2014 USA Nationals Wrap Up
9 Dec 2014 @ 11:56 UTC
The 2014 USA Touch Nationals was again held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports on the Disneyworld complex just outside of Orlando Florida on the 10th and 11th of October, 2014.
The ESPNWWOS will be our destination of choice to hold the 2015 and 2016 events along with the USA Touch World Club Open which is it its' second year of existence. The events will be held in the first two weeks of October each year.
In the domestic competition, there were again 3 divisions competed for along with the World Club Open.
The World Club Open was smaller this year, but saw the Galaxy Worldwide crew made up of players from the UK take out the final against an improving Cayman Pirates squad. The competition is important for the Cayman Islands as their game has improved significantly over the past two years. Even more exciting for the Cayman's is their application for FIT membership is progressing along. This year USA Touch scheduled a 'challenge' match concluding the USA Touch Men's Open final between the winner of this division and the winner of the USA Touch MXO division.
The first of the USA Touch finals was the MXO Open final to give enough time for the Champions to recoup for the International Challenge at the end of the day. The final pool games on Friday would determine who would win each pool and have a preferred semi final match up in the cross over from the other pool. In pool A, the defending Champion Portland Hunters ran into the highly competitive San Francisco team. In a close encounter, Portland came away winners 9-7, to top the pool and setup a semi final showdown with the runner up from pool B. In pool B, the runner up from 2013, Galaxy DC came against their semi final opponent from 2013 in the New York Touch club. This game came down to the wire with Galaxy coming out on top 5-3, to setup a showdown with the San Francisco club.
In the semi finals San Francisco and Galaxy battled to a close game with Galaxy coming out on top to book a finals place. The game came down to the wire with some fantastic defense with Galaxy getting the win 4-3. The Portland Hunters took care of their semi final against New York 10-7, to give us a repeat of the 2013 final that Portland won comfortably. The final was not going to be a run away for the Portland team as Galaxy DC took a 2 point advantage into the half. Portland came out all guns blazing in the second half pulling the score back and entered the final 3 minutes down only one touchdown. Portland crossed the line with just under 2 minutes left to tie the score at 8-8. Neither team was able to cross the line leaving us with an enticing drop off scenario. Galaxy would have the ball first and had a prime opportunity to score with the winger open and a beautifully delivered long ball to only be dropped in the end zone. Opening the door for the Portland team to take advantage of the missed opportunity, and untimely penalty against Portland gave Galaxy a chance to attack in great field position. Scott Fraser went over seconds later to give Galaxy DC their first National Championship and reverse the result of 2013.
In the Men's Over 35 division, the final was again between the Houston Hurricanes and Tumeke Touch. Tumeke, defending their 2013 championship started off strong going up 2-0 quickly in the first half. With each team only scoring one each heading into the half time break, it looked all on for an exciting finish. Houston came out stronger of the two sides in the second half putting on 2 touchdowns leveling the game at 3-3 with 10 minutes left in the game. With both sides struggling in the high humidity, Tumeke was able to take advantage of some Houston mistakes to take 2 more touchdowns into the final minutes. Tumeke held their nerves to run time out winning the division 5-3 for back to back M35 Championships.
The Men's Open competition was a 5 team division where each team and game was highly competitive. Some of the scores didn't reflect how far the division and level of play has come in the last two years. With the Los Angeles Royals hoping to defend their 2013 title, a tough game right out of the gate against Portland was anyone's game. Portland's dominant MXO team from 2013 split the squad to send teams in both MXO and MO. The MO team showed how tough they would be with a tie against the LA Royals in game one. New York and Ft. Lauderdale rounded out the division with last year's runner up in Tumeke Touch. The pool games from Friday saw three teams without a loss in Tumeke winning all three and Portland and Los Angeles with two wins and a draw each. Saturday morning had one last pool game that would decide the positions heading into the semi finals.
The game between Tumeke and Portland would determine who would be number one and two and Los Angeles against Ft. Lauderdale would determine third and fourth as New York had lost all their Friday games. With Tumeke beating Portland 7-5 and LA and Ft. Lauderdale tying 4-4, it left Tumeke with the number one spot in the semi finals to play Ft. Lauderdale where Portland and LA would both be looking to get through to the final after their draw in their first game of the tournament. Tumeke took care of Ft. Lauderdale to book their 6th straight finals appearance having won in 2009 and 2010 and finishing runner up the past two competitions.
The Portland and LA game was far more competitive than the first semi final and each team working hard to come on top. Los Angeles' more experienced squad saw off the younger Portland squad 6-5, to setup a final with Tumeke in a repeat of last year's final. This made a clean sweep of repeat finals from 2013. Tumeke opened up the scoring on the first series of the game and didn't look back running out to a 6-0 lead with only 3 minutes left in the first half. Heading into the half ahead 7-1, Tumeke was hopeful of claiming the Championship for the first time in 4 years. LA came out very strong in the second half pulling back two touchdowns in quick succession, but timely touchdowns from Tumeke kept enough space and not enough time left for LA to mount a comeback. The final score 11-6 left Tumeke with their third Championship in the Men's Open and the clubs second of the tournament.
Tournament sponsor Canterbury of New Zealand gave MVP awards to each division with a male and female MVP being named for the MXO. Nathan Murray of Tumeke was named MVP of the M35. Scott Fraser of Galaxy DC and Juanita Moreno of Portland were named male and female MVP's of the MXO. Tyler Keliiheleua was named MVP of the MO division.