Pool A was absolute madness! The Netherlands advance by the narrowest of margins!
July 16, 2019 by Peter Jesse in Coverage, News, Recap with 0 comments
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HEIDELBERG, GER —
The end to the pool phase was always going to be dramatic but the drama we saw in Pool A was over the top. After the last pool game ended with a double game point win by France against Latvia, French players were delighted with the win in the belief that this would be enough to proceed to power pools. Players from the Netherlands that were cheering on Latvia were devastated after the end of the game. They were certain that they were victim to this overpowered group that came to be due to WFDF seeding rules. Half an hour later when score reporter was updated the picture changed completely and Holland made it to power pools together with Latvia and the USA.
The first round of the day set the stage for what was about to happen in the evening. Great Britain was able to keep it close for a long time against a Latvian team with only 14 active players and no non playing coaches. Latvia plays a fast paced game where all the players are able to advance the disc immediately and precisely. Katrīna Ance Gasiņa kept things moving in the handler spot and Didzis Malderis was getting open at will. If the team gets stuck Arvīds Orlovskis finds a way with his throwing skills. In the second half GB was relying more and more on deep shots but they could not connect on them. Once Latvia got the disc in their hands they hardly ever gave it back which lead to a 15-10 victory for Latvia.
The Netherlands showed their talent against the tournament favorite USA. Both teams scored on hucks in the opening phase. Walt Jansen was dominant downfield. Holland was first able to shut down immediate hucks but USA’s handler movement was fluid and lead to an easy score. Michael Ing’s quick catching and passing the disc on in the same moment is unparalleled at this tournament. Late in the first half the Netherlands made some errors and USA pulled away 8-5. In the second half the Netherlands kept trying to shoot deep but Anne Minnaard and Floor Keulartz’s throws were often too floaty. USA was able to apply a lot of defensive pressure due to Joseph White’s pulls deep into the other end zone and ran away with the game to win 15-9 in the end.
Before the last round USA was already the clear number one in Pool A. Latvia had one foot in power pools they only needed a respectable result against France. One of the strong European sides the Netherlands or France would not make it to power pools and everything came down to the result of France versus Latvia.
During the game no team could gain a significant lead and so the game would be decided in double game point with Latvia receiving the disc. French fans were cheering for their team and a good portion of the Netherlands team cheered on Latvia. Everybody at the field was under the impression that if France scored they would stay in the hunt for medals and if Latvia scores the Netherlands will go on to play in power pool E. A timeout was called and France took a very long time selecting their seven.
Marco Delalle battled the whole double game point to stop Orlovskis and committed two fouls in the process. Orlovskis had the chance to end the game two times in one offensive possession. The first time too many receivers were under the disc and the disc came to the edge of the endzone on a foul call. The second time, Orlovskis’ pass to the end zone was intercepted by the Martin Guerer. After this close call France showed patience and worked it up the whole field with Paul Boillon passing it to Guerer for the bookends and the 15-14 win for France.
Latvia’s captain Jānis Bernāns told me about their game against the USA early on, “Our team was a little off in the first game against the USA but the start against the Netherlands was very good and we performed well since then.” Commenting on the close group he added, “We knew we only had to score some points to advance to the next stage but we feel that we let the Netherlands down by not winning this game.” A disappointed Floor Keulartz told me that her team played very well in all the group games except the loss to Latvia and that it is disappointing that they don’t get a second chance due to the format of this tournament.
Half an hour later, when the official tournament homepage was updated, it turned out that everyone was mistaken and Holland qualified as the third team from Pool A for power pools. The tiebreak went as follows: The Netherlands, Latvia and France all had two wins in the pool and were all 1-1 among each other. Latvia had a +6 point differential while The Netherlands and France both had -3 among the three games between the tied teams. This put The Netherlands and France at another tie and then the following rule was used:
B3.3.2. If not all teams remain tied, but one or more subgroups of the teams remain tied, separate these subgroups from the ranking. Each subgroup is then to be ranked separately, starting with the first ranking criterion.
The first ranking criterion mentioned there would be the head to head game between the Netherlands and France, which Holland won 15-11 on Sunday. This news was quite a shock to everyone, but in the end, France will have to settle for a lower pool finish and maximum placement of 13th.
Colombia beat Mexico 15-6 to advance to power pools. In the most exciting game in Pool B, the Japanese and Swedish styles of ultimate clashed in a game for the top of the pool. Sweden had early success hucking to their tall men but Japan found answers and were very successful with a very structured offensive approach swinging the disc the whole width of the field and attacking down the line when possible.
Both teams managed to get breaks in the first half but the other team could always answer immediately. Before half Sweden was successful with an arrowhead zone that got two turns when Japan tried to throw behind the cup but Jonatan Angergård was there to intercept the disc. Sweden capitalized and took half 8-7 which was on serve. After half Japan beat the zone by going over the top and they got an immediate break after an errant swing. Japan managed to discourage Sweden from shooting it deep and when the Scandinavians did huck, Japan often had two defenders to challenge the deep shot. Shoga Otake had an excellent game for Japan’s defense as he often took on Sweden’s premier deep threat Sebastian Arora-Jonsson. Sweden showed in this game that they have a balanced team and some strong female throwers in Alva Angergård and Ida Larsson.
In the last phase of the game, Japan was able to create more defensive pressure and were deadly when they got the disc. A run through block by Yui Matsushima started a three point run to make it 14-11 and Japan closed out the game 15-12. Japanese coach Keisuke Ishi told me after the game, “We had problems in the beginning with hucks from Sweden to their tall guys but we adjusted by playing more zone and from time to time half court defense.” He added that he is looking forward to fix some problems in their game in power pools to be ready for bracket play. Sweden Coach Simon Schönstöm recapped the initial pool phase by saying: “We are not playing on the margins and have more potential. We are looking forward to power pools.” He also told me that the team was a little surprised by Jonatan Angergård’s lead in scoring stats since they are a balanced team with a lot of versatile strong players.
This was not Germany’s day as they suffered two defeats. They advance to power pools without taking any victories to the second phase. First Canada beat them 15-4 and in the afternoon, on the live stream, the Czech Republic also outclassed them. Germany’s start was horrible as they conceded three breaks in a row. After their first score they had a big emotional reaction and had some momentum but when they took away the disc from the Czech offense, they quickly lost it back due to a stall out. Petr Hrych punished Germany right away by throwing a big hammer to Matěj Štětka. The Czech Republic was very calm during the whole game, they had already bageled China on the live stream earlier on, and kept on shooting it deep to their female targets. The female side of this Czech roster is very hard to stop. Tereza Havelcová and her teammates came up with amazing catches and are not shy to boost the disc to the end zone themselves.
Poland secured their spot in power pools by beating Spain on double game point in what was a game of runs. Spain had a late late comeback but it wasn’t enough. Spain failed to make it to power pools after a good performance in this pool and Poland takes the win against Australia with them to the next phase.
Australia will not take any victories into power pools since they lost to their AOBUC rivals Singapore on the Ultiworld stream. The Aussies had the better start breaking right away and scoring another break after an amazing layout block by Stuart Jinks. Both teams were playing zone and Singapore impressed with their patience and their attack through the cup. Singapore’s Boon Hui Chua had a lot of touches and Joel Bernard was hard to stop with his expansive pivoting.
The game had lots of stoppages but things were always solved in the politest of ways. On of those stoppages happened when Benedict JiaHan Ng toed the line to make a huge grab close to the Australian end zone. The catch was upheld and lead to a break for Singapore. At halftime Singapore took the lead for the first time after they capitalized on an Australian turnover. Singapore’s patience with the disc was their biggest asset. They scored a point with 94 touches and zero turnovers and added a break. Australia shied away from hucking but when they did Molly Valencour was their target. Australia fought back to make it 11-11 but after that they did not have the focus to beat Singapore. Singapore punished every mistake in the final stages and won, for the first time ever, according to coach Victor Tan, 14-11 against Australia. Coach Tan also told me that before the tournament they were afraid that the team would under perform like Singapore teams have done in the past but the big win in the first game gave them the confidence to play their patient style. Tan is looking forward to the meeting with Japan in power pools.
Power Pool E
This pool merges the best teams from Pools A and C. The second pool phase starts with games of teams who have the same amount of wins they are taking with them from the first round. Canada will face the USA, Czech Republic will meet Latvia and the Netherlands will take on Germany in a game for a last chance to make it to the quarter finals. Only the top four teams from this pool will advance to the top eight.
Power Pool F
In Pool F, Singapore will meet Asia’s dominant ultimate force Japan. Sweden will take on Poland and Colombia and Australia will get a chance to show that they deserve to be in power pools. Pools E and F will have a second round of play on Wednesday and after that the quarter final picture should be much clearer.