Grand Rapids TSC founders Paul Pate and Peter Alegi traveled to Chicago on February 3-5 to play in the inaugural American Subbuteo National League.
The club’s official van left Michigan on a chilly, sunny Friday loaded with four boards and sawhorses. The expectation was to compete at a high level and enjoy the camaraderie.
Friday evening we helped set up the tables at Step Ahead Sports, a welcoming indoor soccer venue in Chicago’s western suburbs. After a couple of friendlies to break the ice, it was time to get a quick bite to eat and then a good night’s rest.
Saturday and Sunday served up an intense schedule of top-level matches.
The first day immediately showed this was a competitive field. Our play was reasonably decent, if a bit inconsistent. Minnesota’s Mike Tillman scored on a quick, yet hopeful, shot with two seconds left to beat Peter 1-0 (ouch!). Florida’s Dario Passadore and Maryland’s Daniel Cranston slugged it out in a wide open 4-4 game. Three goals were scored in a one-minute span in the second half before Dan drew level with 30 seconds left. There were many other intriguing and hard-fought games. Everyone seemed physically and emotionally drained at close of play. A league dinner at a nearby joint seemed to put us in a good mood for what was to come in day 2.
Sunday breakfast beamed a TV weather forecast calling for “a nice day.” This unexpected prediction (for Chicago in February) turned out to be spot on. Peter climbed from 7th to 3rd in the standings, boosted by a fine 3-2 win over his eternal rival Erik Haefke of Iowa. Meanwhile, Paul claimed his first point in a 0-0 draw vs Craig Cousino of North Carolina. Both GRTSC players showed steadier defensive discipline and created more scoring opportunities.
The Doubles Challenge Cup wrapped up the weekend’s action. Peter paired with Dario while Paul sat this event out. Playing in Juventus jerseys, Peter and Dario won the semifinal 2-1 to reach the final against the formidable team of Ilias Gikas and Erik Haefke. 1-1 at the start of 10-minute sudden-death overtime. Then off an Ilias corner, Erik blasted a shot off the post; from the ensuing throw-in at the other end of the pitch Dario set up Peter for the winning goal.
Heartfelt thanks to Tim Tumminaro and Ilias for their hard work in organizing a brilliant event. Thanks also to Step Ahead Sports for kindly hosting us. Round 2 of the ASNL will take place on our home turf in Rockford on the weekend of August 4-6. If the “apertura” is any indication, it’s going to be a wild ride.
Click here for a video montage of ASNL photos.