Waterloo, Ont. (Aug. 24, 2018) – The U.S. is on to the championship finals! The boys’ team advanced after defeating Belgium 15-13 in a thriller, and the girls’ team followed up win with a 15-4 victory over Germany.
Belgium is tall and athletic. In particular, Benjamin Jonkers and Arvids Orlovskis. Jonkers is the main – and very tall – center handler who sits in the division’s fourth spot for assists. Orlovskis is the go-to receiver downfield, the division’s second overall scorer who also happens to sit in the fifth spot for assists. The U.S. played mostly person defense in the game and rotated defenders on Jonkers and Orlovskis, starting with some of the more traditional handler defenders like Tony Venneri, June Rapisura and Leo Sovell-Fernandez on Jonkers before eventually settling mostly on more height: Ryan Dinger, Elliott Moore and Orion Cable. Cable matched up best on the height of Jonkers, while Dinger and Moore’s experience and athleticism helped them contain the opposing pair. That’s not to say Jonkers and Orlovskis were completely shut down. One or both of them were still involved in 12 of Belgium’s 13 goals. For the U.S., again, Jonny Malks led the way on offense – and sometimes as the primary handler on D lines. He continues to get stronger and stronger as the week progresses. He ended up with a goal and five assists in today’s game. The U.S. opened with a hold and a second-point break and another to go up 5-2 on a layout goal from Venneri. But Belgium didn’t go away. They got one break back in the first half and two more right out of halftime to put them up 8-9. The U.S. O line continued to plug away in the second half, with a little crossover from Dinger, Moore and Venneri. The two breaks out of half were the last for Belgium. Sovell-Fernandez got a hand on an attempted around throw with the score tied at 9s that turned into a Venneri-to-Dinger break goal. The teams traded from there through 14-13. On the last point, Malks crossed over again to the D line and ran down a huck with his person. Malks got in front of the receiver to knock the disc away, but there was contact. A foul was called. After a lot of discussion, including opinions solicited from the game advisors and people on the sideline, the call was revoked. Malks picked up at the cone, hit Dinger up the line, and Dinger let one fly for Moore, who pulled in the game winner – 15-13 U.S.A. over Belgium.
The girls’ team took the field shortly after the conclusion of the boys’ game to face a familiar opponent. Coincidentally, Germany ended up in the fourth spot in the power pool standings, meaning this morning’s semifinal was a rematch from the last round yesterday afternoon. The wind this morning seemed to pick up just in time for the first pull, creating breezy conditions throughout the game with occasional gusts to keep things interesting. Germany’s handler corps is solid, with good fakes and strong low-release throws to cut through the wind. But after the first throw or two, they often ended up in trouble. All variations of the U.S. cup did a good job of shutting down downfield options, and when playing person defense, the marks on the resets did great work applying pressure and making those throws much less viable. When starting on offense, the U.S. looked great, typically scoring on the first possession. The combination of the U.S. handlers and the tall receivers came in handy more than once, with the receivers pulling down throws that popped up a bit in the wind. Germany got one goal in the first half and tallied three more in the second before the U.S. closed out the game 15-4 to advance to the championship game. Claire Trop had another big game, with three assists and two goals (the same stat line she had after yesterday’s game), in addition to continually patrolling the lanes and the deep space in the zone on defense to rack up Ds. Bailey Shigley also had a great game. She was constantly open downfield, eating up yards on in cuts. Shigley ended up with two goals and two assists but probably could have had more if she didn’t sometimes find herself on an island with the disc in hand, already a ways downfield from the rest of the team. She got the game’s final assist, after running down a throw that was bounced up into the air and tossing it to Clil for the goal. The U.S. girls will take on Colombia tomorrow in the gold-medal game. Colombia upset the defending champions and hometown favorites, Canada, in the semifinals this afternoon (and for the second time this week), 13-11.
With a threat of early afternoon thunderstorms, the gold-medal games get underway a little earlier tomorrow than initially planned. The girls’ championship game against Colombia will begin at 9:30 a.m. The boys’ championship final will follow at 11:30 a.m. in a rematch of the 2016 WJUC boys’ division final between the U.S. and Canada. Both gold-medal games will be live-streamed by Sports Canada, so set your calendar alerts, and be sure to tune in to support the U.S. National Teams!