The city of Boise hosted 238 boys and girls soccer teams over the past week, flooding the Valley with more than 4,500 athletes and their families.
The economic boost will return to the Simplot Sports Complex again next year.
For the first time in the history of the US Youth Soccer Far West Regional Championships, a city was awarded the right to host the tournament in back-to-back years. The 2016 regional tournament will mark the fifth time Boise has hosted the event.
US Youth Soccer National Championship Committee member Tom Mendoth isn’t complaining about the return trip to the Gem State.
“It’s been fantastic. This is the fourth time they’ve hosted here, and I’ve been here all four times,” Mendoth said. “That’s one of the reasons why we’ve come back.”
Despite scorching temperatures the latter half of the week, players left Boise with a positive experience.
“It was a great atmosphere, great facilities here, great weather, great hospitality — all the people in the town are really nice,” said Tim Heiduk of the Santa Barbara (Calif.) U-17 boys team. “We have a drought, a big-time drought, in California, so to see everything so green here was remarkable. To take long showers, that felt good.”
SANTA BARBARA DYNASTY CONTINUES
The Santa Barbara U-17 boys won the Far West Regional title for the fifth time in six years, dating to their U-12 season. The only year they didn’t win was as U-13s.
“A lot of us have been together since we were 9 years old. I think that’s what sets us apart is that we’re all such good friends on and off the field,” said captain Tim Heiduk, who scored both Santa Barbara goals in the final. “It’s truly special; there’s great competition here year in and year out. We don’t take this for granted.”
Santa Barbara struggled in group play with one win and two draws as opponents loaded their defenses against the high-scoring attack. South San Jose (Calif.) did the same in the final and took a 1-0 lead in the second half, but Heiduk quickly evened the score. He knocked in the game-winner in the final 2 minutes.
This Santa Barbara team won national titles in U-14 and U-15 but lost in the semifinals last year.
“We want our trophy back,” Heiduk said.
LA ROCA ROLLS
La Roca Futbol Club of Layton, Utah, swept the Far West girls titles from U-15 through U-18. The club won the four finals Sunday by one goal each.
Olivia Wade scored all of the club’s goals in a 3-2 defeat of Carlsbad (Calif.) in the U-15 division. Wade, who is on the U.S. Women’s National Team U-17 roster, led the tournament with 12 goals on the week. Her hat trick Sunday came in the final 20 minutes to erase a 2-0 deficit.
The La Roca U-17 team beat fellow Utah club Celtic 1-0. Both teams were riding three-match shutout streaks into the final, and La Roca’s winner came in the 119th minute, moments before a potential shootout.