‘It’s a special group.’ Idaho soccer team dominates national tournament to make history

FC Nova’s U-13 girls soccer team lifts the championship trophy after winning the U.S. Youth Soccer Presidents Cup on Sunday in Indiana.
FC Nova’s U-13 girls soccer team lifts the championship trophy after winning the U.S. Youth Soccer Presidents Cup on Sunday in Indiana. Courtesy of Daniel Codina

FC Nova coach Daniel Codina told his 13-and-under girls soccer team they had nothing to lose at the U.S. Youth Soccer Presidents Cup last week.

No one expected a team from Idaho to pose a threat. Instead, Nova steamrolled through the tournament and finished it with a 5-1 victory Sunday in the national tournament’s championship game in Westfield, Indiana.

The victory makes the Treasure Valley club just the second team in Idaho history to win a Presidents Cup national title and the first since Nova’s U-16 girls in 2011.

“In Idaho, this isn’t something that happens all the time,” Codina said. “But it’s something that should. We’ve got the players, we’ve got the kids that really want it and really want to work. It’s just great they were able to get the reward from it.”

Nova started the tournament hot with a 5-0 win over Texas’ Sting Dallas and followed it with another 5-0 victory against Maryland’s Pipeline Black. That guaranteed Nova a spot in the championship game against South Dakota’s Dakota Alliance Soccer Club.

It played South Dakota to a 1-1 draw in a meaningless game to finish group play before pouring in five more goals in the final.

Sammy Smith started the scoring in the fifth minute and Nova took a 3-0 lead into halftime with goals from McKenna Doremus and Sophia Avalos. South Dakota cut the lead to 3-1, but Alondra Osuna added another goal in the 43rd minute and Smith wrapped up the victory with a 52nd-minute strike.

“They’re blue collar. They want it,” Codina said. “They fight for each other. At the beginning, they were learning a different style from me and they bought into it. It’s a special group. In the finals, they just fed off each other.”

Smith finished the tournament as the top scorer with six goals in four games, and goalkeeper Kasey Southard won the golden glove with the fewest goals allowed (two).

The Presidents Cup is the second most prestigious youth soccer national tournament put on by U.S. Soccer. Idaho’s state club soccer champions, including Nova, opted not to attend Far West Regionals and compete for a spot at U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships this summer because of the cost of attending regionals in Hawaii.

States with fewer than 20,000 registered players can send their state champions to Presidents Cup. Idaho has approximately 10,000 registered youth soccer players.

“Our scores don’t reflect the teams we’re playing because we’re seeing some great talent,” Codina said. “We are just putting things together.”