words // Katie Rosenberg

Teams from across the nation and the world gathered in Blaine, Minnesota for the 29th annual USA CUP weekend tournament June 12 through June 14. This year, the girls from Tokiwagi Gakuen High School, U16 team from Sendai, Japan, will bring home the hardware after defeating Super Elite teams from Wisconsin and Minnesota to win their bracket.

Tokiwagi Gakuen has been participating in USA CUP for several years and past teams included players who went on to compete for the Japanese National Football team. Previous USA CUP competitor Saki Kumagai scored the championship-winning penalty kick during the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

Tokiwagi Gakuen is slated to play during the USA CUP weeklong tournament beginning Tuesday, July 16, in the U16 girls’ gold-level bracket.

Four teams from the Minnesota Thunder Academy played their way into the Super Elite division finals. The U16 boys’ team scrapped its way through a hard-fought game with Costa Rica, winning the game 2-1 in extra time.

The Minnesota Thunder Academy is scheduled to play in the weeklong tournament, kicking off against Cruz Azul Seminario from Mexico Tuesday afternoon.