U23 Worlds 2015: Team USA Thursday Recap, Presented By VC Ultimate

All three USA teams are on to the semifinals with a spotless record.

Each of the three USA teams at the Under-23 World Championships in London advanced to the semifinal round of the tournament after another perfect day of play on Thursday. Here’s a look at what happened today.

Women’s Division

Michela Meister. Photo: Kevin Leclaire -- UltiPhotos.com
Michela Meister. Photo: Kevin Leclaire — UltiPhotos.com

The USA women remain undefeated after Thursday play offered a minimal challenge in their last two rounds of round robin group play.

The Americans began their first round of the day in a highly anticipated matchup with the Canadians. Team USA was dominant in their performance, finishing with a 17-10 win. Despite the windy conditions, the US were able to take half 9-2 after several overthrown hucks from Canada star Mira Donaldson.

Alex Ode and Stephanie Lim stood out among the crowd today, particularly in the backfield as they were often found zipping upline after a give and go or pump faking their mark out of the way to step around to a wide open swing pass.

While the Canadians let the first half slip out of their hands, they came back firing in the second half with excellent handling from Amira Maddison and went on a 3-0 run. Maddison would streak downfield and catch any huck that was tossed her way and would patiently move the mark until she was able to fire a short pass for a goal.

Team USA’s second game of the day featured a first-time contender at the U23 World Championships: Sweden. Sweden came out demonstrating their skill in the deep game by breaking the US on the first point of the game. However, that lead would be their last. The world-class experience from the Americans was too much for Sweden to handle and they quickly closed out the game 17-6.

The USA women are semis-bound! They will face off against Australia at 5:30pm local time and can be found on the livestream.

Mixed Division

Mike Ogren. Photo: Kevin Leclaire -- UltiPhotos.com
Mike Ogren. Photo: Kevin Leclaire — UltiPhotos.com

The US Mixed team had two exciting games today against powerhouses Japan and Canada. While both games were nail biters to begin the match, the Americans were able to tighten up their defensive play and run away with breaks to put two more notches in the win column.

The Japanese approached the USA with their varied zone looks, attempting to slow down the Americans’ deep shots that had been working flawlessly in their previous games. The Japanese were able to bring the US to a screeching halt after two miscues on the centering pass, allowing Japan to go up two breaks to bring the score to 3-5 in Japan’s favor.

After three pulls from the US landed in the back of the Japan endzone, Mike Ogren was able to force a block (nearly a Callahan) to give the US the momentum they were looking for. Claire Revere found Ogren in the endzone to bring the score to 7-5.

The rest of the game was history. A layout from Khalif El-Salaam ended the match 14-10 and eliminated Japan from the semifinals. It was an emotional spirit circle for Japan as they had three key losses in the tournament: USA, Great Britain, and Canada.

Like the women’s team, the USA Mixed team was looking forward to challenge their rival and 2013 U23 runner up, Canada. Canada is known for having a similar play style to the USA: tall men, fast women, and the ability to play long ball.

The first five points of the match were intense with both teams trading points. The sidelines were loud with boisterous cheers from the USA and Canada praising their players for their tight person defense. The wind took a huck too far for the Canadians and Elliott Erickson shot it to Ogren streaking deep. He skied a Canadian player on their goal line. After a veteran timeout, Ogren dished the pass to Eli Kerns who found Kristen Pojunis in the endzone for the first break of the game.

The ferocity from the Canadians left the field as the USA stomped on the gas pedal to half time with a score of 9-3. The Americans were able to put up three more points on the scoreboard before Canada was able to score one of their own. Finally, the hard cap whistle blew and the game ended 16-8, sending the USA to the semifinal match against Germany.

An unsung hero for the USA team thus far in the campaign is Sharon Lin. She has been a highlight reel player, with multiple layout blocks that led to USA scores.

The US will face Germany, whom they have already beaten, in the second semi-final at 1:30 PM local time.

Open Division

Team USA's Josh Alorro.
Josh Alorro. Photo: Kevin Leclaire — UltiPhotos.com

Team USA added another flawless performance to their record as they defeated both Austria and New Zealand quickly and efficiently.

The men finished off Austria 17-7. Having finished at the top of their power pool, the US faced New Zealand in the quarterfinal. Coming in as the eighth seed, New Zealand had little chance of defeating the USA who had been prepping for elimination play all tournament. In just 60 minutes, the Americans defeated the Kiwis 17-2.

The US Men will face Great Britain, again, in the semifinal at 3:30 local time. The Great Britain squad defeated Germany in a barn burner, so expect another great match for the US Open team!

  1. Eryn Ogren

    Eryn Ogren is a content and event strategy consultant. Previously, she was the Business Development Manager for Ultiworld. You can reach her on Twitter (@iveyeryn).

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