Windmill 2024: Final Recap (Open Division)

Would Clapham be able to win another Windmill gold? Or will Windmill newcomers, Team USA, be able to come out on top?

Clapham’s Connor McHale attempts a scoober against the USA. Photo by John Kofi.

The open final was the second game of the day, following the incredible Grut vs. jinX Midnight women’s final. The atmosphere in the stands was still buzzing when it started, not least because so many people had been anticipating this game all tournament. It was Clapham, a team rich in Windmill finals appearances and European gold, versus the United States, which made its Windmill debut this weekend and has won so many world titles. Bouts of driving rain made for tough conditions to compete in. The teams had played each other earlier in the third round of Swiss draw on Friday, with the States coming out on top 12-10 in a thrilling game. But this contest was over quickly, with the US gaining an early lead and holding firm with it in a 15-7 win.

Clapham began the game confidently on offense, under the pressure of the USA defenders, but a drop from Connor McHale on the far sideline in the rainy conditions gave USA the first break of the game. It was the story of the first few points: a Clapham mistake was brutally punished by the USA. Drops and ill-advised decisions plagued the Bullfrogs. While Clapham’s defense forced the USA into some high stall resets as it settled into a poachy endzone defense, but the US handlers were too skilled and found the holes for the score. Thomas Edmonds, John Randolph, Cameron Wariner, and AJ Merriman all stood out for the Americans, with Merriman coming up with two goals during the early run, including an improbable deflected wobbling catch that showed off his reflexes.

Suddenly, the USA had built a staggering 6-0 lead. Clapham, although flat in energy, refused to let go and punched in a strong hold. The Bullfrogs worked more with shorter, safer passes and got their first goal from an inside backhand to a streaking Josh Briggs up the line. Encouraged by the score, Clapham took immediate advantage of a Christian Boxley slip and got the disc moving. Axel Ahmala put up a beautiful rolling flick to an uncovered Felix Martin for the first and only Clapham break. The chants of “Frog!” began to echo in the stands for perhaps the first time ever as the crowds roared for a Clapham comeback. 

The US, however, wouldn’t fault again as they kept their lead wide open for the rest of the game. Clapham also settled down again but was inconsistent doing so and it cost them the game. Team USA went for a no under approach on defense as Clapham didn’t seem to be shooting deep often. When the Bullfrogs did play more expansively, they looked like the confident side we’ve always seen them as. Josh Briggs had an excellent game offensively, with well weighted hucks and two goals and an assist to his name.

Team USA weren’t perfect as the group still searches for chemistry, leaving Clapham players very poached several times leading to some easy scores. The O-line didn’t have as many clean holds as it would’ve liked, either. They were just the better team on the day, with hucks sitting perfectly in the wind for their receivers, a strong contest on almost every Clapham underneath on defense and excellent O-line defense. While Ben Jagt (3G), Jonny Malks (3A), and Merriman (2G, 1A) led the stats, 17 different players recorded a score for the States.

After the game Anders Juengst credited their O-line defense for being able to get the disc back after turns and spoke positively of how the USA gelled from a group of players to teammates over the course of the weekend. Juengst noted some familiarity with Clapham and Mooncatchers from Ring’s games against them at WUCC in 2022. “It was great to see them again and see how they’ve grown and gotten better [and] shoutout to the Austrians. We played them twice and they were just throwing crazy throws on us and it kept working,” he said. Juengst also said that USA Open will return to the States to focus on balancing respective club, semi-pro, and national team preparation, with a training camp in July before heading to WUC in September. Given the strength of this first performance as a squad, the USA are looking, as expected, ready to bring home gold once again. 

Clapham, while likely disappointed with this result, are still undoubtedly a powerhouse team. After sending smaller teams to both Tom’s Tourney and Elite Invite1, this was Clapham’s first time together as a full squad in 2024. Playing the USA to within two earlier in the tournament and Canada to within one shows that the team is ready to go. While the results may seem a little inconsistent, Clapham is still consistently a top team. 

Mooncatchers Eclipse Canada for Bronze

The first half of this game was rather even with both teams looking like they could take the medal, but Mooncatchers pulled away from Canada after half and the game finished 15-9. It was respectable effort from the Canadian team at its first Windmill as they only lost against the USA and Moon, while Mooncatchers was able to bring home a medal despite not defending the title from last season.

Champagne Moment

Hearing the crowd root for Clapham at Windmill for probably the first time ever was quite special. Clapham is almost seen as the evil opponent at every tournament in Europe, so it was funny to see how that all changes when Team USA shows up. Also, seeing Josh Briggs score more for Clapham than assist was unusual and he looked like he was having a great time despite the Bullfrogs’ tough performance.

  1. They came third at both events. 

  1. Felix Soedira
    Felix Soedira

    Felix Soedira is based in Manchester, UK. He has been playing ultimate since 2014 and has been writing since 2021. He has played for the University of Manchester, Manchester Ultimate and currently plays for SMOG Open. Off pitch, he is a struggling graduate. You can follow him on Instagram (@felixsoedira).

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