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Eurostars Win Americus Cup With Emphatic Victory Over Scandal

What a way to close out the tour!

The 2018 Eurostars huddle up.
The 2018 Eurostars huddle up. Photo: Burt Granofsky — UltiPhotos.com

This article was contributed by Charlie Blair.

WASHINGTON, DC – The Eurostars soundly defeated Washington DC Scandal 15-7 on Tuesday in the final match of the Tour. The Eurostars came into the match on the back of a tight game against Toronto 6ixers and their fourth win out of a possible six in the tour. With three Americus Cup points separating Team Europe from Team America in the standings, a big win from Scandal could have taken the series to a climatic tie break. However, the Eurostars rounded off their campaign with their most emphatic victory yet to capture the first-ever Americus Pro Cup.

Just as in the previous game against the Canadians, Europe’s offense was broken immediately, turning on a simple reset deep in their own half. However, that was to be the first and only break for Team America in this final showdown. Europe looked to play expansive from the outset, and, despite the line forces of the Scandal mark, Paula Baas sent a beautiful inside out backhand across the field to Sarah Melvin to reel in their first point of the game.

Scandal managed to stop their opponent’s first opportunity to take a second break and the lead. America’s split stack drew poaches into the middle, and they exploited the deep look to gain good yards. However, as soon as they no longer had the whole field to play with, they struggled to break through the defense in the last quarter. Scandal cutters worked hard to get free in the end zone, but the Europeans held strong. Kelly Ross looked for Nada Tramonte for the second time on the open side after a foul call. This time, Portuguese newcomer Ines Bringel made an exceptional shoulder high block. Even so, Scandal held to prevent the momentum shift after such a huge play and keep the score level at 3-3. After working it back up the field again, Jessie O’Connor executed a strike from the reset space, led by a pinpoint inside out flick from Kath Ratcliff that sat right into her path for the score.

However, from here, Europe hit the pedal to floor and didn’t look back. Their offensive points were clean and clinical for the rest of the half. Meanwhile, their defense managed to convert another two breaks in quick succession to bring the score to 6-3. The Eurostars continued to occupy the space in the middle and generated turns on Scandal resets. Nevertheless, DC rookie Lauren Allen was impressive all game, including when she got Katey Forth to over commit on a bid, allowing her to send up the assist and close the gap to 6-4. However, even when Scandal were able to break through with quicker tempo, they often couldn’t maintain enough flow to prevent their opponents clamping down on them again further down the field.

As the half drew to a close, a defining difference between the two teams appeared to be the depth of athleticism. As a result, Scandal opted for their first zone defense of the game, but the Europeans broke through it immediately. When the defense dropped into matchup, Scandal squeezed the space and forced the Eurostars to back their marked receivers. In this instance, it generated some exceptional plays instead of the turns they were after. Swedish international Sarah Eklund showed her characteristic prowess in the end zone with a huge take to make the score 8-5 despite bids from both Michelle Carey and Kristin Franke on the disc.

For the rest of the game, the Eurostars dominated. Their defense was forcing Scandal back so much that they settled into having four handlers back for the opening point of the second half. They were often staying very close to the disc and flooding one side of the field to make space for their cuts. However, this approach made them predictable, showing themselves wary to strike long. Scandal settled for a number of high stall options. At times, they were rewarded. Danielle Byers’ exceptional throw, almost identical to Baas’ in the first half, made something out of nothing, hitting Nada Tramonte on the break side with a huge inside out from the sideline to bring the score to 9-6.

The Eurostars responded with five goals in a row to bring them to the verge of victory; the match and the entire series were within their grasp. With the whole team firing, Europe continued to rotate through both of their lines, who took turns to amassing the breaks. They ran their patterns hard and far, generating so much more space than their opponents, so much so that you could rarely see every Eurostar player on the field in the wide camera frame. In addition to the fluid offense, huge skies from Yannicka Kappelman and a layout from Sarah Melvin in the end zone fire up the team for the next conversion.

Inês Bringel proved to be a potent force yet again. With perfect position between three Scandal shirts in the end zone, she rose up to prevent their second point of the half. Likewise, Dina Dumanskaya had a sensational evening. Formidable both on the mark and up field, Dumanskaya pinned Kristin Franke to the sideline to shut off the break side and then prevented her from scoring up the line with a layout block in the end zone. With the score now 12-6, Scandal held the disc patiently for some time. Sarah Itoh finally took the shot to a free O’Connor, who burned her mark up the line, only for Europe’s Francesca Scarampi to pull in from deep to swallow the pass.

By the final point of the game, it looked as if Scandal had run out of options. With the home team turning immediately on the first look, deep in Callahan country, it only took one pass off a simple isolation play for Katey Forth to bring home the championship for Team Europe. The tour was a huge victory that ended up being much more one-sided than many would have predicted at the beginning of the series. The final points standings: 12-6, Europe.

Speaking after the game, Bex Forth, captain of the Eurostars and founder of the Tour, addressed the fans in the crowd, thanking them for a great end to the series.

“Some of the players were new to us this year,” she said. “Trying to come together as team and a spirited unit always has its challenges. We are so pleased we could come here and finish in a great finale with a great community…Thanks so much to Scandal for playing us, hosting us, and inviting your friends and family to come out in support.”

“Playing the US was a great experience for me and I hope we can inspire girls in Russia to come and try this level…to keep growing, keep working, keep pushing themselves to this level,” added Dumanskaya.

With such a highly successful campaign, the Eurostars have inspired people across the globe this summer. The tour has produced some fantastic footage of elite female athletes on both sides of the pond, both new faces and old. With the second year of the tour now a wrap, enjoy the many highlights, notice the positive effects they are making in your own communities, and look forward to more.

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