. We had 12 field players and two goalies. We approached that game with tired bodies and tired minds. When they started, the boys wanted to win, but didn't play as well as their previous three games. We were tied at half, 1-1. We conceded a second goal midway into the second half but were able to come back to tie 2-2 with a goal by Darius Strambler.

Overall, it was a great experience for the boys. This competitive experience gained in NTX ODP will help prepare the boys as they graduate and go on to play at the collegiate level; provided they continue to work hard to improve their game further.

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