CARSON, Calif. (July 17, 2009) – A sixth-minute strike by Dzenan Catic provided the Derby County Wolves all they needed to defeat Cal Odyssey 1-0 and earn the 2009 U.S. Soccer Development Academy Finals Week Under-15/16 Championship at The Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif.
The Wolves came into the championship with high expectations as the overall No. 1 seed from the Playoffs and took control with the early goal, but in the second half Cal Odyssey was the better squad and created a handful for the team from Michigan. Despite controlling possession, Cal didn’t put too many dangerous chances on net and the Wolves were able to hold on for their first title in the Development Academy.
“We’re thrilled to win the championship, but it’s been a long journey that has been beneficial for the players and that’s the most important aspect,” said Derby County Wolves and U-15/16 Development Academy Coach of the Year Lars Richters. “The competition has been far superior to what we had been accustomed to, so that has been a great tool to help our development. One of the things that U.S. Soccer has been so good about this week is educating the kids about what they need to succeed, and providing those things too. From the food that they've eaten, to having constant access to Gatorade, the Academy has really done a lot."
Merely seconds after kickoff, Derby County put Cal on their heels, led by forward Reed Losee. The early pressure paid dividends quickly in the shape of a turnover by the Odyssey defense. Vainly trying to relieve the pressure with a long clear, Odyssey sent the ball down the left sideline, but the clearance was collected by Wolves’ defender Stefan Gigorakis and he sent the ball back up the sideline to Catic. Getting around two defenders – one with a nifty nutmeg – the midfielder forced his way into the box from the right side. With Odyssey ‘keeper Matt Dishno rushing out to cut down the angle, Catic fired a shot right past him and inside the near post, giving his team the early lead.
“I got a lucky little touch, passed by another guy with a touch, and just shot it,” said Catic. “I didn’t even really see the ball go in the net, I just ran around the goal to celebrate with my teammates. It was an incredible feeling. To be in the national final, with fans screaming…I didn’t even know what to think at that point.”
Refusing to rest on their lead, Derby County stayed on the attack for the next several minutes. It wasn’t until the 15th minute that Cal got their first chance on goal, a long effort from Villyan Bijev that skipped over the ground with pace, eventually going wide of the left hand side of the goal.
One minute later, Derby County was back inside Cal’s goal box with a cross from Josh Barens. Though the ball was cleared, it fell out to the top of the box where Jordan Tyler attempted to put a half-volley on frame, but his well-struck attempt went over the bar.
Neither team made substitutions at the half, but Cal Odyssey changed how they performed on the field, keeping control for almost the entire half. Despite constantly sending passes into players into the Derby County box, Cal Odyssey had little to show for all their possession with shots and passes getting blocked by Derby County defenders.
In the 50th minute, Bijev again took a shot with force from 25 yards, but his effort spun high and wide.
One attempt finally got through in the 74th minute, when Nathan Smith dribbled across the box and shot, but with a defender marking him tightly, the ball was slightly deflected. Reacting to his right, Wolves’ goalkeeper Adam Grinwis got down to the ground to block it from going into the left corner, giving up no rebound with numerous attackers in the area.
With time winding down, Cal Odyssey continued to push forward while the Wolves just tried to clear through balls from danger. After one last long ball by Cal was caught and punted out by Grinwis, the whistle blew, providing the Wolves with the title.
In the other placement matches, New York Red Bulls, Chicago Magic AS Monaco and Washington Premier FC all won to finish off Finals Week.
2009 Under-15/16 Development Academy Championship Match Report
Match: U-15/16 Derby County Wolves vs. U-15/16 Cal Odyssey
Date: July 17, 2009
Competition: Development Academy Finals Week
Venue: Home Depot Center, Carson, Calif.
Kickoff: 7 p.m. PT
Weather: 67 degrees, sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
DCW 1 0 1
CAL 0 0 0
DCW – Dzenan Catic (Stefan Gigorakis) 6th minute
DCW: 1-Adam Grinwis; 10-Eric Weberman, 2-Sean Cunningham, 21-Nick Prys, 13-Stefan Gigorakis; 22-TJ Van Slooten (8-Sean Magee, 62), 23-Jordan Tyler, 4-Nate Hicklin, 7-Josh Barens, 28-Dzenan Cotic; 32-Reed Losee
Subs not used: 5-Aaron Hebden, 9-Erik Anderson, 11-Vinh Nguyen, 14-Zachary Cooney, 16-Thomas Duquette, 17-Kyle Rutz
Head Coach: Lars Richters
CAL: 1-Matt Dishno; 22-Nana Yaw Ameyaw-Sakyi (12-Chris Newmark, 23), 3-Kyle Cadigan, 18-Isaiah Trejo, 30-Nathan Smith; 19-Jose Segura, 13-Villyan Bijev, 11-Jon-Paul Medina, 8-Josh Alvarez, 6-Jesus Garcia (Ruben Chavez, 73); 10-Gregory Antognoli II (4-Trevor Spurgeon, 47)
Subs not used: 16-Chris Young, 17-John Jimenez, 20-Nicholas Watson
Head Coach: David Armstrong
Stats Summary: DCW / CAL
Shots: 11 / 8
Shots on Goal: 3 / 1
Saves: 1 / 2
Corner Kicks: 3 / 5
Fouls: 5 / 5
Offside: 4 / 0
CAL – Jose Segura (caution) 18th minute
Referee: Allen Chapman
Assistant Referee 1: Michael Kinder
Assistant Referee 2: Corey Parker
Fourth Official: Matt Jozaitis