Beach Diaries, Open (Brach) 8/24/11

Posted: August 24, 2011 11:45 AM

Day 3 for us closed with our match against India.  We came into the contest pretty excited by the prospect of playing a nation that had never before been represented at international championship tournaments, and they, it seemed, shared that same fire.  "OK," we overheard them saying before the game started, "we're playing the USA.  And they're gonna be tough.  But we're gonna get out there and play hard and take every damn point we get the chance to!"  They walked out of their pre-game huddle pumped up, and they played like they were amped as well.
As a whole, we were able to dictate the play as we wanted, which was good.  But still, when India played hard, they played well, and the few points they did manage to notch against us were not flukes: they executed their offense and made good plays.  The final score was another lopsided one: a 13-2 U.S. victory, again, but still, they made us work for it.  And in the post-game huddle, they acknowledged their enthusiasm and provided some exciting insight into how the world takes the U.S.' influence in the Ultimate scene, on the field and off it.  They tipped their cap to Brodie Smith for his Bro Tips series, but took a little jibe at him as well - the soon-to-be-classic line was, "I hear he's making a video teaching people how to walk now."
(As an aside - Brodie, I think your instructional videos are great.  Keep up the good work and thanks both for being a good teacher and keeping up the good spirit through both the cheers and the razzing!)
We ended the day watching the girls easily take down the Spanish side, and then settling in for two evening competitions: the U.S. mixed team vs. Austria and the U.S. masters team vs. Great Britain.  Both provided the other U.S. squads with their first real tests, but with very strong D and a few stellar plays, our teams continued to win out.
The men tried to make it an early night, knowing that our real tests lay ahead: Day 4's schedule called for matches against the two other top teams in our pool.  We opened at 10 AM against the team that knocked out the U.S. men in the last beach world championship in 2007: the Philippines.
Word on the street was that the Philippines played small ball par excellence, with a heavy emphasis on moving the disc quickly through the middle and frequently changing angles of attack. We opened the game on offense, and scored, but they answered back with a goal and a break that put them up 2-1.  We traded to 4-3, converted to make it 4-4, and then broke back on a huge layout D off a comebacker by Mark Poole that gave us our first lead since the outset.

After a quid pro quo, we changed up our defense, and from there, the breaks began.  We went from 6-5 to 7-5 to 8-5 to 9-5, before at last, the Philippines answered with a score and a break of their own.
And that's when the calls began.
Now, they weren't bad calls.  There were a few marking fouls, nothing more, and certainly nothing that would be alien to players on any top U.S. club team.  But with a few strung in a row, and with tensions high, that run of foul calls sadly dampened the otherwise high level of spirit and pleasure both sides seemed to take in the contest.
The game got capped and ended at a score of around 11-8, and though the teams talked it out in the circle, I got the feeling that many players wished that the one tough point simply hadn't happened.  Nobody expressed a feeling that the calls were bad or incorrect, the issue was really more that the calls put a damper on an otherwise fast-paced and exciting game.  We shook hands, though, and expressed both desire and confidence to see each other again in the elimination rounds for another hard battle - in the semi-finals, or possibly even after.
With a long lunch break now, we're resting up for our next big test: a match on the stadium court vs. home-town favorites and our fellow undefeated team in pool B, the local boys from Italy.
What they will be like is yet to be seen, but we're preparing for a battle. 

Team USA Beach Diaries

Some members of Team USA will be submitting diary entries during the event to keep everyone posted on their experience in Italy.

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