World U24 Ultimate Championship: Semifinals Recap (Women’s)

USA and Japan will faceoff in a rematch from the thrilling 2015 Final!

Japan vs Canada. Photo by John Kofi

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HEIDELBERG, GER — This semifinal Friday turned out to be very intense, but the end results were not very surprising. As both semifinal combinations had been seen during the week, one could make their favorite pick based on those results, and look prescient.

USA vs. Colombia

The USA matched up with Colombia again after their pool play game on day three. The so far unbeaten USA squad managed to win this game as well, with a final score of 15-12. The US started strong into the game and managed to take half 8-5. After half, the Colombians made a comeback, but in the end just could not quite close the gap between the huge US squad and their own very skilled top end.

That top end had to carry the load for the Colombians. Only six players made it onto the scoresheet, led by a wide margin by Manuela Cardenas, who tallied an astounding nine goals to go with two assists. The Americans got strong leadership from star Angela Zhu, who tossed in a pair of assists and pair of goals, and her college (and now club) teammate, Claire Trop, who recorded a trio of each. It was Zhu that found Trop for the game winning goal.

Following the match, Colombian coach Mauricio Moore talked about the team losing the game mentally, more than due to fatigue. Colombia had some miscommunications and trouble finding their rhythm, especially early on. After their first game against the US, they managed to make some adjustments in terms of defensive strategies and managed to force some turns on the USA squad, but could not connect on enough of them. According to Moore, they threw on a lot of different looks to prevent the USA from settling down and getting accommodated with one setup.

For their part, the USA did a good job of moving the disc and using the open options their defense gave them. The US squad had a great start into the game and kept the pressure high until the very end. According the coaches, the team just worked well within their system, although there were some uncharacteristic errors on the team’s offense. They will hope to clean up these last bits of miscommunications and play a great final against the Japanese squad tomorrow.

Japan vs. Canada

The game between Japan and Canada was as close as their matchup earlier in the week, but Japan was a little more clinical in this instance, taking home the win 15-13. The first couple of points were very messy from both teams as neither one could clean up their offense. Canada managed to get a couple of breaks early on, but Japan clawed back and converted on easy errors by the Canadian squad. The Canadians fought back, and Japan matched with improved play. From there it turned out to be a very clean game, maybe the cleanest game in the women’s division so far, with a total of 13 clean offensive holds. Canada came out in a couple of different junk looks to prevent a quick score by the Japanese and took half 8-7, maintaining that narrow lead until 11-10.

Both teams showed extreme athleticism and great defensive pressure throughout the game, but Japan turned it up another notch in the final portions of the match. The steady hands of Brittney Dos Santos and Anouchka Beaudry — the team’s leaders in both assists and points for the tournament — couldn’t push Canada through the pressure that mounted. A couple of aggressive throwing choices, particularly in the red zone, helped Japan score four straight to go up 14-11.

Although we have seen these matchups before, the quality of ultimate was very high and both games were very tight. In the end one saw that it took a very small difference in patience and composure during the semifinals for Japan and USA to take the upper hand and advance to the final.

  1. Christina Obermayer
    Christina Obermayer

    Christina Obermayer is a young player from Vienna, Austria, who is really interested in everything ultimate has to offer. She coaches her mixed team, Wiener Mischung, and plays for the women’s team Box Vienna Ultimate. She’s represented Austria on the junior level before and is eager to get some more international experience, both on the field and reporting from the sidelines.

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