Filed by Jaime Lackey
A little more than a week ago, four area high school soccer players were a goal away from being able to call themselves national champions.
Ooltewahs Daniel Tackling, Baylors Zander Davis, Daltons Osvaldo Fraire and homeschool student Peyton Miller from Signal Mountain represented the Chattanooga area at the U.S. Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program national championships.
The players are members of Tennessees ODP team, one of four that qualified for the tournament March 17-19 in Frisco, Texas.
If youre like I was two weeks ago, when I had little more than a vague concept of what ODP soccer was, I can simplify it by saying this: Out of all the boys soccer players in the state, the 18 on this team have been identified as the best in their age group, the ones who could potentially play for a national team someday.
In the first-ever national appearance for a Tennessee team, the 1990 group (based on birth year) drew Maryland in the semifinals. The teams battled the entire match until a goal in the 80th minute gave Maryland a 1-0 victory and a spot in the championship match against Illinois, which defeated California-North 5-0 in the other semifinal.
Both teams that reached the final went home with a title after severe weather forced officials to call the match and crown Maryland and Illinois co-champions. Fraire contributed a goal against California-North in the third-place game before it was called as well.
Even though Tackling, Davis, Fraire, Miller and their teammates fell short of their goal of a national championship, the players still got to experience something every high school player in the nation should envy.
All four players have a lot to be proud of, and each has a promising future ahead of him.
E-mail Jaime Lackey at email@example.com