Contributed by: Wesley Hull
Last month the USAFL proudly displayed the best talent across the USA and Canada at the USAFL Nationals in Sarasota, Florida. A total of 44 teams, across men’s and women’s competitions descended on Lakewood Ranch. The following reviews come from the www.usafl.com website, detailing the two days of competition.
Florida’s heat may not have been at full blast on Saturday at the Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch, but the action on the field was definitely on fire.
Following one full day of Australian Football, there are a handful of teams who are spending Saturday night at the 2019 USAFL Nationals with dreams of lifting hardware tomorrow bounding around their heads. Some are hoping that they’ll have fate on their side. And some have begun the year end festivities one evening early.
Whatever happens on Nationals Sunday, however, we know it will never disappoint. Below is a recap of what happened on Day 1, and links to tomorrow for you to have and know:
MEN’S DIVISION 1:
The Austin Crows resumed their roll towards National Championship #5, steering aside Seattle and Quebec. The Crows-Grizzlies game featured a duel between the Cox brothers, with Nolan’s Crows accounting for Austin’s Grizzlies by 51 points. The Quebec Saints and Los Angeles Dragons turned in 1-1 performances on Saturday. A Quebec win in the early game over Seattle will put pressure on the Crows to beat LA to lock up the pool; an LA win would force the issue to percentage, though Austin has a pretty solid lead in that category.
Pool B will come down to a virtual semifinal between the Golden Gate Roos and Denver Bulldogs at 10am on GoLive SportsCast. The New York Magpies presented the biggest challenge to both sides, as they fell to Denver by just 11 and gave the Roos all they could handle in a 20-15 loss. Minnesota played well in their D1 return, their strongest showing a 48-27 defeat to Denver.
WOMEN’S DIVISION 1:
The four semifinalists in Women’s D1 were determined by 1pm on Saturday, with San Francisco and Seattle dispatching of a rebuilding Denver Lady Bulldogs team out of Pool A, and Portland succumbing to Minnesota and New York in Pool B. The matches in the afternoon to ultimately determine the semifinal seeds were the two best on the weekend; New York held onto a 15-14 victory over Minnesota, while the 3-time defending National Champions managed to scratch out a 2-0 triumph over the ever dangerous Seattle Grizzlies.
One thing is for sure; any certainty that the Maidens would cruise to their fourth national title has been erased, and the Women’s D1 title is very much anyone’s to win.
MEN’S DIVISION 2:
With a thorough win over Nashville, and a see-saw victory over Philadelphia, the San Diego Lions are in the catbird seat for their third Grand Final berth in five seasons, having gone from D4 to D3 to D2 every other year. The Houston Lonestars (1-1) can play spoiler in their match against the Lions, and a win would help them and the Hawks should it come down to the percent sign out of Pool A. A San Diego win, however, ices the group for the pride.
There is a bit of history brewing from Pool B, as the Baltimore Dockers’ 2-0 record after Saturday puts them in prime position to become the first club to make a Grand Final two levels above the one they made the year before. With 29-10 and 29-13 wins over Portland and Orange County respectively, the Dock Show needs to see off 0-2 Dallas to punch their grand Final ticket. A Dingoes upset would open the door for the winner of the OC-Portland game, and both teams are in striking distance of Dallas’s percentage.
WOMEN’S DIVISION 2:
With their eye on graduating to D1 for next season, the DC Eagles knocked back the Montreal Angels and Texas Heat to wrap up the top spot out of Pool A. Dani Marshall-led Philadelphia had to earn both wins, accounting for Columbus and Sacramento to take out Pool B. The Eagles and Hawks will face the two teams who combined for last year’s D2 title in their respective matchups for a chance at the decider.
MEN’S DIVISION 3:
Both Grand Final spots will be determined by virtual semifinal matches after four teams went 2-0 on Saturday. Pool A pits the Boston Demons/Maine Cats combo against the Austin Crows Reserves, while Pool B sees the Columbus Cats tangle with the Denver Bulldogs Reserves.
MEN’S DIVISION 4:
As in Divvy 3, both pools come down to two sets of 2-0 teams trying to play their way into the Granny. Pool A’s combatants are the Ohio Valley River Rats and North Carolina Tigers, while in Pool B it will be the Des Moines Roosters and the DC Eagles/RVA Lions combo.
The heat was hot and the ground was dry, and when the dust had settled on the 23rd USAFL Nationals, there were new and old champions crowned at the Premier Sports Campus at Lakewood Ranch.
The Austin Crows and San Francisco Iron Maidens added another cup to their cupboards, while the Arizona Hawks and Boston Demons had rare doubles, winning both men’s and women’s championships.
MEN’S DIVISION 1 – AUSTIN MAKES IT FIVE FOR FIVE IN REPEAT
AUSTIN 8.3 (51) DEF DENVER 1.2 (8)
Three goals from Kenrick Tyrell paced the Austin Crows to their fifth USAFL D1 Men’s National Championship in seven years, and the second on the trot. Denver’s appearance in the Grand Final had been their first in eight seasons, and their eleventh in their illustrious history. The Crows victory not only meant they are now a perfect 5-0 in D1 Grand Finals, but their 51-point tally was the highest in a D1 decider since Denver hung 53 on the Boston Demons in their 2003 victory.
PAUL ROOS MEDAL (Best & Fairest): Jack Lucas (Golden Gate)
COOPER’S MEDAL (Most Consistent): Thomas Crameri (Denver)
HAYDEN KENNEDY MEDAL (Grand Final Umpiring): Ross McLaren, Derek Govier & Liam Dye
GEOFF CANN MEDAL (Grand Final MVP): Kenrick Tyrell (Austin)
WOMEN’S DIVISION 1 – SAN FRANCISCO SURVIVES SCRAPPY SEATTLE FOR FOURTH FLAG
SAN FRANCISCO 2.2 (14) DEF SEATTLE 0.3 (3)
In a rematch of last year’s Grand Final, and Saturday’s pool match which ended 2-0, the San Francisco Iron Maidens got major scores from Savannah Green and Nikole Makenzie to wrap up their fourth straight Women’s D1 National Championship by 11 points. The Maidens’ victory puts them two behind the Denver Lady Bulldogs (six) for most D1 titles in history.
PAUL ROOS MEDAL (Best & Fairest): Nikole Mackenzie (San Francisco)
COOPER’S MEDAL (Most Consistent): Janie Green (New York)
HAYDEN KENNEDY MEDAL (Grand Final Umpiring): Shawn Farber & Brendan Dye
GEOFF CANN MEDAL (Grand Final MVP): Ellise Gallagher (San Francisco)
MEN’S DIVISION 2 – SAN DIEGO SINKS BUOYANT BALTIMORE IN TIGHT CONTEST
SAN DIEGO 3.1 (19) DEF BALTIMORE 1.2 (8)
The San Diego Lions picked up their fourth overall National Championship banner, and their first since they won D4 in 2015 by defeating a game Baltimore Docker outfit 18-9. Justin Valley’s early second half goal was the winning marker over the Dockers, who made history by being the first team to make a Grand Final one season and then doing the same thing two divisions higher the following year.
PAUL ROOS MEDAL (Best & Fairest): Jack Haw (San Diego), John O’Connor (Baltimore) & John Hinchen (Philadelphia)
COOPER’S MEDAL (Most Consistent): Lachlan Miscamble (Houston)
HAYDEN KENNEDY MEDAL (Grand Final Umpiring): Laurie Rupe & Steve Arnott
GEOFF CANN MEDAL (Grand Final MVP): Michael Coffey (San Diego)
WOMEN’S DIVISION 2 – HAWKS COMBO TAKE OUT EAGLES/ROOSTERS
PHILADELPHIA/AZ HAWKS/BALTIMORE/BOSTON 2.1 (13) DEF DC EAGLES/DES MOINES/AZ OUTLAWS 1.2 (8)
The DC Eagles combination held the lead for 38.5 minutes of the women’s D2 final, only to see Philadelphia/Arizona kick a goal in the dying seconds to steal a 13-8 victory.
PAUL ROOS MEDAL (Best & Fairest): Rebekah Quinn (Chicago) & Liz Danielson (Sacramento)
COOPER’S MEDAL (Most Consistent): Hailey Rebar (Texas) & Hannah Alexander (North Star)
HAYDEN KENNEDY MEDAL (Grand Final Umpiring): Brian Dunkin & David Heward)
GEOFF CANN MEDAL (Grand Final MVP): Dani Marshall (Arizona Hawks)
MEN’S DIVISION 3 – BOSTON USES WIN TO CLINCH FIRST TITLE IN TWENTY SEASON
BOSTON/MAINE 4.2 (26) DEF COLUMBUS 2.3 (15)
The Boston Demons/Maine Cats used a strong first half wind to put 26 points on the board in the first half, then set up shot defensively to hold off the Columbus Cats by eleven. The win was Boston’s first National Title since they won the 1998 and 1999 D1 championships, while Maine was victorious in its first ever Nationals. The 26 points ties the fewest by a winning team in a D3 final (Philadelphia 2003, Kansas City 2008)
PAUL ROOS MEDAL (Best & Fairest): Samuel Barnett (Boston)
COOPER’S MEDAL (Most Consistent): Noor Jehangir (Austin) & Clyde Simpson (Columbus) [tie]
HAYDEN KENNEDY MEDAL (Grand Final Umpiring): Ryan Willsmore & Peter Pearce
GEOFF CANN MEDAL (Grand Final MVP): Samuel Barnett (Boston)
MEN’S DIVISION 4 – OHIO VALLEY PLUCKS ROOSTERS BY FOUR POINTS FOR SIXTH D4 WIN
OHIO VALLEY/ARIZONA HAWKS 5.2 (32) DEF DES MOINES 4.4 (28)
A see-saw affair saw the Ohio Valley River Rats come home four point winners in the D4 Granny, their sixth such win in the division.
PAUL ROOS MEDAL (Best & Fairest): Shane Branscum (Ohio Valley)
COOPER’S MEDAL (Most Consistent): Michael Hoffman (DC Eagles) & Josh Curtis (Des Moines) [tie]
HAYDEN KENNEDY MEDAL (Grand Final Umpiring): Peter Dinnick & Greg Everett
GEOFF CANN MEDAL (Grand Final MVP): Ben Judge (Des Moines)
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