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Dallas Soccer News - US Youth Soccer ODP National Championships, Caroline Albanese , Courtney Simmons, Kimberly Castleberry

North Texas ODP 91 girls take National Championship

Published 3/11/2008 10:33:11 AM by staff from usysa
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For North Texas, their championship match with New Jersey in the 1991 Girls division of the 2008 US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program (US Youth Soccer ODP) National Championships truly was déjà vu all over again. Yesterday, they opened play against Minnesota and trailed 1-0 at the break. But, in the second half, they scored seven times in a 7-1 win.  And in today's title tilt, it was the squad representing the Garden State that drew first blood thanks to a tally in the 20th minute by New Jersey's Caroline Albanese that gave her side a 1-0 edge. That lead held until the 65th minute when North Texas forward Courtney Simmons scored the first of two goals within a minute. Those scores led the Texans to a 2-1 win and the 1991 Girls championship.
 
Simmons' first goal, which came in the 65th minute, was truly a thing of beauty. After receiving the ball from Ellen Scarfone, Simmons got a great look at the opposing goal from around the top of the arc. She hit a rocket that admittedly, she thought had gotten away from her but it went into the back of the net, drawing the match level at one goal apiece. "I really thought that I had shot it over but I didn't," Simmons said. "I don't really usually take shots, so that one really surprised me."
 
Then, just one minute later, Kimberly Castleberry, who had two goals in yesterday's win, rushed up the left flank and drew the opposing 'keeper off her line. Castleberry then found Simmons at the far post and she tapped the ball in to give her side a 2-1 lead. It was her third goal in two days.
 
"On the second goal, it was all Kim (Castleberry)," Simmons said. "She took the ball up the line and passed it back. All I did was call for it. I really didn't (expect to score the second goal so soon after the first one). I really didn't think I would score the other one. I thought Kim would get it or maybe Vanessa (Ibewuike) but not me. I didn't expect it at all."
 
While pleased with her two-goal performance, Simmons was quick to throw credit her teammates' way for her pair of scores.
 
"I really don't know what to say," Simmons said. "It really wasn't about me. It was about everybody else. Kim (Castleberry) was who passed me the ball and Ellen (Scarfone) also assisted. I couldn't have done it without them. It was like a joint effort."
 
But New Jersey wasn't finished. In the 67th, Colleen Williams hit a great header inside the North Texas box and her effort was headed for the far post when an opposing defender Danielle Nottingham stepped in front of it for a great block. Then, in the 69th minute, Albanese found herself in great position for her second goal of the day. On her first attempt, her shot was blocked by North Texas defender Natasha Anasi and her second effort was saved by 'keeper Logan Reed.
 
After the match, North Texas assistant coach Jeff Hill was relieved and pleased at the same time.
 
"That was a tough one," Hill said. "New Jersey grinds it out and they work hard. We had to work for everything we got today. We came from behind for a second time, being down 1-0 at halftime today. We came back yesterday against a good Minnesota team in the second half and did the same thing today against a good New Jersey team. Full accolades to the girls today, they played tremendous and did absolutely wonderful. My hat's off to them because they worked so hard to give us everything they had. It's incredible what they did today."
 
Hill also threw some kudos Simmons' way for her two-goal showing.  "She stepped up and won the game for us," he said. "There were great passes from Ellen Scarfone. Her first goal was world-class and was absolutely incredible. She was right on the money for the second one as well. She had a great game."
 
Hill and the rest of the North Texas coaching staff offered their girls some simple advice during halftime.
 
"We told them to switch the ball," he said. "We knew that we had lots of space out wide in the midfield. So, we told them to be patient and relax. We knew that we would have to work for everything we got, so we told them to stay consistent and to keep after it."
 
But Simmons admits that after also trailing at halftime in yesterday's win, she and her teammates knew what it would take to win.  "Not really (our coaches really didn't have to tell us anything)," she said. "We knew that we still had it in us to score. They (the coaches) pushed us and gave us some more encouragement. We knew that we could get it back and we did. We knew we had a chance and that it was up to us to win."
 
Even Hill admitted that both his team's wins being after trailing at halftime makes winning the championship even more meaningful. "It absolutely does (make it mean more)," he said. "You come here and play against the best of the best. And to be the best of that group is a great honor for the girls. They deserve it."


Label: US Youth Soccer ODP National Championships, Caroline Albanese , Courtney Simmons, Kimberly Castleberry
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