The European Championship of Flag Football came to a close today at Kraft Family Sports Campus in Jerusalem with favorites Denmark winning gold in the men’s competition while on the women’s side Spain took home its first IFAF European title.
The Austrian women’s team dominated the group stage to advance to the semifinal, but was upset 38-25 by Great Britain.
Spain met Great Britain in the final after beating Israel 20-12 in the wildcard game and then nipping Denmark 19-18 in the semifinal.
Spain took the gold game 28-14 over Great Britain.
Austria defeated Denmark 34-19 in the bronze medal game.
Israel finished the tournament in sixth place.
Denmark advanced to the men’s final with a 46-39 semifinal victory over France.
Italy won its wildcard game over Austria 40-22, and then knocked out group stage leaders Israel in a wildly high scoring 56-55 shootout.
France won its wildcard game 38-33 against Great Britain before its loss to Denmark.
Winning its sixth straight European championship in succession, Denmark trounced Italy 52-35 to take the gold medal.
France defeated Israel 56-49 in the bronze medal game, leaving the hosts ranked fourth for the tournament.
There was some consolation for the Israeli team when Dani Eastman was named tournament MVP. On the women’s side the award went to Great Britain’s Marta Mathews.
Israel had won the Men’s Group “A” in the final seconds of its game against Austria. With the score tied 26-26, Israel had the ball about 40 yards from the Austrian goal line. A tie would have given unbeaten Austria a first-place finish.
Defensive player Jonathan Curran was inserted into the lineup as Coach Binyamin Schultz called for a Hail Mary attempt into the end zone. Using a trick play, Israel snapped the ball to Curran who had enough time to hurl a long pass into the end zone. An Austrian defender tipped the ball into the waiting arms of receiver Danial Mikhailov for a winning score with no time left on the clock. Israel finished atop the group (4-1), with its only loss to third place finisher France (3-2). Austria (3-1-1) placed second. Spain (2-2-1) and Sweden (0-5) failed to reach the playoff round.
The Israeli women had finished second in their group stage with a 3-1 record, losing only to Denmark.
“For me this was the partial fulfillment of a dream,” Steve Leibowitz, the president of American Football in Israel, said Wednesday. “It took years to convince the International Federation of Flag Football to consider us as a major tournament venue. Kraft Family Sports Campus proved to be the perfect venue.” He added that his next goal is to bring back the world championship, possibly as early as 2024.
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