Heidelberg, Germany (July 15, 2019) – Things are in full swing at the World Under-24 Ultimate Championships. Day two was another big one for the U.S. National Teams, with five games played between the three teams. The day started off with a little uncertainty. Shortly before games were set to start, organizers elected to delay rounds due to a lack of medical personnel at the venues to ensure the safety of the athletes. They worked quickly to resolve the situation, and games got underway about an hour and a half after their originally scheduled start time.
The women kicked things off for the U.S. against Belgium. The Belgian women are making their first-ever appearances at the U-24 World Championships, and despite some solid players, they struggled with consistency, creating a number of turnovers without really being affected by the U.S. defense. On our end, it took a couple points for the team to fully settle in, but when we did, the offense was dominant. Stacy Gaskill had a great game in the cutting space and tallied two goals and two assists. Ari Nelson also had another big game and ended up with a stat line of three assists and one goal. The U.S. rolled to their second 15-0 win of the week. In their second game of the day, the women faced off with New Zealand. There was enough wind to have an impact on play, but the kiwis did a good job working the disc over our tall cup and gaining yardage. The final score line didn’t really reflect the quality of play. But for the U.S., the Dartmouth crew had a monster game: Julianna Werffeli, Angela Zhu, Caitlyn Lee and Claire Trop, plus some help from people like Nelson and Dena Elimelech, who, true to form, had some really impressive grabs, including the game winner. The game ended 15-3. So far, the women haven’t really been tested, but they will face what should be their strongest opponent tomorrow afternoon. They will take on Colombia in the showcase round at 6:30 p.m. That game will be streamed live on ultiworld.com/live.
The men’s team was up next for their first of two games on the day. They met up with Austria first. We started on defense and got a turn, but couldn’t convert the break chance, so Austria started out ahead, but things stayed on serve just until 2-2. They did their best to win the deep space, particularly with Alexander Spahlholz, their incredibly tall receiver, but they often put too much on their throws. For the U.S., our handlers on both of the traditional offensive and defensive lines were pretty rock solid. Elijah Long, Mac Hecht, Eric Taylor and Sol Yanuck played great, along with guys like Ted Sither and Dylan Salzman. The U.S. men closed out the game 15-5, on a point when Long and Hecht got to show off some of their impressive throwing skills over and around Austria’s cup. Then the team moved onto Great Britain. Great Britain historically fields a pretty strong team, so there was some anticipation floating around, aided by a pretty good cheering section for both teams. British fans definitely outnumbered the American fans, understandably, but the U.S. contingent held their own. The British cheering section was especially noticeable when they jumped out to an early lead, going up 5-2 by taking advantage of some miscues from the U.S. side. While not strong, there was enough of a breeze cropping up periodically to affect some throws, if it wasn’t accounted for. And it definitely affected a handful of U.S. throws – either popping things up or pushing away throws that didn’t have quite enough IO on them. The U.S. defense was stingy from start to finish, forcing Great Britain to throw a lot of passes to gain just a few yards. But Britain was patient. They were happy to keep the disc moving amongst their handler contingent until they got an open deep pretty much anywhere on the field. Down 2-5, the U.S. made some adjustments, forcing Britain to the low side, essentially allowing under cuts to the open side, trapping them on the sideline and taking away those deep looks they had been exploiting. The change led to a 6-2 run to close out the first half back on serve, with the U.S. in front 8-7. The second half was a bit of a different story, but a solid extension of the first-half-ending run. The U.S. played slightly tighter lines than in their first couple games, but still got everyone on the field and involved on nearly every point. It’s not a surprise to anyone, but depth is obviously a huge strength for all three U.S. teams, and it came into play this afternoon. After forcing a turn handler defense forced a tough reset throw outside and around to the offside handler just outside the U.S. end zone – a throw Yanuck was able to knock down – the play call from Mac Hecht, one of the team’s captains, on the sideline was “John! Do John things!” talking about John Randolph. So he did. He lined up in the front of the stack, juked his defender pretty much out of his cleats, and got the easy inside throw from Yanuck for the win – 15-10. The men’s team has another two-game day tomorrow, starting with Denmark and ending with the home team.
For a second day in a row, the mixed team only had one game. They took on France late in the afternoon in a game livestreamed on fanseat.com. The third seed in Pool A came out aggressive on defense and maintained that energy throughout. In particular, they played super tight marks, but the U.S. dealt with it and continued to focus on playing their game. Kyle Rutledge had a huge game on defense, and carried that through with a strong offensive performance. Lindsay McKenna also came up big, both with her big throws and being on the receiving end of other teammates’ big throws. And as usual, the Joes – White and Freund – also played great. The U.S. took half 8-2 on a goal from Brittney Kokinos to Helen Eifert. France made up a little ground in the second half, putting more emphasis on patient offense. When they focused more on short passes and taking what was open, they were able to put a few points on the board, rather than trying to score quickly with deep looks, which were often knocked away by U.S. hands. The U.S. Mixed Team closed out their second game of the event 15-7. They will have their first two-game-day of the week tomorrow when they take on two of the stronger teams in the pool in the Netherlands and Great Britain, so be sure to stay tuned to twitter.com/usaultimatelive for live in-game updates.
That’s a wrap for day one! Be sure to keep up with the U.S. teams at nationalteam.usaultimate.org for 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.