The Hillsboro-based soccer club qualifies four squads for the national tournament

FC Portland certainly made its presence known on the national stage this past week.

The Hillsboro-based youth soccer club fielded four teams in two national tournaments in Colorado and came up just short in a bid for its third national title.

“To get a national title is what we’re after,” said Mike dePinna, girls director of coaching for FC Portland. “We have the two stars on our logo, and that’s for each national championship we have. ... We were trying to add another one, but it didn’t quite happen.”

Of the four FC Portland teams competing in Aurora, the U18 boys squad came closest in that quest for a national title — about as close as it could get.

Playing in the U.S. Club Soccer National Premier League Champions Cup, the team picked up two wins and a loss in pool play last week to advance to the knockout rounds. On Sunday, the boys cruised to a 3-0 victory against Parsippany SC of New Jersey in the semifinals. The bid ended, though, with a 2-0 loss to the Michigan Wolves in the final.

Jake Smith, a second-team All-Pacific Conference pick last fall for Glencoe, is a member of the U18 boys team.

FC Portland’s U16 girls also advanced to the knockout stage of the NPL Champions Cup. Like the U18 boys, the girls went 2-1 in group play — picking up wins against teams from New York and California before losing to another California squad. The team’s run ended in the semifinals with a 6-2 loss to the New York Rush, which went on to win the final. In fact, those two goals FC put up were among only three the Rush conceded for the entire tournament.

FC Portland also sent a U14 boys team to Aurora, though that squad did not make it out of group play.

The FC Portland U17 group, which dePinna coaches and includes rising Liberty senior Bianca Andrade, was the club’s fourth representative in Aurora. The U17 girls were competing in another U.S. Club Soccer tournament, the National Cup XII Finals. The squad advanced to that competition by winning a regional tournament in Seattle in late June.

At the national tournament, the team needed to win its final game to have a shot at advancing to the final of the four-team field but fell to Northern Steel SC Navy of Pennsylvania in a 1-0 thriller. Overall, the U17s went 1-2.

“(The other team) came out and did what they needed to do, and then the second half was from a fan standpoint pretty exciting, as we were pressing,” dePinna said. “Hit the crossbar a couple times, hit the post.”

Generally, teams advance to the NPL Champions Cup by winning geographically-based leagues that are scattered across the country. The FC Portland U16 girls were an exception to that rule, as they finished second in Oregon Premier League play this year. But they received an invitation to fill out the bracket in the NPL Champions Cup’s more prestigious field, dePinna said. A year ago, the squad finished as runner-up in its age division in the National Cup. As with the U17 girls, squads advanced to the National Cup by winning regional tournaments.

The tournaments wrapped up the season for FC Portland’s high school-age teams. The club is staging tryouts for U15 through U18 boys and girls teams Aug. 4-5 at Hillsboro Stadium and the 53rd Avenue fields. The 2013-14 season for those age groups will get going after high school play ends.

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