SSC took down a formidable Fab Fünf squad from Phoenix Sport Club (Feasterville, PA) in straight sets in the first semi-final matchup (11-9, 11-6). The Fab Fünf attack was led by Kyle Ejsmont on his return from playing with TuS Kremsmünster in Austria. Newcomer A.J. Fesmire proved to be a vital defensive asset alongside veterans Rodrigo Sahasquet and Matt Ayling.
In the other semi-final matchup, South Jersey FC took on the Phoenix Phenom, also from Feasterville, PA. The two teams played each other tough in pool play, and managed to tie in score on the very last play. This time around, however, SJFC were poised to go through to the finals, sweeping Phenom by a score of 11-7, 11-6. Phoenix Phenom had a triumvirate of Macquarie players; Spencer Macquarie led an impressive attack, with his brother Trip and father Malcolm in the defense. Evan Morris anchored the middle of the field with superb setting and timely attacks, while Angelo Fattore provided much needed defense and play-making abilities.
The final was set: SSC vs South Jersey.
South Jersey came out firing, with Todd Strassberger serving up several aces past the SSC defense. The rain proved to be a factor in the final, as both teams took advantage of the slick surface. However, it was the defensive unit of John Cunningham, John Jacob, and 17 year old Jason Campbell that had the advantage at the start. After taking the first two games with the same score of 11-7, South Jersey looked well on their way to securing the first USFA title. Theo Theodorakoglu and SSC had other plans.
After making some minor changes to their defense, SSC were finally able to start defending the relentless attack of Todd Strassberger and Mat Ogin. The experience of Pat White and Kris Graham, along with the energy of newcomer Ryan Lampman, proved to be the edge in this matchup. The next two sets were taken 11-8 by SSC, and set up a deciding game 5.
SSC got off to a great start in game 5, leading 6-3 at the half. From there, SSC did not lose their lead, taking the final set 11-7.
“I feel proud. I’m happy and electrified,” says SSC striker Theo Theodorakoglu. “The base for our success was the defense. That was the key thing, especially in the last game. As soon as the defense adapted to Todd [Strassberger]’s attack, that was the key thing.”
Theodorakoglu’s teammate and SSC captain Cory Dahn was pleased at the level of play. “This was arguably our most competitive tournament of the year,” Dahn explained. “Theo [Theodorakoglu] kept us in every game with consistent serving and challenging strikes. Our whole squad pushed the line on every set, but we were getting beat by strong striking.”
After a long, competitive summer of fistball, Dahn praised his championship-winning team as well as their New Jersey rivals, South Jersey. “I admire Mat Ogin and John Jacob’s ability to bring in rookies and turn them into fistballers by the day’s end. Big ups to their squad, I look forward to what the Salmons will bring to next year’s events.”
1. SSC 2. SJFC 3. Phoenix Fab Fünf 3. Phoenix Phenom
USFA is the National Governing body for the sport of Fistball in the United States, as recognized by the International Fistball Association (IFA).