Boise Thorns U-15 girls fall in shootout at Far West
Two months ago, the Boise Thorns U-15 girls soccer team finished last in its division in the Elite Clubs National League. But now the club is one win away from reaching the national championship game.
The Thorns became the first team in Idaho history to win its group at the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships on Thursday by rallying for a 3-2 win over Las Vegas Sports Academy in the group-stage finale near Kansas City.
“We’ve been on a roll,” Thorns coach Jason Vittrup said. “We got on a roll in Far West Regionals. We got on a roll in San Diego in the ECNL national playoffs. And to come up here and get two wins, a tie and to win our bracket, we’re tickled.”
The first-place finish clinches Boise a spot in the semifinals, where it will face Pennsylvania’s FC Revolution, the East regional champ, at 6 a.m. MT Saturday. Only one Idaho team previously has reached the national finals, the 2015 U-19 Nova-Nationals girls. No Idaho team has won a national title.
Avery McBride erased a pair of deficits in the first half Thursday to earn Boise a 2-2 tie at halftime. The Thorns then spent much of the second half in their defensive third before springing a counterattack in the 67th minute, Vittrup said.
Hayden Wilsey broke free at midfield and made a 50-yard run down the right side. She turned the corner on her defender, pulled the goalie to the near post and then slipped it past her at the far post for the game-winning — and group-winning — goal.
Las Vegas, a team the U-15 Thorns never had beaten until Thursday, also advanced to the semifinals as the group’s second-place finisher.
“The girls are super, super excited. They are super confident,” Vittrup said. “To be honest, they’ve just done so well. Everything that’s been placed in front of them, they’ve just been able to overcome it.
“It’s not like we’ve played great in all of our last 20 games. They are still kids. They still have days where they are not on. But this team has been on for 90 percent of the last 20 games.”
The Thorns are just the third Idaho team to qualify for the national tournament. They outscored their opponents 11-7 through three group-stage games. McBride and Wilsey led the team with four goals each.