12/09/2015 2:12 PM
The week of Thanksgiving, WNY Flash Academy coach Mike Idland traveled to Boca Raton, Florida for the Olympic Development Program’s Thanksgiving Interregional. Idland has served on the coaching staff with Region I ODP for eight years and is currently the team’s goalkeeper coach as well as a senior staff member.
At the competition at Florida Atlantic University, Idland coached the GU15s (’99) and GU16s (’00), with both teams finishing with 2-1-0 record.
“Both the '99s and '00s got excellent results in their first two matches,” Idland said. “The most exciting result was with the '99s, in their second match against the U-15 U.S. Girl’s National Team. We did well to capitalize on the chances we made early on in the game, and our goalkeeping was excellent.”
The ‘99s won that second match 2-0, the same result as its first match against Region IV, a team coached by Women’s World Cup Champion Brandi Chastain.
ODP players come from across the nation, with Region I’s club composed of players from 15 Northeastern state associations. One player, on the ‘99s, is Flash Academy midfielder Riley Bowers.
Bowers, who plays on the Academy’s GU16 team, has committed to Ohio State University and relishes in the opportunity to face the top competition in the country.
“The caliber of play was excellent,” Bowers explained. “The ODP Thanksgiving Inter-Regional is for the best 80 players in the four regions of the U.S, so the players are very skilled, both technically and tactically.”
Playing at center midfield, Bowers tallied an assist in both of Region I’s first two matches. After a strong performance in the three games, she went on to be honored on the 99s All-Star team.
“Riley was excellent as usual, so it was nice to see her get recognized at the end of the event,” Idland said. “I thought she played particularly well against the National Team to keep the attack ticking over in an environment that was moving very fast.”
Idland credits Bowers’ strong play at the tournament to her dedication to prepare and excel at the club level.
“Being a part of a top club like WNY Flash Academy helps to prepare players to step up to what is a very fast game at the Interregional, especially in terms of technical execution,” Idland explained. “These players are asked to play together with only the brief experience of an identification camp and a handful of training session in Florida, but their overall level of technical expertise and tactical acumen makes for a surprisingly fluid game.”
“Most of that, I feel, comes from the great work being done at these players' clubs week in and week out.”
“Riley has been working hard to get her level of play to the highest-level possible. The good news is that she performed well with several Youth National Team Coaches on hand, which hopefully will lead to other opportunities,” said Flash Academy Director of Coaching Daniel Clitnovici.