France came to Bill Matheson's 50th Birthday
Tournament with a new lineup and left with the gold medals, beating the host
Aiken A team 7-4 in the decisive game. Six teams competed in the event, with
two-time Gold Medalists Canada providing additional international prestige.
A team from Unionville, Pennsylvania made the 12-hour drive to Aiken to join
in the fun, and a sixth team was put together with players from Aiken, France,
Colorado, and Washington State.
The tournament was played in a league format, with
each team playing one game against each of the other five. The schedule
was arranged so that the French team would play the best U.S. team in the
final game on Sunday at 3:30, with the opponent to be determined based on
the result of Saturday's Unionville-Aiken A match.
Play began Friday, November 18 with what would be
the most one-sided game in the tournament in terms of margin of victory,
with France defeating Aiken B 16-2. Stephane Paris was the leading scorer
for France with five goals, with John Pelourdeau adding four, Stephane Malandain
and Julien Lasserre three apiece, and Jean-Pierre Malandain one. Mit Carothers
and George Galvan each scored one for Aiken B. France led 3-0 after one
chukker, 6-1 at the half, and 13-1 going into the final chukker.
The next game was a great deal closer, with Unionville
winning their first-ever international match 7-5 over Canada. Craig Danks
led the way for Unionville with three goals, while Matt Terrell and Crosby
Wood each added two. Harvey Barton was high scorer for Canada with two goals,
and teammates Mike Boyd, Peter Furmedge, and Asoka Mendis scored one apiece.
Unionville led 3-1 after one chukker, 4-3 at the half, and 6-3 after three.
Unionville's Craig Danks scores one of his three goals against Canada.
The final game of the day, which involved all of
the players who had just gotten out of school at 3:00, saw Aiken A defeat
the International All-Stars. The All-Stars were hampered by an understandable
lack of familiarity with each other as well as some bad luck shooting at
goal, and came out on the short end of a 10-1 score. Seth Kopald led Aiken
A with four goals, while Bill Matheson, Steve Smith, and Zak Smith each
added two. Carl Baker scored the lone goal for the Internationals.
Saturday's action began bright and early at 8:00
with some unexpected frost covering the field, as the temperature had dipped
to 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 Celsius) overnight. France notched their second
victory by a 10-2 margin over the International All-Stars, leading 4-0 after
one chukker, 7-0 at the half, and 10-1 after three. Stephane Malandain led
the way with five goals, while Stephane Paris and Jean-Michael Languille
added two apiece and Jean-Pierre Malandain tallied one. Baker again accounted
for all the scoring for the Internationals.
Unionville then notched their second win 12-2 over
Aiken B, leading 3-2 after one chukker, 6-2 at the half, and 10-2 after
three. Crosby Wood scored seven goals, Matt Terrell four, and Craig Danks
one. George Galvan and Cuko Escapite each tallied one for Aiken B.
Aiken A continued their good fortune against Canada,
garnering a 9-4 victory as Canada failed to capitalize on some early opportunities
and trailed 2-0 after one, 4-1 at the half, and 7-2 after three chukkers.
Seth Kopald and Bill Matheson led Aiken A with three goals apiece, while
Taylor Freeman, Steve Smith, and Zak Smith each added one. Peter Furmedge
tallied two for Canada, with Harvey Barton and Asoka Mendis contributing
Aiken's Bill Matheson reaches desperately to hook Canada's Peter Furmedge,
knowing he'll never catch "Two Meter Peter" if he misses the hook.
In Saturday afternoon's action, the International
All-Stars got into the win column with a 12-6 victory over Aiken B. Baker
again led the way for the Internationals with four goals, but this time
he had considerable help, with Dennis Mullen adding three, Arthur Giraud
and Ben Wyszynski two apiece, and Alain Derly one. Mit Carothers was high
man for Aiken B with four, while Andy O'Byrne and Eric Schmidt each added
The 2:00 game would determine which U.S. team would
face France in the final game on Sunday, as Unionville faced Aiken A. As
the two best clubs on the East Coast, Aiken and Unionville have developed
quite a rivalry, with the result of any particular match turning on whether
one team or the other could bring their best lineup to the field. The Aiken
A starting lineup of Zak Smith, Steve Smith, Bill Matheson, and Seth Kopald
had never lost to Unionville (or anyone else, for that matter), but Unionville
had probably brought their best team ever with Craig Danks, Matt Terrell,
Crosby Wood, and Eric Zandotti. Other interesting factors were in play,
as Aiken A had played a tough match with Canada that morning, while Unionville
had a relatively easy time with Aiken B. Aiken A got off to a good start,
leading 4-1 adfter the first chukker and 5-2 at the half. Unionville closed
to within 6-4 by the end of the third chukker, and when Steve Smith started
to cramp up, the outlook for Aiken A was not too good. Taylor Freeman took
Smith's place and scored a key insurance goal to secure an 8-5 victory for
Aiken A. Seth Kopald, Bill Matheson, and Steve Smith each had a pair of
goals for Aiken A, with Zak Smith and Freeman each adding one. Terrell and
Wood each had two for Unionville, while Eric Zandotti contributed one.
Unionville's Crosby Wood (blue helmet) and Matt Terrell are pursued
by Aiken's Steve and Zak Smith (striped shorts).
(photo: Pam Gleason)
Find the ball in this picture (hint: Zak Smith just passed it to Seth
(Photo: Pam Gleason)
The 3:30 game between Canada and France was a rematch
of the final game of the 2005 Bobigny International
on September 23, but both teams had significantly different lineups:
France added Stephane Paris and Julien Lasserre, while Canada lost Geoff
Nielsen and Bill Matheson (who was playing with Aiken A). This time around,
France came away with a convincing 9-2 victory, with Stephane Malandain leading
the way with five goals. Jean-Michael Languille added two for the winners,
with Stephane Paris and Jean-Pierre Malandain each adding one. Peter Furmedge
and Asoka Mendis tallied one apiece for Canada.
Canada's Peter Furmedge and France's Stephane Paris race for the ball
in a bowl-in.
Sunday dawned considerably warmer than the previous
day, with a temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit (10 Celsius), as Canada
rebounded from their loss to France with a 13-4 victory over the International
All-Stars. Asoka Mendis showed that he is a morning person with seven goals,
enough to make him Canada's high scorer for the tournament, while Mike Boyd
and Peter Furmedge added two apiece and Harvey Barton contributed one. Carl
Baker led the way for the Internationals, as he did in every game, by scoring
two goals; Arthur Giraud and Ben Wyszynski each added one.
The morning's second game pitted the two Aiken teams
against each other, and Aiken B surprised everyone by taking a 3-2 lead
in the second chukker before Aiken A tied it up just before the half. Aiken
A took control in the third chukker to lead 8-4 going into the fourth, and
came away with an 11-4 victory. Taylor Freeman led Aiken A with four goals,
with Seth Kopald and Daniel Moski adding three apiece and Zak Smith one.
Eric Schmidt led Aiken B with two, with George Bush and Mit Carothers each
tallying one. Bill Matheson and Steve Smith sat out the game for Aiken A,
hoping to remain fresher for their match with France that afternoon.
The last match of the morning would be France's toughest
of the tournament, as Unionville actually led 5-4 in the fourth chukker before
falling 7-5. The first half was a defensive struggle, with France leading
1-0 after one chukker and 2-1 at the half. France opened up a 4-1 lead early
in the third, but Unionville closed the gap to 3-4 before the end of the
chukker. France put Jean-Pierre Malandain in the game for the fourth chukker,
but Unionville scored the first two goals to take their first lead of the
day before France answered with three straight to pull out the victory.
The tournament's two leading scorers: France's Stephane Malandain and
Unionville's Crosby Wood
Afternoon play began with Canada taking a 9-1 win over
Aiken B, leading 2-0 after one chukker, 4-1 at the half, and 8-1 after three.
Harvey Barton proved to be an afternoon person, leading the way with five
goals, while Peter Furmedge added three and Asoka Mendis one. Andy O'Byrne
scored for Aiken B.
Unionville forfeited their game against the International
All-Stars in order to get an early start on the 12-hour drive back to Pennsylvania,
thus handing the bronze medals to Canada and depriving Crosby Wood of the
chance to be the tournament's leading scorer (he would finish tied with Stephane
Malandain with 15 goals). For their first international competition, they
had given a great showing.
The final game between Aiken A and France started much
like the France-Unionville game that morning, with very few goals: neither
team scored in the first chukker, and France led 2-1 at the half. The scoring
pace picked up in the third chukker, as France took leads of 4-1 and 5-2
before Aiken narrowed the gap to 4-5 going into the final chukker. Aiken had
several good chances to tie the score in the fourth, but France got insurance
goals from Stephane Paris and Julien Lasserre to win 7-4. Paris led all scorers
with three goals, with Lasserre and Stephane Malandain each adding two for
the winners; Steve Smith led Aiken A with two of his own, while Bill Matheson
and Zak Smith added one apiece.
Aiken A and France before the final game: Aiken's Seth Kopald, Bill
Matheson, Steve Smith, Zak Smith,
and France's Julien Lassere, Stephane Paris, Stephane Paris, and Jean-Michael
Aiken A, winners of the silver medals at the 50th Birthday Tournament:
Zak Smith, Steve Smith, Bill Matheson, Seth Kopald, and Taylor Freeman
(absent: Daniel Moski)
Canada, winners of the bronze medals at the 50th Birthday Tournament:
Mike Boyd, Harvey Barton, and Peter Furmedge (absent: Asoka Mendis)