WJUC 2022: US Day Three Recap

The United States are well positioned heading into power pools as they jockey for bracket spots.

Elise Freedman has been a driving force downfield for the US over hte first few days of WJUC 2022. Photo: Kevin Leclaire -- UltiPhotos.com
Elise Freedman has been a driving force downfield for the US over the first few days of WJUC 2022. Photo: Kevin Leclaire — UltiPhotos.com

WROCLAW, POLAND – Regular pool play wrapped up on Tuesday in the World Junior Ultimate Championships and the seeding for crossover pools was set. Both of the US teams remain undefeated; they each clinched a spot in the quarterfinals and will compete to earn a first round bye in the championship bracket.

U20 Women’s Division

‘Love, Trust, and Grit;’ US Seek to Embody Core Principles as Competition Heats Up

The US National Team closed out standard pool play cruising to a 15-5 victory over New Zealand on Tuesday. The teams traded holds to 1-1 with Abbie Davis scoring the first of three goals for the US and Tessa Swinson also scoring the first of three goals for the Kiwis. The US held on their next point before reeling off four breaks to go up 6-1. New Zealand held to make it 6-2 as Tessa Swinson scored a second goal. The US O-line returned to the field and Lia Schwartz promptly found Elise Freedman in the end zone; it was the first of four such connections for the Americans’ dynamic duo. New Zealand found a little more success in the second half, scoring three times, as they continued trying to take advantage of their taller receivers. The US D-line continues to torment opposing O-lines after the turn as every player brings a high level of disc skill; the US are able to seamlessly work down the field and force all seven opponents to defend in space.

The US’s second game of the day was a far more exciting affair as the Americans faced off against France in the first game of the top crossover pool. Despite a hotly contested first half, the US prevailed 15-9 as their D-line broke again and again. France began the game on defense and turned to their preferred zone look. The US’s handler corps was patient and composed, marching the offense down the field until Rachel Chang found Elise Freedman for the hold. France responded with a hold of their own, relying on handler movement from Salomé Raulet who eventually scored on a strike. The US held and then broke twice, and it seemed like the flood gates had opened. But, France held and then eventually broke to bring it to 6-5 as Raulet found Juliette Bertrand with a cross field blade. The US crossed Chagall Gelfand over to the O-line in response and Gelfand delivered, hucking just short of the end zone, sprinting down the field, collecting the reset, and then finding Freedman with a cheeky inside break to hold. Both teams held from there to close the half 8-6.

After a spirited first half that ended with France still very much in the game, one might’ve imagined a similar second half. However, Mia Beeman-Weber put that thought to rest on the first point out of half as they skied a French player for an interception and scored on a strike cut for bookends. From there the USA ran away with the game, outscoring France 7-3 in the second half. The US ended the game in typically clinical fashion as Freedman caught an under, then turned and delivered a 50-yard backhand to hit Grace Maroon in stride for the score. Lauren Goddu delivered the highlight of the game in one of her first points of play, soaring for a layout grab before standing up and calmly hitting Gelfand for the score.

Freedman has been extremely impressive for the USA as the rare cutter who can throw deep just as well as they can cut deep; she’s thrown five assists and caught eight goals over the tournament so far to lead the team in scoring. Raulet continues to lead France in scoring at the tournament with nine assists and four goals; the French handler threw one and caught two against the US.

Before most games one can hear the US chant “Love! Trust! Grit!” One of the team’s captains described them as “three words [the team] chose during training camp,” to represent the principles they wished to embody as the US National Team. As they move into a more challenging stage of the competition, the team hopes to continue working to play in a way that embodies not only the “love [they] have for each other, but also for the United States, and the other teams” they’ll get to match up with. The US will continue their crossover pool on Wednesday against the Czech Republic, who come off a narrow 15-14 win over Pool A second place finisher New Zealand.

Around the Division

For the second time in as many games, Canada found themselves locked in a hotly contested affair to decide their position in the pool, this time against France. Down 10-7 late in the game, the Canadians were able to hold and break to bring the game to 10-9. The French held and then broke to win the game 12-9; both scores came from Camille Blanc handler movement, giving and going into the end zone for scores.

Blanc (five goals and four assists for the tournament) and Perrine Bertaudeau (four assists and eight goals) shown brightly for France; Blanc was unguardable off the turn in the handler space and Bertaudeau anchored the deep space in France’s preferred zone defense, skying anyone and everyone. Arabella Brudney (eight goals and two assists) continued to impress for Canada as she made play after play to keep her team in the game—laying out to regain possession or skying defenders to save it.

For Canada, the loss completes a surprising fall in pool play and sent them to the middle crossover pool, where they’ll hope to play their way into the quarters.

U20 Open Division

“We are the storm!” US Aim to Bring Tempo and Energy into Crossover Pool Games

In the Open division, the US wrapped up regular pool play today with a straightforward 15-3 win over Austria. The most interesting moment of the game may have been the first point, when Austria’s Ferdinand Jauk found Constantin Angetter for the hold; it was the Americans’ first time trailing in a game at WJUC. The US wouldn’t trail for long; they moved quickly down the field before Caelan McSweeney broke the mark to Nanda Min-Fink to respond. The US never looked back and cruised to the end of the game when Anil Driehuys casually threw a full-field forehand huck that found Felix Moren to close it out. Paul Ressi was excellent for the Austrians, beating US defenders deep several times and scoring two goals in the game. Max Dehlin has continued to impress as the D-line’s main distributor off the turn, keeping the disc moving and hitting the US’a powerful deep throwers in advantageous positions to set up scores. Cal Phinney provides the D-line with infectious energy, sprinting off the pull to pressure the first throw every time. The few times the American O-line has turned it over, Adam Grossberg always seems to sky or lay out to get it back.

The Americans up and down the sidelines have been chanting “Thunder,” “Lightning,” and “We are the storm!” Spirit Captain Louis Douville Beaudoin explained that it really started as a joke during the team’s training camp in Chicago where Midwest summer storms continued to hamper practice time. “We tried to make jokes and goof around instead of worrying about the weather,” and pretty soon were “calling O-line the lightning and D-line the thunder,” he reported. Captains Declan Miller and Josh Singleton also noted they saw the desire to be like the storm as a way of expressing their team’s focus on bringing “tempo and energy” to every game.

The US will play Italy on Wednesday and Canada on Thursday as they vie for semifinal positioning in their crossover pool.

Around the Division

The close of regular pool play today brought little surprise in the men’s division; the favorites to advance to the top-seeded crossover pool all took care of business and will clash over the coming days in a set of highly anticipated matchups that may preview the championship bracket. Columbia, New Zealand, Austria, and Belgium all advanced to the middle pool, where they’ll have one more chance to compete for the two remaining spots in the quarterfinals.

  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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