A view from the press area at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas' main field. | File Photo: Josh Hakala
Being on the good side of the only rout of the First Round of the 2012 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, the Michigan Bucks had no trouble piling onto their record for most US Open Cup wins by any amateur team in the Modern Era (1995-present). In the end, the USL Premier Development League squad took it to Jersey Shore Boca of the USASA, winning 6-0 at the Ultimate Soccer Arenas in Pontiac, Michigan (outside Detroit).
Trinidad national Stefan St. Louis scored twice in the first half, and Nermin Crnkic added two second half assists to his first half goal as the Bucks advanced to the Second Round of play in the 99th edition of the US Open Cup.
It was only the second match the Bucks had played this season, and the first official match other than an exhibition practice last Saturday. The team did look a bit rusty, according to head coach Gary Parsons, as Michigan had difficulty finishing.
They outshot Boca 28-6 in the first half, but only had 11 shots on net. “The finishing was frustrating,” Parsons said. “It would have been tougher if they had gotten us to halftime [scoreless]. When you don’t score like that, it does get frustrating. But we finally got one and another one. When that starts happening, it’s pretty much done.”
One contributing factor to the lopsided score was a red card in the 17th minute which sent off Jersey Shore defender Nick Tarquinio as the Bucks’ St. Louis drove in for what would have been a 1-on-1 goal scoring opportunity just outside the box. Player/coach Michael McCullion did not believe that Tarquinio deserved the booking, but admitted it did change the dynamic of the contest. “Getting a man down changed the whole game, especially the first ten to 15 minutes [after that],” he said. “We tried our best, but they are a great, fit club that is very athletic. We did our best; that’s what we came here to do.”
The Bucks ended the first half with a flurry of goals, scoring three within the span of seven minutes, with St. Louis bookending a goal by Crnkic. St. Louis’ second goal was a thing of beauty as he calmly back heeled the ball into the net .
St. Louis was happy with the result, but admitted they could have done more. “We just couldn’t get the ball into the net, which made the game a little more even,” St. Louis said. “We missed a couple early chances, but we finally scored and opened up the play. All the practice we have had paid off and it was good to play someone else.” Michigan lessened the pressure and added subs in the second half of the game, but scored three more goals in the final 16 minutes of the match.
Also scoring for the Bucks were Tom Catalano, Ethan Miller, and Bim Ogunyemi. Adam Grinwis finished with four saves for Michigan while Boca goalkeeper Bobby Feeney was busy, making 15 saves. “That was one of the best games I have seen Bobby Feeney play,” McCullion said. “He kept us in the game for the first 30 minutes, and even longer than that.”
The win gives the Bucks – who have been in the US Open Cup nine times in 16 years – their 10th overall win (10-7-1) in the Cup. They also improved to 7-4-1 at home. The Bucks head to Pittsburgh to take on the Riverhounds of the third division USL Pro league for the Second Round.
“We set a high standard with this team,” St. Louis said. “Whichever team it is, we go out and expect high performance and getting the win.”
Parsons expects upwards of six players to be able to join the squad for the Second Round of the US Open Cup. “That will make us stronger for next Tuesday,” he said.
McCullion said he expects Jersey Shore Boca to enter the tournament next year with even more confidence. “I think back home, this brings a little more credit to our club for getting players that want to compete at high levels,” he said.
NOTES: The Bucks have scored in 17 of 18 US Open Cup matches. … Catalano finished with a goal and an assist. … This was the third US Open Cup game played indoors. Michigan has hosted two of them and is 1-1 (lost 2-1 in the First Round in 2008 to the Cleveland City Stars). … The Bucks have tied the team record for most goals scored in a US Open Cup match with 6 (2000 First Round: 6-0 win over Jerry D’s).
Jersey Shore Boca 0:6 Michigan Bucks
Ultimate Soccer Arenas – Pontiac, Mich.
MIC: Stefan St. Louis (Matthew Banher) 31
MIC: Nermin Crnkic (Tom Catalano) 36
MIC: Stefan St. Louis (Steven Miller) 38
MIC: Tom Catalano (Thomas Schmitt) 74
MIC: Ethan Miller (Nermin Crnkic) 83
MIC: Bim Ogunyemi (Nermin Crnkic) 89
JSB: Nick Tarquinio – ejection 17
Saves: Michigan – 4 (Adam Grinwis); Jersey Shore – 15 (Bobby Feeney)
Corners: Michigan 9; Jersey Shore 5