Heidelberg, Germany (July 16, 2019) – The U.S. delegation had a late start on day three, with the first games not getting underway until 1:00 p.m. local time. Both the mixed and men’s teams had games in the round; the mixed team took on the Netherlands, and the men’s team faced off with Denmark.
U.S. Mixed v. Netherlands was a fast, high-flying affair on from start to finish. Neither team turned the disc all that much, particularly in the first half, and hucks abounded. The U.S. started things off with a bang. Ashley Powell picked up the bricked pull and launched one right off the bat to Joe White to set the tone. The teams traded points very similar to that back and forth to 5-4, on serve. On the next point, the Netherlands worked the disc down the field, and set up the play they kept returning to when they were just outside the end zone: a big throw to the sideline that set up a huge OI flick to the back corner on the opposite side. But this time, Rocco Essex-Linehan saw it coming and got a hand on the throw into the end zone. Then he took off deep, and Joe White rewarded him. Essex-Linehan ran down the throw and jumped it into the end zone for the game’s first break, putting the U.S. ahead 6-4. A set of holds followed, including a beauty of a touch throw from Alan Villanueva out in front of Helen Eifert, before the U.S. broke again to take half at 8-5, after Matt Gouchoe-Hanas ran through the first throw to pick off the pass. The second half was a little less close, but still really exciting to watch. The defense played really well. They were inches away from countless D’s, including pretty much every deep look the Netherlands put up. And on the flip side, the offense was really consistent; by the end of the game, the U.S. had only turned the disc six times. Final score: 15-9, and on to Great Britain.
After two iterations of really close first halves with Great Britain (the teams’ match ups in both 2015 and 2018 went into half on serve), this afternoon’s game was a little less exciting, despite the team dealing with some injuries. Liam Searles-Bohs didn’t play at all in the game, and both Matt Gouchoe-Hanas and Joe Freund exited early. But depth, depth, depth. The U.S. is fortunate to have a lot of talented players, enough that the team can still earn a 15-2 win while missing some big contributors like those three. The team focused on executing the game plan against Great Britain – something they struggled with a bit against the Netherlands, despite a really good showing. It wasn’t quite as clean a game as their first of the day, but the defense was again huge. There was pressure on nearly every catch, with standout performances from people like Mary Rippe, Essex-Linehan and White. Great Britain put two on the board in the second half, but the U.S. ran away with the game 15-2. The mixed team moves into power pools tomorrow, and as the top seed in Pool A will cross over with the top three teams from Pool C. For tomorrow, that is Canada and Germany. They’ll close out power pools on Thursday against the Czech Republic.
The men’s team started off facing Denmark, a team whose hallmark is a quarterback-heavy style of play. The U.S. depth played a huge role in this game, using their ability to throw defender after defender at Denmark’s big (and mostly lone) threat in Magnus Magnussen. He ended the game with three assists. On offense, the U.S. worked to utilize fast-break opportunities and was largely successful. Quinn Finer, stitches and all after a collision with Jasper Tom in a drill yesterday afternoon, and Jeff Weis had standout games this afternoon. The team is still working out some kinks on the communication side, particularly in the handler set, but it gets better with each game, and the defense after a turn earns back plenty of chances. The first half was relatively close, ending at 8-5, but in pretty standard U.S. fashion, depth helped the team pull away in the second half.
There were a lot of eyes on the men’s team’s game against Germany. After being down late in the game, Germany forced double-game point against Japan, who the U.S. had trouble defeating on day one. The home team put up a fight, and the atmosphere reflected their energy on the field. The U.S. jumped out to a 3-0 lead, putting a brief damper on expectations, but Germany stormed back to tie it up at 4-4. The U.S. kept chipping away, and ended up on top 8-5 at halftime, then 9-5. Tannor Johnson exploded in the game. On a team that is good at and encourages spreading around the disc, Johnson ended up with six goals. Mac Hecht also had his biggest stat-line game so far, tallying four assists – three of them to Johnson. Also, Eric Taylor is very good. He doesn’t get a ton of stats but is a constant contributor on both sides of the disc. Germany stayed tight in the second half, working a lot in the deep space, but the U.S. held the lead accumulated by halftime and closed out the game 15-11. The U.S. men are the lone team still in pool play. They’ll face Colombia and Panama tomorrow to close things out. They’ll move to the quarterfinals after that, beginning on Thursday, July 18.
The women’s team closed out Tuesday with their lone game of the day, and it was expected to be a doozy. They took on Colombia in the showcase round and on the showcase field. As usual when preparing to face Colombia, a lot of the game planning was around the Cárdenas twins, Manuela and Valeria. Despite being very young, the sisters are two of the top women’s players in the world and already have tons of high-level and international experience under their belts. The U.S. women threw a slew of great defenders at them throughout the game, including Claire Trop, Sarah Kim, Angela Zhu, Yuge Xiao and Linnea Soo. With their fresher legs, the U.S women were able to do a good job of containing the Colombians, despite what the stat line might indicate, where each of them ended up with multiple goals and assists. The Dartmouth quartet played a huge role throughout, with Zhu and Werffeli often leading the way through Colombia’s junk and zone looks. Kelli Iwamoto – who is consistently a quiet force on the field – also had a great game. From start to finish, it was a pretty physical contest, with both teams giving it everything they had. After an early break for Colombia, things were back on serve at 3-3. Then the U.S. went on a 5-2 run to close out the half, largely by forcing a lot of throws, preferably to players not named Cárdenas, and taking advantage of having really strong handlers on the D lines. Two more breaks late in the second half helped the U.S. close out the game 15-10. It was a good test for the U.S. women who, so far this week, haven’t been tested. The coaching staff will surely have some adjustments in mind as the team heads into power pools, but it was a good performance from a very strong team against a strong opponent. The U.S. women will take on Italy and Canada tomorrow before closing out power pools against Japan on Thursday. Their game tomorrow afternoon against Canada (3:00 p.m. local time / 9:00 a.m. ET) will be live streamed on ultiworld.com/live, so set your calendars and be sure to tune in!
Day three is in the books, and the mixed and women’s teams are moving onto power pools! Be sure to keep up with the U.S. teams at nationalteam.usaultimate.org for daily daily recaps, results, photo galleries and more. Plus, follow @usaultimate, @usaultimateu24 and @usaultimatelive on Twitter for even more content, including live in-game updates from @usaultimatelive.