World Games Cali: Day 2, Part I

Posted: July 29, 2013 02:20 PM

The following is part of our of continuing coverage of the 2013 World Games in Cali, Colombia. 

The United States beat Colombia 13-7 in its third match at the World Games. At 3-0, they’re the only undefeated team remaining in the tournament pool of six. They face Japan (2-1) tonight at 4:10 in the central time zone.

This morning’s warm up started with the somber news that the team would play the game without Alex Snyder, who woke up with a migraine, and Ashlin Joye, who was ill with food poisoning. Playing with only 11 players was a daunting task because of both the grueling tournament format – two games per day in the Cali heat and only 13 players per roster in the first place – and the void it left in a team that celebrates unity and cohesion.

Coach Alex Ghesquiere said that the team would soldier on strategically. "You throw O and D lines out the window. Whoever can play will play. Luckily we’ve got 11 really good players." More noteworthy was the optimistic conclusion to his comments. "It’s a good test for us. I like it."

The team followed suit by cheering themselves on through the warm up, transforming cheers that initially sounded hollow and forced into rallying cries that resonated in their corner of the stadium. Sarah Griffith was over-the-top energetic, yelling "I love you!" to each of her teammates in an action that she said was deliberate.

"We couldn’t afford to come out slow," she said. "I knew that if I directed my energy outward, it would bring up the team and get me where I needed to be."

"Matty [Tsang, the team’s assistant coach] told us this morning that we need to trust that we will rise to this challenge, and that our teammates that are struggling need to trust that we’ll get them to the games they want to play in. Our unity as a team sets us up for success."

The U.S. started the game in inspired fashion, scoring the first goal on offense, breaking on the second, and after a Colombian hold, breaking three times in a row to go up 5-1. They took half 7-3.

"We’re doing work, and I like it," Ghesquiere told the team. "Let’s keep it coming."

The U.S. team was outplaying Colombia, and the players knew it. "Our feet are faster thus far," said George Stubbs. "Let’s keep it that way. Resilience, U.S.! Resilience, resilience."

But Colombia would come out swinging in the second half, scoring when a handler sprinted the disc to the brick after it was pulled out of bounds, launched it into the end zone, and Elizabeth Mosquera – a standout receiver on a Colombian team whose strength is its women – came in to clean up the trash after the intended receiver jumped too early. Colombia rode the momentum on the next point, and after an incomplete huck, struggles to move the disc beyond the handler spot, Dylan Tunnell taking an injury sub and the Colombians scoring to bring the score to 7-5, the United States was visibly frustrated.

"I think we eased off a bit," said Tunnell. "We lost some focus and intensity. A little bit of it was not finishing cuts, and some was missed execution. At the same time, I never lost confidence in us."

Tunnell’s team justified that confidence on the next point, working methodically through a Colombian zone until Mac Taylor found Beau Kittredge in the end zone. The team was fired up: when the typically docile Tsang cheered, it was the first time in the tournament that his voice was audible from the sidelines.

The United States proceeded to break four times in a row to 12-5, and though Colombia would hold and then break to 12-7, the game was soon over. The United States had flexed their muscles, withstood their opponent’s best efforts and finished on a high note; it was a microcosm of their previous two games and is a pattern the team hopes to continue.

As I concluded this article, Griffith knocked on my door to offer a few more thoughts on her team’s mindset.

"In a tournament like this, there’s a lot of adversity. It’s easy to get caught up with how you feel in the moment, but there’s the bigger picture, the realization that I’m playing in the World Games today. That’s a special moment, and we can’t let that be dampened by short-term physical adversity."

"We knew there’d be setbacks," said Tunnell. "But we can handle them. We’re all in good shape, and everybody’s gonna get real fired up in the Japan game."

Pool Play - USA vs Colombia - Images by CBMT Creative



2013 World Games (official website)


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