Germany: Saarland Hurricanes – Historic semifinalists

This Saturday, the GFL South’s Saarland Hurricanes will square off against the GFL North leaders, the Dresden Monarchs for a chance to earn themselves a spot in the German Bowl. 

For the underdog Hurricanes though, 2021 has already seen the team go further than it ever has before in its 39-year history. That success for the most part can be credited to quarterback Josh Goldin, a stingy defense, and a head coach in Christos Lambropoulos who pulls the team together.

Josh Goldin began and ended his collegiate career at Colorado University (NCAA DI, FBS) where he earned his spot twice as a walk-on during open tryouts, after previously working in the CU football equipment office. He amassed a grand total of zero yards on zero attempts and served as the team’s holder on placekicks.

It was therefore a slight head-scratcher for GFL onlookers as the newly promoted Hurricanes signed Goldin as their starting quarterback for the 2021 season. But the slender, 6’2″, 190 pound Goldin did anything but disappoint, leading an offense that would place first in the GFL South in yards gained. And the quarterback’s role was significant to put it mildly; he threw for 37 touchdowns and just five interceptions with a 71.6 completion percentage – ranking first among all starting quarterbacks in the league and on par with some of the best passers in Europe.

Saarland Hurricanes QB Josh Goldin Photo: Sarah Philipp

Goldin reflects on the transition from Colorado to the Hurricanes

“The transition was tough, I had to get back in the swing of “being the guy” again. But with a great coach and a super talented team it was easy to fit in and know my role.”

And talented the team is. Their third-ranked defense has helped to keep them in every game this season, knocking off the explosive Cologne Crocodiles in the first round of the playoffs last weekend. And they did it – technically – without any actual defensive American imports. Their saving grace was the Kaiserslautern US military base just a stone’s throw away which supplied them with a few key parts, including the standout defensive back Chaz Elder, who previously played for South Carolina (and picked off Dak Prescott). The defense will play a key role in the game this weekend, a fact not lost on Goldin:

“The way the defense plays as a unit is something I’ve never seen before. Especially with the combo of A’s, guys from the base, Germans and French guys. And even Murat Sedem the 48 year old legend! They are the reason we have been so successful this year.”

But the team started from humble beginnings this year as the team was promoted to the top league after a four-year absence. So much so that the goal was simply to just not get relegated. Something that head coach Christos Lambropoulos acknowledges:

“Didn’t really have many expectations, at the time I really thought if we can win two games then we’re safe and if we go 5-5 it would be a Herculean effort, that goal was definitely met.”

But as the team now looks forward to the semifinal game that will decide their German Bowl fate they will have to play the game of the season to beat arguably the best team in the league, the Dresden Monarchs. And Lambropoulos is well aware of who the opponent is and what it will take to win:

“Dresden is a great team, they’re well coached, they’ll be explosive on offense, as they have been all year. Defensively they do as good a job of anyone in scouting and coming up with a great game plan to stifle their opponents. Just like every opponent, to have a chance to win we have to out execute them, limit turnovers and make them earn every yard. There’s no special thing that makes the difference, it’s being consistent in making routine plays.”

And it is ironic that in a historic year that plays in the shadow of COVID and ELF, marked by a first-ever Hurricanes playoff win, that the execution of the routine will determine Saarland’s fate.

Match sure to catch the game between the Saarland Hurricanes and Dresden Monarchs live this weekend on Kickoff is Saturday, Sept. 25 at 15:00 CET (3 pm, 09:00 am ET).

Feature image: Michael Demmer/Demmer fotografie

Daniel Mackenzie is a Press Association graduate who works in journalism and communications in the third sector. Daniel began playing football for the London Warriors and Team Great Britain and has since played across Europe.