Photo: Daphne Corboz and Madison Tiernan are two players who groomed their games in New Jersey ODP (Robyn McNeil, ISI Photos).
Looking across the Sky Blue FC roster, one quickly sees the New Jersey influence that is spread throughout the team. Many of the players whom currently wear the Sky Blue FC crest crafted their game as a youth player in the Garden State, with the New Jersey Olympic Development Program (ODP) being a prominent consistency amongst them.
“ODP was a huge component for me,” said Maya Hayes, the no. 6 overall selection in the 2014 NWSL College Draft. “ODP took me from being good and helped me become great, so to speak. It got me back into national play with the youth national teams, and it played a huge role in my overall development. ODP allowed me to play at a higher level personally and with a higher level of players in general.”
After wrapping up her youth career, Hayes became one of the most decorated players in Penn State program history. The three-time NSCAA All-American recorded 71 goals and 163 points for the Nittany Lions, both of which are third-most ever in Happy Valley. Now in her fourth professional season with Sky Blue FC, the Montclair native is enjoying an exceptional 2017 campaign, already having registered two goals and three assists on the year.
Another player who has made a huge impression on the club this year has been New Jersey born and bred Madison Tiernan, who grew up in Voorhees before attending Rutgers University and being drafted by Sky Blue FC this past January. While playing ODP, her coach was Glenn Crooks, who was also her head coach when she arrived on campus in Piscataway. Also there during that time was her former PDA club coach Mike O’Neill, who later became her head coach at Rutgers.
“The first year I participated in ODP was my freshman year of high school, and my coach ended up being my head coach in college,” Tiernan recalled. “With that exposure, I got to play with a bunch of different players who I didn’t play against in club soccer. The relationships I established through ODP and going to regional camps put me on the national stage, and I got called into youth national camp. ODP added another element to my game that I did not get with my club team or in high school. Not to mention, I got to win two national titles, which was awesome!”
Another player who joined the Sky Blue FC roster this season is playmaking midfielder Daphne Corboz, a former PDA player who had a standout career at Georgetown University. The Greenbrook native returned home to New Jersey earlier this year after playing two professional seasons abroad with Manchester City.
“I joined ODP when I was really young, at the age of 11 or 12 years-old,” Corboz stated. “ODP was really important for me because I got to play with the best groups of girls. I was lucky to have that with my club team, but to have another selection that led to regional teams and a national pool really helped me in the early stages of my development.”
Former Sky Blue FC goalkeeper and current assistant coach Jill Loyden is another individual who was heavily influenced by ODP. After playing ODP as a youth player, the Vineland native became a three-time Big East Goalkeeper of the Year award-winner and then a regular with the U.S. Women’s National Team. She earned a spot on the U.S. WNT roster for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup in Germany, and she also served as an alternate at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, winning a Gold Medal.
“I played three or four years in the ODP program,” she recollected. “I was fortunate enough to attend regional camp each year and played with some of the best players in the country. Great players like Heather O’Reilly and Yael Averbuch were on my ODP team, and a bunch of us eventually played for the national team. It was a really good opportunity to get exposure to some of the best players in the country, and to be able to train and play with them. It was very inspiring to play ODP because I got to see players who were better than me and motivated me to take my own game to the next level.”
New Jersey Youth Soccer has officially set the dates for its 2017 ODP tryouts, with four overall sessions planned. The first weekend of tryouts will be held on July 29 (Wall, N.J.) and July 30 (Deptford, N.J.), with a second weekend planned for August 12 (Nutley, N.J.) and August 13 (Bordentown, N.J.). Once registered, players are encouraged to attend as many tryout sessions as they can. To register for ODP Tryouts, click here: http://www.njyslive.com/ODP