Wroclaw Panthers, Gdynia Seahawks Advance To SuperFinal In Poland

Tight semifinal victories sent the Wroclaw Panthers and Gdynia Seahawks into Poland’s SuperFinal for the third straight year. As expected, both semifinal games were close proving how football has developed in Poland. The Wroclaw Panthers dashed the hopes of the Warsaw Eagles fans while the Gdynia Seahawks edged the Primacol Białystok Lowlanders in a thriller.

Wroclaw Panthers 28 – Warsaw Eagles 17 (in Wrocław)

Poland - Panthers-Eagles 2016 semifinal

The Wrocław Panthers booked their ticket to SuperFinal XI on Saturday, defeating the Warsaw Eagles in the Topliga semifinals in Poland for the second straight year, this time by a score of 28-17. It was the third straight time the Eagles were on the road for the penultimate round, and the third straight time they came up a win short of the title game. The Panthers will face the Gdynia Seahawks in the championship in Białystok on July 16.

The Eagles, who lost to the Panthers 47-9 in last year’s semis and 44-2 during the 2016 regular season, bounced out to a 10-0 lead on a Karol Żak touchdown run and a Piotr Pamulak field goal. The Panthers would come back to take the lead before halftime, however, getting a short Rickey Stevens touchdown run and a 42-yard touchdown reception from Tomasz Dziedzic to gain a 14-10 advantage. Dziedzic’s score came on fourth down, and it was the turning point of the game.

Wrocław went up 21-10 on a Steven White touchdown run on the first possession of the second half, before a thunderstorm delayed play for nearly an hour. The Panthers‘ momentum carried through the break, and Stevens extended the advantage to 18 points with a 17-yard touchdown run later in the third quarter. Żak found Charles McCrea for an 18-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter, but the mountain had grown too large for Warsaw to climb by that point.

The Panthers will return to the championship game for the third consecutive season. SuperFinal XI will be a rematch of last year’s final, which was won by the Seahawks 28-21. Gdynia also won the championship by defeating the Panthers in 2014. The two teams split their meetings in 2016, with Wrocław’s 27-12 victory on June 12 giving them the top seed for the postseason.

UP NEXT:
Panthers (8-1): vs. Gdynia Seahawks, SuperFinal XI, July 16 in Białystok
Eagles (5-4): Season complete

Gdynia Seahawks 14 – Primacol Białystok Lowlanders 13 (in Gdynia)

Poland - Seahawks-Lowlanders 2016 semifinal - Jacek Stańczak photo.4

Photo: Jacek Stańczak

The showdowns between the Gdynia Seahawks and the Primacol Białystok Lowlanders have provided some of the best entertainment in the PLFA in 2016, and Sunday’s semifinal in Gdynia was no exception. The Seahawks pulled off their second consecutive one-point victory over the Lowlanders to advance to SuperFinal XI, winning a defensive struggle by a score of 14-13.

The Lowlanders looked like the favorites to move on to the title game at halftime, when they sat in the locker room with a 13-0 lead. Białystok got a first-quarter touchdown run from Jabari Harris to take an initial 7-0 lead, and then Harris threw a 23-yard scoring strike to Tomasz Zubrycki to put the Lowlanders ahead by two scores. They would miss the extra point, however, a miss that would prove crucial down the stretch.

Gdynia forced a punt to begin the second half, and then took the ball the length of the field on a drive that ended with a Terrance Owens 1-yard touchdown plunge on fourth-and-goal. That made the score 13-7, a tally that would not change until the final Seahawks possession. That pivotal drive began with less than two minutes remaining, and it ended with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Owens to Mazan. Przemysław Portalski’s PAT gave the Seahawks the lead with just 11 ticks left.

The loss was a devastating one for the Lowlanders, who had a chance to play for Poland’s championship in their home city on July 16. The Seahawks, on the other hand, will return to the championship game for the third consecutive season. SuperFinal XI will be a rematch of last year’s final, which was won by the Seahawks 28-21. Gdynia also won the championship by the defeating the Panthers in 2014.

UP NEXT:

Seahawks (8-1): vs. Wrocław Panthers, SuperFinal XI, July 16 in Białystok
Lowlanders (4-5): Season complete

REMAINING 2016 TOPLIGA SCHEDULE:

SuperFinal XI, in Białystok
Saturday, July 16, 7:30 PM: Wrocław Panthers (8-1, #1 seed) vs. Gdynia Seahawks (8-1, #2 seed)
Topliga/PLFA I barrage, winner plays in Topliga in 2017
Saturday, July 30, Time TBA: Kozły Poznań (0-8) vs. PLFA I opponent

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