On Sunday, the Eastern Pennsylvania U17 Boys defeated Massachusetts 2-1 to win the Region I ODP Championship at the Kirkwood Soccer Complex in New Castle, Delaware.
The final marked the end of a tournament that began two weeks prior at Rider University in New Jersey. In five games over group play and the semifinals and finals, the U17's outscored their opponents 20-5, which included a 6-1 romp over PA-West in the semifinal.
"We played a little different style against PA-West," said coach Don Brady. "The kids lost to them last year 2-1 in the semifinal. So they wanted revenge."
The result demonstrated the confidence of the group. After playing well in New Jersey, they faced the challenge of a two-week break. But they worked in some extra training sessions and discussed individual roles prior to the weekend in Delaware.
Championship foe Masschusetts, though, proved to be the 17's stiffest test. The boys from the Bay State scored wins of 9-0 and 4-3 in their run to the final. However, Eastern Pennsylvania's defense was stellar.
"All tournament our defense played really well," said Brady.
It helped that the boys got an early goal. Trevor Weis banged home a corner kick to give Eastern Pennsylvania a lead in the 13th minute. But at that point, the team got a little too comfortable, and Massachusetts tied things up just before half.
"Early on we looked like we were going to dominate," Brady said. "Then we gave up a late half goal."
"We regrouped, though, and played them out of the game."
John Griffin scored off a Tanner Shane assist and that's all Eastern Pennsylvania needed.
"The boys were really pleased with the way they performed," said Brady. "Other coaches, the region coaches, came up to me and said as much. I would say it was a very successful campaign."
Three other Eastern Pennsylvania ODP teams competed in Delaware over the weekend. All three, the U15 and U16 Girls and the U16 Boys, fell at the penultimate hurdle.