Waterloo, Ont. (Aug. 22, 2018) – It was a full day for the U.S. contingent. After yesterday’s weather delays, the schedule got adjusted to move those postponed games to today, adding a second pool play game for the girls’ team and a third for the boys’ team. So between the two, the U.S. was competing in all five of the day’s rounds.
The girls’ team got their first big test of the week yesterday against the Netherlands. The boys’ got theirs today, in the form of New Zealand. The Kiwis match up well against the U.S. in terms of size and athleticism, and the morning’s rain and breeze added some tricky conditions to the mix, as well. Things started with a break for New Zealand, setting the tone and keeping their energy levels high. The U.S. got that break back a few points later, and the teams traded a break a piece in the first half, but went into halftime on serve. Leo Sovell-Fernandez and Kodi Smart both had great games from start to finish. Sovell-Fernandez continues to quietly rack up stats on offense and shut down whoever he’s marking on defense. And it was instantly recognizable when Smart decided to take over. He traded going every other behind the disc with churning constantly downfield as a cutter. New Zealand held and then broke out of halftime to jump back in the lead, which they held through 11-11. It was getting to be crunch time, and the U.S. needed a break. It took a few chances, but the defense came up big again and again. Tony Venneri got the point’s first block – a layout D on a swing throw around the cup. The second was Sovell-Fernandez winning a side-by-side bid battle in the end zone. And the third came from Ryan Dinger. Dinger got the assist, too, finding Caleb Seamon for the all-important break. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back for New Zealand. An early turn, a quick drop and another great D from Sovell-Fernandez on the next three points turned into three more breaks, and the U.S. closed out a 15-11 win.
The boys’ second and third games weren’t as close. Finland was up next. They struggled to keep their offense moving, particularly with the U.S. defensive pressure. The U.S. ended up with numerous break chances in good spots and took advantage to the tune of a 15-1 win. The highly touted match up against Great Britain, the pool’s second seed, came last on the day. Things started off as advertised, with Great Britain opening with a hold and a break. The U.S. got that break back to go up 3-2, but after things were tied at 4-4, that was all she wrote. Great Britain couldn’t quite connect on their throws, particularly their deep shots, and struggled to keep up with the U.S. speed and depth. The U.S. ended up coming away with a 15-4 win.
The girls’ team finished out pool play with their final two games of the preliminary rounds against Italy and China. Italy defeated the Netherlands in their first game of the tournament, and given how closely the Netherlands played against the U.S. yesterday, interest in and excitement for the game was high. The wind was starting to swirl by the time the game got underway, which did some crazy things to the disc in the air and encouraged a lot of zone defense from both sides. But the U.S. offensive lines continue to find their grooves. The handlers, in particular Stephanie Phillips, PX Rong, Alyssa Ehrhardt and Kate Lanier, continue to do a great job keeping things moving across the field and around cups. Robin Anthony-Peterson and Ella Juengst have knacks for finding the open space in the middle of the field and up the lines. Italy put up four goals before the U.S. closed things out. Final score: 15-4. In their second game of the day, the U.S. took on China. China’s women’s ultimate program is still pretty new to the international stage, and it showed today, especially in the somewhat breezy conditions. The wind turned over, knocked down or popped up countless throws and gave the U.S. plenty of opportunities to break. Not that the U.S. was without challenges. There were some miscues the team will look to clean up before power pools begin tomorrow, but as is often the case, defense wins games. And the U.S. defense took care of business. China opened with a hold, but that was the only goal they managed in the game. For the U.S., it was again a full-team effort, with 17 different players ending up on the offensive stat sheet. But it was a particularly good performance for Skye Fernandez and Lauren Carothers-Liske. Fernandez tallied two assists and a goal, while Carothers-Liske found the end zone three times in the game. The U.S. girls’ team moved to 6-0 through pool play and held onto the top spot in Pool B.
The boys’ team has one more game tomorrow morning against Australia to finish out pool play before they move into the quarterfinals in the afternoon.
The girls’ team heads into power pools and should get three strong tests throughout the day. They’ll meet Colombia first. Colombia defeated Canada in pool play to claim the top spot in Pool A, making them the top overall seed in the power pool. The defending WJUC champions, Canada, are the U.S. girls’ second match up of the day, followed by Germany in the 5:00 p.m. round.
Stay tuned for more from Canada!