2012 ASA Nationals/ Open Category Report
The 2012 ASA National Championships held at Towson University featured 15 players in the Open category. The venue of the University Chesapeake Room was again used, after unanimously favorable player reviews from the 2011 edition.
The Open was split into 4 groups, with the top seeds being; Daniel Cranston (reigning champion), Paul Eyes (2011 runner up), Michael Tillman (2010 runner up), and Stuart Russell.All the top seeds came through the group stage unscathed and retained their seeding status by winning their groups. Second and third place finishers competed in a barrage round to join the top seeds in the quarter finals. Deinhart, Kim, Rivera and Steinmuller completed the quarter final bracket after winning their respective barrage matches.
In the quarter finals Cranston showed his usual knock out round focus by trouncing Rivera 7-1. Eyes got by an impressive and aggressive effort by Steinmuller, and Tillman edged out Kim 1-0. Seven time champion Deinhart then broke the seeded player lock on proceedings with a tight 1-0 against Russell.
In the semi finals, Tillman defeated Cranston 2-1. Cranston later would share his disappointment at missing a clear opportunity to shoot with a minute or so to go in the match. The other semi final may well have been the best game of the tournament, with veterans Eyes and Deinhart going head to head in a typically close game. Despite both players having played sporadically in the last two years, the quality of play was quite high. Both players held leads before a 2-2 finish in regulation. Extra time did not yield a golden goal despite some good opportunities for both players. Eyes has yet to be on the losing side of a shoot out since he started playing competitively in 2004, a streak that has now stretched to approximately 25 matches. The streak would continue with a 3-2 shots victory for Eyes.
The final match up between Tillman and Eyes ensured that a new winner would be engraved on the National Trophy. After a couple of early opportunities for Eyes, the game settled into a pattern of Tillman dominating possession, with rare forays by Eyes into the Tillman half. The match moved into extra time after a 0-0 score line in regulation. Tillman continued to dominate in extra time without carving out the chances to score that reflected his overall play. With approximately 2 minutes remaining Eyes won a throw-in in the Tillman shooting zone. Eyes seemed to have fluffed his lines with a nervous and poor long pass to the top of the penalty area. Unfortunately for Tillman he left short a routine blocking flick (by his own admission) to leave Eyes with a shot from near the penalty spot. The resultant shot was cut finely and low, just creeping under the goalkeeper to give Eyes his first National title.
Complete results on the ASA Forum