Switzerland shuts out Israel with 51 unanswered points to take third place in the IFAF European Championship Qualifying Tournament.
It was finals day at Teghil Stadium in Lignano Sabbiadoro, Italy and the sun blazed high in the sky as Israel and Switzerland took to the field to battle it out for a prestigious podium place at the European Championship Qualifying Tournament.
As soon as the national flags had been marched out and the anthems sung, Israel came out fighting. Their first drive failed to produce the desired results as the Swiss defense promptly showed the same strength and skill we saw against Serbia on Friday.
Following a foul the Swiss offense was also forced into a quick punt. The match’s first points didn’t come until the start of the second quarter when a fantastic pass by Swiss QB Marcel Nicklaus to Lukas Lütscher went for a touchdown. The point after was converted by Nils Jonkmans. Israel tried to react, especially through its QB Daniel Eastman, who caused so many problems for Italy in the semifinal. But the Swiss defensive wall was letting next to nothing through and soon Switzerland was back on the offensive and over the Israeli goal line again, this time with a superb run by Jeremias Medici. Jonkmans kicked the PAT and the tally rose to 14-0.
By now nervous tension was spreading through the Israeli team, leading to numerous errors due to lapses in concentration that were repeatedly penalized by the officials. The Swiss were having a much better time and scored again with less than a minute to go before the half-time break thanks to a spectacular dive by Urs Von Känel to catch a pass from an exceptional Nicklaus. Jonkmans was unforgiving with the boot and the teams went into the break at 21-0.
Just as you’d expect at any self-respecting game of American football, cheerleaders entertained the fans while the teams were in the changing rooms. A partnership with Federcheer and Roberto Cavalieri helped produced great shows by the Vivaro Blue Team from Dueville (VI) and then Team De Beat Fusion from Rosà (VI) which were greeted by enthusiastic applause from the crowds.
Swiss fans didn’t have long to wait to celebrate in the third quarter: Maxence Gaudet returned the kickoff, driving it downfield and setting up a Swiss attack by the goal line. Switzerland’s offensive unit made easy work of finishing the play with another touchdown from Jeremias Medici that upped the score to 27-0. The conversion sailed over and Switzerland increased its lead to 28-0.
Israel seemed to be running out of ideas. Playmaker Mattew Kauffmann took over from Eastman, but the Swiss defense kept shutting down every attempt by their opponents to get into the game. Tino Muggwyler took the score to 34-0 with a long run that no-one in the Israeli defensive line could stop. The extra point was no good but now the Swiss had complete control of the game.
Switzerland kept the scoreboard ticking over with a super pass by Nicklaus to Mathieu Léchaire straight into the endzone at the end of the third quarter. This time Jonkmans’ boot was back on form for the conversion and the Israelis were looking at a 41-0 whitewash. Mercy rule was imposed for the last quarter, but Switzerland showed no mercy …scoring another touchdown from a pass, this time to Roman Ries. The extra point went over and the scoreboard was now at 48-0. The despondency felt by Team Israel was clear to see, and they had nothing left to throw at the Swiss. The tempo was inevitably slowing, but the Swiss still found time for a field goal with kicker Nils Jonkmans providing the final punishment to wrap up the match 51-0.
Israel returns home with some invaluable new experience under its belt and plenty of ideas on which to work for the national team’s future. Switzerland’s future, on the other hand, definitely looks much brighter, with a team showing great improvement, technique and fitness.
Some members of the Israeli team (including Daniel Mikhailov, Binyamin Schultz, Daniel Eastman, David Abell and Isaac Reiz) are flying to Miami tomorrow for the IFAF Flag Football World Championship where, among their opponents, they will face Italy’s Blue Team!
MVP of the game: Swiss QB MARCEL NICKLAUS