The Boise Nationals U-17 boys squad clinched first place in its pool and a pair of girls teams — FC Nova’s U-14s and the Coeur d’Alene Sting’s U-18s — are all but mathematically ensured a spot in the quarterfinals after victories Tuesday during the second day of the 2015 US Youth Soccer Far West Regional Championships at the Simplot Sports Complex.
The Meridian-based Nova and Coeur d’Alene need only a draw Wednesday during the final day of group play to guarantee a spot in the knockout round Friday. A loss from the right team also could ensure their advancement as the top two teams from each group advance to their age group’s quarterfinals.
BOISE NATIONALS U-17 BOYS
The Nationals punished South San Jose PAC Indios with a pair of counter attacks to score a 2-1 victory over the Northern California representative and the No. 11 club nationally in its age group, according to GotSoccer.com.
Cole Fuller of Timberline High headed in a cross in the 26th minute to cap one counter attack. San Jose tied the game on Albert Munante’s 58th-minute penalty kick. But Meridian High’s Ahmet Huremovic ran onto a through ball in stoppage time and toe poked it past the keeper for the game-winning and pool-clinching goal.
“Ahmet deserved a goal,” Nationals coach Coe Michaelson said. “He had hit the crossbar, he narrowly missed on a volley, the keeper made a great save on the near post on him. He was deserving of a goal.”
Michaelson said clinching his pool allows him to rest players Wednesday before the knockout stage begins Friday. Santa Barbara SC White, a two-time national champ, looms as the top threat for the Nationals, who have won Idaho’s state title three of the past four years.
Santa Barbara beat the Nationals 1-0 in the quarterfinals three years ago in Phoenix on its way to its first national title.
COEUR D’ALENE STING U-18 GIRLS
Coeur d’Alene already scored a major upset Monday, knocking off the So Cal Blues of Southern California. The Sting then followed that with a 1-0 upset of Washington’s NW Nationals 96 Red on Tuesday when Megan Lowery buried a stoppage-time goal.
Coeur d’Alene coach Dan Hogan, also the North Idaho College women’s soccer head coach, admits he came in with the goal of winning a single game all week. Tuesday marked revenge for a game the Sting lost earlier this season to the NW Nationals, and he said if the Sting advance it would be the first Coeur d’Alene club to reach the knockout stage at regionals in at least 10 years.
“We play each game as it comes now,” Hogan said. “Hey, we beat the Washington state cup champions, the Cal South Far West Regional League winners. So who knows how far we go? We’ll play as hard as we can, and it’s all icing on the cake from here.”
FC NOVA U-14 GIRLS
FC Nova Director of Coaching Eric Simmonsen said Southern California’s Beach Black posed his team’s toughest challenge in group play, if not possibly all weekend.
But Nova dispatched the Southern California powerhouse 3-1 with a 64th-minute goal from Olivia Gwin that broke a 1-1 tie and Kayla Soto’s 68th-minute insurance goal.