Latvia and Finland have another thrilling semifinal!
October 2, 2021 by Judith Bauer in Recap with 0 comments
PuTi (Finland) and Salaspils (Latvia) met in the semifinals in a repeat of their universe point semifinal thiller in 2019. Both PuTi and Salaspils went into the semifinal undefeated. The game was tight throughout but Salaspils repeated their 2019 performance and will face GRUT in the final tomorrow. The final score was 14-12 in favor of the Latvians.
Throughout the game, the teams could barely be separated. The conditions were challenging for both teams. Muddy fields, wind, and rain prevented both teams from showing their top talent. From the beginning, the teams were trading some pretty unclean points – in the truest sense of the word: given the muddy battlefield and the many courageous layouts of committed defenders, it didn’t take long for the vast majority of players to be bathed in slush.
One of the biggest challenges in this match was the defenders’ important decision making of when to commit to a direction, as it was close to impossible to cut at full speed without taking half the field’s grass with you. In the beginning, PuTi struggled to find themselves and showed a couple of unfortunate passes right in front of their end zone. Their hard fight shows especially in points like PuTi’s 2-2 equalizer, which took 13 minutes. Raakel Hotari’s caught a Jarno Sihvo assist to end the marathon point. Sihvo later on proved himself a couple of more times to be a valuable player to the Finnish team. Besides the points being tiring, the players on the sideline were not able to recover from their points, as they immediately cooled down and had to wrap themselves into their jackets.
Even though some players played very safe handler games, there were been drops over drops, which the teams cannot really be faulted for given the wind and rain. Their high commitment to win the game has been noticeable. On Salaspils, especially worthy of mentioning were the dedicated defense moves of Didzis Malderis and the unwavering devotion to honest mixed ultimate of Ultiworld contributor, Ned Garvey. PuTi had their typical outstanding players. Their top women, Inka Wessman and Essi Inkinen, seemed like they were not bothered by the rain.
In the end, Salaspils was able to secure the victory, showing what made them champions last time: it is their full commitment to true mixed ultimate, having strong players of both genders and being well-rehearsed in their game together. The players from Salaspils seem to be more of a chosen family rather than a sports team. They appear to read each other’s thoughts and they proved they were able to keep their spirits up high even when getting tested by the opponent.
Knowing they aren’t untouchable after their 14-12 semifinal will give Salaspils fighting spirit for the finals. It remains to be seen whether their upcoming opponents, GRUT (Amsterdam), will be able to bypass the Icarus effect or whether their overconfidence will be their downfall.