The Europeans finish their East Coast swing with an exciting game in Boston.
July 27, 2017 by Tim Schoch in Recap with 0 comments
This game and all other livestreams and replays of the EuroStars’ games can be found on their Facebook page. The Tour returns to action tomorrow night in a double header against Seattle Underground and Seattle Riot starting at 6PM (PDT).
BOSTON – As the crowd gathered Tuesday night to watch two-time defending national champion Brute Squad take on the EuroStars, there were questions swirling about whether or not the Europeans could match up with the best America had to offer. After a close but messy win over NY Bent and a stomping at the hands of D.C. Scandal, the EuroStars needed a strong performance to prove they could hang with the top tier in the women’s division. And as Brute’s thunderous and suffocating defense rolled off four consecutive breaks to start the game, jumping out to a 4-0 lead, it looked as if the bottom might fall out for the Tour.
From the start, The EuroStar’s offense had found the room and space to eat up yards with Nici Prien and Jackie Verralls’s vertical cuts, but reset miscues and an over eagerness to stretch deep kept them out of the endzone. It was clear that the individual talent of the EuroStars was enough to go toe-to-toe with Boston, but the lack of chemistry kept showing through the cracks and it wasn’t until Annicka Lindqvist skied Vicki Negus that the Europeans got on the board.
At 6-2, the EuroStars were feeling the pressure and frustration that has powered Boston’s suffocating person defense to back-to-back titles in recent years. In a turnover-riddled point, both teams got impatient and shot for the endzone — many times into double coverage or out of bounds. A dime ball from Lindqvist to Anneli Andersson finally hit the mark and set the ship right.
For Brute, the story all night was how well their new and returning players played. Emily Baecher — playing in her first game after taking a season off while pregnant — was an unstoppable thrower and would frequently get every other pass before dissecting the defense with another pin-point around flick. She paired well with the more run-and-gun style of Angela Zhu, who could take longer looks upfield knowing she had Baecher as a reliable reset. On the O-line, Rachel Kramer and Jojo Emerson used their speed to operate as cogs in the Boston machine and work past the likes of Maya Mileck and Katey Forth.
A Lien Hoffmann drop gifted the EuroStars a short field turn and Mileck found Sarah Ecklund for a break. Changing pace, a four-person zone from the Europeans on the next point showed promise, trapping Emerson on the sideline and forcing her to throw an errant swing too far for Claudia Tajima but again the Tour couldn’t capitalize. Brute held on the second attempt to earn an 8-5 halftime advantage.
A break out of half brought the EuroStars within two and that’s when it clicked for the Europeans person defense; looking like a Brute Squad clone, the Tour began clamping down on the handlers and locking in on Tajima and Emerson. An upline attempt to a guarded Tajima gave the EuroStars the disc and Lindqvist sent a high, blading flick to the back corner where Prien launched for the full extension layout grab and the break, 11-10 Brute. The late run gained steam as Bex Forth got another block on Tajima and Olivia Houser sent another bomb just shy of the endzone to Betty Schnedl, who dished to Bex Forth to tie the game at 12s.
The EuroStars defense was forcing Brute into unconventional roles, as Becky Malinowski found herself behind the disc more than usual — the deep threat becoming the deep thrower. Malinowski sent flick dimes to strike past the European zone early in the game and then again at 12-12 and 13-13, hitting Hoffmann and Jenny Gobin deep. These were the shots that the EuroStars wanted to force, opposed to Hoffmann or Tajima shooting to Malinowski, for example.
Receiving down 14-13, the EuroStars’ offense again succumbed to the impatience that plagued them throughout the first half and missed the same throw, an around backhand straight down the sideline on two consecutive possessions. A Lauren Sadler block on Ecklund got the disc back in Brute’s hands for a third time that point and they did not waste it again. Zhu launched to D-line partner Cassie Wong, who skied for the goal and the victory over Essi Inkinen, ending any hopes of the Europeans completing their dramatic comeback.
In a game filled with exciting skies and jaw-dropping layouts, the highlight of the game may have been when Katey Forth skied Sadler on a deep shot and began waving the disc up and down to excite her team for the final push. Sadler gave her a little shove — reminiscent of a sibling rivalry — and both players burst out laughing. Sadler and Forth were teammates on the USA’s WUGC Women’s team in 2016 and could be seen on the sideline continuing to laugh it over.
Although ultimately unsuccessful, this game and their late game run proved that the EuroStars will be able to take on the best the United States has to offer. As the chemistry builds, it’ll be exciting to watch them take on and maybe dethrone the likes of Seattle Riot and Denver Molly Brown.