Sending a team to the US Youth Soccer National Championships has always eluded the Idaho Youth Soccer Association.
That is until the 2013 US Youth Soccer Region IV Championships when Boise Nationals Italia (ID) of the Under-15 Girls age group, became one of the many regional finalists in Idaho history with one exception. Italia’s opponent, Carlsbad Elite 97/98 (CA-S) had already qualified to the National Championships via the US Youth Soccer National League.
Translation, Boise Nationals Italia would be the first to represent Idaho in the National Championships as the regional representative.
"It’s really exciting to be the first team Idaho sends to the National Championships," said Italia coach, Mark Prince. "At the same time, there is some pressure considering all of the great teams from Idaho that failed to make it."
After placing second in their group, Boise defeated La Roca Premier WR (UT) 3-1 in the quarterfinals and WST 97 Copa (OR) 1-0 in the semifinals. In the finals, Boise Nationals got a small taste of the level of competition they will see at nationals when they faced off against Carlsbad in the Region IV finals and ultimately lost 3-0. Carlsbad put on quite the show at the Region IV Championships, shutting out all of their six opponents while scoring 19 goals of their own.
"Carlsbad is a very good team, and I don’t want to take anything away from them," said Prince. "But I wish I hadn’t told the girls we were heading to nationals no matter the outcome. I think it changed the way we played."
Prince explains how he leaves the team goals up to his players, and how originally all they wanted to do was qualify for their first Regional Championship, let alone punch their ticket to Nationals.
"I guess we are going to have to set some new goals," said Prince with a laugh.
With a stacked field featuring three of the four teams that qualified to the 2012 National Championships returning this year - Ambassadors FC (OH-N), Tennessee SC 16 (TN) and defending national champs MSC Coyotes Green (MD) – and opponent Carlsbad among others, Prince finds himself asking one question: "Why not us?"
"This team has been together for three years, and they are getting better every day," said Prince. "We know it is going to be tough because we are facing the best, but we will be ready."
You can follow the Idaho girls as well as the others seeking to claim the national title here, http://tournaments.usyouthsoccer.org/events/2013-National-Championships/Schedule/U15-Girls/Division+1/.