Down to its last 40 minutes, FC Nova rallied at halftime and ensured at least one more game together before the club’s players split up and head to college.
Nova scored four unanswered goals in the second half Friday to erase a 1-0 deficit and blitz New Mexico’s Rio Rapids for a 4-1 win in the US Youth Soccer Far West Regional quarterfinals, earning a spot in the semis.
Nova, made up mostly of graduated high school seniors, takes on Northern California’s West Coast Wild at 8 a.m. Saturday on Field 18 at Boise’s Simplot Sports Complex
“We just talked about it being possibly our last game ever together,” said Nova forward Karli Stone, an Eagle High graduate signed with Troy University. “That’s not what we wanted to happen, so we decided we wanted to play for each other the last half.”
Makayla Welch got Nova started in the 54th minute, when she chased down a free kick from Shayla Schoensee, took two touches and scored on a left-footed shot.
Three minutes later, Stone broke down the right wing and slipped a shot by the keeper to the near post. Another Stone run led to an assist and Raimee Sherle’s first goal in the 67th minute. Sherle, a Boise State signee, added the final goal of the game and her seventh of the tournament in the 76th minute.
Sherle is tied with West Coast’s Devyn Gilfoy for the U-18 tournament scoring lead.
Nova’s commitments to its ECNL schedule kept its first team from competing at regionals the past three years. But with a free June this summer, it stands two victories away from becoming Idaho’s second regional champion in history.
The FC Nova-Nationals U-19 girls, a combined effort between Nova and the Boise Nationals, won Idaho’s first title last year.
“We thought we could do it, because we’ve been playing ECNL,” Stone said, referring to the top girls club soccer league in the U.S. “But now that it’s happening, it’s, honestly, insane.”
NATIONALS, CHICAS ELIMINATED
The Boise Nationals U-16 girls and Indie Chicas U-13 girls saw their runs at Far West end in the quarterfinals Friday.
Boise Nationals fell 5-0 to Utah’s La Roca, a national runner-up last season. Olivia Wade, a U-17 national player, scored twice for La Roca.
Indie Chicas fell 8-0 to the So Cal Blues as Reilyn Turner and Alexandria Wright netted hat tricks.
FIRST CHAMPION CROWNED
The So Cal Blues girls squad avenged a 1-0 loss to the Colorado Rush on the first day of group play with a 3-0 victory Friday in the U-19 championship match.
Sasha Stephens, Alyssa Alvarez and Ally Prisock, members of the U.S. U-19 and U-20 teams the past couple months, all scored for So Cal, which advances to the national championships July 26-31 in Frisco, Texas.
The remaining 13 championship games are Sunday.
Nova scores huge upset in ECNL Champions League
Kayla Soto (Vallivue High) scored the only goal Friday as FC Nova shocked the Michigan Hawks, ranked No. 7 in the country, with a 1-0 victory on the opening day of the U-15 girls ECNL Champions League in Oceanside, Calif.
The win gives Nova three points, tying it atop Group E with SC Del Sol of Phoenix, a 2-0 winner Friday. Nova needs to win its group to advance to the quarterfinals of the national championship tournament for the country’s top girls club soccer league.
Nova next faces FC Boston at 1 p.m. MT Saturday before taking on Del Sol at 1:30 p.m. MT Monday.