The United States claimed Gold at the World Games in Cali, Colombia, with a dominant 13-6 Finals performance against Australia last night.
Team USA closed out an undefeated three days at the Games in which no opponent came within three points of defeating them.
The Americans set the tone early against the Australians, jumping out to a quick 3-0 lead after a pair of Octavia “Opi” Payne break scores.
Australia would get on the board with a nice offensive possession running through their women. Tim Lavis put up a smooth throw up the sideline to Steph Malcher in the endzone.
However, another 3-0 run for the US basically sealed the game at the outset. Beau Kittredge shredded the Australian man defense on the offensive point, then Lavis dropped the pull on the subsequent possession, giving the US a quick score as Ryan Farrell found Sarah “Surge” Griffith for the point.
The US would go on to take half up 7-2.
The Australians played a very similar style to the United States, relying on man defense and big hucks attacking the deep space. That strategy played into the hands of the Americans — their roster includes some of the greatest deep receivers in the game.
Japan showed earlier in the tournament that they way to challenge the Americans is not to beat them at their own game. Japan used a loose, “amoeba” defense that stifled downfield throws but often left handlers unmarked to get the US out of their rhythm. They were the closest to defeating the Americans, falling 12-9.
Australia, though, relied on a style that got them into the gold medal match — putting up bombs to their big receivers. It worked well earlier in the day against a much shorter Colombian team, but not well against the US.
Australia did score two quick points out of halftime, taking advantage of a US drop to punch in their first and only break of the game. But on the ensuing point, Dylan Tunnell bombed a huck to Mike “Tank” Natenberg for a score and Ryan Farrell followed that up with a huge layout block to set up another American break and a 9-4 lead.
After another US break, the teams traded points, highlighted by a huge foot block from Tom Rogacki, easily the Australian MVP, to win back possession for the Aussie offensive line.
The US would ultimately win the game on defense, punching in their seventh break of the game to close out the 13-6 win and claim Gold.
Australia never looked comfortable or in rhythm, and nerves appeared to play a role in their defeat (e.g. dropped pull, throws to no one, overthrown hucks). Despite a tough finals matchup, however, they had an outstanding weekend, defying expectations and rising to challenge after challenge to win Silver.
The Americans close out the 2013 international competitions with a 36-0 record after all three Under-23 teams won Gold last week in Toronto at the World Championships.