This past weekend, Chicago Inter Handball Club (CIHC) hosted the 4th annual Michael Lipov Memorial Cup at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago. This was the chance to reunite long time handball friends and welcome some new ones to kick off the 013-2014 handball season in the US.
With the support of their sponsors, including namesake Michael Lipov's son (Lenny) and grandson (Zachary), CIHC was able to bring in high quality referees from all over the nation to officiate a tournament that brought together seven men's teams; United Team of Moscow, New York Athletic Club, Minnesota Team Handball, Columbus, West Point (Army Black and Gold teams), Chicago Inter and three women's teams; Carolina, New Jersey and Chicago Inter.
The men's teams were split into two groups (A: NYAC, Minnesota, Army Gold and B: Chicago Inter, Army Black, Moscow and Columbus) that would then crossover while the women's teams would play each other twice each to determine the two finalists.
The event got off to a strong start on Friday with a clash between the experienced Moscow team and the ever-determined West Point Black team. The Russians edged the young military team 28-25 in an intense contest. This was followed up by a reinforced Minnesota team taking on the US National Champs, NYAC. After an evenly-matched first half, NYAC prevailed 25-15 after wearing down Minnesota's determination. The hosts were then on the court to take on a newcomer to the event, Columbus. Anxious to do well at home, the local team on the court to take on a newcomer to the event, Columbus. Anxious to do well at home, the local team rapidly took the lead and stayed there to win 23-14. NYAC was then back on the court, using their experience to take the better of West Point Gold, 39-20. The men's games closed out with a double header where Chicago edged West Point Black 26-25 and Moscow dominated Columbus 41-21. Friday ended with two women's games in which Chicago Inter edged Carolina 23-21 after a hard fought game and Carolina turned around and bested New Jersey, 33-17.
Saturday kicked off with West Point Black beating Columbus 32-27 after a hard fought game with emotions and tempers flaring. The Chicago Inter women's team then took the court to beat New Jersey 28-9, a better fate than their male counterparts who fell to Moscow 24-28 in the following game. This result ensured Moscow first place in Group B, ahead of Chicago Inter who would head into the semi-finals to face NYAC, undefeated the previous day in Group A. Minnesota then clinched their final four berth by taking the better of West Point Gold, 26-23, in an exhilarating game. The New Jersey women's team was then back on the court with losses to UNC (25-12) and Chicago Inter (30-11) but left with their head high as they held their own against far more experienced teams. West Point Gold then benefited from columbus forfeiting their head-to-head and moved on to the 5th place game against West Point Black. The ladies' group games ended with another tight contest between Carolina and Chicago Inter where the Carolina girls took the win, 20-17, promising an intense final the following day. It was then time for the men's semis, with Minnesota pushing Moscow to the edge in a 26-31 loss. The home team (Chicago Inter), eager to get their revenge over Moscow in the final, was bitterly disappointed when the US champs (NYAC) knocked them out of the race, 32-25.
The day ended with a convivial social event at Skokie's Zhivago restaurant, where players and referees were able to relax and enjoy some good food and camaraderie.
The tournament then headed into its final day with an exciting line-up of games and did not disappoint! In an intense 5th place contest, the West Point rivalry had the cadets going full-speed for 60 minutes, ending with a 42-41 win for Army Black over Gold. The women's league then served up a great final in which Chicago Inter took the win over Carolina, 33-24. Once again, the Chicago women were successful where the men were not as Minnesota took their first medal with a 32-30 win against their hosts in the third place game. The men's final then offered up a great contest that NYAC brought home, 24-19, over Moscow.
The final tables were as follows:
West Point Black
West Point Gold
Top scorers: Ethan Pickett (Chicago Inter)
Most Valuable Goalkeeper: Danny Capparelli (NYAC)
Most Valuable Player: Vladislav Kararash (Moscow)
New Jersey Ocean
Top scorer: Julia Taylor (Carolina)
Most Valuable Goalkeeper; Urszula Pawka (New Jersey)
Most Valuable Player: Camilla Andersen (Chicago Inter)
With another successful tournament under its belt, Chicago Inter Handball Club is already looking forward to hosting this event again in 2014 and, in the meantime, crossing paths with their guests on the court this season. Thanks to all who supported our event and we hope to see you next year!