A Week at the Under-23 World Championships – Day 7

Posted: July 28, 2013 07:21 PM

The following is part of our of continuing coverage of the 2013 WFDF U-23 Championships in Toronto, Canada. 

Overheard at one of the concessionaires at York University in Toronto:

"Who won the tournament?"


"Which division?"

"All of them."

Yes, the U.S.A. delegation lived up to their promise of dominance and won all three gold medals at the Under-23 WFDF World Championships this week. What’s more, the nation’s squads finished the tournament with a clean sweep throughout, going undefeated in every match they played.

Brief recaps of the three championship matches follow.

U.S.A. v. Canada Mixed Final

Canada pulled and went up 0-1 with an early break, but U.S.A. responded by scoring and tacking on two breaks of their own to go up 3-1. The teams traded back and forth until point for half, then added another break to go up 9-6. Sensing their momentum, the mixed team retained focus through halftime and broke twice out of the break. Though they thenceforth gave up three straight goals to allow Canada to close the gap to 11-9, U.S.A. refocused, came out strong and went for the jugular. They won the time-capped game 16-9, reeling off four straight break points to close out their tournament and take the gold. 

The offensive star of the game had to be Elijah Kerns, who consistently helped U.S.A. put points on the scoreboard. From 3-1 to 8-6, Kerns either scored or assisted on all five U.S.A. goals, and he added two more assists in the second half. The team’s defense as a whole proved strong as well, coaxing multiple miscues out of the Canadian receiver who had been the star of their previous matchup, Cindy Truong.

After celebrating their victory, U.S.A. mixed moved to the stands to watch the U.S.A. women take on Japan.

U.S.A. v. Japan Women’s Final

In the tightest of the three championship games, the U.S.A. women barely pulled out this victory. After being broken to begin the game, U.S.A. could for a long time only manage to hold serve, as each of the first 10 points were scored upwind. But at 5-5, U.S.A. managed to notch a break point of their own, and after the teams traded nine straight goals downwind, U.S.A. entered halftime up 9-8.

Japan employed a bait defense for much of the game, leaving sideline handlers open and employing a flat mark. This invited frequent swings that offered little to no yardage gain and moved the disc to the sidelines – always disadvantageous for the offense, particularly in the wind. The defensive set also had the additional benefit of making huck looks difficult, and it successfully induced a number of turns from the otherwise unflappable U.S.A. squad. 

At the end of the day, however, the U.S.A. team proved just too resilient. At 13-13, U.S.A. managed to score and notch a break to put themselves up 15-13 in a game capped at 16. Japan held their nerve and scored, then very nearly put in an upwinder to tie the game and pull for the championships with the wind at their backs. This could have spelled the end for the U.S.A. women. However, a drop at the end zone line by a wide-open Japanese cutter returned possession to U.S.A., and after working it upfield, Claire Chastain found Kami Groom in the end zone for the 16-14 win and the gold medal.

The wind picked up significantly during this game, and the U.S.A. women responded by running a zone defense that, surprisingly, proved only somewhat effective. Even when trapped, the Japanese offense seemed to move the disc easily up the sideline with forehands; one commentator noted that he would have recommended a tactical shift of moving the U.S.A. deep-deep from the center of the field to the sideline, denying the upline shot and inviting the cross-wind blade. As Japan’s huck game seemed to hinge on knifing passes rather than run-under floaters, this strategy may have offered the U.S.A. more break opportunities and a softer cushion throughout the match. Nonetheless, though it remained close throughout, U.S.A. managed to stall Japan’s offensive counter-attack just enough to earn the win. When it mattered most, the U.S.A. women surely proved to be – and not merely seem – unbeatable. 

U.S.A. v. Canada Open Final

In keeping with the model established by their compatriots, the U.S.A. open team was broken to begin the game. U.S.A. broke back early, however, and traded points with Canada all the way to 8-7. But this description belies the truth of the game: though the score stayed even, the play was far from crisp. This game was laden with turnovers, and either team could have won it. Throughout the first half, discs seemed to be constantly hitting the ground via miscues, drops, overthrows and plain-old execution errors. The U.S.A. offense simply did not appear to be that of an elite-level team – and yet, U.S.A. managed to not only stay in the game, but control it. The reason? Their defense. Though U.S.A. could not seem to help but give Canada possession of the disc, Canada consistently failed to score, notching just one more break after their game opener at 12-9, but it was too little, too late. U.S.A.’s aggressive and tenacious defense kept them in this game, and it is to their stellar defense that they owe their 14-11 victory over the home team from Canada. 


With the under-23 representatives of the nation having done their job, all eyes turn now to Cali, Colombia, to await the results of the 2013 World Games. Will U.S.A. enjoy a third straight World Games gold medal to place atop the mantel next to these three U-23 victories? 

We’ll find out soon enough.

Day 7 Highlights - Images by CBMT Creative



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