Eastern Pennsylvania U17 Boys ODP coach Tom Dodds noted something different about his team entering the 2017 US Youth Soccer ODP Championships in Phoenix, Arizona. The boys weren’t finishing as well as they had last summer when they won the Region I title to clinch a spot at nationals, which features all four of US Youth Soccer’s regional ODP champions.
“We were getting a lot of opportunities,” said Dodds. “We were just missing. Sometimes it just happens that way. We were getting results, but we could have beaten every team by big numbers.”
The scoring touch, however, came back at the right time. The U17 Boys routed Oregon 7-0 in the final on Sunday, March 5 to win Eastern Pennsylvania’s first ODP Championship in 10 years. Nick Brison, of Kennett Square and Southern Chester County Soccer Association, scored a hat trick to front the attack. The victory capped a fitting end for a team that went undefeated in regional and national play—it kicked off this campaign with an identical 7-0 win back in June.
“Everything just came into place,” said Dodds. “(The players) were a little more composed, putting shots on frame and keeping it low.”
Despite the final result, the cross-country trip was anything but easy. The boys arrived in Phoenix on Thursday with a tough match against Team Georgia scheduled for Friday evening. They had time to practice and get acclimated to the climate and time difference, and yet the late kickoff posed a unique challenge.
“The semifinal was at 5:30 PM,” said Bryce Evans, who played the No. 6 role. “So we had all day to think about it.”