Jason Vittrup knew they had to get them eventually.
The Boise Thorns U-15 girls soccer coach was right. It took his team four tries, but it finally beat the Las Vegas Sports Academy, and better yet, made history. The Thorns became the first team in Idaho history to win their group at the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships Thursday in Overland Park, Kansas, with a 3-2 win.
They will face Pennsylvania’s FC Revolution, the East regional champ, at 6 a.m. MT Saturday in the national semifinal. Only one Idaho team has ever played in the national championship game — the 2015 U-19 Nova-Nationals girls — and none have won it all.
“I’ve been coaching soccer in Boise since 2000, and I’ve never gotten this far personally,” Vittrup said. “I’m just so excited. We started playing well a few games back, but now all of a sudden we’re here. This team just keeps gaining confidence and they’re growing.”
Boise trailed 1-0 five minutes in before Avery McBride scored on a putback after the ball hit the top of the crossbar on a free kick. Las Vegas took the lead against 2-1, but McBride came to rescue again. She got inside of her defender and sank a shot from the far pole for the equalizer just before the half.
Hayden Wilsey then completed the comeback. She drew the goalie to the near post before going to the far side of net for the game winner with about 15 minutes left.
The win continues the Thorns’ remarkable run. They were last in the Mountain Division of the Elite Clubs National League standings at 1-6 two months ago.
Boise is now just the third Idaho team ever to qualify for the national tournament and has outscored its opponents 11-7 in the process.
“I like our team’s chances, I really do,” Vittrup said.
TRACK AND FIELD
EMMETT’S LANDON HELMS WINS NATIONAL TITLE: Landon Helms won a national championship in the pole vault at the USATF National Junior Olympic Championships in Sacramento.
The incoming Emmett sophomore broke the meet record with a personal best of 16 feet, 1.25 inches to win the 15-16 age division.
Caldwell’s Zack Ramos walked away with a pair of All-American honors. He took third in both the shot put (56-02) and discus (172-11).
Other Treasure Valley All-Americans included Timberline’s Kade McCall with a fifth-place showing in the the 17-18 age division of the hammer throw, and Eagle’s Zoe Johnson earning sixth in the 17-18 age division of the high jump.
STEELHEADS ADD MATT LIPPA: The Idaho Steelheads have agreed to terms with rookie forward Matt Lippa for the 2019-20 season.
Lippa, 24, concluded his collegiate career with Manhattanville College during the 2018-19 season, boasting 21 goals and 27 assists for 48 points with eight power play goals through 32 games, earning All-USCHO.com Second Team and United Collegiate Hockey Conference (UCHC) Co-Player of the Year honors in the process while leading the roster in goals and scoring.
The Richmond Hill, Ont. native served as an assistant captain during the 2018-19 season, and he skated in 107 games during his four-year collegiate career, tallying 60 goals and 58 assists for 118 points while tabbing back-to-back 30-point seasons and leading the roster in scoring during his junior and senior campaigns.