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« 2018 Croquet News Volume 2 Digital Edition | Main | 2018 States Shield Championship Rosters »
Sunday
Aug192018

Wisconsin Strikes Back: Shield 2018 Champions

2018 Croquet Network States Shield ChampionsWISCONSIN 6, OKLAHOMA 4

After holding off a late morning Oklahoma rally, Wisconsin defended their home courts yesterday to take a 6-4 win at Lake Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to claim the 2018 Croquet Network States Shield. The win seemed to be a fitting reward for the first Shield “expansion” team considering they came up short in last year’s title bid against Missouri in Kansas City.

Wisconsin captain Cheryl Bromley. Click to zoom.The day started with both teams fielding their top duos in the doubles opener with #1 Cheryl Bromley and #2 Keith Anderson for Wisconsin going up against #1 Conner Helms and #2 Scott Spradling for Oklahoma on the east lawn. It was a close game, but Wisconsin closed it out for a 7-5 win and a 1-0 lead. On the west lawn, the critical 3v3 between Oklahoma’s Dale Jordan and Wisconsin’s Drew Kennedy was also under way. Jordan jumped out to a 3-1 lead when he scored H3 and H4 in one stroke for a 3-1 lead. Kennedy hung tough though and battled to get back in it and eventually extended the game to the 13th hoop. There he snagged a 7-6 win and pushed the Wisconsin advantage to 2-0.

FULL RESULTS | OVERALL BRACKET | PHOTO GALLERY

The next round saw the #1s up against the #3s. Wisconsin’s Bromley took a 7-4 win over Jordan and that pushed the overall advantage to 3-0. It was looking dire for Oklahoma as Helms was locked in a 4-4 battle with Kennedy. But Helms dialed in and found his rhythm to take the final three hoops and put Oklahoma on the board, but still down 3-1.

Oklahoma's Scott Spradling is 9-0 in singles Shield play. Click to zoom.That momentum extended as Oklahoma’s Spradling got a 7-4 win against Anderson in the #2 versus #2 match, which closed out the morning action with Wisconsin up 3-2.

The afternoon opened with the 1v2 matchups and Oklahoma’s Helms and Wisconsin’s Anderson delivered an epic battle on the east lawn that went to the 13th hoop. Anderson took the decider and the Wisconsin advantage extended to two games. On the west lawn though, #2 Spradling countered for Oklahoma with a solid 7-3 win over Bromley.

So the final three games shaped up with Wisconsin leading 4-3. The 2v3 matchups were on deck and Oklahoma needed at least two of the three remaining games to stay alive. Both Anderson for Wisconsin and Spradling held the line as #2s and the test moved to a 5-4 advantage for Wisconsin.

The marquee 1v1 matchup shaped up as a must win for Oklahoma’s Helms and a solid gallery with supporters from both squads settled in for top level GC action.

With Bromley having fallen to Spradling 7-3 in her previous game, it looked like the door was open. But Bromley reclaimed her form and came out on fire to work out to a commanding 5-0 lead. Helms fought back to 5-2 and the last two hoops were hotly contested, but Bromley wrapped it up with a clinic on long clears and claimed a 7-2 win to end the test with a 6-4 victory for Wisconsin.

NOTES:

  • The host Milwaukee Croquet Club put on a heck of a spread for the two teams -- plenty of food and drink and a great overall atmosphere.
  • No Shield games were double banked, which enhanced the spectator appeal of each game and kept games moving along.
  • The courts were never empty and several "friendlies" were played. I partnered with Suzanne Spradling who was the Oklahoma alternate for a game with Wisconsin alternates Mary Hennelly and Mary Feind.
  • If the 6-4 score wasn't close enough for you, consider that the hoop count was even closer. Wisconsin had 56, while Oklahoma had 55.
  • Scott Spradling went 3-0 in singles and was 9-0 for the year in Shield singles play.
  • Cheryl Bromley has now matched Missouri's Steve Jackson for number of Shield games played at 15.
  • Wisconsin has now caught up with Missouri for all time test wins as the both now have 4-1 records in Shield play. 
  • Due to an agreement with the lawn bowling club, Foxy hoops were used for the event. They were relatively sturdy but in some cases a bit wide.
  • The lawns were flat and played very true. Lawn speed was good as well.

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