Red Bulls reach semifinals at USA Cup

By Journal Sports Staff

BLAINE, Minnesota — The Red Bulls Under-17 team of the Superiorland Soccer Association made it three wins in a row Friday morning, but their quest for a championship at the USA Cup in Minnesota was thwarted that afternoon in the playoff semifinals.

Playing in the U-17 Silver Division, the Marquette-based team lost 1-0 to No. 1-seeded Wheeling, Illinois. Earlier in the day the Red Bulls defeated Inver Grove Heights of Minneapolis 3-2 in the playoff quarterfinals, following up wins posted Wednesday and Thursday after an opening-game loss Tuesday.

Liam Jeevar, goalkeeper for the No. 4-seeded Red Bulls, had to fend off 15 shots in the first half alone against Wheeling as the Illinois team scored its only goal at the 35-minute mark of the opening half. In all, Jeevar faced 22 shots, while the Bulls managed a few good chances late in the game on corner and free kicks.

It wasn’t a big surprise to Red Bulls coach Dan Salmon, who noted Wheeling had outscored its previous four opponents 26-1.

“Liam was the foundation of our team … he didn’t flinch,” Salmon said. “We pulled out all the stops but Wheeling was pretty good defensively.

“For a group of young men from a small town in the (Upper Peninsula) to go toe-to-toe with bigger clubs, it shows these guys have a lot of heart.”

Against Inver Grove Heights on a wet and muddy field, Marquette struck first on a Kobie Guidebeck goal 15 minutes in off a Drew Wyble pass, though the Minnesota team tied it with 30 seconds left in the first half.

A header by Nicolaas Vermaat off a Wyble corner kick put the Red Bulls up 2-1 soon after intermission, but Inver Grove retied it 20 minutes into the second half.

After that, Marquette applied lots of offensive pressure and finally got the game-winner with about two minutes to go when Vermaat again converted a Wyble corner kick.

Jeevar stopped seven shots.

Information compiled by Journal Sports Editor Steve Brownlee. His email address is sbrownlee@miningjournal.net.