Final day recap – 2016 IFAF Flag Football World Championships
Women settle for fourth, men finish fifth
Photo credit: USA Football
Canada’s men’s and women’s national teams were both eliminated from gold medal contention by Austria on the final day of the 2016 IFAF Flag Football World Championships on Sunday September 11 in the Miami-area. Canada’s men defeated Panama 45-21 for fifth place while the women were unable to bounce back from their semi-finals loss, falling to Mexico 41-20 in the bronze medal game.
Men unable to find the podium, settle for fifth
Canada’s men’s flag football national team faced a tough quarter-final matchup against Austria to begin Sunday morning. Canada (4-2) finished third in group A and faced Austria (4-1), the second place finisher in group B.
After Austria drew first blood, quarterback Steve Bilan found receiver Mitch Stevens in the end zone to tie the game at 6 heading into halftime. Austria jumped out to a pair of second half majors before a Bilan touchdown strike to Mitch Stevens narrowed the deficit to six. Canada made a late push as Bilan threw his third score on the day, this time to receiver Kit Hillis, but it was too little, too late as they fell 25-20.
“I’m pretty disappointed about losing in the quarter-finals,” said Canada defensive back, Joel Lipinski. “We came back and finished strong (after the loss) so that’s all that we can ask from these guys. I’ll take back these memories forever because this one group of guys will never be together again as Team Canada.”
After the loss, Canada took on Israel in their consolation semi-final with a spot in the fifth place game on the line. Israel jumped out to an early 12-0 advantage, however, a pair of Chase Bradshaw passing touchdowns to Kit Hillis and Chris Bauman tied the score heading into halftime. Canada added two more receiving touchdowns each from Jace Muggli and Kit Hillis to spur Canada to a 41-26 victory.
With a win under their belt, on the final day, Canada battled Panama for top spot amongst the quarter-final losing teams. Quarterback Chase Bradshaw threw opening half scores to Karl Philips and Jace Muggli while pivot Steve Bilan connected with Kit Hillis on four touchdown plays of his own in a 45-21 win.
The Canada men’s contingent, based out of Saskatchewan, will try to build on their newfound international experience as they hope to represent Canada again in 2018.
“The biggest thing with coming into this particular venue is that the rules are significantly different than what we play back home. The four downs and zero contact being allowed was something that we weren’t well adjusted to. It took a couple of games for us to get into the groove.”
“It’s definitely something that we had to adjust to on the fly and it’s something that I think we’ll bring back to our individual leagues within our individual cities and hopefully from that, be a little bit more prepared coming into this the next time.”
Men’s Playoff schedule Results – Sunday September 11, 2016 (all times local [ET])
|10:20 a.m. Quarter-final – Austria 25 – Canada 20|
|1:00 p.m. Consolation semi-final – Canada 41- Israel 26|
|3:00 p.m. Fifth place game – Canada 45 – Panama 21|
|3:40 p.m. Men’s Bronze – Mexico 39 – Austria 26|
|6:30 p.m. Men’s Gold – USA 33 – Denmark 32|
Women unable to overcome semi-finals loss
The defending world champions were shutout of the medals for the first time since entering the competition in 2008 and had high hopes of capturing a third gold medal. Those hopes were dashed with a 21-13 semi-finals loss to Austria, one of a handful of teams that has showed steady improvement since the 2014 tournament.
Since Canada entered the competition, the tournament’s finals have featured a matchup between two of three teams: Canada, the USA, or Mexico. This year’s tournament was the first to buck the recent trend as neither of the trio competed for gold. In fact, Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. finished third, fourth, and fifth, respectively, in the 2016 tournament’s final standings.
“The final result is obviously disappointing for our team but the teams were a lot stronger in this year’s tournament,” said women’s national team head coach, François Bougie.
The underdogs prevailed in both semi-finals as two lower seeds, Panama and Austria beat undefeated Mexico (4-0) and Canada (5-0), the respective top seeds in both round-robin pools.
After faltering against a tough Panama squad, Mexico got its offense back on track in a big way with third place on the line. Canada was unable to match Mexico’s offensive output as they stormed out to a 27-14 halftime lead and never looked back. In the loss, veteran tournament quarterback Vanessa Birri spread the ball around, completing touchdown passes to Émilie Carrier and Catherine Piché while Émilie Pfeiffer-Badoux rushed for a third Canada score.
“We didn’t come ready to play this style of flag football, but again the teams were a lot stronger this year. In general, the experience we had at this year’s tournament was great and provided us with some good lessons for 2018.”
Women’s Playoff Results – Sunday September 11, 2016 (all times local [ET])
|9 a.m. Quarter-final – Canada 33 – Brazil 6|
|11:40 a.m. Semi-final – Austria 21 – Canada 13|
|11:40 a.m. semi-final – Panama 39 – Mexico 26|
|3:40 p.m. Women’s Bronze – Mexico 41 – Canada 20|
|5:00 p.m. Women’s Gold – Panama 35 – Austria 22|
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