European Billiard Team Evens the Score at Mosconi Cup
by InsidePOOL Staff
In a stunning change of the tides, Team Europe drew even with Team USA at Friday’s session of the Mosconi Cup XIV, winning four out of the five matches played. Now, with the score tied at 5 matches apiece, anything can happen in the next two days of play at the MGM Hotel Casino in Las Vegas.
Opening up the day was the duo of Earl Strickland and Shane Van Boening on Team USA versus reigning world champion Daryl Peach and Ralf “The Surgeon” Souquet. Three errors and a poor safety by Strickland led to an instant 4-0 lead for Europe. Another failed safety attempt by Strickland put Europe on the hill, and then he accidentally hooked Van Boening in the final game, handing Team Europe the rack and match 6-0.
“The Tornado” went up against “The Rocket” in the second match. Tony Drago looked weak against Rodney Morris at the beginning, with Morris taking an intimidating 5-1 lead. An ill-advised 6-7 combo by Morris that didn’t quite make it gave Drago a 6-9 combo that he pocketed for another game. In the following rack, Drago won the safety battle on the 2 ball and cleared the table. A break and run by Drago brought the score to 5-4, and then Morris scratched on his last break and Drago cleared that as well to make it hill-hill. One more break and run by Drago put another notch in Team Europe’s belt for the day, making the score 4-3 USA.
Mosconi veterans Johnny Archer and Corey Deuel met Niels Feijen and Konstantin Stepanov in the third match. This American match-up did not seem to be made in heaven, though, for a series of small mistakes on their part handed Team Europe a 5-0 lead in no time, with the fans for both sides getting increasingly more patriotic. Deuel managed to luck in the 1 ball off the 4 in the next rack and put a game on the wire, but Team Europe broke and ran the final rack to win the match 6-1 and tie the overall score at 4 matches apiece.
Another singles match came next in the form of Van Boening versus Drago. Perhaps Drago might have been considered the underdog here, but no one told him, because he came out firing on all cylinders. They split the first four racks, but then when Van Boening astonishingly missed the 8 ball, Drago took a 3-2 lead. Van Boening tried to play safe in the next game but overhit the 4, and Drago cleared up. A speedy break and run put Drago on the hill, and then Drago kicked out of a safety by Van Boening on the 5 ball and made it, going on to dish up for the 6-2 win. Team Europe took the lead 5-4 at this point.
With one match left, Team USA sent in the big guns—Strickland and Morris—while Team Europe opted for the pair of Souquet and Peach again. European and American fans were on the edge of their seat as the score seesawed to 4-all, chanting “Europe!” and “USA!” Morris missed the 2 ball, allowing Europe to reach the hill, but when Peach left the U.S. a shot on the 2 ball in the following rack, they were quick to capitalize, bringing it to double-hill. There was a quick ending when Team USA broke and ran out to win the match 6-5 and tie the overall score at 5 matches apiece.
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