July 5, 2023 by Grace Sisel in Recap with 0 comments
The fourth and final day of pool play is at an end and teams are eager to begin bracket play. After several days fighting for spots in the quarterfinals we are finally at the business end of the tournament. Women’s and open have shifted around with some ties in pools, and the mixed pre-quarters ended with some surprises.
This afternoon, Canada and the United States played for the top seed in their pool. The match was expected to be tight and, given the amount of turns in the first half of the game, that proved to be true despite the scoreline. The Canadians were able to generate turns but struggled to convert. That’s not to say that they did not play well; they challenged the US, earning several break points to bring the scoreline within one point at 8-9 and generally played solid defense. This mainly served to ignite team USA, though, as there was a noticeable shift in their intensity. Following Canada’s comeback, the US tightened up their structures and began taking options away all over the field. Canada had a few more unforced errors later in the game and eventually fell 15-10. Luckily for them, they will not have to meet again until the finals if all goes well for both teams. Japan, who have only conceded 16 goals throughout the whole tournament and have yet to suffer a loss, are likely to be the biggest hurdle.
Great Britain earned a spot in the top eight after their performance today. They started the day with a game against Singapore, who took an early lead. Many thought that the game was over until the British team went on a break run and eventually went ahead 8-9. Singapore did not give up; they tightened up their defense, stopped any forward handler movement and managed to bring the game to universe point. After a point block and a failed huck from GB, Singapore took the win, 12-11. Great Britain had to win against Italy if they had any hopes of securing a spot in the top bracket, and they did just that. After pulling ahead early on, GB kept the buffer intact and won with five points to spare at 14-9.
Ireland won their first game of the tournament today against China, 14-10. The Irish later suffered a loss to Germany who are going into the upper bracket play. New Zealand suffered two losses against the United States (15-4) and Austria (15-11), eliminating their bracket chances.
Bracket play begins tomorrow. Great Britain will take on the United States, Germany will play Italy, Japan will compete against Australia, and Canada will battle Colombia. There are no rematches here, but it does appear as though some of these games will be quite one-sided. The all-European contest is likely to be the closest among them.
There were no notable upsets to report today, although the final bracket places did come with some intrigue. Belgium remained at the top of their pool following their victory against Australia on universe point. This game was rather heated at times, with long calls and a very slow pace. Both teams kept their foot on the gas throughout the entire match, even up to the final score that was sent back due to a contested out call after a huge layout by Sofiene Bontemps. Belgium, unshaken by this, quickly threw a hammer to take the game, and the top seed along with it.
The Irish put up a valiant fight against New Zealand, also taking the game to universe point. After having been down several points, Ireland had a four-point roll to bring it back to 14-14. Following a grueling last point consisting of several turns and a contested stall out on a potential winning pass, New Zealand came out on top despite an Irish hand tipping the winning pass. However, the New Zealand win meant that a three-way tie was created with Australia and the Netherlands and the Aussies came out on top, going to the quarterfinals.
Canada and Japan played for second seed in their pool this evening. Canada’s game was simply more clinical than the Japanese, ultimately earning them a fairly routine 15-10 victory. Both teams still advance into the bracket. Though Canada was clearly happy with this win, talk on the sideline is that they are nervous about having to potentially play the United States in the semifinals. Great Britain had two vital wins today against Singapore and Colombia, 15-4 and 15-11 respectively. This ensured their advance into the quarterfinals tomorrow, where they will play Belgium.
The other quarters will see the USA play Australia, Canada face Germany and Italy against Japan.
Mixed saw some interesting scorelines today, as the teams finalized their standings in the power pools with the top two in both already confirmed after yesterday.
Great Britain and Canada had already secured their spot in the quarters, but their game this morning determined who avoided the potential United States semifinal. Canada came out hot and took the game by storm, 15-7, earning a spot on the opposite side of the bracket from their North American neighbors. Canada’s O line was clinical and their defense caused issues for the British all over the field.
The United States and Singapore had a similar match this morning, with the Americans capping Singapore 15-5 after taking half 8-5. Both still advance to quarters, along with New Zealand, Switzerland, Chinese Taipei, and Japan after they each won their pre-quarter matchups. Chinese Taipei and Switzerland were upsets, against Scandinavian teams Finland and Sweden respectively, after they finished top of their lower power pools.
The bracket is now set and, despite a couple of rematches, there are some fascinating elements. Notably, Chinese Taipei have truly made a name for themselves by comfortably earning a spot in the top eight. Before the tournament they were not expected to do well, so this is a huge result for them. Singapore did well in 2019 and, with a quarter against a New Zealand team that has struggled with consistency, have an amazing opportunity to get back to the semis for the second U24 tournament in a row. For a country the size of Singapore, that would be a remarkable achievement.