Shout are still on track for the hat-trick.
October 2, 2021 by Sean Colfer in Recap with 0 comments
CUSB Shout (Bologna) booked their place in the women’s final with a 15-9 win over Valkyria (Stockholm) in less than ideal conditions this afternoon. The Italians are looking to join London’s Iceni in the record books as the only women’s teams to win three consecutive European titles and are on track to make history.
The semifinal took place a day earlier than expected, with the 9am slot changing due to an amended schedule thanks to weather conditions worsening this evening. Both teams came through close quarterfinals this morning and had some time to adapt to the wet conditions. The wind was not a significant factor with only light breezes throughout the game.
Shout started out hot, snatching a break on the second point of the game after their zone was able to force a turn. Anna Ceschi caught the disc under and unleashed a flick huck down the field, setting up a short field for the Italians that they calmed executed. Valkyria star Sarah Eklund tried to pop a throw through the cup on the next point but it was blocked, and on the next point Eklund couldn’t reel in a long throw. On both occasions Shout went down to secure breaks and extended their lead to 4-1.
The teams traded through the middle part of the first half before the game became more stilted thanks to some contested calls and protracted discussions. Valkyria captain Molly Robbins had a seemingly fantastic block called back for a contested fall by Shout captain Irene Scazzieri, while Eklund was involved in a few discussions after contact from Shout players too.
Valkyria composed themselves well, though, and broke back to take the score to 6-5 before Shout closed the half out1 at 7-5.
Shout held out of half after a long point with four turns from each team, broke on the next point with much cleaner offense after the turn, then broke again with another around from Ceschi for a commanding 10-5 lead.
By this point in the game the field, which had not been in great condition at the first pull, had been so destroyed that both teams were struggling to stay upright, let alone cut at full speed. The zones both teams employed meant that the foot traffic in the center of the field was high and it became harder and harder to get offense flowing nicely for both teams.
The middle part of the game saw Valkyria claw back some of the ground they had lost early on. Sarah Eklund laid out to reel in an inside shot from Lisel Caldwell and an expansive throw from Robbins after the turn gave the Swedes a break back for 10-7. They pulled closer again at 11-9, but Shout responded in style. A Ceschi goal for a hold, Ana Diaz skying a pack for a break and then a sliding Erica Marchesini goal for another break gave the Italians a seemingly unassailable 14-9 lead and put them on the doorstep of yet another European final.
Valkyria started going back to the indoor roots against the Italian zone late in the game, throwing overheads and risky blades to find space around the congested middle of the field. One such throw didn’t quite come off and Shout took full advantage, Elena Audetto catching the winning goal despite some contact for a 15-9 win.
As well as Ceschi, the Scazzieri sisters were crucial for the Italians as usual along with Gaia Pancotti’s ability with the disc and Cecilia Scagliarini’s constant backing up of errant throws.
Irene Scazzieri said that the team had to adjust their whole game plan because of the field conditions, “The center of the field was terrible but we always play in the center. Our usual game is to maintain the disc in power positions in the middle, but it was quite impossible to have a good change of direction and cuts in the middle. So, we tried to maintain the disc on the sideline but it was different from our usual game. Obviously it’s also more difficult on defense because if you have to change your direction it’s difficult.”
Scazzieri expressed her pride in the team for maintaining their focus despite the last couple of years being so difficult, “We haven’t really played since 2019 so we are very proud because I think we played with our hearts and our heads, and everyone and everything was on that field this afternoon so we are very proud.”
Shout are not thinking about the three-peat, though, said Scagliarini, “We don’t talk about it, it is scaramanzia2 so we don’t joke with fortune so we’ll keep our focus, keep our eyes on the prize and the pedal to the metal3 and keep going.”
Valkyria have been an entertaining addition to the top table of European ultimate and will now play for a bronze medal. Handlers Nadia Melinkova and Renata Varnaite kept the disc moving well, and the Eklunds, Sofia and Sarah, were excellent too.
Robbins was pleased with the tournament so far but felt that the Swedes had left something on the field in the semifinal, “It was really empowering to get to this point. We definitely wanted to come top eight but top four was beyond our expectations so we were really happy to play. But we also realized the game was winnable. We knew that we had a chance and we were given chances, and we didn’t convert those chances. It was hard to see that but I was really proud of our team that we could bring such a tough game to them.
“Conditions were tough again. The game was similar in some ways to the first time around4, CUSB made some changes to their cup that were a bit more challenging. We got the chances we wanted to get but we just needed to score more of those, and I think some unforced errors the second game really made the difference. It would have been a closer game if we had cleaned up those errors.”
Valkyria still have a bronze medal to fight for when they meet Gravity (Dublin) in the third-place game tomorrow morning. Robbins is focused on making sure the team solves some of the issues they had against Shout, “We really want to make sure that we clean up the small things that we weren’t able to clean up this time and make a couple more adjustments on offense and defense to be able to bring a stronger game tomorrow.”
The rules here dictate that there is a hard time cap for the first half, so even if the score does not reach 8 it is half at 45 minutes. ↩
This means that they don’t tempt fate. ↩
They said these clichés with a broad grin so they were definitely aware of how cheesy it sounded. ↩
These teams met in pool play. ↩