Despite being nearly 4,000 miles apart, the Thunder Bay Chill from Thunder Bay, Canada, and Rudbeckianska from Västerås, Sweden have forged a rivalry at the National Sports Center (NSC) in Blaine, Minn. The two teams have done battle in two consecutive U19 championship games at the Schwan’s USA CUP weekend tournament, with Rudbeckianska emerging victorious 3-1 in 2016. This year, it was Thunder Bay’s turn to hoist the trophy.
The Thunder Bay Chill won the U19 Boys title in a clash with defending champion Rudbeckianska of Sweden.
David topped Goliath in Sunday’s U19 championship match. Rudbeckianska was seeking its third straight U19 title, but a stout Thunder Bay defense and a capable counter attack was enough to down the legendary Swedish club by a 2-0 final score.
Thunder Bay coach Dave Colistro coached the Chill in 2016’s U19 championship defeat, and had been preparing all season for the much anticipated rematch.
“We knew if we wanted to win this division, we would have to beat this team. So we were preparing most of the season on how to defend properly, and take our opportunities when we had them,” Colistro said.
“The key is to be organized and think. If they are organized and they can think and they step their lines up and defend properly, then they’ll be fine,” Colistro added.
“We knew it was going to be a tactical game. Coach (Colistro) said it was going to be technical and tactical game, and that’s what our strengths are,” said pacey striker Marcus Micelli.
Thunder Bay landed the first punch in just the 10th minute of the title clash. The Chill switched the field of play from a throw in, where winger Devon Hoier dished a pass to Devan Jorgenson who was waiting in the box. Jorgenson’s shot took a wicked deflection off a Swedish defender to beat the Rudbeckianska goalkeeper. Thunder Bay held an early 1-0 advantage against its European nemesis.
Just eight minutes later, Thunder Bay doubled its lead. Micelli broke loose down the left sideline on a counter attack, then executed a brilliant cutback into the box. Rudbeck defender Michel Diab did all he could to impede Micelli’s progress, but was given a yellow card for his tackle on Micelli that gifted Thunder Bay a penalty kick. Kieran Ezzard stepped up to the spot, and slotted the ball into the bottom left corner to take a 2-0 lead into halftime.
“My goal was to hold it out for our midfielders to catch onto. I was just trying to feed it off to our midfielders and get it to the wingers down with through balls,” Micelli said. “Play through the midfield, get the balls forward. That was our game plan.”
Rudbeck fought back with numerous chances in the second half, but Thunder Bay defenders consistently got bodies in front of the ball to make the Swedish side’s job difficult in the box. Thunder Bay rookie goalie Keeghan Ezzard made two spectacular acrobatic saves in the 90th minute to hold on to the clean sheet.
The Thunder Bay Chill allowed just one goal in six games at USA CUP, capping off their dominant defensive weekend with a shutout on the NSC stadium field. Four out of their six victories came courtesy of one-goal margins.
The Thunder Bay Chill celebrate Devan Jorgenson’s 10th minute goal that gave the Canadian team an early edge in the U19 Championship.
“They knew that if you can win games 1-0, you can go a long way, and that’s what they did this weekend,” Colistro said.
“Our boys know that to win championships you have to be a team that defends, and they proved that today. They proved that all weekend,” Colistro said. “The only way they would have gotten in behind us today is if we made an error. And we didn’t make an error. We played an almost perfect game defensively.”
Rudbeckianska will look to avenge its tough championship loss during the USA CUP weeklong tournament, where they will again be the favorites in the U19 division. Unfortunately, the two teams will have to wait until next year to complete the rivalry’s trilogy, as the Chill will travel back north of the border after the team’s celebration ends tonight.
A total of 26 championship matches were played on Sunday. Here’s a snapshot of where the champions came from:
Six Minnesota clubs won titles. The Blaine Soccer Club, Rochester Youth Soccer Association, Minneapolis United, Eden Prairie Soccer Club, Sporting St. Croix and Minnesota Thunder Academy each captured a championship.
Other U.S. states winning championships were Wisconsin (3), Illinois, (2), North Dakota (2), and South Dakota and Nebraska with single titles each.
From the Canadian side of the border, teams from Ontario won five titles, including an impressive three championships the Thunder Bay Chill alone. Manitoba won a single championship.
In addition to Canada’s five crowns, other international titles were won by Mexico (2), Costa Rica (1), China (1), Japan (1).
Tag(s): July 16, 2017