When St. Joseph senior midfielder Anthony Gulli needs a challenge, he goes to the park by his house with his father.
Peter Gulli was a goalkeeper at University of Notre Dame from 1988-90.
“He’s always in goal trying to stop my shots,” Anthony Gulli said. “It doesn’t work too well for him. He’s a little older, I guess.”
Despite the good-natured ribbing, Gulli said he and his 13-year-old brother Nicholas both developed their love of soccer through their father. Following in Peter Gulli’s footsteps as a guardian of the net, however, wasn’t in the cards.
“He pushed me away from it,” Gulli said. “He wanted me to have more field time. He didn’t get to touch the ball enough and wanted me and my brother to play in the field. We’re Italian, so soccer has been part of our life for as long as I can remember. My father got me into soccer when I was young and I loved it and just kept going with it.”
The Warrenville resident began his high school career at Benet, where he played on the varsity as a freshman. He wasn’t eligible his sophomore season because he was playing for the Fire Academy.
He transferred to St. Joe’s, then earned all-state honors in his junior season with the Chargers.
“St. Joseph took me in and I blossomed here,” Gulli said. “I didn’t fit well at Benet to be honest. My transition was good because St. Joseph took me under its wing and all the players welcomed me.”
Gulli has been a welcome addition to the program. On the field, he helped the Chargers finish 17-3-2 and win their sixth consecutive regional championship. He’s also emerged as one of the team leaders.
“Anthony is a light-hearted kid off the field and gets along well with all his teammates,” St. Joseph coach Stanley Niemiec said. “He knows when to get down to business and is a good leader for the younger guys. Anthony is one of the smartest students I have had the chance to teach in my seven years and his work ethic transfers from the classroom to the field. He is willing to help tutor teammates and that willingness to help others really makes him a standout student at St. Joseph.”
Gulli, who competed on the Fire Academy 1997 team that participated in a national tournament in July, shines in the classroom. He ranks third academically in his class and has a 4.7 grade-point average on a 4.0 scale.
“Academics have always been first for me,” Gulli said. “My parents instilled that in me. I’ve always kept straight-A’s. As much as I love soccer, there will come a point where it comes to an end and I will need a career. That’s where my brain will come in. I want to see my teammates excel just as much as I. We’re like family and I want everyone to be succeeding.”
Senior defender Toni Orozco has benefitted from Gulli’s talent.
“He’s great to work with,” Orozco said. “We’ve gotten a lot closer this summer. We spent a lot of time practicing, hanging out and bonding. We’re working off each other and trying to do what we have to do for the team. We’ve become better friends. It’s an honor to play with him.”
Niemiec believes Gulli’s game is far from finding its ceiling.
“Anthony sees the game at a quicker pace and helps to bring that pace to other players around him,” Niemiec said. “He is technically gifted, a tough finesse player and has the potential to improve his game beyond where he is at now.”
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Wes Bergevin, Hinsdale Central
One of the best goalkeepers in the state, the 6-foot-3 senior helped the Red Devils to an undefeated regular season, win the WSC Silver championship and capture a regional title a year ago.
Patrick Duncan, Lyons
After scoring four goals and dishing nine assists a year ago, the senior is expected to be a dangerous offensive weapon for the Lions, who finished 17-3-3 last season.
Evan Floersch, Hinsdale Central
As a junior, Floersch helped anchor a defense that posted 13 shutouts, including eight straight before its season-ending loss to Lyons.
Harry Hilling, Lyons
The senior center midfielder had 11 goals and eight assists and scored twice in the Lions’ regional final win over Downers Grove South.
OTHER TOP PLAYERS
Elmwood Park: Aleks Grabowski, defender, sr.; Matt Ziuzio, forward, sr.
Fenwick: Michael Beaudin, defender, sr.; Jonathan Kagan, forward, sr.; Charlie Rhomberg, defender, sr.
Guerin: Liam Egan, defender, sr.; Manny Leon, midfielder, sr.
Hinsdale Central: Jack Baderman, midfielder, sr.; Sam Johnson, forward, sr.; Bryan Loebig, midfielder, sr.
Leyden: Hector Herrera, defender, sr.; Christian Sosnowski, midfielder, sr.
Lyons: Leo Gabrek, defender, sr.; Cole Gilchrest, forward, sr.; Danny Gutierrez, forward, sr.
Nazareth: David Caldwell, goalkeeper, sr.; Jack Herbst, defender, so.; Sam McLachlan, forward, jr.; Jimmy Turek, forward, sr.
OPRF: Will Dunne, goal keeper, jr.
St. Joseph: Eduardo Gutierrez, forward, sr.; Victor Moreno, midfielder, sr.