Gold medals are on the line tonight!
January 12, 2018 by Keith Raynor and Charlie Eisenhood in News, Recap with 0 comments
After six days of competition, we have reached the final day in Perth, Australia, for the Under-24 World Championships. Here is the quick summary:
- The USA will face Italy in the Men’s Division gold medal match at 9 PM EST. [Live]
- The USA will face Japan in the Mixed Division gold medal match at 11:30 PM EST. [Live]
- The Women’s Division semifinals feature the USA v. Australia and Colombia v. Canada at 8 PM EST. The winners will face off in the gold medal match at 2 AM EST on Saturday. [Live]
The reigning champion in the women’s division, Japan, was eliminated from medal contention following round robin play. The No 1. seed suffered losses to the United States, Australia, and Canada but scored a significant 12-9 victory of Colombia, one of the only other teams in contention, on Thursday to open up the opportunity for them to still make the bracket by finishing top 4 after round robin play. USA’s win over Canada set up a complicated series of scenarios, with the US and Canada locked to advance (though Canada’s seed was undetermined), and Colombia, Australia, Japan, and Germany in contention entering the final rounds.
First, Colombia came back from an early 3-1 deficit to defeat Germany, led by the Cardenas sisters and Lillian Weaver, who tallied eight of the teams 12 assists. Germany’s Caroline Tisson played well in the losing effort, dishing out five assists. While Germany’s future performance would still be pertinent to the bracket layout, they could no longer advance.
Next, Australia kept their chance to advance alive by handling the German side, 15-9. Handler Kathryn Smith and cutter Sally Yu continued to dominate the scoresheet, with three assists for Smith and three goals and one assist for Yu, but the team got contributions from most of their roster. An early run put the Aussies up 6-1 and they never looked back even as the field leveled.
This set the stage for the last round clash between Colombia and Canada, but with other teams’ fates hanging in the balance. A Canadian victory would make generate the following standings:
The USA would meet Colombia in the semifinals while Canada would take on Japan.
A Colombian victory would yield the following:
The USA would face Australia in the semifinals while Canada would meet with Colombia. The Japanese side played close with Canada in pool play, a 13-12 nailbiting win for the Canadians.
Canada jumped out to a 3-0 lead on the Colombians but conceded a Manuela Cardenas-powered four goal run to the Colombians late the first half to go down 6-5. The teams traded to an 8-7 half. The Colombians dominated the second half, 7-2. The Canadians played with an opened roster, with no incentive to pull out the stops and show the Colombians too much prior to a potential bracket matchup.
We’ll find out more when the teams rematch in a game that will decide who still has a shot at a gold medal.
The Men’s division semifinals both turned in exciting results, but for very different reasons.
In one semifinal, Germany came off a bye to face a surprising Italian side, who trounced the Germans 15-7. Italy bounced back from three straight losses in power pools to win back to back bracket games, including an impressive 15-12 victory over Japan. One of the power pool games Italy lost was a tense and gritty double game point loss to the Germans. This game was expected to be another slugfest.
However, Italy had other ideas and roared out to a big first half lead. With an aggressive D-line that capitalized on German mistakes, Italy tallied four first half breaks to carry an 8-4 score into halftime. They added the first four goals of the second half to their total, burying Germany with relentless play. It’s an unlikely berth to the final, but Italy is playing at a torrid pace and with a ton of confidence.
In the other concurrent semifinal, the United States fought off a resurgent Australia team with a big second half to win 15-9. The Australians seemingly came out nervous, missing on resets and giving the Americans too many short fields. With a pair of assists from Erik Hotaling and a goal and an assist from Cameron Wariner, the Americans hit the ground running, executing in the red zone to go up 6-1. It looked like another blowout, as the US gave up double digit goals in only one game prior.
But the emotional Aussies bounced back, connecting on some quality deep shots and diving catches to power a comeback. The US offense got complacent, and their red zone execution regressed, exemplified by a great layout catch block on a poach from Braden Cheng. He was on the receiving end of a gutsy high release forehand to the back corner that closed to the gap to 7-5. They added another big play to their tally early in the second half. After Keegan North dropped a score, continuing USA’s red zone struggles, the Goannas’ Bill Foreman, who had been vomiting with illness some hours earlier, skied North and Alex Olson for an upwind break to make it 8-7.
With the offensive line conceding four breaks in their first eight points1, the American coaching staff sent the D-line out on offense to right the ship. After overshooting an upwind huck, Sam VanDusen got it back with an interception in the deep space. A few throws later, Codi Wood raised a graceful backhand huck to VanDusen, who went up for it with two hands but failed to bring it down. However, Jacob Fairfax caught the disc with a second effort layout without an inch to spare before the disc hit the ground. The hold pushed the score to 9-7. A short field turn from the Australians set up a nice series of cuts from Jack Williams and Wariner, and Wariner caught the break to giving to US some breathing room.
With a more comfortable lead, the US poured it on. The Australians struggled to remain efficient going deep, while the US’s powerful throws were able to get enough juice on their hucks, particularly upwind, to give their teammates chances to make second effort plays. With a 6-2 run, the US closed out the game and advanced to the final having been tested: they’ve passed with a comfortable margin. They’ll face Italy in the final as a heavy favorite, undefeated and with a 15-4 pool play victory over Italy in hand.
For the US, they were led by the play of Wariner, Hotaling, Michael Fairley, and Codi Wood. Wood and Wariner have been outstanding on defense throughout the tournament, and Wariner collected three assists and a goal in the win, without a turnover. Hotaling also added three assists and no turns on just six throws. Fairley, who got some time on both the offensive and defensive units, added three goals of his own without contributing any turnovers.
The Australians were led by Braden Cheng’s two goals and one assist while the speedster showed tenacity on both sides of the disc, and handler Sam McGuckin’s two goals and two assists. Ashley Evans also turned in an excellent performance, with his goal and assist not showing how much his hustle impacted the game, highlighted by a two-handed layout to save a key upwind possession for the Australians.
The United States and Japan will meet in the Mixed gold medal match at 11:30 PM EST tonight after both teams continued their undefeated runs through the tournament with comfortable wins in the semifinals.
Japan was in a tight battle with Australia early, going down 3-0 to start the game and trailing most of the way through the first half. However, a break to take half 8-7 followed by a 3-0 run of their own out of halftime set up a 14-10 win.
Risa Oe had three goals, Naoya Miguchi had three assists, and Ryotaro Murakami had two goals and an assist to lead the Japanese. Michael Vernon had a great game for Australia in the loss, notching three goals and an assist.
The United States had a comparatively easier time in their semifinal, opening up an early 4-1 lead over Canada that they would never relinquish. They took half 8-3 and cruised to a 15-8 win.
John Stubbs had three goals and an assist while Anna Thompson had two assists and a goal to lead the USA.
The USA and Japan have three common opponents: Canada, Germany, and Singapore. Japan was a +20 against them; the USA was a +26. Notably, the Americans defeated Canada by seven, and Japan only won by a point. The USA will certainly be the favorite in tonight’s final, but the Japanese should be their toughest opponent yet.
Tonight’s Livestreaming Schedule (All Times EST)
9 PM: USA v. Italy (Men’s Final)
11:30 PM: USA v. Japan (Mixed Final)
2 AM: Winner of USA/AUS v. Winner of CAN/COL (Women’s Final)
You can watch all of the games on our Live page.
including a defensive point that the O-line scored in the game’s early run ↩