(photo credit: David Cohen/AFI)
Israel's first international football tournament ended in an all-American affair late Saturday night when Fieldturf USA defeated Degel USA 28-27 in the IDT Global Flag in Jerusalem championship game at Kraft Family Stadium in Jerusalem.
Fieldturf USA and Degel USA both finished in second place after the group stage, which was played on Friday, and had to defeat the two visiting international teams in the first round of the playoffs. Fieldturf USA beat Germany's Walldorf Wanderers 40-9 and Degel USA downed the Italian national flag football team 28-15.
The two Israeli teams, Ziontours and Yosef Goodman, had finished the group stage in first place to earn byes in the first round of the playoffs. However, the extra time off did not benefit either team, as Fieldturf USA cruised over Yosef Goodman 26-9, while Degel USA edged Ziontours 17-15.
In the fifth-place game, Italy defeated the Walldorf Wanderers 38-13, and in the third-place game, Ziontours topped Yosef Goodman 9-6.
Each team played two games on Friday and at least two games on Saturday night, leading to some very tired players at the awards ceremony, which was held at around midnight.
American Football in Israel president Steve Leibowitz, who organized the tournament along with AFI official Josh Hasten, handed out the trophies and medals while players traded shirts and jerseys in a show of sportsmanship.
"We are grateful to Italy's national flag football team and the Walldorf Wanderers for participating in our first international tournament," Leibowitz said. "The atmosphere at Kraft Stadium over the weekend was incredible. Israeli players even played with the Walldorf Wanderers after one of their players was injured and another fell ill."
"There was a lot of intensity but even more mutual respect during the game between Italians and the Germans," said Jay L. Abramoff, another AFI official. "Everyone had a fantastic time."
Big Blue, AFI honor the late Yosef Goodman
Prior to the Fieldturf USA vs Yosef Goodman game, Big Blue captain Chaim Schiff presented the Holyland Bowl trophy to Mordechai Goodman, the father of Yosef Goodman, who died tragically in an IDF paratrooper training accident on February 2. Big Blue dedicated last weekend's victory and the trophy to Yosef, the captain of Pizzeria Efrat and a national team player.
To cap the emotional moment, Mordechai thanked Schiff but promptly returned the trophy to him, saying "Pizzeria Efrat does not accept anything it does earn on its own. We'll win it for Yosef next year."
Leibowitz will bring the trophy to Yosef's shloshim at 3:30 p.m. next Sunday at the Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem.
The AFI honored Yosef at the tournament by naming one of the teams after him.
Ashkelon, Yizre'el win in rugby
In the latest round of Israeli rugby, Ashkelon earned a hard-fought 21-17 win over Tel Aviv. Kibbutz Yizre'el was too strong for Netanya, winning 18-3, and Haifa edged Jerusalem 8-3.
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