A dominant start for the USA teams.
January 8, 2018 by Kingsley Flett, Satchel Douglas and Charlie Eisenhood in News, Recap with 0 comments
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Looking out over the UWA sports complex in Perth, Australia, today, I was reminded of a paddock on a sheep farm a few hundred miles east of here, right on the edge of the desert, where the sheep huddle tightly together under the only available shade, which might be the only tree in a few square miles of rocky ground. For the very same reason, the spectators here sat on the lush grassed banks in clusters dictated by the shade that was thrown from the eucalyptus trees surrounding the complex.
The talk of the day seemed to be about the heat. Well, heat and urination. I decided that, to illustrate this issue properly, I needed to talk with someone who’d come a long way from a very cold place. I needed to find a Canadian. It was mission accomplished when I bumped into team Canada’s Janelle Siwa from Vancouver.
“I mean, coming from Vancouver is a big enough challenge,” she said. “But some of our team have come from places like Manitoba where it’s barely ten degrees (-12 Celsius).”
I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it hadn’t really been hot yet and that the rest of the week was going to push the 100 degrees barrier. I also spoke to Christine Jurychuk, also from Canada, at the water station as she was in the middle of filling a dozen water bottles for her team. I let her in on a local secret – when it gets as hot as predicted for the rest of this week, it’s just not possible to drink enough water to keep pace with the amount you lose through sweating. The trick is to keep drinking water at night and ‘pre-hydrate’ in the mornings. If your flow of urine is copious and clear, then you are keeping ahead of the fluid loss.
This message must have made it through to some players because I overheard someone from team Great Britain. “Yeah I was really happy with my wee this morning,” he said, as he and a teammate walked past me on the sideline.
For the second day in a row, the showcase game at 5 PM didn’t disappoint. The Australian men, fresh off a thumping 15-4 win over Canada in the morning, came up against a German side who’d easily dispatched the Philippines in the morning round.
Early in the game, the zone defense that the Aussies has used to devastating effect against Canada also seemed to choke the life out of the Germans, as they struggled to advance the disc past their own halfway line. But the Germans started to find more patience, holding possession with dump pass after dump pass, sometimes retreating to their own goal line, for what seemed like ten minutes. Eventually, they wore down the Aussie defense and scored with a huck. That approach led to an 8-3 lead.
“Hey guys, don’t spend too much time thinking things over in your head alright? That’s our job. You just play frisbee,” said Aussie coach Yew Eng Ng in one of the breaks. I asked him about this afterwards and he explained, “We’ve got some great athletes in our team but they can be eggheads sometimes and take it upon themselves to try and solve the puzzle on the field, instead of playing naturally.”
The advice worked. The Aussies staged a stirring comeback, spurred by the roaring home crowd, to get with one point of the Germans at the time cap, only to turn the disc over in the frenetic final moments and allow the delighted Germans a winning score.
The week is heating up and Wednesday will bring more action under the blazing West Aussie sun.
Coming off a 15-1 win over Singapore, the USA Women’s team today faced the athletic Colombian team in one of the most anticipated matchups of the round robin stage of the tournament.
“In a lot of ways the moment is obvious to people, so you don’t really need to tell players that it is a big game,” said coach Nancy Sun. “The challenge is trying to focus that energy in the right place.”
If Colombia also felt the intensity of the game, they didn’t show it in warmups. After stretching and throwing, the Columbians danced, sang, and performed some acrobatics. This warmup directly contrasted the high intensity drills and throwing practice from USA.
Perhaps the Colombians were a little too easygoing, as they struggled to maintain energy and fell 15-5. The momentum began to swing in the USA direction a few points into the game. “The team confused staying happy with relaxed,” said Colombian coach Alejandra Echeverri. “I think it was a problem during the game. They needed more energy on D. They were too relaxed. On defense they were super tired, but I think they were also a little nervous.” The United States went on an eight point run starting just before half and Colombia scored only twice in the second half.
Nerves were evident during the first point with multiple unforced throwaways and drops by each team. The defensive pressure from both teams was high as they each ran matchup defense. Through the first five points, Colombia forced USA to make risky decisions as most of the cutters were tightly covered. As the game wore on, though, it became clear that the US had a backfield advantage, with the USA handlers, particularly Angela Zhu, able to get open for resets or gain yards upline.
Former Oregon Fugue player Lillian Weaver really stood out for Colombia’s offense, playing most points as the primary handler and making multiple acrobatic plays to save errant throws. Almost all the Colombian players showed off their throwing abilities in this game, hitting cutters coming under as if their mark wasn’t there. USA generally forced middle: while this was fairly successful at preventing hucks, it was picked apart by the precise Colombian throws from Weaver, Diana Marin, and Natalia Gomez. Only the athleticism and tight coverage by USA defenders slowed the Colombian offense.
But that downfield defense was ferocious and clearly disrupted the Colombian offense. Playing almost no zone until late in the game, USA forced Colombian cutters to fight for every yard. Sophie Knowles had another clean layout D to excite the crowd, but consistent defensive pressure from a variety of USA players eventually took its toll. The depth of USA’s bench came into play early on as they continued running hard while Colombian players were happy to get off the field. USA also won in the air on defense, with great skies and run through blocks from Maddie Gilbert, Sophie Knowles, Tulsa Douglas, Claire Thallon, and Jenny Wei.
While both Cardenas twins made plays for Colombia, including a great bidding block by Valeria, they were not the overwhelming force they have been in other games. “Angela Zhu played nice D,” said Echeverri. “She stopped Manuela and Valeria [Cardenas].”
“I think our defense got us a lot of opportunities and we took advantage of some of the fast breaks. We were able to generate Ds by really pressuring their main players,” said Sun. However, she added, “We are so far from being done.”
If an MVP had been selected for the game, it would have been the youngest Team USA player, 18 year old Claire Trop. She scored three goals and maintained relentless pressure on defense. Claire Thallon also had a good game, with two assists and two scores. Julianna Werffeli took over gunslinger duties, throwing three assists. USA plays two games each day for the rest of the week, facing New Zealand and Australia on Tuesday.
In other Women’s Division news, Australia upset Japan 14-13 on double game point. A deep throw from Ava Mueller was tipped by two Japanese defenders before it was scooped up by Michaela Dunmall. This may make Australia the team to beat, and it will be an important game for USA tomorrow.
You may have noticed that Jaclyn Verzuh has yet to play for the United States. She is recovering from a fracture in her foot. “It’s an overuse injury — it is a stress fracture,” she said. After a pause, she added, “You will see me on the field for the college season and at Worlds.”
The USA Men’s team began their tournament on Monday and came away with two strong wins, 15-6 over Colombia and 15-4 over Singapore. The team’s depth has been immediately apparent, as 21 different players scored and 16 had an assist on the day. In both games, the USA team created huge separation with big scoring runs: they scored seven straight against Colombia and six in a row against Singapore.
Will Lohre had four goals and two assists, Sawyer Thompson had four assists, and Alex Olson had three assists and a goal on the day.
The USA Mixed team also opened the tournament 2-0, getting a 15-8 win over Great Britain and a 15-1 win over Hong Kong.
After a tight first half against GB, the USA blew it open in the second half, going on a 6-0 run to close out the game. Mike Ing led the team in the game with two goals and two assists.
On the day, Tannor Johnson had five goals and an assist, Alex Hardesty had four goals and an assist, and Anna Thompson had two goals and two assists.
Upcoming USA Games [All times EST]
Men’s: Tues. 12 AM v. New Zealand (0-2)
Mixed: 10 PM v. Germany (1-0), Tues. 4 AM v. Colombia (1-1)
Women’s: 10 PM v. New Zealand (0-3), Tues. 2 AM v. Australia (3-0)