July 7, 2023 by Grace Sisel in Recap with 0 comments
It was semifinal day at the WFDF World Under-24 Championships in Nottingham, and it was the hottest day of the tournament so far. Most teams struggled slightly with the heat, especially later in the day where legs became more and more tired.
The semifinals took place this morning, where Canada played Japan and Germany took on the United States. The Canada-Japan game was anticipated to be tight, especially after Japan’s performance yesterday. Canada had previously beaten Australia at 15-7 whereas Japan scraped a win with only one break up at 15-13. Japan needed a wake up call if they were to win over Canada, and that is exactly what happened. Yesterday’s close game against Australia served as a reality-check, for a lack of better words, for Japan. They recalibrated, and easily defeated Canada 15-5. The Japanese offense was clean and consistent throughout the game, whereas their defense was something to be feared. Canada struggled against the handler pressure generated from Japan’s zone and turned the disc frequently, giving Japan plenty of break opportunities which they took advantage of.
The United States played their semi-final against Germany, a rematch that had similar results to their previous match that ended 15-9. Germany could not efficiently break past the defense as the downfield US pressure was shutting down their offensive movement. The United States won, 15-10, earning them a spot in the final against Japan. United States player Rita Feder spoke about the team’s expectations: “Our mentality is the same for every game, we cannot take winning for granted. It is not something that will come to us, it is something that we will have to take.”
Feder also said that the team was not surprised with the Japanese matchup and that they anticipate the spectators to be rooting for Japan: “Going into the finals, we’re not expecting to have a really big sideline. It’s really easy to root for, well, not the United States and not for the defending champions.” The United States is feeling confident in their abilities and their team, seemingly unphased entering the finals tomorrow. We will see if Japan can dethrone the United States as they did in 2015, or if the US will take gold once again.
Germany and Canada then went on to compete for bronze. The game was as close as they come, with the teams trading points up until the end. There were only a handful of clean offensive points, testment to each of the team’s defenses. Germany was a break down but grafted to take the game to universe point. Canada started on offense going into the final point but turned the disc and lost the medal along with it after a terribly timed defensive miscue on the endzone line. Germany won bronze, 15-14. Lisa Schulz, who has been one of Germany’s best players throughout the week, turned in a towering performance with four goals and four assists.
Belgium and Italy competed for a spot in the final in a heated game. The scoreline was close throughout the game, and the players let the game’s intensity get into their heads at times. As the contest unfolded, the levels of physicality rose and the hard-earned scoring celebrations seemed to become personal. At one point an Italian receiver waved to his defender after scoring a point to hold serve after the Belgian D spurned a break chance. Belgium broke to take half 8-6, but Italy broke back to bring it to 10-10. From there, though Belgium pulled away and won 15-12. This is the first time Belgium has made it to the finals, and they could not be more proud, as told by their coach, Ine Lanckriet. She spoke on their expectations of making the quarter-finals and reiterated how impressed she and the rest of the team are with their results. Lanckriet noted that though they had this goal, they approached the tournament one game at a time: Wwe made a game plan designed specifically for each team, and we took it one game at a time. We made the game plan for italy last night, and we will do the same for the US tonight.” Belgium tailors their game to its competitors, so the United States should hope that they have enough up their sleeves to throw off this European team’s plans.
The United States and Germany met in another semi-final matchup and, just as in women’s, the USA broke away and claimed their spot in the finals by winning 15-5. Though the first few points were traded between each team, the United States turned the screw at 5-5, scored a hold and then went on a nine-point break run to seal a spot in the final. Once they found a weak spot, the American group was ruthless. They will be feeling confident given their success so far, but Belgium are not to be taken lightly.
Later in the day, Germany fought for bronze against Italy. Italian star handler Sebastian Rossi barely played in the game after taking a knock in the semifinal. Germany took a break in the second point and secured another just before half, and after a lot of trading in the second half secured bronze with another break. The Germans played the same, aggressive style that won them the game against Canada; taking shots downfield and taking calculated risks. Tobias Maierhofer and Paul Herkens were huge for the Germans again, and David Barzasi was excellent in a losing Italian effort, six assists and three goals not quite enough to push his team onto the podium for a third tournament in a row.
Singapore played against Canada in the semifinal this morning. The North Americans struggled against their Singaporean matchups in the early part of the game, with Singapore leading 8-4. Eventually, Canada restructured their defense and finally managed to convert on their hard-earned turns. Unfortunately for Canada, their break roll was too late, starting when Singapore was already 12-4 up, and Singapore went on to take the game 14-11. They will go on to play the United States, who beat Japan in another routine victory this morning, 15-7. This is the first time that Singapore has made the finals at U24s, with their previous record of third coming from the last cycle.
The US and Singapore played earlier in this tournament, with the US scoring all seven points in the second half to take the game after going into half 8-5 up. Singapore was able to move the disc decently early in the game, and had good stretches in the second half. The US D turned up the intensity once Singapore went past the halfway line, though, and punished every miscue they forced out of the Singaporean handlers. The spectators will be hoping for a more balanced game, unless they’re American.
Canada and Japan played for bronze. After a long, closely fought game that was time-capped at 13, Japan won two breaks and took the medal from Canada, 13-11. It cemented a difficult tournament for Canada. After it was noted before the bronze medal games that it was the first time no Canadian team had made a final, it became even worse as no Canadian team won a medal. It has, on the other hand, been an excellent tournament for European teams with Germany going away with two bronzes and Belgium guaranteed a medal. They’ll be hoping those medals have a yellow tinge to them.