WJUC 2022: Day One Recap

It was a dominant first day for the American teams in Poland.

Zeppelin Raunig was one of the stars of the day for the US as they kicked off WJUC 2022. Photo: Kevin Leclaire -- UltiPhotos.com
Zeppelin Raunig was one of the stars of the day for the US as they kicked off WJUC 2022. Photo: Kevin Leclaire — UltiPhotos.com

WROCLAW, POLAND – After the U20 Women from Great Britain and Poland thrilled with a universe point showcase game following the opening ceremonies on Saturday, the World Junior Ultimate Championships kicked off in earnest on Sunday, with the US National teams seeing their first action.

U20 Women’s Division

US Women Dominate Germans To Open Campaign

In the women’s division, the US national team looked dominant on Sunday, defeating Germany 15-2 in their lone game of the day. The Americans looked irrepressible from the get go, building a commanding 6-0 lead within minutes of the game’s start and cruising through a comprehensive victory.

Acacia Hahn was forceful in the backfield off the turn, scoring or assisting on two of the US’s first three breaks and three of their first six. Erica Birdsong, likewise, was brilliant on defense, forming a mark at the front of the occasional US zone defense that closed off just about every throwing lane to Germany’s handlers, who were forced to attempt wide swings or ill-fated over-the-top throws. Mia Beeman-Weber (1 goal, 1 assist) rounded out the D-line as a dynamic downfield threat off the turn, skying any defender who had the misfortune of going up against them in the air.

On offense, the US was ruthlessly efficient. The O-line’s sheer level of disc skill across the group resulted in a squad that moved the disc downfield against Germany with impressive pace that opposing coaches will be challenged to scheme an answer to in future games. Tufts handler Lia Schwartz stood out for the O-line as she scored or assisted on all three of the team’s holds in the game and delivered a highlight of her own, skying a much taller German defender to regain possession after a turn.

Though Germany was overmatched by the US, Frida Rücker (2 goals, 2 assists on Day 1) shone through as a talented handler who remained unfazed by the American’s fierce defensive schemes.

The US will play two games on Monday against Italy (1-1) and Austria (0-1).

Around the Division

At the close of day one, New Zealand sits atop pool A after going 2-0, with relatively close wins over Austria (15-14) and Italy (15-9). New Zealand are scheduled to play the currently winless Germany before closing out their pool play against the US on Tuesday. Italy is currently third in the pool with a victory over Germany; they’ll play the US on Monday before meeting with Austria on Tuesday in a game that will likely decide third place in Pool A. Austria is 0-1 after their universe point loss to New Zealand and an afternoon off.

In Pool B, perennial powerhouse Canada currently leads after a 15-3 victory over Great Britain in their first game of the week. The Canadian team has a balanced attack, with several players capable of getting free in the end zone; they leave Day 1 as the favorite to eventually meet the US in the final.

U20 Open Division

Defensive Pressure Keys Two Victories for US Men

The US U20 Open squad got things rolling at WJUC with a 15-6 victory over Germany. After the American offense opened with a hold, Callahan Phinney skied for interceptions on back-to-back points to set up two quick US breaks. Though Germany responded with a hold and a break of their own, that 3-2 score proved to be the narrowest margin across the remainder of the game. The Americans went on a run to take half 8-4, scoring another two breaks and punching in three holds. The team then really found their momentum in the second half. Ocean Hines and Erica Brown launched huge pulls that forced the German offense to start from deep within their own end zone point after point. Downfield, the US defenders frustrated Germany’s deep looks with a switch-heavy scheme, leaving the German handlers forced to shoulder more of the offensive burden in the backfield. Henri Bernecker (3 goals, 3 assists on Day 1) was a force for Germany, managing to get open up the line against any defender matched up with him. Ultimately, the US defensive pressure was too much and the D-line’s offense too efficient as they outscored Germany 7-2 in the second half.

The US resumed play in the afternoon against Colombia. Although the game was ultimately not a particularly close victory at 15-4, the beginning of the game hardly reflected the final score line. Over the first six points, the teams each traded two holds and a break, and the US found themselves being pulled to at 3-3 after giving up just their second break of the day. Josh Singleton marched the US offense down the field before finding himself in a power position and quickly sending a flick huck to his old YCC teammate Tobias Brooks for the hold. Colombia responded with a hold of their own; Jacobo García Salazar made a huge layout grab to save possession and quickly dished to José Alejandro Lopera Higuita who found a hammer over the top to Dante Carvajalino Rivera for the hold at to once again knot the score at 4-4. Unfortunately for the South Americans, it was the last goal they would muster.

The US held and broke three times to take half 8-4, their defense pressuring the Colombian handlers into high-stall throwaways or narrower and narrower throwing windows. Once again, Erica Brown and Ocean Hines landed pulls deep in their opponent’s end zone. Brown would make the standout play of the half—absolutely flying for a shoulder-height layout and ultimately finding Nanda Min-Fink deep in the end zone to break for half. The second half carried on much in the same way, as the Colombians appeared to run out of gas and were held scoreless by the US defensive core.

Despite not seeing the field much in their two games, the US O-line did look good in their limited run for the day. Singleton, Declan Miller, Anil Driehuys, and Caelan McSweeney offer an unflappable handler corps whose disc movement and throwing prowess complement downfield stars in Felix Moren (2 goals, 2 assists) and Oscar Graff (4 goals, 1 assist) who ruthlessly took advantage of the cutting lanes. The US D-line also looked excellent off the turn; when they slowed down no opposing D-line had a match for Zeppelin Raunig (4 goals, 1 assist) in the end zone, while Louis Douville Beaudoin (1 goal, 3 assists) distributed well and made one of the catches of the tournament so far—a near impossible diving grab to win the game over Colombia.

Around the Division

Elsewhere in Pool A, France is also 2-0 after Day 1, with a 15-9 victory over Colombia and a 15-5 win over Great Britain. The team, led by Arthur Herbreteau (9 assists) and Léo Cheret (4 goals, 4 assists), will clash with the US on Monday at 11am local time. Austria also finds themselves 2-0 after a win over Great Britain and a nail biting 15-14 victory over Germany, in what may have been the game of the tournament thus far. After Germany went on a 3-0 run to tie the game at 14, Jonas Barth made two critical plays for Austria: first laying out for a block to regain possession after a turn and then skying two German defenders for the game-winning grab.

In Pool B, Italy looked dominant in its 10- and 13-point wins over the Czech Republic and Belgium, respectively, with 22 different players scoring goals on the day. Canada hasn’t seemed far behind, with similarly impressive 10- and 8-point wins. The two sides will meet on Monday in a game that seems likely to decide the pool’s winner. New Zealand and Belgium are each 1-1 on the day, leaving them in the hunt for third in the pool.

  1. Matt Singleton
    Matt Singleton

    Matt Singleton grew up playing ultimate in North Carolina's Triangle area and played for two years at Davidson College. He is currently a law school student at UNC Chapel Hill.

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