Japan Women are Ready for the Big Stage

Japan was the pick of the teams in the pool, but struggled in quarters. Now come the big tests.

Mayuka Takada catches under pressure from Lucy Deller in the quarter. Photo by Di Miao for WFDF.

This year, the WFDF Under-24 World Championship resumed after a brief hiatus for the global pandemic. The Japanese teams were assembled after their restrictions were lifted in early 2022, so they have had plenty of time to prepare for this tournament. They used the time to drill, and even scrim alongside the Japanese senior teams and other club teams. That has meant that the Japanese women’s team, in particular, is well developed and has depth to spare, despite the young age of its athletes.

The team arrived at the tournament with an agenda: to win gold. They seemed for the first few days to be well on track. They made quite the splash in pool play, managing to concede only 16 points against the six other teams in the pool while easily capping every opponent. These are impressive results, especially compared to the United States, the reigning champions, who conceded thirty-nine points within the same timeframe.

Japan plays exactly the way you expect them to. They favor their inside shots, regardless of the force, but the handlers are also able to maneuver their mark in order to allow for their ideal throw because they can threaten the around as well. Moving the defense is easier when you have multiple throws in your arsenal, and every player in the squad has a full selection to choose from. Further down the field, the cutters are constantly moving, working to provide ample options throughout the pitch. Their speed is proving hard to keep up with.

However, the quarterfinal indicated that there are ways to challenge this team. Australia, which lost 15-9 to the USA and 15-7 to Canada, lost narrowly to the Japanese, 15-13. This was the most points that Japan had conceded in a single game, and almost as many as they had let in during the entire tournament so far. However, as the game neared the end, the Japanese women only seemed to compete harder despite having already played for over an hour and a half. They were unfazed by the intensity of a close battle, having cruised up to this point, which could actually benefit them in the big games to come.

The Japanese team anticipated these results, says cutter Suzuno Uesada: “We have been working to get a gold medal, and we are doing that by using all of our members. There are 26 players, and we use all of them.” The team statistics reflect this, as their total goals and assists are spread across the whole team, rather than concentrated on just one player as seen on some of the other top scoring teams.

One of the team’s coaches also mentioned that the team has been preparing for over six months with the intention to not only do their best individually, but win together: “The team members are doing their best performance so that’s our victory.”

For any of those who have been watching or following the tournament on social media, the Japanese women have demonstrated nothing but support and enthusiasm for their teammates. Throughout each of their games, they continue to smile, cheer, and even dance to motivate their entire team on and off of the field. Their unwavering team spirit seems to be the fuel behind their fire. Their celebrations include the whole team, and that energy is pushing them on.

As we enter the toughest stage of the tournament, Japan is looking formidable. Canada awaits in the semifinal, a team that is full of athletic players who can all throw, and possess the kind of height and aerial ability that the Japanese have traditionally struggled with. If they can pass that test, it seems likely that the USA would be the final opponent.

This hypothetical contest would not be the first time that the two have met in the final of this tournament. Back in 2015, Japan beat the United States in a huge shock in London. It remains the only time the USA has lost at this level. To reach their aim of gold and channel the spirit of 2015, Japan will have to beat two incredibly strong, deep and experienced teams. When you’ve been preparing for over a year and are fuelled by a seemingly unbreakable team spirit, though, what’s two more games?

  1. Grace Sisel
    Grace Sisel

    Grace Sisel is originally from Virginia, USA but has been based in Scotland for the past five years. She has played ultimate for a handful of years for her university team as well as for other UK club teams.

TAGGED: , , ,

More from Ultiworld
Comments on "Japan Women are Ready for the Big Stage"

Find us on Twitter

Recent Comments

Find us on Facebook

Subscriber Exclusives

  • Inside the Circle LIVE: Music City Open Reax
    Subscriber podcast
  • Better Box Score Metrics: WUL Week 3 EDGE
    Subscriber article
  • Out the Back: Ultimate Potpourri
    Subscriber podcast
  • Huckin’ Eh: Conferences and C4UC Recap, Interviews with Prime Pandas and Ninjax
    podcast with bonus segment