Brother Wind Comes Blowing In - Day 1 at the USAFL Nationals

For the third consecutive carnival at Lakewood Ranch, Brother Wind was a significant player in most of the games on day one at the 2023 USAFL National Championships.

Thankfully, though, the rain that was forecast for Saturday never showed, proving once again that you should never trust a meteorologist. 

A few favorites returned to glory, and a few fell by the wayside. Men’s D3 went topsy turvy, while the Iron Maidens’ win streak fell; they can still make and win the Grand Final, though.

It was a day of upsets and blowouts, of close games and skill, and more than a few Coopers’ knocked back.

Here is a look at how the day shook out, and how championship Sunday is shaping up.


Men’s Division 1

The wind managed to equalize things for the first 20 minutes of the Austin-Boston game, with the Demons using the stiff breeze to forge a 21-21 halftime tie with the champion Crows. Unfortunately, the Crows went all Christopher Cross in the second half to tack on 32 unanswered second half points. A blowout win over Los Angeles put them top of Pool A at 2-0, while the Demons 14-10 triumph over arch rival New York put both teams at 1-1.  An Austin victory over the Magpies puts them into their fifth straight Grand Final and a chance to extend their record.  A loss, puts the Magpies into play via percentage, a fight that can be joined by Boston if the Dees beat the Dragons.

Things are much more straightforward in Pool B, where Denver and Golden Gate made relatively quick work of Quebec and San Diego. The Bulldogs are looking for their third Men’s D1 final in four seasons, while the Roos are in search of their first appearance in the decider since they fell to Austin in that 2018 thriller.

Women’s Division 1

Eight years ago in Austin, a Paige Thell kick after the siren ended the Denver Bulldogs’ 23-game Nationals winning streak. The next day, Denver defeated the Iron Maidens to win their sixth (and to date, last) women’s D1 premiership.  That was the last time that Golden Gate had lost at Nationals in women’s D1.

Until Saturday, that is. The Maidens’ two goals with the wind were no match for the four that the Freeze booted to stomp home by 15 points, ending yet another long win streak – twenty-five.  The triumph also clinched Minnesota a second-straight Grand Final berth.  Their opponent at 3pm on Sunday will be the winner of the Maidens’ final round robin game against Denver, who were humbled by the Freeze but accounted for Seattle by two goals on Saturday afternoon.

Men’s Division 2

Two virtual semifinals round out pool play on Sunday morning in D2. 

In Pool A, Sacramento aims to make it back to the D2 Grand Final for the second straight year. The D.C. Eagles won D2 in 2021 and would love another crack at it this year.  Both teams defeated Minnesota and Columbus, though the Eagles had to hang on to their win over the Freeze after the latter missed a chance to tie the game late in the second half.

Seattle and Baltimore, meanwhile, will decide Pool B. Seattle, last winners of D2 all the way back in 2008, had straightforward victories over Houston and Calgary.  2019 D2 finalists Baltimore got up over the Lonestars in a dogfight, but won over the Kangaroos to lock their Sunday match in as a semifinal.

Women’s Division 2

The seeds have largely held in this five team round robin, with Austin and Quebec running out 2-0, New York splitting two tough matches, and Houston/Sacramento and D.C. ending Saturday valiantly, but at 0-2.  Austin plays Quebec in the final game of the series at 2pm Sunday, a game which may be the de facto Grand Final.  New York will have something to say about it, but they’ll need to beat the Lonestars and Saints first and then play the waiting game.

Men’s Division 3

It’s rare when you see the bottom seeds of a pool literally flip the script, but that’s what’s happened in Pool A.  Third seed Oklahoma and Fourth seed North Texas went 2-0 over Nashville and Des Moines, leading them into a battle to reach their first D3 Grand Final.  For the Devils, playing at just their third Nationals, a victory would be astounding.

Pool B saw Philadelphia/Virginia take out St. Louis and former premiership-partner Arizona to top the lot at 2-0.  They can clinch a third Grand Final in five years with a victory over Chicago tomorrow.  Their 126-23 winning margin in those two games will make it hard for the Swans to snatch away the berth from them, the same if Arizona also happens to knock off the Blues.

Men’s Division 4

North Carolina and Jacksonville ran out 2-0 to complete Saturday; they’ll meet at 11am after the Saints play Rome at 8am.  NC will finish off with Tampa at 1pm.  The Redbacks are still very much a factor at 1-1, and have looked pretty solid on Nationals debut.

Men’s Reserves

Golden Gate and Austin stamped their authority on the group from the jump; the Roos outscored Boston and Sacramento 132-0, and Austin defeated the Demons and Denver 159-4.  They play at 1pm for the trophy, with the 1-1 Bulldogs hoping to beat the Dees and Roos and sneak off with the bikkies.

Photo: Jerry Long/myfootypics

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