2008 World Ultimate and Guts Championships Junior's Team - Daily Log - August 6th

Posted: August 6, 2008 11:03 AM

In the nine days since the players and coaches of the US Jr. National teams met for the first time, there have been moments of frustration and growth. Learning to live and work together has been an enjoyable challenge. Tuesday marked the end of the initial round robin for the Jr. women and provided a clean slate from the earlier losses. Win five straight, and you’ve won the tournament. Lose and find yourself playing for 5th. As their time together has passed, the team has sharpened their focus and found their confidence – ready for the challenge.

Wednesday’s play split the 7 teams into a top and bottom pool. The top pool consists of Colombia, Australia and Finland. They are guaranteed in the semis, and playing to establish in what order. The bottom pool, where the US and Canada have found themselves, along with Great Britain and Finland, is fighting for the fourth spot in the semis. Today the US team plays Finland in a morning game and Great Britain in the afternoon. Tomorrow they will tackle Canada.

The morning game against Finland started out in a daze. The Americans appeared to be half asleep, and allowed themselves to go down 0-3 right off the bat. The coaches called a time out and Eileen Murray gave a rousing speech that the Jr. women would later call inspirational. It must have been, because the Americans outscored the Finnish 17-3 from that point on, for a final score of 17-6.

Several US players are working through nagging muscle strains and injuries and were rested for the afternoon game against Great Britain. The Brits had just finished a tough game against Canada where they put 11 points on the board. In talking with a British player, we learned their most experienced player had been playing for approximately three years and the newest player had been in the game for only 6 months. In contrast to the US, our youngest player has at least two years and our most experienced have close to ten. This GB team is young, positive and energetic and we’ll all have to look out for them in 2010. The US was able to work on their handler motion and deep cutting in this game, as well as fine tune some of their crafty defenses. It was a spirited and well played match, with the Americans winning 17-2.

The ladies took the afternoon to cheer on the US women in their game against Japan, then taking in the US open game v. Australia and make an appearance at the Juniors Pool Party for some pizza and pop.

The Jr. open team awoke for an early morning game as well. They had two more round robin games to go, against the undefeated Colombia and the fiery French. By 9am there was a considerable crowd of parents and fans surrounding the field at Jericho beach. The Americans were a little shaky in their warm up drill, and coach Ben Van Heuvelen brought them in for a pep talk to focus.

The games opened with both teams scoring their offensive points, working the disc down the field and being fairly conservative. The field was muddy, and a Colombian player laid out for a D, missed, and had to shake the dripping mud from his arm. At 2-1 it looks like Lee Richardson is going to be poached deep and able to score, but a rushed throw gets intercepted, and the Colombians have earned their first chance for a break. Having worked the disc all the way down the field, it’s only at the end zone line that Jonah Herscu baits and gets a block. Jonah has been playing steady all weekend, despite the splint on his left hand after surgery for a broken finger right before training camp.

Now that the seal of the offenses has been broken, the D’s start coming. At 2-2, Casey Ikeda gets a block coming around on a disc that has shoved up the sideline. Alex Thorne floats a flick up to Andrew Lunetta but he’s outnumbered three to one, and the Colombians have another shot. An uncharacteristic throw choice for Alex, as his throws have been textbook all week.

At 3-2, the Colombians have an unforced error and the Americans capitalize for the first break of the game as Grant Lindsley hits Casey Ikeda for a goal. The Colombians are starting to take risks with big throws, and the next attempt goes out the back of the end zone. A drop by the Americans gives the disc back on the goal line and the Colombians pick up the point, 4-3.

On several occasions US players found themselves poached and able to head for the end zone. This time it works out and Michael Revelas is wide open for a huck and dishes a pass to George Stubbs for the goal. The US would finish out the half this way, earning D’s with their legs, and taking advantage of the benefits of the pressure that is put on the offense. The second half looked much like the first, as only 3 points were allowed in each, for a final score of 17-6.

After a lunch break, the US team took on the French. The half time came after just 21 minutes, but the French outscored the Americans three to one in the first four points of the second half before the Americans clamped down and allowed no additional goals for a final score of 17-3.

The team headed to Jericho beach to take in the gorgeous views and a swim before heading back to watch the Jr. open team play the Australians. Never afraid to mix good competition with good fun, they then took on the diving board at the Juniors Pool Party before heading back to the dorms for a good nights rest.