U.S. Girls head to bronze-medal match after loss to Colombia

Posted: August 7, 2010 12:22 PM

 This August, 44 of the best youth Ultimate players in America will be traveling to Germany to participate in the 2010 World Junior Ultimate Championships. But first, the Open and Girl’s teams will meet at Amherst College next week for a weeklong training camp hosted by USA Ultimate.

Five members of Team USA have agreed to blog about thier experiences for usaultimate.org - Bethany Kaylor, Sally LandefeldMaddy RoorbachNick Stuart and Matt Barnes. Follow their progress here as they train, travel and compete throughout the next few weeks.


Friday, August 6th – Girls Quarters and Semis, Boys Pool Play
At this point in the week, we’ve hit a rhythm. For me as the manager and Jamie as the physician extraordinaire, it means a 6am wake up to accompany the boys to breakfast and the fields, then a quick break before the girls show up to prepare for their morning game. By the time the girls have played, the boys are warming up again, and then the girls…The day to day life of the physician and the team manager is a constant hurry up, wait, hurry up. Over the last five days, we’ve formed alliances with our "me" from other squads. Tape, massage tables and lattes are shared. "Team Management" is all about camaraderie and helping each other to provide the best experience for the players – putting our own teams first, of course. ;)
For the third time this week, the boys and girls played at the same time, and this time, against the same opponent. The girls drew Japan as their quarter final match up, while the boys were still working through their pool of nine, and had two last games against Japan and Germany. I briefly checked in with the teams, saw that everything was on track and jogged over to the free wifi. It turns out that this means sitting in the hall to the bathrooms. Quite lovely. But there are daily write ups to email and photos to check. A large majority of players have family members in attendance, and we’ve set up a brilliant system, if I do say so myself, where parents with cameras can drop their favorite photos in a shared online folder. All the shots you see in the photo gallery of the USA Ultimate website are courtesy of the fantastic and dedicated "Team Parent". This same group also provides a formidable cheering squad, laundry service and fresh fruit provider. The week would not have gone so smoothly without their assistance.
Both teams had spirited and exciting games against their Japanese opponents. The boys clinched a spot in the semis with their win – the afternoon win against Germany, the other undefeated team, would secure our spot as the one seed. But before the boys could wrap up pool play with the final win, the girls needed to play a semi against a hungry and energetic Colombian squad.
In 2008, our girls played Colombia in the bronze medal game. Had it been by USA Ultimate tournament rules, with a hard cap, we would have lost. What commenced in 2008 was one of the best come backs I had ever had the pleasure of being a part of. Holding Colombia on game point for point after point after point, we came back and snatched the bronze medal right from them. As it turns out, the Colombians haven’t forgotten this game either.
Armed with what can only be described as an army of coaches, two of which are Americans and more that have played for American teams, the Colombians came prepared with a transition zone off the pull, and the most physical person defense we’d seen to date. We had our moments of tenacious intensity, and brilliant calm offense, but something wasn’t quite right. At 11-10, with a point cap to 13, I was still positive that we’d win this game. At 12-12, universe point, I was still sure we’d get the D and score. Only as the last forehand flew towards an unmarked defender in the endzone did my heart sink. What a fabulous group of girls. Watching them this week, being with the team as it came together, laughed, sang, loved and grew, was my reminder of why this international program is so important. We look to put the best players together, grow into a team, and play at our highest level. Sometimes this result in medals, even championships. Sometimes we miss our mark, but the experience, and what these players can take back to their high school and college teams cannot be under valued. We are all, of course, disappointed. You can’t put your heart on the line the way this team did and not feel it. But we can still end on a win, and with a medal, and nothing can stand in our way if we don’t let it. The Australians are our match up for third, them having lost to the Canadians in the other semi. It’s a rematch, but it’s also a chance to prove to ourselves that though teams face adversity, we are strong and we can rise up to any challenge.