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by Lisa Albergo, reporting for AFANA from Chicago 

This year's USAFL tournament was held in Las Vegas, and the games were played on a large field adjacent to the University of Las Vegas. It was warm and sunny all weekend with an intermittent breeze providing a touch of relief from the hot weather. Once again, there were a few Australian celebrities in attendance. The biggest - literally - was none other than Robert "Dipper" DiPierdomenico. With him were former Hawk coach and current Match Review Panel chairman Peter Schwab, as well as Dave Matthews and his colleague Tom, who is in charge of AFLQ.

They all enjoyed meeting everyone and having a chat as much as we all enjoyed meeting them and listening to their stories. And they were all quite impressed by the quality of the games and the spirit in which they were played. Dipper and Peter umpired one of the women's games.

And while there were informal poolside gatherings on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights, there was no formal dinner banquet on Saturday as most everyone preferred to scatter to see the sights and perhaps challenge Lady Luck at the slots and gaming tables.

Due to the costs of the weekend, several teams opted for a mini-tournament hosted by Nashville in Tennessee and did not attend.  Once again, Division One came down perennial finalists San Diego and Denver. San Diego went through undefeated to make the finals. Denver, in getting to the finale, lost 4-5 players to injury on Saturday and went into Sunday's big game severely undermanned. Despite the presence of former USAFL president Rich Mann, recently returned to the USA, they were no match for the bigger, faster, and highly skilled San Diego Lions. And the best on ground for the Lions in that game was only 15 years old.

The host team, the Las Vegas Gamblers, also had a well known name in their side - Ablett, a second cousin to Gary, Jr. and Nathan of the Geelong Cats.  The Gamblers performed very well, taking out the Division Three title in their first year in the competition.

Division Two was contested between the Minnesota Freeze and the Baltimore/DC Eagles with the Eagles defeating the Minnesota by a very hefty margin.

There were four girls' teams competing again this year. And again, it was the gals from Atlanta who dominated, conceding only 2 goals over four games to again take out the title.

The final scores were:

Division Three:

Las Vegas Gamblers 7.4 (46)
Boston Demons      5.1 (31)

Division Two:

Balt/DC Eagles    10.8 (68)
Minnesota Freeze   2.0 (12)

Division One:

San Diego Lions  4.9 (33)
Denver Bulldogs  2.0 (12)

Article last changed on Monday, October 23, 2006 - 1:20 AM EDT

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