IC17: Revos and Freedom to Play for 3rd

You can’t always get what you want.  But if you try some times, you might find, you get what you need.

The USA Revolution men and USA Freedom both missed opportunities to advance to their respective Grand Finals on Tuesday at Royal Park.  It was a bittersweet symphony for both contingents to be sure, as the Revos knocked back France by 113 points, while the Freedom fell by 44 points to the defending champions from Canada.

Both sides still have one game left for third place, however, one that will be there for the taking for pride, momentum, and some more happy memories of what has already been a legendary trip.

The Freedom will face off against the Great Britain Swans at 12:30pm on Friday (Thursday 10:30pm USEDT/7:30pm USPDT) at McAllister Oval, followed by Revos tangling with Ireland at 2:15pm on the same field.  (Friday 12:15am USEDT/Thursday 10:15pm USPDT).  Both games will be carried live via the International Cup Youtube Channel.

USA Revolution 19.18.132 def Les Coqs de France 3.1.19

Despite the fact that les Coqs came into the game at the bottom of the ten team latter, they were not going to be any pushover for the Revolution.  The Revos, needing a big win to have any hope of swinging the percentage advantage to their side, were content to play their game in order to get the points they needed to keep their MCG dreams alive.

It was a pretty fast track, and ruck Donald Lee dominated it out of the center.  The forward combinations of Bryan Dragus, Jason Wilhelm, and David Restrepo found a good deal of free space to roam, but the French defenders played tight to cut down a couple of scoring chances and create one of their own.  The Revos put most of the pressure on, and kicked three goals from seven scoring shots to lead 22-6 at the first break.

Relatively speaking, the opening quarter was slow.  The acceleration began in the second term when the Americans began to hit their targets a little bit more, and more players got involved.  Ben Carpenter-Nwanyanwu, Dan Livy, Bobby Sears, and Ben Judge got involved in the play, the beneficiaries of Lee and Clyde Simpson doing hard work in the middle, Jeff Kraemer doing hard work in the back, Brent Fischer matriculating the ball forward, and Ryan McGettigan doing the dirty work in the forward line. 

As goal after goal and scoring chance after scoring chance mounted, the scoresheet began to look like Oprah Winfrey day at Royal Park as everyone seemingly got a major score.  At halftime, the Revos had kicked nine goals, each off of nine different boots.  They had also wasted ten scoring shots, but at 64-7, Tom Ellis and company were halfway to accomplishing their side of the bargain.

Going against the wind, and with the French resolve still very much intact, the Revos’ scoring flush turned into a drip again, they were held to three goals.  Restrepo and Dragus were the first two players to double dip on the scoresheet, extending the lead.  Les Coqs would hit where the Revos have had issues defensively, on transition, and build up two goals through Pierre Boscart, and Ludo Barrat’s second.  USA went into the third break up 85-19, and at just 66 points, one felt that more points were needed to put the pressure on PNG against South Africa.

This was a mile race, and in the final lap the Revos put on a finishing kick.  David Restrepo would end up with four goals to lead everyone, bringing his total to nine on the fortnight.  Dragus and Wilhelm each bagged three, John Freeman continued his consistent tear with a couple, and the goal of the day was inarguably Dustin Jones’ scissor kick goal to go over the 100-point lead mark in style.  Though the French made the Revos work for every ball, the Americans kicked seven in the final term to finish the game with a 132-19 romp.  The 132 points was joint second best in IC history for the Revolution, alongside their 132-4 defeat of South Africa in IC02, and second only to their 182-1 victory over Finland in IC14.  The 113 point win was their joint-fourth biggest IC victory.

The large victory completed one piece of the grand final puzzle.  Sadly, the second piece became lost when the PNG Mosquitoes, the team that put the Revos against the ropes, handed South Africa a 109-point thrashing in the afternoon.  That win, coupled with New Zealand’s last second win over Ireland, put the Hawks into the grand final against the Mozzies, whose streak of making it to the big game at the end of the IC continued to include every iteration.

That leaves the Americans to deal with Gavin Murray and the Irish Warriors for third place.  This will be the first meeting between the two sides since IC05, when the Revos took both matches between the sides, including the third place match.

USA Revolution

3.4.22

9.10.64

12.13.85

19.18.132

France

1.0.6

1.1.7

3.1.19

3.1.19

 

GOALS:
USA: Restrepo 4, Dragus 3, Wilhelm 3, Freeman 2, Livy 2, Levesque, Sears, Lee, Jones, Carpenter-Nwanyanwu
FRANCE: Barrat 2, Boscart

BEST:
USA: Wilhelm, Restrepo, Fischer, Lee, Simpson, Sears
FRANCE: Boche, Barrat, Rat, Leschasles, Bernad, Boscart

USA Freedom 1.2.8 def by Canada Northern Lights 6.8.44

All that stood in the way between the pack of red white and blue Wonder Women and a first ever finals trip in IC play was the defending champions from north of the border.  Their rivals, their arch nemesis, the bane of their existence.  And the Freedom wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.

Brette Brower continued her stellar play in place of Hallie Kastanek in the ruck, and was the keystone on a side that came out hungry if not slightly charged up.  The Northern Lights were of the same mind, and neither team could really control play in the early going.  Emily Riehl got involved early, as did Katie Klatt, who got the lion share of the ball in the opening term.  Alison Bremner had her best game of the tournament, and had a load of touches in the opening part of the game.

 The Lights would kick the first two goals of the game through Hilary Perry and Nicola Kirwin, two of the marquee players who would give the Freedom fits all day long.  But Carly Smolak and Lindsay Kastanek would return fire, and Kastanek would be able to open the major scoring for the Americans after getting by the defender and squaring up for goal from 40 meters out.  The Freedom only trailed 14-7 at quarter time, and the team was still brimming with confidence.

Quarter number two was different, however.  Aimee Legault, Perry, and Kirwan found their way through the back and found open passing lanes.  Despite the best efforts of the defense, with Riehl, Klatt, and Bevin English trying to pinch the Lights in, and with Rosie Kloh patrolling the back, the Canadians would punch three more goals through.  Caroline Ireland hit one from the boundary, Legault got lose from her defender for an easy shot, and Kirwan put home her second.  At halftime, the confidence seemed a tad diminished, and Leigh Barnes’s side were now 27 points adrift at 35-8, with not much time to swim towards Etihad.

The third quarter saw tough play on both sides, with players putting their heads over the ball.  Brower continued to play well in the ruck, but the Freedom couldn’t put anything together to draw the score level.  The Lights added three more points to extend the lead to thirty, as Lara Hilmi and Valerie Moreau got their touches and put more pressure on the American backliners.

With 73 seconds left in the term, a very scary moment occurred when Brower went after a footy and, at an awkward angle, went headfirst into an opponent’s knee.  The San Francisco Iron Maiden utility laid motionless after the clash, and the medical staff rushed onto the field to attend to her, considered about a neck injury.  The game was delayed for nearly forty minutes while she was checked out and while an ambulance arrived.  As of this writing, she was due to be released from hospital; she was responsive and in good spirits and able to move her extremities.

The delay was so long that the game was nearly called off, which would have been a win for the Canadians 38-8.  But as the ambulance took Brower to the hospital, the decision was made to play a 16:17 fourth term to even out the periods because of the injury.  What was now a run of the mill mountain was now Mount Everest.

The teams had done their best to stay loose and stay warm during the long break, but the Canadians quelled any hope of a slip up, and when Kirwan slotted home her third, any lingering doubt disappeared into the Melbourne air.  But the Americans went down fighting, led by their veterans, including the Secretary of Defense, Drea Casillas.

They’ll come to Royal Park for one final IC game on Friday against an enigmatic GB Swans outfit, which will be a good challenge for both teams, but this loss hurt up and down the board.  Still, Hallie Kastanek, ever the leader even with her arm in a cast, told the team to keep their heads up, and to use what they were feeling as motivation for the Swans.  GB went 2-1 in their debut, and fell by seven points in a heartbreaker to Ireland, who will be the Canadians’ opponent at Etihad.

USA Freedom

1.1.7

1.2.8

1.2.8

1.2.8

Canada N. Lights

2.2.14

5.5.35

5.8.38

6.8.44

 

GOALS:
USA: L. Kastanek
CANADA: Kirwan 3, Perry, Ireland, A. Legault

BEST:
USA: Bremner, English, Brower, Klatt, Riehl, Scherer
CANADA: Kirwan, N. Robertson, Hilmi, Moreau, Perry, Ennor