Holy Cow - Day One at the USAFL Nationals

That’s what was on the lips of most folks watching today in Austin. 

All of the talk about seeding and which team deserved to be higher up was thrown out the window and floated away into the hot October heat of central Texas.

Fourth seeds went boom, top seeds went flop, and for the first time that anyone can remember, including your humble author, there are no dead rubbers heading into Sunday at Nationals in any of the divisions being contested.

The temperature was hot on Saturday, and it will be just as hot on Sunday.  The action will be just as hot on all five fields at Onion Creek Soccer Complex.  Let’s go around the grounds and see where we stand after one full day of footy.

All Saturday results and Sunday's schedule: (LINK)
Up-to-date Ladder from all divisions: (LINK)

MEN’S DIVISION ONE

The hometown Austin Crows held serve in their first two games in Pool A.  That isn’t to say it was easy, however.  They found themselves on the ropes against Golden Gate before rallying to win 29-20 behind two crucial goals from coach Stuart Campbell.  With Kenrick Tyrell in the fold, the Crows were nearly unstoppable against Calgary, stomping home 46-15 victors.  They’ll take on LA on Sunday; the Dragons will look to play spoiler as they come in an unlucky 0-2.  If they pull an upset on Austin, the Roos-Kangas winner may sneak through, but the percentage gap is pretty steep.

Many were concerned about the New York Magpies and their off-and-on form heading into the weekend, and it looked they naysayers would be wrong, as they clobbered Dallas 57-9 to start the day in Pool B.  The ‘Pies would fall to Denver, however, with Casey Robertson kicking two amazing goals in the end to spark a 34-20 victory over the National Champs.  Orange County would be the one in the cat-bird seat, however, as they followed up a 23-20 squeaker over the Bulldogs with an easy 43-8 win over Dallas.  The rematch of last year’s grand final between OC and New York on Sunday will have massive finals implications, and if NYC wins, the Denver-Dallas game will also became equally as vital.

WOMEN’S DIVISION ONE

The tone for the day was set from the 9am game, when New York stunned the 2nd seeded San Francisco Iron Maidens 14-10, as the Magpies counterattacked their way to the lead then held onto dear life for the win.  After winning their opener, the Denver Lady Bulldogs almost saw their 22 game-winning streak come to an end as they survived a scare from the Sacramento Lady Suns.   Katie Klatt and the Suns had the Doggies within a point, but were unable to capitalize on some late chances before Denver came down and put the game away on a goal by Anna Thexton.

Had Sactown gotten the upset, all five teams would’ve been 1-1.  As it is, Denver goes in 2-0 with San Francisco, Minnesota, and New York right behind them.  The Lady Bulldogs have the Freeze and Iron Maidens on Sunday, but all five games will mean something towards deciding the winner.

MEN’S DIVISION TWO

Saleh Tyebjee and the Sacramento Suns were expected to be in the middle of things after Saturday.  Few outside of the Golden State capital expected them to be on top of Pool A, but here they are unbeaten after their first two games.  Both games were hard encounters, getting by Boston in a 15-14 thriller, then turning back the top seeded Columbus Jackaroos 22-9.  They’ll go into Sunday facing 0-2 Fort Lauderdale.  Should they lose, however, the winner of the Columbus-Boston game will advance to the Final on percentage.

The Quebec Saints literally have come a long way to Texas, driving down from Montreal in two vans.  They showed no wear and tear from their journey, however, easily upsetting Minnesota 40-11, then hanging on to a 23-20 decision over Houston.  Their game against Chicago on Sunday will determine who goes onto the Final from Pool B, after drawing the Lonestars at 28 in the morning and knocking off Minnesota 47-15, completing a difficult day for the top seeded Freeze.

MEN’S DIVISION THREE

Pool A saw Ohio Valley stride home to two big victories on the day, 64-8 over Tulsa, then a 38-24 win over Philadelphia.  The River Rats face 1-1 North Carolina on Sunday, but the Tigers will come in determined to win keep their finals dream alive.  Should the Tigers win, the Hawks encounter over the 0-2 Buffaloes will come into play, but again, the gap in percentage may be too difficult to overcome to prevent the Rats from advancing.

Portland must not have liked what I said about them being underachievers, as they thwacked Austin-B 56-20 and then demolished Des Moines 74-16 in the night cap.  They’ll have 0-2 Nashville on Sunday, but their big wins should make a loss insignificant as they look to progress from Pool B.

WOMEN’S DIVISION TWO

The Calgary Kookaburras, with help from singular players from Vancouver and Portland, had easy wins in their matches; 61-8 over Minnesota/Montreal, and a 76-0 blanking of Arizona/Baltimore-Washington.  They’ll have the “JillaDemons” on Sunday; the Columbus/Boston/Tulsa/Chicago/Houston conglomerate enters Sunday at 1-1.

MEN’S DIVISION FOUR

No math was needed to determine the winners of the four groups who will all advance into the semifinals of Divvy 4, as all of the top teams went 2-0 on Saturday.  Sunday’s semifinals will see San Diego/Orange County take on Denver, while Baltimore-Washington/Edmonton clashes with Kansas City/Cleveland/Sacramento. 

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