June 23, 2017 – The gold-medal games in each of the four masters divisions were the first opportunities for titles for the U.S.A. at the 2017 World Championships of Beach Ultimate. And at the end of the day in Royan, France, the U.S. has four gold medals.
Today was the first day the wind was truly a factor in Royan, creating an upwind-downwind environment on the stadium and showcase fields. As a result, every game had some unforced errors, but the U.S. teams were unfazed.
The grand masters team was up first, but before they got their chance to play for gold, they had make it through the semifinals. But the game against Canada was never close. Canada got on the board early, but didn’t score their second goal until 10-2. The U.S. cruised to the championship final. Over the course of the week, the U.S. put together an incredible performance, outscoring their opponents by an average of 10 points and ending the tournament with a point differential of +110 over 11 games. Their closest game came against Great Britain, their finals opponent. But from the start, the U.S. controlled the game. Great Britain scored first to hold, but their first three throws were caught centimeters from American defenders’ hands. Between their intense defensive pressure and the balanced offensive attack, the U.S. grand masters rolled their way to a 13-3 win and the first gold medal of WCBU 2017.
The U.S. mixed masters team took on Canada in the gold-medal game, a rematch of the 2015 mixed masters final in Dubai. Canada held to open the game, but despite the upwind-downwind conditions and blowing sand they were creating, the U.S. rolled off eight straight goals on the back of incredibly clean play. Their first turnover of the game came on a break chance with the score at 8-1. The finished with just three turnovers, two of which came on the same point. Captain Trey Katzenbach led the way on offense, adding three goals to his considerable tally, as well as two assists. Owen Westbrook also continued to make an impact from the defensive line, both behind the disc and downfield. He finished as the team’s overall points leader with 18 goals and 15 assists. The U.S. claimed their second gold medal of the tournament, 13-4 over Canada.
The women’s masters squad was the third U.S. team that took to the stadium field for another 2015 WCBU gold-medal rematch against Canada. Aside from three extremely long points, the U.S. offense was efficient and was better able to score upwind. The U.S. jumped out to 5-1 lead and never looked back. The game was full of highlight plays from including a massive layout grab from Emily Smith-Wilson on the goal line, seemingly countless great throws from Robyn Wiseman, a huge layout D on an in-cut from Melissa Gibbs, and a tough catch through contact from two defenders from Brittany Winner that sealed the game and the gold medal for the U.S. The team put together an imposing performance in Royan. Their closest game came against Canada in the pool play rounds, so they upped the ante again in the final, winning in the dominant fashion they showed throughout the week.
The men’s masters team took the field last on day six to face the home team from France, as well as all their fans who were packing the stands. Undeterred, the U.S. put together the cleanest game of the day, impressive given the mixed masters team’s three-turnover performance in their own final. The men’s masters had only two turnovers before they sealed the gold medal, with the first one not coming until the score was 7-3 in favor of the U.S. Tom Doi led the way on offense, racking up four assists and two goals in the game as an initiating cutter. With the rest of the offensive line – Moses Rifkin, Ray Illian, Bart Watson and Andrew Brown – the points came quickly and easily, all the way to a gold medal. The U.S. defeated France 13-7.
There is a whole lot more red, white and blue coming up tomorrow morning!
While the men’s team had today off, having already solidified their spot in the finals against Great Britain, both the mixed and women’s teams earned their way to the gold-medal games today.
The mixed team took on the defending world champions, Germany, in the semifinals this morning and, as they have all week, used their strengths to claim their spot in the championship game: using three women whenever possible, playing tight person defense and staying patient on offense. Eli Kerns and Simon Higgins did a lot of work behind the disc, opening up lanes for cutters like Liza Minor, Sarah Meckstroth and Ben Lohre downfield. Meckstroth took the toughest defensive match up on the field, working to limit the mixed division’s leading scorer, Annika Prien. When Meckstroth wasn’t on the field, the match up went to Austin or Kaela Jorgenson. Together, they held her to two goals. With the U.S. up by five late in the game, Germany was able to hold and follow up with two breaks to keep the game close at 10-8, but the U.S. stuck with their game plan, and a short throw into a tight window from Nathan White to Simon Higgins in the front corner of the end zone closed out the game, 11-8 with the U.S. moving on to the finals.
The women’s team faced a familiar foe in their semifinal match up, taking on Canada. Aside from squaring off against one another often in the women’s club division, these teams met in pool play on Tuesday, a game the U.S. won 12-9. As nearly everyone expected, the game started tight, but Canada could not stop Paige Soper. She threw five assists and even managed to get a tally in the goal column, as well. With Soper behind the disc, Cree Howard working the middle of the field and Becky Malinowski stretching deep, the U.S. pulled away. After being tied at 5-5, the U.S. scored five straight. By the time Soper launched a full-field flick to Malinowski for the game-winner, the outcome was a foregone conclusion. The U.S. will meet Russia in the gold-medal game tomorrow, yet another rematch from 2015 Beach Worlds in Dubai.
Follow along with all the action at WCBU at live.wcbu2017.org and at wcbu2017.org.
You can find the streaming schedule and links to the broadcasts for U.S. games on the Watch Live page.
More information about the complete streaming schedule can be found at live.wcbu2017.org.
Coming up tomorrow, June 24, for the U.S.A.:
All times local – UTC +2
Final: U.S.A. women v. Russia*
Final: U.S.A. men v. Great Britain*
Final: U.S.A. mixed v. Canada*
*Game scheduled to be livestreamed. Find broadcast links on the Watch Live page.