PHOENIX, Arizona (January 5-8, 2024) - The Cal North Olympic Development Program competed at the most important event in the region: the 2024 Far West ODP Championships; bringing together over 14 states to compete for a regional title.
This year for the first time, three state associations were invited to compete with selected teams against the already established 14 states in the West region. Those three guest states were Illinois Youth Soccer Association and Iowa Soccer Association from the Midwest region, along with Eastern Pennsylvania Youth Soccer Association from the East region.
A total of ten teams from Cal North traveled to the 2024 Far West ODP Championships, eight of those teams coming back. The 2011 age groups for both the Boys & Girls were first-time participants at this event, with the 2011 Girls reaching the Final and losing a close match in penalty kicks. The 2010 Girls team won back-to-back regional titles and the 2009 Boys reached the Final of the ODP Championships for the second time in three years.
Following the event, coaches nominated two players from their team to be included in the Cal North Best XI Team presented by Stanford Medicine Children's Health for the 2024 Far West ODP Championships. The 2010 Girls and the 2009 Boys teams had three selections each for being the teams that either advanced the furthest or won the ODP Championships among the teams from their gender. In total, 22 players and four coached are being recognized for their performance during the 2024 Far West ODP Championships earlier this month.
See team photos and brief recap for each team that competed at the 2024 Far West ODP Championships.
The 2007 Girls needed three goals in their third and final group stage match in order to move on to the Final. They started the tournament with a 3-2 win over Montana, but lost 3-1 against Utah. In their third group stage game against New Mexico, they ended up winning 3-0, but needed three more goals to be in a better goal difference against Arizona, who ended up moving on to the Final.
Head Coach: Jeffrey Wilson
Assistant Coach: Gina Castañeda
Team Manager: Samantha Moos
With fresh faces and a complete new roster compared to last year, the 2007 Boys struggled to get out of group stage. The team did not play a bad brand of soccer, they simply were not clinical in the final third during important moments of the game, leading to short lapses of distraction and giving up goals. The team started with an entertaining 0-0 draw against Oregon, which was not a bad result. In their second game against eternal rival Cal South, the match was even up until the last minute of the game, literally the last minute of the game, before giving up the go-ahead goal and losing their second match. For the third and final game, with no possibilities of moving on, the 2007 Boys lost to Washington.
Head Coach: David Briceño
Assistant Coach: James Pierce
Team Manager: Scott Lahde
The 2008 Girls showed positive and good soccer during the 2024 Far West ODP Championships. The team led by Head Coach Jan Nordmo, won their first two games against Oregon and Washington by a score of 2-0 for both matches. Sitting in first place with 6 points heading into their third group stage match, they faced Colorado who was right behind them with 4 points. The match was even, hard-fought and one where a ticket to the Final was on the line. It was one goal, scored by Colorado, the difference maker and the one that would leave Cal North shy of moving on to the U16 Girls Regional Final.
Head Coach: Jan Nordmo
Assistant Coach: Carlos Alcantara
Team Manager: Hilda Corcoles
Coach Oscar Inclan and the 2008 Boys had their hands full during this event. They were drawn into one of the most difficult groups of the tournament with Cal South, Utah and Washington, all three states which in previous years had either won or reached the Final of the ODP Championships. However; there were high hopes for this 2008 Cal North boys team since they were the only boys team that reached the semifinals last year. The team lost their first two games to Cal South and Utah. In both games they were either winning or came back at some point, but did not capitalize their momentum during these matches. In their third game against Washington, they were finally able to put a solid performance during the full 90 minutes and ended up winning 2-1.
Head Coach: Oscar Inclan
Assistant Coach: Ryan Riley
The 2009 Girls is a talented group that had previously reached the last two Regional Finals in 2022 and 2023. This team can play and has shown that at the regional level. One important note for this team is that they've maintained the core group of players during the last three years. This time was no different. They went undefeated winning one game and drawing two. Five points at the end of the three group stage games were not enough for them to move on, drawing their third match to Washington who advanced to the Final with 7 points.
Head Coach: Jonathan Scoles
Assistant Coach: James Adranly
Team Manager: Stephanie Moe
The 2009 Boys is another group that has been consistent and remained together in their three years at the Far West ODP Championships year after year, reaching two finals in that time frame. In their first year, 2022, the team reached the Final, but lost to Washington in a thrilling match. Last year, the team did not move on past group stage, but this year the team was a well-oiled machine winning their three groups stage games against Washington, Hawaii and Cal South. In the Final, they met against the home team, Arizona, losing 2-1 after giving up a goal in the first five minutes of the match. The team led by longtime Cal North ODP Coach German Plaza, showcased a good brand of soccer throughout the tournament and in the Final, but came up short yet again.
Behind the Badge: Cal North ODP 2009 Boys reach second Regional Final in three years
Head Coach: German Plaza
Assistant Coach: Wissem Bouali
Team Manager: Rodrigo Plaza
The 2010 Girls led by Coach Garrett Morgan has been nothing short of exceptional. The reality is that this is a strong team of 2010 Girls with some of the best players in the country for this age group. How deep is this age group you may ask? Very deep, with over 140 players showing up to tryouts giving the coaching staff a hard task to select the very best in Northern California.
"They're obviously special, right? And they had a more difficult time than last year not just because of the group, but we didn't get to have any training or games together, none. Their first game was Friday, together," said Head Coach Garrett Morgan.
The team went unbeaten in group stage with 2 wins and 1 draw, beating Washington & Arizona, and drawing against Hawaii, who they beat in the Final last year. This time around, Utah was the opponent in the Regional Final, beating them 3-1 and conquering their second regional title in two years. A great achievement for this team going back-to-back at the ODP Championships.
"In the beginning they were struggling, but they just continued to grow and work, and grow and work, and I just couldn't be more proud of them. They're exception players and I really don't deserve any credit, I mean I love getting it, but I don't deserve any. They're phenomenal players and I'm just exceptionally proud of them," added Morgan.
"This experience was amazing, I was blessed to have the opportunity to come yet again this year. It was so fun connecting with my teammates and old friends and it was just an amazing weekend," said Mercy Karson, 2010 Girls defender who has been an important player for this team in the last two years.
Another crucial player for this team is Georgianna "Gigi" Zuniga, who scored the third goal in the Regional Final to seal the deal for the back-to-back ODP Regional Champions.
"It feels so great to score because honestly we needed this and I just wanted to take my chance, when I got the opportunity I shot," said Zuniga.
Head Coach: Garrett Morgan
Assistant Coach: Michael Galvan
Team Manager: Korynn Najera
Coach Ramiro Rodriguez and the 2010 Boys had several moments of brilliance during the 2024 Far West ODP Championships. The team got off to a rocky start with a 2-1 loss to Oregon, but got back on track with a 2-0 win over Hawaii. Heading into the third group stage game against Arizona, they still had a chance to move on to semifinals as Cal North had 4 points and Arizona had 6, both top of the group. The decisive match was thrilling with back and fourth action between two talented U14 groups. Cal North needed a win, setting the tone and showing initiative. The team scored twice and led during lapses of the game, unfortunately Arizona was a stubborn squad that did not give up and continued to come back, scoring two goals of their own and leaving Cal North short of moving on.
Head Coach: Ramiro Rodriguez
Assistant Coach: Olek Lis
Team Manager: Ajaya Rana
First time participants at the Far West ODP Championships, the 2011 Girls team led by Head Coach Bryan Holland did not disappoint. The team beat Arizona, Colorado and tied against Washington to secure their place in the Regional Final. In the Final they matched up against in-state rival, Cal South. This Cal North team had a spark offensively and was solid defensively, showcasing brilliant moments throughout the tournament.
"I think we really played our best and tried as hard as we could to win and we bonded a lot, it was amazing," said Saige Scarborough.
In the Final, they led for most of the game until a controversial hand inside the box was called against the team from Northern California in the dying minutes of the match. That led to a 1-1 draw and onto a shootout from the spot directly.
"I think it was really fun, we were all really, really pumped. I think we really played hard, played until the end and just got unlucky, I think. So, I think we were awesome," said captain Sally Burns. "I doesn't matter that we lost, we played great," she added.
Luck was indeed not on our side in the penalty kicks, losing 4-2 after a great performance in the Final. The bar has been set for this group, who without a doubt deserved the regional title.
"I'm really proud of our players, totally gutted here at the end to have it come down to the final seconds of the game, but I love the way we battled, we stayed in it, we left it out all on the field. I'm proud of out kids," said Head Coach Bryan Holland.
"We've come a long way over the last 3-4 months and I really like how they came together, and the tactical plans that we set out for them, I think they did a really good job for being twelve years old of executing our plan for all four of the games," added Coach Holland.
Behind the Badge: Cal North ODP 2011 Girls reach Final in first appearance at ODP Championships
Head Coach: Bryan Holland
Assistant Coach: Laura Diaz
Team Manager: LaNell Como
The 2011 Boys had a difficult time at the Far West ODP Championships. The team led by Head Coach Lee Dunne struggled in their first two games against Nevada and Washington. In their third game, with nothing to lose and no hopes of moving on, the team let loose and played their best game of the tournament against Oregon. The weather conditions were not the most favorable with pouring rain coming down on a rare cloudy afternoon in Arizona. Adding to the mix, a lightning delay during warm-up and a red card during the match. Despite the adversities and uncontrollable conditions, Cal North scored on a last minute free-kick, spoiling Oregon's chances of moving on to the Final. The third game for the 2011 Boys will perhaps be one of the most memorable memories for all players and coaches.
Head Coach: Lee Dunne
Assistant Coach: Thomas Plummer
Team Manager: Emre Gencer
Follow Cal North @calnorthsoccer on all social media platforms for more news.