2008 World Ultimate and Guts Championships Junior's Team - Women - August 8th

Posted: August 8, 2008 11:13 AM

Though we would not be playing for the highest prize we were still in the running for a medal and extra points towards the world cup of Ultimate which helps ensure that the US gets a bid to the next world games.  Hardware is always nice. 

The girls found themselves awake early for this game which was to be played in the Main stadium site bright and early at 8:30am.  Luckily for the legs of the US and Colombian players, the heat was a bit lower and in fact at game time it was a perfect setting.  Sunny with a very slight breeze and a crisp green field waiting for some action.

Our team didn't really expect to be seeing Colombia after our loss as they had beaten Australia twice before the semifinals and we assumed they'd get the win again in semi's as well but it turns out beating a team more than once is hard - especially when your teams are as evenly matched as those two were.  Colombia had worked an 14-11 lead in the game but a late charge by the Aussies earned them a 6-1 run and the win (fueled by a crafty strategy of saving their 4-Cup zone for the end of the game, and a lack of depth on the Colombian squad).    But as we started to warm up before our game, you wouldn't have guessed the Colombians were dispirited since their coaches wouldn't allow it.  They were looking crisp and prepared. 

We won the flip and elected to pull to start since our team strength is defense.  During our team huddle we talked about how hard it is to win a game like this since there's a tendency to be playing yesterday's mistakes through your mental pathways instead of today's plays.  We talked about staying present in this game and giving 100 percent for 100 minutes.  100 for 100.  We wanted it and we wanted some mojo back in what had been a very up and down week. 

The first pull sails in and we get a quick break when Colombia makes a rare misthrow and Amber Sinicrope hits Sarah Scott for a simple goal and just like that we're on the board.

But right behind were the Colombians.  Their all-world cutter - #14 Yina Paola Cartagena is as good as any Jr age woman I've seen at getting open under and she has a way of catching every disc thrown at her and completing every pass she attempts.  She also has a knack for getting open even though we're constantly throwing brand new defenders at her and doing everything we can to stop her from being effective.  Given the strength of our team and individual defense, let's just say She's a baller. 

Yina throws the first goal for them and just like that they break us back and are up 2-1.  Luckily for us, Erica Baken hit her Hopkins High School teammate Elise Rasmussen with a long strike and it's game on.

Fast forward a bit to 4-4 and we find both teams starting to feel the effects of almost two straight weeks of training for and playing in this tournament.  No amount of practice can prepare you for the ultra marathon that is a worlds tournament and the Jr. Girls division seems to be hit the hardest since they routinely have more turnovers and therefore longer points.  Its not uncommon (as was the case against Canada) for both teams to have 5-7 fairly clean points with only a handful of turns between them, but by the end you might see 7 turns from both teams.  This means the war of field position is important and wearing your opponent out and not getting worn out yourself is just as important. 

There were a few moments where communication issues (international ultimate uses English but that doesn't mean that everyone understands everything that is said) which lead to some slightly heated discussions between players and coaches from both teams.  One spirit Time out later and both coaches and players agree to do a better job of communicating with each other and not to let too many calls interrupt what has been a great and spirited pairing of teams.

Unfortunately, the U.S. hucks and legs were not connecting and Colombia starts taking advantage ever so slowly to build a lead working almost exclusively through their top 3 or 4 players who carry a heavy burden for the team.  The crowd gasps and shouts and each catch it contested by a US player with layout after layout but they're all a few inches short.  The sidelines are starting to fill with US fans including the  boys who didn't have to play till their 245pm final.  But the fans aren't liking what they're seeing.  At 7-4 Eileen Murray (U.S. head coach) decides we need some refocusing and calls a time out.  It seems to work as we run off two of the next three to bring the game back to 8- 6(though certainly not turnoverless) points.  McKain throws a redzone flick to DePalma and Amber Sinicrope throws a Cross field looper to Kimber (Think of trees falling) Coles.   Then we get another just after halftime (which was shortened because of the 45minute or 9 points whichever comes first rule).  Just like that its 8-7 and we're right back in it.  

All tournament we talked of trying to "win the sidelines" since we lost our first game to Colombia.  We want to be just as up and excited when the other team scores as when we score since we can't let our disappointment from the last point affect the next.  But when Colombia scores the next three points you can feel the air slip out of the teams sails.  We just weren't as confident that we can pull out the win and though we score the next goal almost immediately, the cap is on at 11-8 and we're now racing to 13 with a 3 point disadvantage and a bit of a quiet energy.  People hadn't given up but after the next goal By Colombia (12-8) even the U.S. fans and parents could be seen with their heads down.  One more point and it'd be over. 

Our problem is offsense. We can shut down any team hereoften getting D's when the thrower literally can't find an open pass for 10 full counts.  I think I've counted 7 uncontested stall count D's where the thrower didn't even try and throw.  Its happened in nearly every game.  We have great marks and even better downfield D.  But for some reason on O we're zigging when we should have zagged.  Naturally we as coaches have been trying to work things out but with only limited success against the better teams. 

We get one D after another but seem just as eager to give it back on a close throw or questionable decision.  While we need to start a run about the only thing working with any regularity is our deep game and we talk about trying to stretch from the sidelines. 

Receiving 12-8 we make a couple silly mistakes and so does Colombia. Really tired people are saying. There's lots of turns for both teams but somehow Kimber guts out a score.

We decided to leave some of our key offensive (and for that matter Defensive) players in for consecutive points despite our depth as we need to get more efficient on offense.  Sophie and Amber stay on the field.   Lane, Bailey, Paula, and captains Anna Snyder and McKain come in. we're stacked.

We force a bad huck from Yina's Colombians and the three captains run a handler weave, determined not to give it back.  Near the endzone Anna Snyder springs open and one simple backhand from McKain later and its 12-10.  

Amber and Sophie say they can stay. So do McKain and Anna S. Kimber Elise and Sarah Scott (arguably our three most consistent downfield players) come in for Bailey and Lane and paula who got us the D. we get a turn near our own endzone and the first chance we get Amber hucks to Elise which she skies to get but she's just outside the endzone...but here comes Kimber and Elise flips it to her.  It's a game!!

But on the catch Elise's defender toppled out of bounds and called injury so the goal is wiped away. Colombia tightens up near the endzone and Elise is forced to throw it away. Its heartbreaking. 

But Colombia misses on almost the next pass and we suddenly have only 15 feet to make it a one point game.  Elise looks off a throw or two waiting for the right opportunity and here's the sure handed Sarah scott for the goal.  12-11.  IT'S A GAME!!!!

Amber, Emelie, Sarah Scott, Sophie, Kimber stay on.  Bacon, Depalma come on for Anna and Elise.   

Colombian's confidence looks shattered.  Yina keeps making plays (as do several of her teammates but they just don't have the crispness.  They have two chances to seal it from less than 10 feet away and one goes sailing out of bounds.  One Depalma sky's for and saves the day.  On their third turnover, Colombia hucks it out the back but Depalma's Troublesome quad (which has been bad all week) goes and she's forced to take an injury sub. Anna comes in to replace her. All three captains have now  been in for 3-4 straight points.  This is after 10 straight DAYS of playing ultimate.

McKain and Amber look to get the disc upfield but their defenders are poaching the lane to prevent an upfield throw and McKain and Anna are forced to throw 6 or 7 passes that loose ground in the endzone. We're all trying to get them to huck it. Out of nowhere comes Amber to catch an upfield pass and Immediately hucks it without even looking upfield just to avoid disaster near the endzone.  As if reading her mind, Sophie (who also has played four points in a row) starts running.  It's a perfect huck and it lands in her hands uncontested 10 yards from the endzone.  Kimber is racing down field and one slick move later its 12-12.  Oh my goodness.

Universe point and since theirs no hard cap at worlds the sidelines are crammed with players from the two teams after us and from the US vs. Canada Mixed semi one field over. 

Emelie, Amber, Anna, Sophie all stay.  That's 4 or 5 in a row folks. Gutsy. Anna Reed, Bailey, and Elise come back on for downfielders who are always running a bit more. 

And now Colombia is feeling the pressure since they turn it over within 5 passes.  We have 60 yards for the win. 

And something just clicked. Anna Reed to Anna S to Amber.  To Bailey under.  Will she huck it? Here comes Sophie for a 25 yard perfect under strike continue cut.  We're 10 yards out.  Elise she's her chance and one perfect throw later and the US wins the bronze medal.  Perfect offense against a VERY fast team.  Finally! 

The girls run to elise and the coaches to each other. No one can believe it.  What a way to end the tournament. 

Afterwards nearly everone on both teams traded gear with the other. These teams really do admire the other.  Each team appreciate's the others story.  We All cheer for Ultimate in our two team final huddle.  It's a great day.