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Top Teams Battle in Tampa

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Top Teams Battle in Tampa
This past January, wheelchair rugby returned to Florida for the 22nd Annual Tampa International Wheelchair Rugby Tournament. Competition was tough as 5 of the top 10 ranked teams in the U.S. competed against teams from Brazil, Germany, and a squad comprised of U.S. National team and team Force members. Teams arrived on Thursday to a beautiful 70 degree temperature and plenty to do in downtown Tampa.
Competition began on Friday with the Rebels from Germany rolling over the Brazilians by a score of 56-32. The 2nd round of games featured the tournament host, Tampa Generals who easily beat the St. Louis Rugby Rams and then the Shepherd Smash in their afternoon game. The other top seeds all cruised to easy victories making day 1 rather uneventful.
Saturday morning began with two upsets. The Shepherd Smash beat a St. Louis team that just did not look very sharp throughout the weekend and in the game of the day, the Misfits, led by Paralympian Chance Sumner and coached by Dave Ceruti, beat Brazil in a 48-47 stunner. The final pool games of the tournament had the Phoenix Heat against the Rebels while Tampa and Lakeshore faced off to determine the afternoon crossovers.
The Phoenix Heat wasted no time in displaying why they may be the team to beat in the USQRA this season. The great ball handling from Joe Delegrave and James Roberts with the defensive presence of Nick Springer proved to be too much as a 3 goal lead in the 1st quarter quickly turned into an 8 goal lead at halftime and eventually winning the game 48-39.  With the return of Joel Wilmoth, Lakeshore has continued to improve throughout the season and could be a National Title contender. Their size and speed proved to be too much for the Tampa Generals as they won 58-45.
Phoenix easily beat Tampa in the crossover and the balanced play of the Rebels had them beating Lakeshore by 4 putting them into the championship.
Sunday morning’s games started with St. Louis edging out Brazil for 7th place and Shepherd beating the Misfits for 5th. In what would be their 4th matchup of the season, Lakeshore played Tampa for 3rd place. Despite the 26 goal effort from Tampa’s Leevi Ylonen, the Generals couldn’t stop Lakeshore, led by Bryan Kirkland who put up 21 goals in the 54-43 victory.
In the final, Phoenix once again jumped out to a big lead and never looked back. The final score was Phoenix 43 and the Rebels 33.
Thanks to Tampa General Hospital, Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay, Hillsborough County Parks, Recreation, and Conservation Department, and all the other sponsors and volunteers who made this event possible.

All-Tournament Team

0.5 Eddie Crouch - Lakeshore
1.0 Lee Fredette - Misfits
1.5 Thomas Schuwje - Rebels
2.0 Joe Delegrave – Phoenix
2.5 Alexandre Taniguichi – Lakeshore
3.0 James Roberts – Phoenix
3.5 Joel Wilmoth – Lakeshore
MVP   Leevi Ylonen – Tampa
Golden Whistle    Darren Roberts

Final Standings


1. Phoenix Heat
2. The Rebels
3. Lakeshore Demolition
4. Tampa Generals
5. Shepherd Smash
6. The Misfits
7. St. Louis Rugby Rams
8. Brazil


January 24, 2014 — 10:26am