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2002 Boys Win the USA Cup

By Gitchi Gummi, 07/13/21, 11:45AM CDT


The 2002 boys were one of many teams from Gitchi Gummi to go to the USA Cup this past weekend. The team was lead by head coach Corey Bulheller and assistant Finigan Huffington. The team was looking to improve on the last tournament in which they got third place for the second time this season. 

On the Friday the team played two games. The first game was a comfortable 7-0 win against Tri-City United (Fargo, ND) thanks to some good pressure and clinical finishing. This game was 2-0 at the half with one each from Kriske and Kidd. They exploded into life in the second half by scoring three in a matter of minutes and securing the win. There was 4 goals from Jake Kidd, then one each for Dawson Kriske, Elijah Aultman and Xavier Anderson.

The second game on Friday was a much closer scoreline as they won 3-2 against Minnesota Rush. This game would be 2-1 in Gitchi's favour going into half time. Jake Kidd had two goals and Masaki Hirata had the other goal from a penalty. This win would put them through to the semi finals on the Sunday, regardless of the result on Saturday. 

 They only had one game on the Saturday which they lost to Elgin All Stars (Elgin, IL). They lost 2-1. Gitch struggled with the Elgin style of play and found themselves 2-0 down at half time and chasing the game. They did score once but it was not enough to prevent the team from losing. Our goal was scored by Masaki Hirata from another penalty. As Elgin beat us, they also qualified for the semi final.

On the third and final day they would face local rivals Cloquet. Many players on the Gitch team are from Cloquet high school so they knew the opposition team well and vice versa. Gitch started the game well  forcing some good saves from the Cloquet keeper as well as leaving the woodwork rattling twice from near misses. The score would be 0-0 at half time with Gitch wondering how they weren't ahead. It was more of the same from Gitch, with going forward and trying to create and getting shots off and then winning the ball back before going forward again. The breakthrough finally came with about 15 minutes to play with a great ball into the box which was tapped in by Masaki Hirata for the win. The final score would be 1-0. The Gitch team would limit Cloquet to one or two half chances and one good chance on the breakaway on the way  to the final.

As the Gitch semi-final went on, Elgin All Stars were playing in the other semi final which they won in extra time to set up a rematch of Saturday's game.

The final would be much different to the first game against Elgin as Corey Bulheller made some tactical changes to counter the Elgin All Stars style of play. To counter the long ball from Elgin they moved Reece Pinney into centre-back who would dominate the game aerially. Gitch came out fast and we would race to a 2-0 lead just 20 minutes into the game with two top finishes from Dawson Kriske. Later in the first half they got one back due to a deflection which sent the ball to the other end of the goal. At half time it would be 2-1 to Gitchi Gummi and they looked to be in total control. In the second half Masaki Hirata went on a good run down the left side before cutting in to drive towards goal when he was fouled. He then got up and scored the free kick, getting it up and down over the wall. The game then got a little heated as Elgin got a straight red for violent conduct. Gitch seemed to be in complete control with about 25 minutes to go. The game changed again when Gitch then received a straight red for an accidental dangerous play which was for a Gitch elbow hitting a players head whilst going for the ball. Gitch were still looking good as the game went on and won a penalty to make the game 4-1 but it would be saved and the rebound would also be put over the bar. The time soon passed and as the game came to a close the Gitch keeper picked up the ball only to be struck by the Elgin forward who also received a straight red putting Elgin down to 9 players. Gitch would end the game as Champions at the USA Cup after winning 3-1 against Elgin All Stars.

Other Gitch teams made it into the knockout rounds at the USA Cup this weekend. These teams were the 2003 girls, 2006 girls, 2008 girls,  and the 2003 boys.