The 2002 Giffen Cup was open to the ASA for the first time, thus making ranking
points available to all the participants for the first time. Unfortunately only Giffens made up the third annual event but
there were eight participants from three different states, making it one of the larger regional tournaments of the 2002-03
The first two editions of the Giffen Cup were played in a double-elimination format, but 2002
saw group play introduced to the event. A random draw divided players into two groups of four and the pairings were thus:
Group A: Charles, Matt, Andrew, Michael
Group B: Nick, Trudy, Alex, Stephen
Group B quickly was labeled the group of death since all four participants
have a plethora of ASA tournament experience among them. The group also included a 2002 ASA National quarterfinalist, a two-time
Giffen Cup runner-up and a FISTF quarterfinalist.
Trudy, who famously took Gregg Deinhart to shots in a FISTF quarterfinal a
couple years ago, found out first-hand how brutal Group B was as she stumbled to a fourth place finish with 0 points. The
ever-improving Alex took third in the group and defeated Trudy 2-1 after losing his opening matches.
Nick and Stephen both won their opening matches over Trudy and Alex before meeting in their
final group match to decide the top finisher in the group. Nick jumped out early on Stephen, but the First State Subbuteo
Club player was able to equalize and that's how they finished. Both finished group play with 7 points, but by virtue of superior
goal differential Nick earned first place and the right NOT to face Andrew in the semifinals...or would he.
Group A brought a couple surprises, namely that for the first time ever in
Giffen Cup play, Andrew did not win all of his matches and that for a couple minutes it looked as if Andrew
would not even advance to the championship bracket. The first Group A match pitted Ohio player Michael against
Andrew, and the match ended in a 1-1 draw making it the first time anyone had gotten a result against the former WTSL player
in Giffen Cup play. Michael followed the draw up with a scoreless draw against Matt and with a win over Charles
to finish with five points. Andrew bounced back from his blip against Michael to defeat Charles 4-0 setting up a vital final
group match of Andrew v. Matt, who also had defeated Charles 2-0. With Michael taking care of business against his father,
Charles, the Ohioan led the group with 5 points. At 4 points apiece Andrew and Matt both had everything to lose--the winner
would take first place, the loser would be in the Mary Jane. A draw, of course, would mean a three-way tie atop
the standings at 5 points apiece. Andrew held a superior goal-differential, meaning any result would see him win the group.
A 0-0 tie would see Michael through with more goals scored. A 2-2 (or better) draw would see Matt through. A 1-1 draw would
force a shoot-out tiebreaker between Matt and Michael.
Andrew and Matt were scoreless at half time, but midway through
the second frame the youngest of the tournament participants took a shock 1-0 lead when Andrew left his 'keeper
stranded. Suddenly facing elimination from championship contention, Andrew overcame nerves to tie the match shortly thereafter.
But neither player could shake the nerves from there on out and the match ended 1-1, meaning Andrew claimed first place in
the group but that Matt would have to face Michael in a shootout for the right to advance. The Ohioan, who
had not played in about four months prior to the tournament, exhibited impressive shooting ability. Michael converted all
five of his attempts to defeat Matt 5-3 in the shootout and to advance to the semifinals.
The Mary Jane brought a bit of redemption for Trudy as she swept past Matt
(1-0) and avenged a loss to Alex (1-0) in the finals to claim the Mary Jane medal and fifth place
in the standings. Alex had previously defeated Charles 3-0 in the semis to earn sixth place. Matt claimed
seventh with a 2-0 win over Charles, who showed considerable improvement despite not flicking a figure in 12 months time.
Having avoided a match-up with Andrew in the semifnals, Group B winner
Nick took advantage and impressively defeated Michael 2-0 to make his first ASA final appearance.
Andrew v. Stephen was the other match-up and was a repeat of the two prior Giffen Cup finals.
Experience won out in this match. Despite breaching Andrew's defense time and time again and out-shooting the defending champion
by a 2:1 margin, Stephen fell on the sword 4-1. Andrew made 4 of 5 shots in the match to keep the hope of
a three-peat alive, whilst his Delaware opponent was left to rue what might have been.
The third-place match saw Stephen's game further deteriorate as Michael
went ahead early 1-0 and used a patient ball-control tactic to dominate possession for long stretches forcing Stephen
to make haste in an effort to equalize. The leveler never came and Michael gave Ohio a third place finish
in the Giffen Cup by winning 1-0.
The championship match pitted CvilleSC members Andrew and Nick against each other,
ensuring the cup would stay within the region. The first half was back and forth but it was not long before Andrew
went ahead 1-0. Nick furiously searched for the equalizer while doing a good job of not letting Andrew
stretch the score. Nick's best first-half chance came when Andrew stranded his 'keeper. Having marked up well, however, Andrew
forced Nick into a tricky angled shot. The effort chipped nicely, but skippered just wide of the right post to keep Nick off
the board. Things took a dramatic turn just before the halftime whistle. Andrew took a cheeky chip shot with
1 second left on the clock. Nick's 'keeper got a hand on it but the ball willed itself across the line and suddenly Andrew
was up 2-0 at the break.
The second half brought a lot more action and myriad shots. Andrew looked
to put the match in the books but Nick's 'keeper made several brilliant saves to keep his side in it. On
the other end, Nick's chances were not as many but certainly did not lack in quality. One such shot came with a long flick
from distance that caught Andrew completely unawares, but the shot caromed off the post and back into play.
Nick also broke through the middle of Andrew's defense and sent a shot to the lower right corner, but Andrew's
goalkeeper got down to push the shot out for a throw. The score remained 2-0 and that's how it ended as Andrew claimed
his third straight Giffen Cup title.
Congratulations to all the players. Thanks to the Giffen
parents for providing the venue and the trophy and medals.