If you wanted to find a championship team at the Idaho State Cup, it was wise to look for the boys in blue.
Boise Nationals Soccer Club pulled off the clean sweep on the boys side of the bracket Monday at the Simplot Soccer Complex. The final win was a hotly contested U-17 game that Boise Nationals Inter won 3-2 over Idaho Rush Premier.
“It was pretty cool,” club President Chris Billings said. “There were quite a few people watching. … Every single time these two teams have played, it’s been a one-goal game. Today was no different.”
With the U-17s victory, the Nationals put a cap on one of the brightest days in the club’s 30-year history. The club also won the U16 and U17 girls titles, going 8-0 in finals.
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“We’ve had a number of different years where we’ve won three, four, five state championships,” Billings said. “But it seems like every year, there’s that one game we just didn’t pull it out, where something didn’t bounce our way. Today it did. I’m extremely happy after all the time that the kids and coaches and families have put into it.”
The champions will compete in the Far West Regionals from June 20-26 at the same site.
Earlier Monday, Boise Nationals Milan won the U-19 championship with a 4-2 win over Idaho Rush Premier that clinched a 5-2 aggregate victory. Unlike the other Nationals squads, many of the U-19s were returning from their first year of college.
“It’s kind of throwing a roster together on the fly, and then hoping the guys click and they’re all on the same page,” coach Logan Emory said.
Reagan Phillips, who just finished his freshman year at Chico State, said most of the U-19 players have crossed paths before. Still, they didn’t have much time to come together as a team, having practiced three times before the State Cup.
“It takes some time to get used to each other,” Phillips said.
The living arrangements made that a little easier.
“I had six guys staying at my house,” Phillips said. “It was like a team hotel.”
Phillips said that feeling of camaraderie extends throughout BNSC, and it isn’t unusual to see 19-year-old players practice with younger players and watch them compete.
“Building a community within the club is big,” Phillips said. “When those little kids see the older guys come out to their games, it gives them a little more drive.”
One trophy the Nationals didn’t bring home was the U-15 girls title. That contest pitted the Sting of Coeur d’Alene against FC Nova Red of Meridian. FC Nova won the game 3-1, an impressive victory, given it was playing without its top talent.
“We have a 44-player pool, and these girls are the reserves,” coach Jeff Schatz said.
He said half the club’s roster was playing at the Elite Clubs National League playoffs. The other half competed for the Idaho State Cup and will go on to the Far West Regionals.
“To be able to come in with our reserves and be the best team in the state says a lot,” Schatz said. “The commitment of these kids and their training — they’ve trained just as hard as everybody else. They don’t see themselves as the second team.”
FC Nova also won the U-14 championship. Indie Chicas of Meridian won the U-13 tournament, giving the Treasure Valley a championship sweep.