Devos Win, Liberty Falls on Parallel Cup Opening Night

Treats from Oz

LAUDERHILL, Florida – The next wave of American footy nationals took to the field on Friday night under the lights at Central Broward Regional Park, and for eighty minutes at a time, a total of forty-eight men and women attempted to show that they had what it takes to play at the international level.

Though the final record will show the men’s Revolution development team, the “Devos”, won their game over Canada 63-15, and the USA Liberty women fell to the Canada Midnight Suns 14-5, a total footballing effort in the thick atmosphere of South Florida in the dead of summer will be the prevailing memory.  Not a bad opening act to the 2015 49th Parallel Cup.

MEN’S DEVELOPMENT GAME
USA REVOLUTION 9.9.63 def CANADA NORTHWIND 2.3.15

Tom Ellis had inserted Tampa Bay’s Dustin Jones and Philadelphia’s Jon Loring into his Devo roster with the hopes that they would mentor and spur on the younger group of players who had made the trip down.  Both players had played for the Revos in the program’s infancy, and were now where to help a group of new players onto the international stage.

The return on investment of that move?  A 47 point win.  Jones kicked a half-dozen goals and set up one more, while Loring played with the energy efficiency of a hybrid car in the midfield in leading a clamp down of the Canadian offensive.

Both teams’ jitters were apparent in the opening term, as the gameplay was compact and tight and only yielded one behind each way.  There were periods of open play, but neither side could capitalize early.

Quarter number two was a different story, however.  Jesse Carcamo was able to open up space on the right side of the oval, and that led to Jones and Jon Ginsburg getting open inside the arc.  Ginsburg, throwing his body at the ball to take marks at all cost, would open the major scoring.  But it would Jones who would dominate the forward half, and he would go on to kick three goals by halftime.  The 16-year USAFL veteran found lots of room, and even when he didn’t have it, created points.

Canada would get an answer through Jeremy Schwartzentruber, and despite getting two scoring shots to their opponents’ ten in the first half, they were still playing tough.  Nick Liang and Deshaun Tinglin ran roughshod through the middle and were creating chances, but Eric Politz and the American defensive corps were having none of it.  The Devos led 30-8 at the main break.

The pace had slowed down after halftime, with the defense stepping up to deny the Northwind’s attempt for a counter to come back.  Johnathan Showman, Josh Henges, and Jim Blocho were tenacious defensively in the second half, and that was the impetus to see the game out for the US.  Jones would collect another goal in the 3rd term and two more in the final stanza to end with a half-dozen.  The Northwind would get another goal at the end of the match, but the issue wasn’t much is doubt by that point.

Having veterans in the Devos lineup was good for the overall result on the field, and Ellis was happy with the group effort.

“Dustin was great to have him around so that the guys can see how to play that forward role,” he said after the game.  “It was especially impressive considering he hasn’t played much over the last five seasons.  “It was great to have Jon [Loring] out there too because of his leadership and voice.   It was really good to see a lot of young guys who we had never seen before step up and surprise us.  We had a view players first year players that had a big impact on the game, such as Blocho, Showman, and Carcamo.  They did amazing.”

USA Revolution 0.1.1 4.6.30 5.7.37 9.9.63
Canada Northwind 0.1.1 1.1.7 1.2.8 2.3.15

WOMEN’S DEVELOPMENT GAME
CANADA MIDNIGHT SUNS 2.2.14 def USA LIBERTY 0.5.5

Judith Stein and Milli Bruce began their co-operative leadership of the Liberty squad with a great effort from their new charges.  In a game where territory was gained five meters in a time in some spots, the Freedom were never more than a goal down until the Suns’ Ash Scott kicked the game winning goal with a minute to play.  Despite a wonderful showing in hot night, the Liberty went down fighting by nine points.

Sam Shultz, making her international debut, was the main creative force from the middle for the Americans.   Running in support of rookie ruck Paige Kiecker, Shultz was able to get the ball forward for the US.  Lizzy Even, Sara Magallon, Alethea Sison, Sarah Plummer and Courtney Church provided hard contests for the ground attack against Canada’s Jaya Aulakh and Elaine Gilmore.  Gilmore, who had 34 possessions on the evening, was particularly difficult to stop, and she was able to find Scott on the loose on several occasions.

The Suns would open the scoring after a good passage of play found their tall forward Joanna Rutkowski.  It was hard to tell that Rutkowski was a newcomer to footy, as she was a tough ask for the American back line all night.  On this occasion, her kick off of a mark in front was short, but Pam Schoepp was able to crumb and kick the goal.  The USA would get a single behind in reply, and would trail 5-1 at quarter time.

Trading behinds in the second quarter, the game ground into a roving maul about the field that wasn’t without some great defensive play on both sides.  Makenzie Seckora became a movable human wall, closing in on any attack that came by.  Valerie Barber-Axthelm was splendid in her debut as well, helping relieve the pressure, and Minnesota veteran Terri Tupper was constantly harrowing her opponents.  After Canada’s lone score of the quarter made the score 7-2, the match would not see another score for over 35 minutes of game time.

It wouldn’t be until the final term that the Americans would see some sort of penetration past the Canadian half-back line.  Mascher-Mace, now helping out all over the field, took an impressive juggling chest mark but was unable to convert on the ensuing free kick.  The Liberty were able to scramble it through for a behind, but that started the ball rolling.  Church and Ashley Singer headed up the wagon train forward, and two more minor scores would come to cut the gap to 7-5.  With the majority of the 4th spent inside the Canadian goal square, there was a feeling that the go ahead score would eventually come.

The Suns were not allowed much in reply until the final five minutes of the match.  Canada set forward and got the ball to Lia Vansevenant, who played magically inside 50 and was omnipresent for her teammates.  She scored a behind to make it 8-5.  Then, with a minute left came the clincher.  Off a free kick, Rutkowski was able to get a ball to her from twenty meters out and she found Scott to ram home the game winner.  14-5 the final, which belied the effort over eighty minutes from the girls from the USA.

For Liberty vice-captain Mascher-Mace, who is used to winning with her club team, the Denver Bulldogs, this loss was hard to take.  But that didn’t diminish the praise for her teammates, or her respect for the Midnight Suns.

“I thought it was an amazing effort from all the players; the returning veterans and the new players,” she said. “We saw players out of their comfort zone, people that normally play defense playing offense doing amazing things.  People that had never rucked before up front were rucking amazingly. 

“I couldn’t be prouder of this team, I couldn’t be prouder to be part of it.  There some great things, and if it weren’t for a few falls we would’ve been victorious.  Canada played amazing, they’re great sports and I really looking forward to playing them again next year and in the IC.”

The result was also etched on the face and voice of debutante Barber-Axthelm, but she too was proud.  “I think all the girls gave it their all and left it out on the field,” said the Arizona Hawk defender.  “We were really competitive, I think we controlled most of the game, it’s just tough we didn’t come out ahead.”

For the Canadians, however, it was a moment to savor.  The win came despite losing a number of players during the course of the game to injury and cramping, but Jason Arnold was beaming nonetheless.

“I couldn’t be prouder,” the Edmonton-based coach said.  “I love seeing such a contested game of footy.  The girls have travelled a long way, and there’s a big difference in how you perceive the weekend because a lot it is whether you win or lose.  We talked about it at 3-quarter time; how important it is, and just the courage of the girls to run when the Liberty girls were a lot more fitter than we have experienced against them before.  They’ve done more work than use because they were running better than us at the end.

Arnold also heaped praised on the new players, including his forwards Rutkowski and Vansevanant.  “Joanna did a great job, given the conditions which weren’t conducive for tall marking, but anything that came into her vicinity, she took the contested mark.  Lia did fantastic, she could’ve kicked the winning goal but hit the post, and I’m excited to see her play tomorrow for the Northern Lights.”

USA Liberty 0.1.1 0.2.2 0.2.2 0.5.5
Canada Midnight Suns 1.0.6 1.1.7 1.1.7 2.2.14
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