FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- At least twice a week for what seems like the entire calendar year, the Under-13 Cal Odyssey girls come to practice, more than willing to get down to work.
"Our girls come from Visalia, Kingsburg, the Central High area, Clovis area, Fresno area," said head coach Brian Coulter. "So it's a mixture of all of them, and they are a blue collar team."
That unparalleled work ethic was rewarded late last month as the girls won the Under-13 Premier Group State Championship at the U.S. Club Soccer West Regionals. With the win, Cal Odyssey will compete for a national championship in Indiana later this month.
"I think we were just really excited to play, to be out there going for something so huge," said Cal Odyssey center midfielder Sydney Smith. "We just wanted it so bad."
"We just connected so well," said Cal Odyssey team captain Zoe Juarez. "At the end of the day it's just a matter of how you play together. And we just connected. It was about our determination as we play."
What makes the feat even more remarkable is that this team didn't even enter the season ranked in the top 20 in the state. But these girls aren't sweating in triple-digit temperatures for rankings. They're out there for their teammates.
"I wake up in the morning and I'm just excited to go to soccer practice," said Juarez.
"You don't find that a lot," added Smith. "All of us just come out here enthused and ready to learn more soccer."
And if that sounds familiar, it's because another popular women's soccer team just brought home the title of best team in the world using the same principles: hard work and dedication, to their craft and to one another.
"I saw the confidence," said Smith. "Our team, we came out with confidence in that tournament, and I saw that in the U.S. Our confidence was the same. They wanted to beat that team so bad, and we just wanted to win."
Now all that's left is to get the Central Valley's support to represent the 559 at nationals.
"This is the culmination of all that hard work," explained Coulter. "They end up being on a comp team such as Odyssey. For them it's such a tough road just to get to this level. Some people don't make it. But these girls have played well and they did. And they're proud to represent the Central Valley."
Donations can be made to:
California Odyssey 01 Girls Red (National Cup)
C/O California Odyssey Soccer Club
2525 W. Alluvial #301
Clovis, CA 93611
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