Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Mosconi Cup Day 2: Americans Flirt With Disaster

By: Markus Noé

The second day of the Mosconi Cup started with high expectation for Team U.S.A after only trailing 3-2 by end of play yesterday. Today's session started with a doubles match betweem Niels Feijen/Mark Gray vs Justin Bergman/Justin Hall. After a nervy lag by American young gun Justin Bergman only making it halfway down the table resulting in Europe wining first break, it was flawless pool for the next 4 racks as both teams ran out each of their breaks.

The first mistake in this match came off a misplayed shot by Feijen who failed to get shape for Gray, resulting in a lengthy safety battle. Rookies Bergman and Hall showed wisdom and a calmness beyond their years in this situation, coming out on top of the safety battle earning a 3-2 lead. In the next rack the Americans broke and ran to the 3 ball when Bergman played an exceptional safety resulting in ball in hand. They proceeded to run out the rack and after a dry break by the Europeans they ran out the next rack to win the first match of the day 5-2 and squaring the overall score at 3-3.

Next up was was multiple Mosconi Cup Winner as well as World Champion Karl Boyes against U.S Open Winner and Mosconi Cup Veteran Corey Deuel. Unlike the previous match this one started out with a dry break and a lengthy safety battle until Deuel made the first mistake costing him the rack. From there a series of errors from Deuel resulted in a 4-1 lead for Boyes. After an epic safety battle in the sixth rack Deuel was able to secure another rack. However in this match it was a little too little too ate for Deuel who never looked comfortable in this match. Boyes took the next rack to win 5-1 giving Europe back the lead 4-3.

Karl Boyes 
It was another big doubles match for Team U.S.A as they needed to keep this session close. The pairings were Shane Van Boening/John Schmidt vs Darren Appleton/Nick Ekonomopoulos. Team U.S.A got off  to a quick 2-0 lead before a dry break by Schmidt gave the Europeans their first real good chance. After a missed positional shot Appleton  played safe forcing SVB to kick at the ball selling out the rack making it 2-1 and took the next rack to tie it up at 2-2.

From this point the Europeans took their new found momentum and used it to go up 4-2. After an uncharacteristic miss by Schmidt, who admitted before the match to be "shaking like a leaf", Appleton and Eckonompoulos cleaned up the mess and won the set 5-2, pushing the overall lead to 5-3 Europe.

Young gun Justin Bergman was in tough in the next match against current World Champion Niels Feijen. It's early in the tournament still but going down 6-3 would be difficult to overcome when comparing past results. It was looking great for Bergman in the beginning as his break was on par with Feijen, who is one of the best in the world and was punishing him for each mistake to take a 3-2 lead. Bergman broke wide open in the 6th rack and looked to push the lead to 4-2 however he scratched in the side attempting to come around the table for the 7 ball allowing the World Champ to tie the match up at 3.

Feijen Celebrating after his win. 
As is so often the case for elite players, Feijen made him pay twice by breaking and running the next rack to go on the hill. After a stunning jump shot Feijen scratched on his next shot setting up an open rack for Bergman. He got a little tricky on the 7 ball and missed it selling out the final rack giving the Europeans a commanding 6-3 lead.

The final match of the day was another doubles match. This time it was Appleton/Gray vs SVB/Deuel. This was really a must win for the Americans as going into day 3 down 7-3 would surely be disastrous. It was 2-2 through 4 racks in this tightly contested match when the Americans got a break with a missed 9 ball by Gray to go ahead 3-2. They pushed their lead to 4-2 before the Europeans began to charge back to tie this match at 4-4 giving fans their first double hill match of the tournament.  It came down to a jacked up on the rail full table shot on the 4 ball by SVB, which which was by far the shot of the tournament as he fired it into the corner opening up the table for the run out.

Team U.S.A dodged a big bullet in this match, as 7-3 down would have most likely meant the end of their Mosconi Cup hopes. The biggest surprise this year outside of only being two matches down going into day 3 is that SVB was 0-4 going into this match. It makes you wonder what will happen when he starts to play true to form. Play begins  tomorrow at 2 pm eastern come back to Cue Sport Nation each day for the full results.

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