SALT LAKE CITY — The Billings United Pink U-14 soccer team fell just short Sunday morning of becoming the first Montana girls team ever to win the U.S. Youth Soccer Association's Far West Regional Presidents Cup, falling to Southern California 2-0 at the Regional Athletic Complex.
The Billings team, which played with just one substitute and was missing five starters due to injuries, nevertheless went unbeaten in pool play and then downed Idaho 2-0 in the semifinals.
In the final, the game was 0-0 at halftime before Coachella scored off a free kick 15 minutes into the second half. A goal off a corner kick near the game's end closed the scoring.
The Presidents Cup is one of two prestigious regional tournaments that send their champions to a national tournament. The Billings United Pink qualified by finishing second in Montana; the champion from Bozeman is competing this week at the USYA Far West Regional Championships in Boise, Idaho, for a chance to go to nationals in Florida.
States choose whether to send their winners to regionals or the Presidents Cup. No Montana team has won either tournament.
Billings went 3-0 in pool play, defeating Murray, Utah, 4-3, the Utah Surf 2-1 and Washington 4-0.
Cassidy Albrecht led Billings with six goals. Darby Boehler added two scores.
Coachella moved on to the national tournament in Des Moines, Iowa, next month.