The USA gold sweep is still in play.
June 24, 2017 by Hugo Sowder in News, Preview, Recap with 0 comments
ROYAN, France — It’s been a wild bracket at Beach Worlds as the finals loom for the Men’s, Mixed, and Women’s Divisions on Saturday. Yesterday, the USA swept gold in the Masters and Grandmasters Divisions, dominating their opponents and leaving no doubt about which team deserved to claim the title. The Men’s Masters team had the closest game, finishing with a 13-7 win over Canada.
The major three divisions featured quarter and semifinal play over the past two days. On Thursday, by far the biggest game was a Men’s Division match between the undefeated Philippines, fresh off of a solid undefeated performance through quarterfinals, and Great Britain.
The Philippines went down early to GB 3-0. While they were able to rally to tie the game at 8-8, Great Britain was able to match the pace of the Philippines offense all game and came up with several key blocks to grit out a 10-8 victory thanks to a huge sky by Ollie Gordon.
“We’re a team that thrives on speed and energy,” said Philippines head coach Jude Lee. “They were able to slow down the pace of the game and kept punishing us on our unders.”
The Philippines’ Mixed squad was also unable to break through to the gold medal game, falling 10-9 to Canada on Friday morning. Canada took an early lead and was able to sustain a two to three point margin over the Philippines after earning a break early in the first half. Late in the second half, the Philippines mounted a three point run to tie the game at nine. With the game capped at ten, Canada eked out a win with Justin Norden notching his fifth assist when he found Sarah Bobak. In the bronze medal games, neither Philippines squad was able to secure a win. It was a disappointing ending to an otherwise spectacular tournament for the Filipino Men’s and Mixed squads.
“We were young this year and didn’t necessarily bring the best squad because of our visa situation,” said coach Lee. “We had nine new worlds players this year. They all contributed to this.” The Philippines set the tone with their speed and high level of execution at the tournament, especially in moments of adversity. They have certainly set themselves apart in the ranks of elite beach ultimate squads.
In the Men’s Division, the United States had a relatively smooth performance against France in semis and by all appearances, the US looks ready to field a full healthy squad in the finals. Jonathan Nethercutt was back on the field after recovering from an infection from a blister and Tyler Degirolamo barely lost a step following a scary collision on Wednesday. The US squad has certainly benefitted from having Friday off to prepare for the final and is poised for one last push to a gold medal.
In Women’s, the US squad has a rematch with Russia slated for the final. Russia secured a solid 10-6 win to put away Denmark after overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the semis. Russia’s road to the final included a 13-10 loss to the US in power pools. Olga Podolskaia (#23) currently sits as the statistical leader in the Division with 22 goals and 22 assists.
By far, the biggest stand outs for the US squad have been Paige Soper and Becky Malinowski. Soper quarterbacked the US offense against Canada in the semis with several pinpoint shots to Malinowski and other receivers. Her final assist against Canada was one of the most impressive throws of the tournament.
In the Mixed Division, the US looks prepared for the final, despite looking shaky earlier this week. Their definitive test will come in the final against a Canada squad that took control of their semi against the Philippines to win 10-9. The US lives and dies by its backfield. Against Sweden and the Philippines, the US suffered from rushed throws and several bad drops on deep shots. The mixed squad thrives when its backfield — powered by the likes of Eli Kerns and Andrea Romano — doesn’t have to do all the heavy lifting on offense. The US looked much more balanced against Germany in semis; while Germany was able to close the lead to one goal twice in the first half, the US showcased its depth in the second half taking a 10-5 lead.
While goals and assists tell only part of the picture for both squads, it’s worth noting that Canada has largely relied on their men to get a shot at gold. Cam Burden leads the Canadians with whopping 26 goals and 18 assists while Justin Norden is right behind him with six goals and 35 assists so far in the tournament. USA’s stats suggest a far more balanced system with a much more even distribution of goals and assists across the board. From a glance, the final looks like it will be a fun matchup of top end talent against depth. Canada has yet to secure a gold medal at the tournament. Saturday evening will give them their final chance to do so.
The finals begin at 6:30 AM Eastern time with the Women’s Division matchup between the USA and Russia. The Men’s match between the USA and Great Britain is set for 8:00 AM. The Mixed final between the USA and Canada closes out competition at 9:30 AM. The games will be streamed for free on the WCBU website.