Fantastic games dotted Day 2.
July 15, 2019 by Nick Smith in Coverage, News, Recap with 0 comments
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HEIDELBERG, GER — It was moving day in Germany, a tiers began to develop in each pool halfway through pool play. Four games in, the bracket picture is starting to come into view.
Here are the full results from the day, but let’s start with a few select game recaps.
Belgium 15-13 Ireland
In a game interrupted with a bureaucratic delay, Ireland fell to Belgium 15-13. The Belgians were all over the Irish early on, getting a break to start the game and really denying the underneath passes with two layout blocks in the first two points. The Irish got a break back, but at 5-3 things were going the Belgians’ way. However, a WFDF official stepped in and brought a halt to the game; apparently due to an “insufficient number of medical and emergency services personnel at the fields,” each team had to endure an hour of unexpected break. When the game restarted, the Irish closed the gap to one. Then, Belgium went on a run. Showcasing their athleticism and aggressive throwing, they notched four straight points on either side of taking half at 8-4.
The Irish had no intention of quietly fading like they had playing Canada on Sunday, and fought back to tie it at 9-9. Irish captain Sam Murphy talked about handling the medical break “as another uncontrollable; it was the same for both teams and it didn’t affect us too much.” About the explosive nature of the second half he says Ireland, “didn’t change much tactically. We wanted to get the D-line on the field and allow them to get rolling… They were unstoppable.”
A Belgian turnover on the next point had the Irish on their cone needing 70 yards to get their first lead. It was not to be, as Belgium’s Aaron Stevens nabbed a Callahan goal to retake the lead at 10-9. It was the start of another Belgian run, who soon found themselves with the upper hand, pulling to the Irish up 14-11. Ireland held then managed an impressive break featuring a huge poach block by Ireland’s James O’Donovan brought the score to 14-13. With a chance to send the game to double game point, the Irish came out with a layout block, but it was called a foul (uncontested) and eventually the Belgians threw a crossfield hammer for the win.
Talking after the game, Belgium’s coach Joram Mossink said that the aggressive shots are something he hopes to reel in a little. “The O-line had some marginal decisions, but it feels good to have the deep game going, particularly at the end.” On the team’s multiple cross field shots, Mossink says the players play for clubs that allow for creative throws in their system, attacking parts of the field that defenders may not expect. However he says as a coach, “it makes me cringe at times, but if it works it works and if it makes the defense be on their toes then it opens up the open side a little more.”
Japan 15-11 Great Britain
Although Japan came into the game with a 1-1 record while the British sat undefeated at 2-0, the Japanese were the clear favorites. Both teams executed their game plans well but ultimately Japan won 15-11. Great Britain played drastically different compared to their game against the Germans. On Sunday, they were happy to take the space given to them by the Germans, but today that space was not there against Japan. As a result, instead of swings GB’s offense relied mainly on their deep game, throwing towards their main deep threats Adam Vaslet and Declan Cartwright, who finished with two and four goals respectively. Japan dedicated a large amount of their defensive effort towards stopping the British deep game, allowing their defenders to make life hard for the British handlers.
On offense, Japan looked crisp for the most part. A lot of their throws were zippy lasers that attacked both the open and break sides at will. In one representative point, Japan went crossfield after an up-line cut, as Shun Akamatsu timed his cut perfectly and ran directly towards the break sideline away from the thrower but turned to find the disc easily for a clap catch goal.
Watching Japan, it seemed clear that they were rightly a favorite and I imagine will go deep into the bracket. Great Britain is also still very much in the driver’s seat of going into the final days of pool play; tomorrow they will play Colombia in a game that will likely cement the winner’s place in the bracket. Although Austria, Denmark, and Germany are still in the hunt, a single win over Colombia or Denmark will likely seal the deal for the Brits.
United States 15-10 Great Britain
This clash between two titans of the ultimate world ended in a 15-10 victory for the United States over Great Britain, but the game was close the entire way. A light breeze proved to be impactful as both teams struggled slightly in the wind. Normally easy hucks were being pushed around and some swings were getting pushed down into the turf. The USA managed to throw themselves into a hole early, with three red-zone turnovers allowing to GB jump out to a quick 5-2 lead, much to the dismay of the USA supporters. But the USA were able to right the ship by rattling off four in a row to get the game back on serve. The teams traded to halftime, before the second half proved enough to separate the two teams. USA would start the half with four breaks, and although it wasn’t pretty at times they did enough to get the job done.
After the game I talked to assistant coach Darryl Stanley about the win. He acknowledged that Great Britain came to play, saying, “Great Britain came out strong ready to go and had a good plan. They came out 5-2 and we had to adjust; we were fortunate to return it to half on serve.” The focus during halftime was more about the mentality, rebalancing and finding their focus. They are looking forward to the challenges that the rest of the pool provide, especially the Germans who Stanley described as, “athletic, tall, and looking to bounce back from a disappointing first two days.”
Despite the final result, Great Britain has a lot of good to take away from this game. At times their offense flowed smoothly up the side lines, and their defense forced some tough throws and high stalls from the USA. It will be about putting it all together as they look towards the rest of the pool and into bracket play.
On Tuesday, USA plays the Danish and the Germans, while the British play the Colombians and the Danish.
Japan 14-13 Germany
In the evening’s showcase game, Japan bested Germany in a fantastic double game point battle. In front of a home crowd, the German men had the energy but not quite the result they wanted. After losing to Colombia earlier in the day, the Germans entered the game trying to salvage their pool play results. In this turnover-heavy game, the first half was dictated by a strong gusting wind. Japan handled this better getting out to a 8-3 lead at the half.
However, the second half would be a different story. A late run from Germany forced the game to universe. From 12-6 to 13-13 the German run was built on layout blocks and a couple of unforced Japanese turnovers. But the conversion rate was incredible. With the crowd screaming, a Japanese turnover felt like all but a guaranteed German goal throughout the second half. The penultimate point was arguably the best showcase of what the Germans can do. Captain Alexander Allgaier got a full-extension layout block and a couple of throws later, an around throw was headed out the side of the end zone just close enough for Malte Spanuth to snatch it out of the air with his toes just grazing the playing field for the goal. On double game point, Japan would work the entire point up the open side. Operating in very little space, the Japanese handlers hit tight window after tight window eventually scoring with a diving catch past a close defending German.
German players were naturally heartbroken after the tough loss, though they are not out of contention yet. With a win over Austria, and Denmark still left to play, they will hope for some help to produce some truly funky scenarios and tiebreakers. Japan on the other hand are sitting pretty, with wins over Columbia, Great Britain, and Germany they control their path to the #2 seed n the bracket to avoid a USA rematch until the final. Tomorrow Germany plays Chinese Taipei and the USA, Japan plays Austria and Panama.
Elsewhere in the Men’s Division
- The Swiss have had a hard go of it so far. Currently 0-4, they have played the top 4 teams in the pool through Day 2. Tomorrow they get the chance to get their first win. They still have a chance to make the bracket, but they certainly need help, and a three-way tie with New Zealand and others to advance.
- Chinese Taipei played a close double game point game against Panama. Stand out players Chen Jhen wei for Taipei and Victor Hugo De Gracia Avila for Panama had big games. Chen Jhen with six assists, and Hugo de Gracia Avila with six goals for the Panamanians. Panama broke twice in a row to bring it to 14-14, but eventually Chen Jhen wei threw his final assist for the goal to Lai Yi min to dash the Panamanians comeback.
- The Austrians pulled out a win over Denmark despite not playing their best. One of their top players Alexander Spahlholz got injured, and may miss some games the rest of the tournament. This game saw the Danish giving the Austrians a spirit score of 6; clearly they saw it differently than the Austrians, who gave the Danes a score of 12.
- Colombia looked the far better team against Germany — they were fast, clinical, and stingy, with the offense not turning the disc in the first half. The Germans got no breaks the entire game but made the Colombians work for the 13-9 win.
USA and Japan Top Pool A Standings
The USA and Japan seem to be the top of the pool. While they still have a number of games left, they are a tier above the rest. The final two spots in the bracket from the pool are still very much up for grabs. Great Britain’s win yesterday over the Germans has them sitting pretty, when you take into account Colombia’s 13-9 victory over Germany. Germany is 0-2 against the teams they are directly competing against. Colombia’s game on Tuesday morning against the British may help settle the bracket scenarios.
Denmark still hasn’t played Germany or Great Britain, but their close result 15-12 against Colombia suggests that they certainly can play their way into the bracket. Unfortunately, Panama and Chinese Taipei don’t seem to be in the hunt. While this tournament may not result in a lot of wins for that pair, they are certainly building their programs for the future.
As I see it, this is the situation for the hosts Germany: because of their losses against Great Britain and Colombia and a close result with Austria, it would take a miracle for them to make the bracket if my math is correct. Essentially, they need the Austrians to lose out, and hope the Danish can force a three-way tie between Great Britain, Denmark, and Germany at 4-4. GB can crush this hope with wins against either the Colombians or the Danish, but if all of this happens (and my understanding of tiebreakers is correct) then a Danish win over GB and a German win over Denmark could potentially see the hosts through. It could happen!
Although anything could happen, at this point a betting man would put USA, Japan, Colombia, and Great Britain as the top four seeds out of Pool A.
Tight at the Top in Pool B
This pool seems to have separated a bit more than Pool A. Belgium and Canada are at 4-0, while Italy and Australia sit at 3-1. New Zealand have two wins under their belt through two days and are not quite out of the picture just yet. However, they will need a win over Belgium or Canada to move past Italy or Australia, who both have wins over the Kiwis.
Ireland may have too much ground to make up as they have lost three out of four games already. Although having already faced the top teams in the pool, they may need to rely on a bit of luck to sneak into the bracket. Australia are in an interesting position as they still play Italy and Belgium, games which will cement their location in the pool.
At the bottom Switzerland, Russia, and China are playing for pride and would need incredible turnarounds in order to escape consolation play. Although nothing is impossible, each of these teams has dug themselves a deep hole.
Tuesday will feature a true test for Belgium as they play New Zealand and Canada. New Zealand will hope to win this game to potentially get to five wins and into the bracket.