IC17: Freedom, Revos Notch School Round Wins

There’s a song out there somewhere that goes, “It was a good day.”  And that was a great way to sum up Matchday 2 for the American contingent at IC17.

The USA Freedom women’s team and USA Revolution men’s team each notched important victories on Wednesday as they both attempt to advance to their respective Grand Finals.  In front of a curious and supportive crowd at Wesley College’s Glen Waverly Campus, the Freedom got up over Papua New Guinea by 27 points, while the Revos stomped home victors over a tough and hearty South African side by 47.

USA FREEDOM 5.12.42 def PNG FLAMES 2.3.15

Taking the wind with them in the first quarter, the Freedom pinned the Flames back for most of the 17.5 minute stanza.  Katie Klatt opened the major scoring with her first international goal, and though Carly Smolak, Jessica Estrada and the rest of the offense were able to find they occasional hole in the PNG defense, they could only manage 1.3.9.  On defense, the Flames were spouting the occasional blaze through midfielder Alice Alois and forward Brigid Gaur, but Bevin English, Liz Danielson, Rosie Kloh and the defensive unit allowed just a single point towards the siren, and the Freedom were up 9-1.

PNG came out firing with the wind in the second quarter, putting the Freedom back on their heels.  A goal from Maureen Bauwase pulled the Flames back to within five points.  The Freedom settled things down; Hallie Kastanek and Lindsay Kastanek were playing hard at the ball, and Melissa Armstrong was now getting more touches through the middle of the park.  The wind, however, is a fickle thing, and it took Freedom shots on goal and deposited them behind the sticks on several occasions.  Emily Riehl, whose kicks have the ability to cut through the wind like remarks, was the only major tallymaker for the Freedom in that second term, and though the Freedom went into the main break up 20-7, their 2.8 tally left a fair bit of work to do.

Midway through the third quarter, the Freedom finally got some separation.  Katrina Scherer recorded her first international goal after converting on a free kick, having been pushed in the back following a centering ball from Smolak.  Two minutes later, Riehl added her second after Hemenway pried free a lose ball and found the Baltimore-Washington forward all alone with an empty goal square.  Keeping the pressure forward, the behinds continued to mount up, and the Freedom defenders still had to parry away the Flames’ forward attack.  English, Kloh, and Lauren Shelton were again up to the task, as was Drea Casillas, and the Americans had kept their 3Q sheet clean and went into the final break up 36-7.

Most of the doubt from the contest seemed to be removed when Melissa Armstrong stole a long kick from the PNG defensive 40-meter arc and found Brette Brower, and the Michigan native made no mistake from the set shot.  But the PNG bunch were a spirited one, and they gave the Freedom one heck of a ride down the stretch.  Fatima Sovara answered Brower’s goal a minute later, and she came close on an outside checky a little later on.  But the Freedom had held firm for the victory, their hard work from the beginning of the game paying off in spades.

With Ireland winning big over the European Crusaders, the Freedom’s own matchup against them this Sunday at Melbourne Uni (10pm Saturday USEDT) will determine whether they’ll be in the major semi-finals or for consolation honors.  The Freedom will want to see Ireland win if they knock off the Crusaders, as that will be the best case scenario that doesn’t involve the percentage sign.

USA Freedom

1.3.9

2.8.20

4.12.36

5.12.42

PNG Flames

0.1.1

1.1.7

1.1.7

2.3.15

 

GOALS:
FREEDOM: Riehl 2, Scherer, Brower, Klatt
PNG: Sovara, Bauwase

BEST:
FREEDOM: Smolak, H. Kastanek, English, Kloh, Klatt, Armstrong
PNG: Lavai, Sovara, Bauwase, Loreen, B. Gaur, A. Bai

USA REVOLUTION 9.10.64 def SOUTH AFRICA LIONS 2.5.17

South Africa’s footy club has endeared many with their spirit and attitude, their singing, and their quick play.  They came into the game against the Revos looking to rebound from their opening game loss against Great Britain, but the Americans had other ideas.

Ben Carpenter-Nwanyanwu opened the major scoring after all of 90 seconds after taking a strong pack mark and converting from 35 meters out.  After conceding a behind to the Lions, the defense tightened up and Brent Fischer went to work, finding Brian Dragus who took the first of many decisive picks on the day, and his conversion extended the lead again.  The forwards made getting the ball out of the defensive fifty downright hell for the South Africans, as Erik Hansen clamped down on a couple of kickouts, and Mike Linehan stuffed up the middle.  The pressure would lead to a third goal as David Restrepo soccered home a loose ball off the ground.  The Revos were up 19-1 at Quarter time, but now how to deal with the wind and a quick counterattack.

Lions captain Tshoboko “Hippo” Moagi helped to lift his team from the back, and with the wind kicking towards the school end in the second quarter, and it led to their opening score through Benefit Baloyi.  Even against the wind here, the defense tightened up, with Dan Livy and Jeff Kraemer putting up red lights.  Saleh Tyebjee also came to the fore in taking some timely interceptions, and one of them led to goal number four after he found Buddy Spohn to convert.  Looking fit and up to the task, the Americans were 22 points to the good at the main break, leading 29-7.

Back with the wind in the third, Clyde Simpson had his turn to put his impact on the game, and got a goal assist on Carpenter-Nwanyanwu’s second of the match early in the term.  19-year USAFL veteran Dustin Jones started winning balls from the middle, putting in shoulders and taking control, and he located Dragus on a good lead for the big man’s second of the day.  Murphy added his name to the scoresheet not long after a little bit of chicanery allowed him to pick the South African defender’s pocket and run into the goal like a kid on Christmas.  That seemed to be backbreaking goal for the Lions, as proud as they were, and the Revos looked home from there.  The Lions poked through a couple of behinds to keep the defenders sweating, but at 54-11, Tom Ellis and company went into their huddle brimming with confidence.

That left the final term for the Americans to see out, and see it out they did, as a beautiful curler from McGettigan topped off the scoring.  To the credit of Benjamin Motuba’s Lions, however, they fought through to the final siren, and got a deserved second goal from Thimna Bartman, but it was the Revolution who were much the best on the day, and finished the game 37 points to the good.  South Africa has played entertaining footy during the tournament which is surely belied their 0-2 standing so far.

But for the Revos, they now head into their big clash against PNG on Saturday morning at Montrose (10pm Friday USEDT) with serious Grand Final implications in the balance.  A win over the Mosquitoes on Saturday will leave their Tuesday morning (Monday night USEDT) game with France as the only thing standing in the way between them and the MCG.

USA Revolution

3.1.19

4.5.29

8.6.54

9.10.64

SA Lions

0.1.1

1.1.7

1.5.11

2.5.17

 

GOALS:
REVOLUTION: Dragus 2, Murphy 2, Carpenter-Nwanyanwu 2, McGettigan, Restrepo, Spohn
SOUTH AFRICA: Bartman, Sokoyi

BEST:
REVOLUTION: Tyebjee, McGettigan, Spohn, Dragus, Livy, Simpson
SOUTH AFRICA: Moagi, Molohlanyi, Funda, Lungile, Sokoyi, Mlonyeni

Photo: Hayley Williams/World Footy News

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