WJUC 2022: US Day Four Recap

The US lock up semifinal byes in both U20 Open and Women's divisions.

The United States' Will O'Brien rises above two Italian defenders in the teams' power pool matchup at WJUC 2022. Photo: Kevin Leclaire -- UltiPhotos.com
The United States’ Will O’Brien rises above two Italian defenders in the teams’ power pool matchup at WJUC 2022. Photo: Kevin Leclaire — UltiPhotos.com

WROCLAW, POLAND – Both US teams clinched semifinals berths on Wednesday in their narrowest victories yet. In the Women’s Division, France avenged their loss to the Czech Republic in a roller coaster of a game.

U20 Women’s Division

Victories Lock USA Into Semis as Playoff Bracket is Set

In the US National Team’s first game of the day, they prevailed over the Czech Republic 15-8 in a highly anticipated match up in the top crossover pool. Both teams came into the game 5-0 and the victor would most likely guarantee themselves a bye-round into the semifinals. Though the final score doesn’t reflect it, the Czech Republic challenged the USA for the first 15 points of the game, only trailing 8-7 before the American D-line got rolling in the second half.

Both teams began the game holding to 2-2, with the Czechs finding early offensive success with their vertical stack, patiently working it to midfield before looking for a deep shot to the end zone. From there, the US broke twice in quick succession. Lauren Goddu and Abbie Davis both blocked a huck to give the Americans the disc and they punched in the first break with Harper Baer finding Bella Russell up the line after a give-and-go. On the next point the US defenders pressured a swing for a turn and Acacia Hahn quickly broke the mark around to Baer for the second break. The teams traded holds before the US broke twice more to make it 7-3, at which point it certainly seemed as though the US was prepared to run away with the game.

The Czech Republic didn’t go down easily however, and they worked through the US zone on the next point to hold at 7-4, then broke the US as their own zone forced several turnovers before Kristýna Tlustá found Alena Doležalová on a flick huck. The Czech Republic broke twice out of half to bring the game within one; both goals came as the US continued to struggle finding holes in their opponent’s zone and the Czechs blocked two attempts through the cup. The US crossed over Chagall Gelfand and Acacia Hahn in response, and the two found Elise Freedman popping through the cup again and again to move down the field before Gelfand found Hahn for the score. From there the USA found their defensive rhythm as Abbie Davis skied for multiple interceptions to give the US D-line chances at breaks, and they converted with ruthless efficiency. Gelfand was unbothered by the wind and connected deep with US receivers twice on perfect flick hucks. Harper Baer and Bella Russell were both excellent for the Americans after the turn; each threw one goal and scored two as they ran the US’s end zone offense.

Eight different players scored for the Czech Republic as they road a balanced attack, but their handlers Denisa Havlová (16 assists) and Kristýna Tlustá (12 assists, 8 goals) both continued their impressive performances in the tournament.

The Americans’ second game of the day was a less exciting affair. They beat New Zealand 15-2 in a rematch of pool play that had little to no impact on the bracket as the US had already locked themselves into the semis and New Zealand into the quarters. New Zealand actually began by breaking the US; the Americans dropped their centering pass off the pull before Zara Bowen picked up and flipped it to Alesha McQuoid for the score. The US scored 14 straight in response. Tessa Swinson (4 assists, 12 goals) delivered a highlight for the New Zealand squad—leaping for a massive sky and flipping in the score to make it 14-2.

The US now get a day off before they meet the winner of New Zealand and Canada in the semifinals on Friday.

Around the Division

In an exciting game to decide who would earn the second semifinal bye and who would fall to the quarterfinals, France prevailed over the Czech Republic 14-10, closing the game on 5-1 run to avenge their earlier loss in pool play. The game itself was a bit of a roller coaster; France opened up a 6-2 lead, the Czech Republic responded by outscoring the French 7-2 to go up 9-8, and then France finished the game on their aforementioned run.

Salomé Raulet threw six assists and scored one goal, seemingly refusing to let France lose. Juliette Bertrand also turned in an excellent four goal and three assist performance for the French. Margot Nissen continues to impress as France’s D-line handler, marshaling the French down the field off of turns in a calm and collected manner.

The Czech Republic now drop to the quarterfinals, where they’ll meet with an Italian squad that finished second in the lower pool; the winner will play France in the semis.

Canada, who comfortably topped the lower crossover pool, seemingly found some of their earlier form after two upset losses on Monday and Tuesday. The Canadians will play New Zealand in the quarters for a chance at the Americans in the semis.

U20 Open Division

Composed Offense and Versatile Defense Key as US Beat Italy

The US National Team played their closest game of the week, prevailing over an energized Italian team 15-10.

The Italians pulled to start and immediately went to their preferred zone look, a four-person cup that tried to force the Americans into wide swing throws in the wind. The US marched down the field cleanly and Josh Singleton broke with a high-release backhand to Tucker Kalmus for the hold. Italy responded with a hold of their own as Edoardo Fabbri launched a beautiful flick huck around his mark to find Giacomo Rosi in the back of the end zone for the first of his game-high six assists.

The Italians responded on the next point with a box-and-one zone look designed to limit Singleton, who was guarded tightly. Declan Miller and Anil Driehuys were happy to march it down the field on their own, and Singleton eventually broke free for the goal as Italy transitioned into a person defense. Fabbri threw another forehand deep the next point; this time the lefty connected with Nicolò Mazzola on a blade across the stack. The teams continued trading holds in similar fashion to 6-5; the US handlers worked the disc against the Italian’s zone look and the Italians found success with deep looks. The US switched their strategy and went to a zone look that pressured the Italians into a missed dump pass to give the US a short field. Alex Belfiore broke his mark with an around backhand to find Zeppelin Raunig flashing across the front of the end zone and the USA had the first break.

The teams held to 9-7 before the USA scored three breaks in rapid fashion to go up 12-7. The Americans appeared poised to keep rolling when a down wind pull pinned the Italians deep in their end zone, but Matteo Paradisi got open deep and Fabbri muscled a backhand huck upwind just short of the goal. Paradisi flipped it in for the hold to stop the bleeding. The Italians broke back once to make it 13-10 on another gorgeous Fabbri deep look. The USA cleaned up from there, holding on a Declan Miller flick huck and then breaking as Eli Fried got open up the line.

The Italian coaches had clearly scouted the USA yesterday and went to their box-and-one defense aimed at Singleton pretty early. Unfortunately for the Italians, that left Declan Miller—who had not played in the last two days and therefore probably wasn’t a part of the scouting report—free to run the US offense in a six-on-six setting that gave him tons of space. Miller excelled to the tune of two assists and three goals in his return to competition.

Edoardo Fabbri threw six assists and at least three hockey assists in a truly spectacular throwing performance as Italy fell short.

The win locks the USA into the semifinals; tomorrow’s game against Canada will decide bracket seeding between the two teams. Similarly, Italy will play France in a game that will decide seeding for the quarterfinals.

Around the Division

Canada won 15-11 over France to clinch a bye in the bracket’s first round and a berth in the semis. Neo Debroux had his best game of the weekend, throwing two assists and scoring four goals for the Canadian O-line en route to the victory.

In the lower crossover pool, Colombia won over Belgium and New Zealand beat Austria. The wins should mean that both teams have locked up berths in the quarterfinals while Belgium and Austria drop into the 7th place bracket.

  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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