European Billiards Team Leads USA in Mosconi Cup XIV
In a huge coup for the boys in blue at Saturday’s Mosconi Cup session, Team Europe won a dazzling four out of the five total matches played, stunning Team USA. From starting the day tied at 5 matches apiece, this now puts Europe in a 9-6 lead going into the final day Sunday and only needing two wins to reclaim the Mosconi Cup.
The first match of the day featured Johnny “The Scorpion” Archer and Corey Deuel against Niels Feijen and Konstantin Stepanov. The Americans looked jittery going to the table, with Deuel missing an easy 3 ball on his first shot. With some excellent play by the Europeans and a couple of mistakes by the U.S., Feijen and Stepanov were soon up 4-1. The U.S. put another game under its belt when Stepanov fouled on the break and they ran out, but it was the last rack they won in that set. A missed safety attempt by Deuel put Europe on the hill, and then a missed 5 ball by Archer gave them the first match 6-2.
Deuel stuck around to play Tony Drago in a singles match next, and the European fans quickly chimed in with their take-off of “Winter Wonderland,” singing, “Walking in a Drago wonderland!” Deuel took the first game before Drago went into overdrive, collecting the next four games in a row thanks to a break and run-out, a dry break by Deuel, and a couple of missed balls by Deuel as well. “The Prince of Pool” managed to knot the score at 4 apiece, but Drago countered with another break and run to reach the hill. Deuel scratched on his last break, and Drago asked for an extension, prompting a sarcastic gasp from the audience. Billed as one of the fastest players on the planet, it wasn’t long before Drago dished up for his 6-4 victory.
Another teams match followed, this time with Shane Van Boening and Johnny Archer versus Daryl Peach and Stepanov. Stepanov, the 24-year-old Russian rookie, has looked quite solid throughout but stumbled a bit in this match, coming up short on position a couple of times. Nevertheless, the entire match was filled with uncharacteristic missed by both sides. With the U.S. duo up 4-1, Stepanov took advantage of a miss by America’s new golden boy of pool, Van Boening, and ran out. In the next rack, Van Boening scratched on the break, and Stepanov was able to set up partner Peach for a 2-9 combo, bringing them within a game at 4-3 USA. This was as far as they got, though, for two hung 4 balls by Stepanov in the next two racks handed Van Boening and Archer a 6-3 win.
“Rocket” Rodney Morris experienced a misfire against Feijen in the second singles match of the day. He missed a careless 3 ball in the first rack and then was surprised when Feijen kicked in the 1 ball in the next rack to take a swift 2-0 lead. Feijen was up 4-1 when Morris came to and broke and ran out, but “The Terminator” was quick to answer in kind, making the score 5-2. Morris grabbed the next two racks, exciting screams from his American fans, but he fouled on his last break, and though Feijen had a tight cut on the 1 ball in the side, he had no other problems and won the match 6-4.
The team captains sent in the big guns in the fifth match of the day: Ralf Souquet and Earl Strickland. Strickland didn’t see much of the table in the first half of the match, though, for Souquet broke and ran out, played safe on the 1 ball in the next rack and then cleared the table when Strickland fouled, and then broke and ran out again for a 3-0 lead. A safety battle in the next rack earned Strickland a game, but when he scratched on a kick-safe attempt in the next, Souquet moved up to 4-1. A golden break yielded Strickland another point, and he got the next rack as well but scratched on his following break, and Souquet cleared to take the hill. Souquet badly missed the 2 ball then, however, and Strickland drew within a game at 5-4, but Strickland failed to hide the cue ball enough in the last rack. After a tough shot on the 2 ball was mastered, Souquet had no problems winning the final match of the day 6-4.
In a fit of unsportsmanlike behavior, after the match Strickland shook Souquet’s hand very hard, pushed it back at him, and called him an offensive name.
Team Europe now leads going into the final day of Mosconi Cup XIV 9-6 in the race to 11. It could potentially be a short session on Sunday. Visit InsidePOOL for the latest news in the sport of billiards and pool.