Despite coming up short in the semi-finals of the National Premier League on Sunday, the U14 girls from the Clovis-based club California Odyssey made their communities proud after representing on the national stage.
After becoming champions of the Northern-California league, the NPL Champions League (the highest division in the area) earlier this year, the U14 girls embarked on a national run that pit them up against some of the top teams from each state from July 11 to July 15 in Denver, Colo.
Their hopes ended in a last minute loss to the top ranked team out of Louisiana on Sunday, but the team gave their all throughout their time in Denver.
“We are extremely proud and privileged to represent our club and our community as well as Northern California in the prestigious National Cup. We want to showcase some of the soccer talent here in the Central Valley and to expose our players to high-level competition,” head coach Serop Torossian said. “We want the players to have a great experience on this level because it opens up a lot of doors for them in their careers as they move on. They showed everyone how talented they are.”
There were many highlights throughout their time in Denver, including a 4-1 win over the top-ranked team out of Missouri, the Sporting Saint Louis Academy. Ava Medrano and Sisi Tafoya scored goals, while Daisy Torres had two goals on the afternoon.
The Clovis-based club not only secured the top spot in their regular season division, the U14 girls took the top spot during the group stages of the NPL as well. There were four groups of four teams and the Odyssey were one of the top teams in the group stages.
“Only the top team from each bracket would make it out of the groups into the semi-final and we were one of them,” Torossian said.
“The team consists of usually 16 to 18 players and they are highly skilled and highly talented Division I caliber players. The girls are mainly from Clovis-based schools, but we have girls from Tulare, Visalia and Kerman,” Torossian said.
The girls on the team play in the competitive-soccer league year round. There is little rest when your team is in the highest division in Northern California. The U14 Odyssey must travel around the state for their games and that takes a toll over the season.
But, the amount of work the girls put in on a day-to-day basis gives them the platform to perform at a high level consistently.
“Our league was not local. We had to go out and face these strong teams all season and our team was the best, we competed against the best and we were champions,” Torossian said. “It goes to show how hard they work for the team.”
The girls will also be able to take that experience of playing on a national level to their new high schools this year as they embark on their prep careers with various teams in the Clovis area.
“Ultimately, this will give them an experience they can bring back to the club, but also to their communities. It’s a big source of pride to be able to come back and bring that experience with them.”