January 22nd, Waltham, MA, 2019; Every winter GPS teams participate in the GPS Winter Futsal League where they compete against each other every weekend.
When the harsh New England weather renders outdoor activities impossible, futsal is a great way to get on a ball and stay working throughout the winter.
This past weekend, GPS teams got to branch outside of our internal futsal competition to test their mettle against not only a host of New England soccer clubs but New England clubs dedicated solely to futsal.
Held at Starland Sports Complex in Hanover and open to U9-U19 teams, the Northeast Regional Futsal Championships act as a qualifying pathway to the US Youth Futsal National Championship.
The group stage began late Friday night and consisted of three games. Depending on the size of the bracket, teams qualified for either the semifinals or quarterfinals.
The GPS MA 2004 Boys were the only GPS squad whose group required a quarterfinal matchup. The game was played at 10pm on Sunday night but that didn’t slow the boys down a bit.
They would book themselves a spot in the semifinals Monday morning following a penalty shootout win.
The 04 Boys joined six other GPS teams as semi finalists on Monday. The 2010 Boys, 2008 Boys, 2005 Boys, 2002 Boys, 2006 Girls and 2002 Girls all qualified for their respective age’s semis.
The 2010 Boys would put up a great fight in the first semifinal of the day but would come out on the wrong end of a 9-6 scoreline. Manhattan Kickers, the team that they faced in the SF, would go on to win their bracket.
Following their dramatic QF victory, the 2004 Boys would share a similar fate to their 2010 counterpart. They would keep the game close until late in the second half when their opponent, and eventual champion, Ginga pulled away scoring on the counter as GPS pushed forward.
With 20 goals scored on the weekend, and only 10 conceded, the 2006 Girls team were feeling confident ahead of their SF matchup against a strong PFA Albertson side.
The game was a back and forth affair, with the teams trading goals and leads for most of the game. A red card late in the second half could have spelled disaster for GPS but the girls reorganized and got themselves focused.
They would get the game within one goal but a series of great saves by the PFA GK was too much to overcome with the girls losing a heartbreaker 6-5.
Four teams that qualified for the semifinals won their games and earned finals berths.
Ending the group stage undefeated with a group best 26 goals for, the 2008 Boys were riding high heading into their SF. A 6-2 win over Revere FC Bolts set up a tough matchup with GInga, who had the 2nd best goal difference behind GPS.
The first half of the final would be chippy with Ginga scoring first. GPS would equalize a few minutes later but would concede pushing forward looking for another. The boys fought to reverse the scoreline but both teams were too defensively sound. The boys would end up losing 5-3.
The 2005 Boys would also finish the group stage undefeated. Their 9-3 win over Malwee in the SF set up a meeting against North Atlantic FC.
This was the game for offensive enthusiasts. The boys leapt to a 4-1 lead midway through the first half, but not due to North Atlantics’ lack of chances. Both teams traded scoring runs throughout the second half but North Atlantic FC came out on top 16-10 at full-time.
The 2002 Girls had a low scoring and hard fought final against PFA Fury.
They would have to weather an offensive barrage to begin the game but their defensive organization and perseverance, as well as some stellar goalkeeping, meant they only found themselves down 2-0 at halftime.
They would score immediately out of the gates to bring it back within one only for PFA to score a third with eight minutes left. The girls continued to apply pressure and make life difficult for PFA and managed to score a second with three minutes remaining.
With PFA sitting back trying to preserve their one goal lead, the girls pushed forward searching for that all important equalizer. A few late chances raised heart rates amongst the parents and other spectators but sadly the girls would be unable to breakthrough losing 3-2.
Three wins out of three during the group stage saw the 2002 Boys meet Ginga in the SF. They would win 13-3, setting up a matchup in the finals against high flying North Atlantic FC, who scored 36 goals in their four games up until that point.
The final would be an extremely physical match up dominated by defense in the first half which ended 3-3. The second half was characterized by quick offensive movements and a bevy of saves by both goalkeepers. The boys would trade goals with them before falling behind with less than half the second half remaining.
Down 6-4 with only 5 minutes left the boys pushed forward with all they could to try and equalize it. They would score a fifth goal to bring the game within one but their push forward in the closing minute left them exposed at the back and North Atlantic would pounce on those mistakes winning the game by a final of 9-5.
This weekend was marked by fantastic performances throughout all the age groups. Seven semi-finalists and four finalists ensured that this weekend was a success for the club.
The GPS Winter Futsal League is in its 5th year of operation and has become a mainstay in the process of the U11-U14 groups. The game is fast paced and forces players to not only be quick on the ball but quick in their decision making off of it as well as players often touch the ball 6 times more than they would during an outdoor game.
This constant cycle of passing and moving mixed with the close technical control that is required on the smaller playing field helps players to develop skills that can be directly translated to the outdoor game on a larger field.