European Ultimate Championships: Prequarters

The brackets are ready to go

A Czech player toes a catch in at EUC. Photo by John Kofi for EUF.

The pre-quarters and crossovers have finished, with the brackets set in every division. There are a number of teams still on for a clean sweep, and several that will be delighted to reach this stage.

Mixed

The mixed division has already seen some unrest, and we’ll see the removal of one of the teams tipped for the title at the quarters stage. Germany will play France, two teams that had been pegged to reach the final meeting at the start of the bracket, thanks to Germany’s losses against Italy and Great Britain. Germany overcame Austria 15-6 to reach the quarters, a routine day at the office for the Germans. France will be an altogether tougher test.

Great Britain reached the quarters with a 15-6 win as well, this one over Switzerland, and will face Lithuania in the last eight. The Lithuanians are one of the feel-good stories here, a team from a country with a very small ultimate community reaching the bracket at the biggest tournament on the continent. They made hard work of the pre-quarter, though; they led 8-4 at half, but gave up a 6-1 run out of the interval to go down 9-10. The teams traded a one hold one break sequence all the way through to the end of the game from there, though, with the Lithuanian D line breaking on universe point to send them to the bracket.

Lithuania captain Modestas Gauba was delighted following the game: “The feeling is amazing. We put our small country in the top eight so it’s a big achievement for us. We trained hard, we are prepared and we are ready to look forward and to bite a little bit at GB. We will try!”

“The last game was a rollercoaster,” said spirit captain Gintarė Valantiejūtė. “We were leading and then after a massive comeback we started universe point on defense. We are so proud we managed to take this win. Everyone was crying with tears of happiness, it was a really joyful moment.”

Great Britain, as Modestas said, loom in the quarters. The Lithuanians are ready for their shot though.

“Yesterday we played France, also one of the favorites,” said Modestas. “We started very well in the first half, and we believed we could play with them. I believe we can play [with GB] also. We just need to put ourselves together and play like a team. When we are starting to play boys with boys and girls with girls we are bad, so we need to play together, the boys with the girls, and we can show something together. We are competitive, we have showed this, we are in the top eight!”

“It is sometimes good to come into a match as an underdog because people don’t expect a lot from you,” added Gintaré. “But we have some things to show on the field.”

Poland and Italy came through pretty close games against Hungary and Slovakia respectively, Poland beating the Hungarians 15-12 and Italy topping a tricky Slovakian team 15-13. Latvia also defeated Finland, and so will face Ireland for a second time at this tournament.

Open

The four pre-quarters in the open division were won by the higher seeded team, with the exception of Switzerland beating Denmark. The Swiss had a tough game against GB yesterday evening but they went in knowing that the result essentially didn’t matter and that they would be playing Denmark regardless. That knowledge probably played into their lack of energy in the game, because they were much better against Denmark and took a 15-13 win with four breaks in the second half, including two in a row to win from 12-13 down. They will face GB again in the quarter later on.

Italy beat Ireland and Spain beat Austria after the unusual game between the two losing teams yesterday at the end of power pools. Both Italy and Spain have tough quarters, with the Spanish facing the imposing Belgium and Italy facing France.

The Czech Republic beat Sweden in the final pre-quarter, 15-8, and will now go on to face Germany in the quarters. The teams have played already at this event with the Germans running out 15-11 winners the first time around.

Women’s

There were only two crossover games in women’s, with a slightly different format to the other divisions. Switzerland beat Austria in one, the Austrians losing out on their opportunity to cross up after doing well in the lower power pool. The Swiss play a slow, deliberate style and their zone D tends to mean games are low-scoring compared to most other teams in Limerick. They won 14-12, taking two breaks in the second half after going into the break trailing 7-8. Their reward is a tough quarter against Italy.

In the other, the Netherlands played Sweden. The Netherlands had a tough first couple of days while Sweden rode their small but very talented squad to some nice wins and close games with the best teams here. It looked as though this game was one step too far, though, because the Netherlands had more legs and took advantage of it by playing a lot of match D to force the Swedes to keep running. They took two breaks in the first half to Sweden’s one, and did the same in the second half to take a 15-12 win. Sweden star Sarah Eklund, playing through a badly bruised knee, still managed to pull in four goals and handler Alva Angergård was aggressive and confident with the disc in hand, throwing six goals and opening up the field several more times. Unfortunately for the Swedes, they couldn’t quite do enough for the quarters. The Dutch, on the other hand, are riding a wave after doing well in the lower power pool. They’ll need all that confidence for their quarter: tournament favorites Germany.

  1. Sean Colfer
    Sean Colfer

    Sean Colfer is based in London. He’s played for teams across the UK since 2006 and has been writing about and commentating on ultimate since 2010. Follow him on Twitter @seancolfer, or follow @ShowGameUlti on Instagram for more on UK and Irish ultimate.

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