Windmill 2019: Day 2 Recap (Men’s)

Europe's best national team, GB, will face the Condors in the final!

Condors vs the Czech Republic in the Windmill semis. Photo by Klára Matejková

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The first day of the Swiss draw set us up for the business end of Windmill 2019, with the top teams that were expected to be in contention joined by some surprises. Austria and the Czech Republic, in particular, stood out today with some huge results driven by some even bigger plays. When the dust settled though, Condors and Great Britain made the final and will be playing tomorrow at 12:00 Central European Time. You can catch the livestream of the final on youtube.

Don’t rain on my parade

The weather took a turn for the worse this morning, as a four-hour downpour left the fields waterlogged. Outstanding work by the grounds staff and the tournament organizers meant we were able to get games going again in the afternoon, a prospect that seemed impossible earlier in the day. Unfortunately, similarly positive feelings cannot be ascribed to the cardboard tents used by many players here who discovered that, to everyone’s enormous surprise, paper does not react well to heavy rainfall.

Sunny afternoon

After a final round of the Swiss draw that didn’t change too much in the standings, the quarters were set in the middle of the afternoon. The two American teams here, Philadelphia Eagels and Condors, faced off at the quarters stage. The gents from the east coast put up a decent fight, but eventually the Californians were able to prove definitively that west coast is the best coast with a 14-10 win.

The other favorite, Great Britain, came through with ease, topping France 14-6. The Austrians have been stronger than expected at this tournament and kept that going with a narrow 11-9 win over Italy, who was fancied to make semis pre-tournament.

The final quarter was where we got our first real shock of the weekend. Ireland was favored having pushed but GB and Condors hard in the Swiss draw rounds, but the Czech Republic came out with an aggressive, assertive mind set and managed to keep putting in clean offensive possessions despite intense Irish pressure. There was one score late in the game where Ireland got a big block in the endzone but a Czech receiver laid out around the defender and saved it at the last gave the impression that this was to be the Czech’s day. The Czechs won 11-10 to take the double game point victory and a spot in the semifinals.

One last time

The Czechs’ dream run was ended by Condors, 12-7, but they will take a great deal from a tournament where they played a number of teams they’ll see at EUC in Gyor in the next few weeks and came out on top. Coach Pavel Blaha said that he and the team were pleased with their trip to Amsterdam, and it’s given them plenty to think about.

“One thing we’ve realized is that one OK option is better than a lot of lousy ones as long as you execute it properly, so we’ve been taking some hammers and other throws because we know we can make them. The big key for us is starting the game with intensity. We didn’t do that early in the tournament but we were able to against Ireland and kept it going all the way.

“The game against France yesterday was an important first step where we played like that from the first pull. We’ve been preparing since April last year and training properly since April this year. At EUC we want to come away with a positive feeling, that we played well and did everything we could. Sometimes you lose and you don’t do enough on the day, but there are a lot of good teams. As long as we come away with a positive feeling, that’s all we can do.”

The other semi-final had its moments of peril for GB as the Austrians put up a hell of a fight. A late break gave the Brits the upper hand, though, and they finished the game with an 11-9 victory.

That set up the final we expected – a rematch of a tie that both teams hated yesterday, one last game to decide who takes home the trophy. GB captain Josh Briggs described the team as ‘getting there’ after today, and when asked how he was feeling ahead of the Condors game had a short response that shows how much at least one of the teams has been looking forward to this since their last game finished: ‘we want them’.

Condors will be hitting the party considerably harder than GB, you would assume, so that might play a part in the final game considering the open final is first up at noon tomorrow. The birds are well versed in hitting the bar and dominating on the field, though, so it’s pretty much guaranteed that there’s a hell of a final in store on the livestream. The spectators here will be hoping it’s not a damp squib1 – unlike those cardboard tents.

  1. Editor’s note: what is a squib? I can’t bother to check… British writers. 

  1. Sean Colfer
    Sean Colfer

    Sean Colfer is based in London. He’s played for teams across the UK since 2006 and has been writing about and commentating on ultimate since 2010. Follow him on Twitter @seancolfer, or follow @ShowGameUlti on Instagram for more on UK and Irish ultimate.

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