2009 USAFL National Championships- AFL Article



Doren James 9:12 AM Fri 23 October, 2009




The 2009 season of USFooty was capped off in last weekend's exciting USAFL National Championships in Mason, Ohio.  The largest edition of the tournament to date (38 teams) saw the Denver Bulldogs and the Milwaukee Lady Bombers reclaim the championship cups from their respective Canadian rivals.  But the Canucks did not go home empty handed with the Calgary Kangaroos claiming the Men's Division 2 title and the Calgary Kookaburras finishing runners-up in the Women’s Division. In the Division 3 Championship it was an all-Texas showdown between the Dallas Magpies and the Austin Crows with the Magpies taking home the hardware and state bragging rights. The Division 4 Championship saw the combined team of Ohio Valley River Rats/St. Louis Blues defeat the combined Orange County Bombers/Des Moines Roosters team.

Men’s Division 1

The Denver Bulldogs returned to the top of the USFooty ladder to claim their 7th National Championship in the 13 year history of the competition. It was all about defense for the Bulldogs as they allowed only 35 points in 4 games and blanked the defending champions, Vancouver Cougars 52 - 0 to secure their spot in the final.

Over in Pool A, Seattle had a bit more challenging path to the Championship Final. Finishing with a record of 2 - 1 in pool play the Grizzlies needed the Baltimore/DC Eagles to knock off the New York Magpies for their chance at the cup.

The championship showdown saw both teams come out nervous early on and it was a tight back and forth contest with both teams applying tremendous defensive pressure.The Bulldogs found themselves ahead at halftime, but that was not to last.The 2008 Division 2 Champion Grizzlies clawed their way back to not only tie the game, but take the lead with 10 minutes to play.However, the Bulldogs experience in Championship finals served them well as they fought back to level the scores with a goal from Tony Lotrich-Herrera

and then regain the lead with a couple timely behinds. The Grizzlies battled to the end and managed to advance the ball into their forward line, but it was too late as the final siren sounded without a shot at goal.

Women's Division

This year was the largest and most competitive women’s competition in USAFL history and the Championship Final featured the match-up everyone had been looking forward to, last year’s champs the Calgary Kookaburras vs. the up and coming Milwaukee Lady Bombers. In Pool A, Calgary demonstrated why they were defending champs outscoring opponents 167 - 8.

The Milwaukee Lady Bombers also went undefeated in their pool and were led by Captain Jenny Sarbacker and 4 other members of the women’s US Freedom team that toured Australia back in August. That experience served the Lady Bombers well as they took control of the Championship Final early with hard running through the midfield and never looked back on their way to a 51 - 11 victory.

Men's Division 2

The Men’s Division 2 Championship Final featured last year’s runners up the Calgary Kangaroos and the Milwaukee Bombers. Coming in to the tournament Calgary was expected to challenge for a spot in Sunday afternoon’s final, while there were many questions surrounding the Bombers squad.

 As the 4th seed in Pool A the Bombers drew the top seed San Diego Lions in their first game. Each team had an equal amount of scoring shots, but it was the Bombers accuracy that led them to victory. Their second game was a much closer hard fought battle with the Nashville Kangaroos and it took a goal from US Revolution veteran Bruce Beilfuss at the siren to give the Bombers an exciting 2-point victory and a berth in the Championship Final.

Over in Pool B, the Calgary Kangaroos were led by the tournament’s MVP, Matthew Mitchell. The Roos biggest challenge in pool play came against the top seeded Chicago United in a showdown for the right to play for the championship. Frank Bradley led the way for the Swans in what was a low scoring affair, but the Roos experience in big games proved to be the difference and set the stage for a showdown with Milwaukee.

After coming up short in last year’s Championship Final, Calgary came out motivated to make the most of their second chance, booting 3 goals in the opening 5 minutes. The Bombers battled their way back in the 2nd half, but the Roos’ experience and early lead were too much to overcome with the 3 goal margin being the difference in the end.

Men’s Division 3

Unlike Division 2, this year’s Division 3 played out the way most expected with a showdown between the Dallas Magpies and the Austin Crows for the Championship. The Magpies outscored their opponents 142 - 54 to win Pool A, while the Crows kicked 25 goals on their way to the top of Pool B.

Led by Ryan Shaughnessy, the Magpies sent a message to not only their Interstate 35 rivals, but the rest of USFooty, holding the high-scoring Crows to just 1 goal on their way to a 43 point victory. This was the Crows second straight trip to the Division 3 final and unfortunately for their supporters their second straight runner up finish.

Men’s Division 4

Led by Matt Suelling and Eric Flloyd the Ohio Valley River Rats/St Louis Blues combination defeated the OC Bombers/DeMoines combination to claim the Men’s Division 4 title.

Exclusive to AFL BigPond Network

- Doren James

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