SALT LAKE CITY — Maybe with the exception of their wildest dreams, no one associated with the Utah Avalanche's Under-13 boys' soccer club woke up last week thinking they'd return from a trip to North Carolina with a national championship in tow.
Life is sometimes much better than dreams, though.
The Sandy-based soccer club that launched a boys program to join its highly successful all-girls program just seven years ago finished off a 10-0 record with a win over San Diego SC 3-0 Friday afternoon in Greensboro, North Carolina, to claim the first national title in club history.
Surprised? No one more than the players and coaches.
"No one at our club had ever won a championship before," Avalanche coach Nate Murphy said in a news release. "It's been a pretty cool year with these kids. They're a really unique set of boys. They're all super talented but also really coachable and willing to learn.
"An undefeated season, our club's first championship, both sets the bar high for the rest of our club. It sets the precedent that they can achieve those things. For them to continue to grow and to know that if they continue to work hard and do their best, they can achieve what they want in life."
Alejandro Vasquez opened the scoring to give Avalanche a 1-0 lead at halftime. After the break, Jace Thomsen took advantage of San Diego's high-pressure system to hit on the counter, an 18-yard rip into the top right corner that doubled the advantage.
Avalanche finished off the scoring with a rocket in the final moments, giving the club a 3-0 victory, a perfect week, and the club the first ECNL boys' soccer title in club history.
The championship is believed to be the first ECNL boys' title in Utah club history, team administrator Kortnie Aldous said.
Avalanche opened the tournament with a 4-1 win over Pipeline SC on July 4, followed by a 1-0 victory over the Florida Kraze a day later. That gave the Utahns a vital day off before facing California's Mountain View Los Altos in the semifinals.
Avalanche battled to a 2-1 victory over MVLA, setting up Friday's championship match against San Diego — and a purposeful day off in between.
"We were a bit tired from our first games, and to have a full rest day, the kids were ready to go," Murphy said. "They were firing on all cylinders. We had a game plan going into it and they executed it very well.
"I loved the 16-team format. Every team was strong and you knew that you had to bring your A-game. San Diego, they were a great team but I think we played our best game of the tournament today and it earned us a trophy."
Next up for Avalanche is a trip to Florida in late July to compete for the U.S. Youth Soccer national championship. That tournament will run July 19-25 in Lakewood Ranch, Florida.