Shout takes their second straight EUCF title!
October 2, 2019 by Aneesa Smith in Coverage, Recap with 0 comments
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On Sunday afternoon everyone turned their attention to the final game where CUSB Shout (Bologna, Italy) matched up against Cosmic Girls (St. Petersburg, Russia). The teams had met before in the pool play where CUSB defeated Cosmic Girls on double game point and everyone was interested to see how the final would play out, since the outcome had been so close previously. Both teams played with great determination in a fantastic display of athleticism, but in this instance, it was the Italians who took home the gold, for the second year in a row.
As the players huddled together in their pregame circles the CUSB circle was almost double the size of the Cosmic Girls group. The Italians had used their large squad size to their advantage in previous games and there was no doubt that they would be doing the same in this match. The game started off with a break for Cosmic Girls. The pressure of the large, onlooking crowd perhaps got to the Italians, and a poorly timed break throw allowed the Russians to put the first point on the scoreboard. Nadezhda Lebedeva sent a quick flick to Helen Tera for the score.
Cosmic Girls decided to play person defense, matching Inês Bringel to her former EuroStar teammate, Laura Farolfi. Even with this tight defense, Farolfi still managed to get an assist and give the Italians their first point of the match. CUSB then went on to show the crowd exactly why they are the reigning European champions. They employed an “assassin zone” to limit Dina Dumanskaia. This zone caused huge issues for the Russian side who had to swing the disc over and back continuously, forcing them to make errors. While six of the CUSB line stayed in zone formation, Greta Melega played incredibly effective person defense on Dumanskaia making it near impossible for her to help her teammates break through this zone. CUSB’s zone worked so well that it allowed them to secure four successive breaks and bring the score to 5-1.
Everyone on the sidelines were willing the Russians to get back into the game and finally Dumanskaia sent a disc to Yuliya Akramova for a score which put a halt to the Italian break train. Both teams scored their next offensive points, bringing the score up to 6-3. Cosmic Girls ramped up their defense and forced a turn which they converted into a break. Laura Farolfi continued to impress the crowds and sent a huge backhand to Silke Delafortrie which she reeled in with ease. With CUSB still three points ahead of Cosmic Girls, 7-4, the Russians had to rethink their tactics and their use of quick, give-go offense proved to work against the tight zone defense. With the score at 7-5, a long point ensued where both teams had hucks brought down by the other side. Finally, CUSB managed to score and take half at 8-5.
Half time was welcomed by both sides who were exhausted in the heavy midday sun. Cosmic Girls saw their chance after half time to begin the comeback they needed to propel themselves back into the game. Once again CUSB unleashed their zone defense, however the Cosmic Girls worked around it perfectly and Ksenia Yasalova laid out to catch the first score of the second half. Next up, to show the crowds how the Cosmic Girls make a comeback was Helen Tera who got a big block on a CUSB huck then caught a goal for Cosmic Girls to bring the score up to 8-7. At this point the Italian side called a timeout, clearly a little taken aback by the strength the Russians were showing at this point. They decided to change up their defense by switching to person defense from then on.
The teams traded after this and then the crowd were treated to another break from the Russians, tying the score up at 9-9. The Italians held their offense point, playing with the same speed and agility as always. Cosmic Girls also held their offense and then got the crucial break they had been gearing up towards since half time. Tera got another huge endzone block and once again collected the score for that point, putting the Russians in front at 11-10.
At this point the Italians, spurred on by a loud, cheering sideline, finished the game in astonishing style by scoring a hold and four uninterrupted breaks. They stole the disc from the Cosmic Girls with hand blocks and phenomenally tight person defense, which forced over-throws and rushed offense from their opposition. The game and tournament were brought to a close fittingly when CUSB captain, Irene Scazzieri brought down a beautiful forehand huck from Greta Melega. Scazzieri threw her hands up in delight as the rest of the team rushed onto the pitch to celebrate together.
Scazzieri later said that the team faced much more difficult competition this year in their pursuit of the gold medals, therefore the win was not expected nor easy to achieve. CUSB Shout came 13th at EUCF in 2013 and since then they have been building the team up, starting with youth players and slowly introducing them to the club. She said that it’s great for young players to compete at such a high level and to earn a medal also is even more encouraging for them. The win today was the coronation of many years of hard work by the club. The CUSB Shout coach said that switching from zone to person defense was what won them the game. Although it allowed Cosmic Girls to catch up for a short while, eventually it paid off and it was the defense line who secured the win.
The Cosmic Girls were devastated by the loss, but should be proud of making it to the final for the first time. They played incredibly throughout the entire tournament and in the end, the tactical Italian defense is what really made the game difficult for them. Cosmic Girls spirit captain, Yuliya Akramova, said that the team came to the tournament with the goal of showing their best game and taking as much from the tournament as possible, which they certainly achieved. They were very grateful for the whole experience and said that EUCF has motivated them to become even better. They wanted to thank Gravity for an amazing semi-final match and CUSB Shout for two games full of dedication, respect and a desire to win.
Reversal of fortunes sees French take home bronze.
Early on Sunday morning YAKA (Noisy-Le-Sec, France) faced off against Gravity (Dublin, Ireland) in the third place play off. Both teams narrowly lost out in their semi-finals, YAKA by one point and Gravity by two. Both sides were fired up and desperate to finish their EUCF campaign with a medal around their neck. Within the first few points Gravity’s EuroStar, Sarah Melvin, had to resign due to injury and from then on YAKA dominated the field, scoring multiple breaks and finished up the game with a huge lead of 15-7. The match was a complete turn of events as Gravity had defeated YAKA in pool play. Before the tournament, YAKA commented that their goal was to get into the semi-finals and earn a medal so they can now safely say “mission accomplished”. Gravity did not go home empty handed however, as they were awarded the spirit prize for the division.
That wraps up the European club season and the EUCF trophy will remain in Italy for another year. The women’s division was just as hotly contested as predicted, with new teams such as Cosmic Girls and Gravity storming into the top four and seasoned teams like Iceni (London, UK) going home without a medal for the first time in a very long time. Many teams used some (or all) of their five pickup player spots to great advantage,1 while others decided to reward the players who have been training and playing with the club all season. It’s clear to everyone that the women’s club scene has been getting stronger and more competitive every year and next year will surely see some new faces and more shakeups in the predicted winners.
In the women’s division, teams are allowed to add five players between qualifying from the EUCR and playing the EUCF ↩