World Championships 2012 – Finals Summaries
By Liam Rosen
The fans crowded into the stadium early in preparation for this hotly anticipated matchup between Team USA and Team Japan, a rematch of their game from round robin play on Tuesday. Japan won that game 16-14 after Team USA rallied to tie the game 14-14. The match started out under overcast skies with little to no wind as Fury dominated early, coming out 5-2 on their tight man defense and burst offense by Alex Snyder and Cree Howard. Japan turned the disc quite a bit in the first few points on long hucks that failed to connect. USA then started to play zone, a look they had tried in the Tuesday game. It seemed to work as first as they generated a couple turns, but Japan quickly figured the zone out and started a run. USA, on the other hand, seemed to lose patience in the end zone and started throwing floaty blades that were easily contested by team Japan. Japan rallied to take half 9-8 with the crowd supporting them every step of the way.
After halftime, USA continued to play zone, but it was clear at this point that it was not effective. The Japanese offense tightened up and stopped taking risks with the disc, and the US offense responded by doing the same, walking the next few points into the endzone, as the two rivals traded three breaks. At 14-12 Japan, the crowd was treated to a nailbiting point with quite a few turns. After a timeout was called, it was clear that this was the most important point of the game: the USA needed it to remain in the match, Japan needed it to put the nail in the coffin. Japan scored on a throw from Oyama Ayu to Yonehara Rie to make it 15-12, and the US was unable to come back. Final score: 17-13 Japan. After Ito Madoka got the final point and was mobbed by her teammates, many a Japan player began to shed tears of joy – it was clear how much this game meant to them to be able to win in their home country in front of hundreds of their fans.
The Mixed Final featured Canada, a team who so far in the tournament had yet to be challenged, beating all opponents handily, versus Australia, a team with a tougher road through finals, staving off a skilled Japanese team 16-13 in the semis. The two teams had previously met on Tuesday, where Canada crushed the Barramundis 17-5. Australia came in looking for revenge. It was not to be, however, as the all-star Canadian team quickly ran away with the game.
The Canadians went up 3-1 early, and then it was Mark Leduc time: the longtime Team Canada Mixed player scored the next 5 points for Canada as Canada and Australia traded breaks, making it 7-5 Canada. Canada then began to pull away both before and after half, relying on the consistent play of brothers Jeremy and Justin Norden, who played on the defensive and offensive lines, respectively. That remained the story through the end of the game, as Canada walked away with the 17-9 victory. Australia was able
to hold on a few points with the gutty defense of tall man Gavin Moore and the offensive connection of John Damiani and Tegan Sneddon, but ultimately was not able to make a dent in Canada’s perfect offensive set. Canada finished as the most dominant team in any division in the tournament, with no opponent able to score double digits on them.
The Open Final saw the United States versus Great Britain in the first time the Brits had made it to the final in the Open division in any Ultimate world championship. With the Open final being the last of the day, the wind picked up a bit and the sun came out, and it showed as Great Britain missed three or four crucial passes early. USA was able to capitalize and went up 3-0. Great Britain took a timeout in order to calm the game down and was able to score their first two goals off the handling of Daniel Furnell. The USA, however, answered back, and even though most points had two or three turns, USA was always able to put the last point in. USA took half 9-3 after a strategy change to “walk the disc in”, chanting “five yards at a time” from the sideline. During halftime, Great Britain attempted to get fired up by doing shuttle runs and an inspirational halftime speech. This looked like it would work at first right out of half as Britain converted their first break, making the score 10-5. USA’s walk, skip, and jump it in strategy kept on paying dividends, however, as they scored the next seven points with no answer from Great Britain to win the final 17-5. Team USA’s Beau Kittredge, who scored the winning point, provided some laughter in the spirit circle as he tried to stress the importance of the World Championships: “This may be the biggest tournament in the world… probably is.”