Perth, Western Australia (Jan. 12, 2018) – Two U.S. teams have earned their spots in the gold-medal games so far at the 2018 World Under 24 Ultimate Championships. The mixed and men’s teams advanced to the finals with wins over Canada and Australia, respectively, today in Perth. The women’s team finished out pool play and heads to the semifinals tomorrow morning.
The mixed team became the first to advance to the gold-medal game this morning with a 15-8 win over Canada in the semifinals. True to form, the mixed team started a little slow, and Canada capitalized with a first-point break. But the U.S. quickly got in the game, scoring five of the next six, including a Callahan from Anna Thompson, who sat out both games yesterday. Joe Freund had a monster game on both offense and defense, patrolling the skies on D and being nearly unguardable in the deep space on O. The constant defensive pressure, particularly downfield forced Canada into their second and third looks with regularity and earned the U.S. numerous “footsteps” and pressure turns from Canada. Again, the U.S. handler depth looked head and shoulders above their opponent. John Stubbs took over many points from the handler spot before taking off either in a strike cut or downfield to gain yards and keep the disc moving. The number of unforced errors continues to decrease with each game as the team gains chemistry and knowledge of one another’s tendencies. Everything coalesced into an impressive semifinal win. They’ll take on Japan in the gold-medal game tomorrow.
The men’s team was the second to reach their gold-medal game after defeating the home team 15-9 in the semifinals this morning. A first-point break for the U.S. set the tone early, and the U.S. established a comfortable-feeling lead at 6-1. Just as the U.S. fans were getting relaxed, Australia started to put together a run of their own. They added five more to the scoreboard before the U.S. finally closed out the half with a Southeast connection from Parker Bray to Michael Fairley. A break out of halftime for Australia made things even more interesting before the U.S. finally got themselves back together. Australia only found their way into the end zone twice more before the U.S. took the win 15-9. Only a couple of Australia’s points seemed relatively easy. The rest required many resets and lots of effort to advance the disc. It was a physical game, and the U.S. came out on top. Again, Codi Wood was a rock behind the disc, along with Ben Sadok and Parker Bray. Cameron Wariner, Keegan North and Adam Rees were on the receiving end of many of his throws, gaining yards in big chunks. Ross Barker also had a standout game with a solid performance all around. The U.S. moves on to face Italy in the championship finals tomorrow afternoon. When they met in power pools, Italy was exhausted following a long game with Great Britain, and the U.S. came away with the 15-4 win. Tomorrow could bring a better-rested team and a tougher game.
Finally in their last day of pool play, the U.S. women started out against Austria this morning. Despite coming out a little flat and looking a little stiff, the U.S. got things together at halftime and started executing much better later in the game. In the end, the U.S. won 15-2 and committed to starting stronger and playing cleaner in their afternoon game against Great Britain. When the game rolled around, the team did start a little stronger, and they ended up winning big at 15-3, but they also still had more unforced errors than they would have liked, particularly as they started looking ahead a bit to tomorrow’s championship bracket games. Women’s is the only division to play both the semifinals and finals tomorrow, a day that is supposed to be the hottest yet – tapping out at around 95 degrees.
It took today’s final round of pool play to determine the semifinal match ups, thanks to a last-round game between Canada and Colombia – a game watched closely by Japan and Australia. With a Canada win, Japan would clinch the last spot in the semis as a result of a would-be three-way tie between Colombia, Japan and Australia that Japan would win on point differential. But with a Colombia win, and Australia’s early double-game point win over Japan, Australia got the final spot. Colombia pulled out the win over Canada, 15-9, and the Australians erupted.
The U.S. women will face Australia tomorrow morning in the semifinals, while Canada and Colombia will face off again on the other side of the bracket.
All three-gold medal games will be lived streamed on the WFDF YouTube page. The men’s final between the U.S. and Italy is up first at 10:00 a.m. local time, 9:00 p.m. ET on Jan. 12. The mixed final between the U.S. and Japan is up second at 12:30 p.m. local time, 11:30 pm. ET on Jan. 12. And the still to be determined women’s final will be streamed at 3:00 p.m. local time, 2:00 a.m. ET.
Stay tuned for updates from Championship Sunday from Perth!