U-23 World Championships Day 3: Open Bracket Preview

by | July 26, 2013, 1:47am 0

Those who have been following me on Twitter (Skyd_JLeppert) and watching the NGN or IAmUltimate streams know that there have been some interesting games here in Toronto. Expect that excitement level to kick up a notch as the the championship bracket kicks off around lunchtime here tomorrow. Here’s a quick preview of each of the games, and what to expect from them. I’ll also be providing more information tomorrow as women’s pool play wraps up, and the mixed power pools come to a close.

United States (6-0) vs. Great Britain (5-3)

The United States has remained relatively unchallenged so far this tournament – the only true challenges being the first half in their game against Colombia last night and the opening game against Germany. Even then, they remained in control of those games with a few minor hiccups throughout. Can Great Britain be the team to unseat them? The lads from the UK have had more than just a few hiccups of their own here. Recording three early losses landed them as the second seed in pool B, and they had to play a game against Switzerland today in order to stay alive. Those losses, however, came against some strong teams: Canada (against whom they played a great, close game to kick off the tournament), Japan and Austria. Against the Japanese they had some problems with the speed of the opposing cutters and handlers and being able to change their strategy on the fly. That too could be a problem against the USA, but given how well they held their own against Canada this shouldn’t be seen as a weaker opponent than expected for the Americans.

Austria (6-1) vs. Australia (3-3)

Austria has been the surprise of the tournament by far, and will look to keep up their momentum by taking out the Australians tomorrow. Their only loss came to Canada, who crushed them, but they did get two wins against Great Britain and Japan. In order to keep on surprising teams, they’ll have to get past the Aussies, who have looked to piece themselves together after a not so hot first day of competition. That first day, the Goannas went 0-2, including a loss to a Colombian squad that failed to make it to the championship bracket. Since then, they’ve only lost one more game (a close one to the Germans), and have won three. Watching them today during the loss to Germany, they looked a lot more put together than they did when facing the USA on their first day of play. They’ll need to continue that play if they want to get past Austria, but it will be no easy task. Their best bet will come if they keep the game as close as possible with Austria, hoping that the other close games they’ve had will be enough to tire the Austrian team out and allow Australia to win. For Austria, success should come if they keep pushing their style of play.

Canada (7-0) vs. Italy (4-3)

Working the IAmUltimate stream of Canada vs. USA mixed today with Alex Davis – Furious George player and coach of Canada Open – was a lot of fun, and he also let me in on some information on his Canadian team. The biggest piece of information was that they’re currently battling some injuries to three defensive line players, including a few handlers, but good news Canada fans: he also said he hoped today’s single game would allow for some rest going into this round – allowing them to play. Canada remains undefeated so far, and for Italy to challenge that it’s going to need more stellar play out of #16 Bruno Mine. I noticed his play especially in today’s game against Colombia, where his steady handler work helped propel them to the victory. He wasn’t the only star player, but the captain was important in generating the defensive stops that gave them that victory to close out pool play as he pulled double duty on the offensive and defensive lines. To stop Canada, they’ll need more of that out of him, and a way to contain the quick striking Canadian offense.

Germany (5-1) vs. Japan (5-2)

Lastly, we have two teams with results a bit different than expected. Germany has exceeded expectations so far: going 5-1, beating Australia and Colombia, and giving the Americans a fight; all good signs of the ability to pull out a semifinals berth. They’ve been one of the most complete teams on the Open side, playing with strength on both sides of the disc. They’ve had a few close calls along the way, but have been able to pull out the wins with a large focus on keeping the intensity going on their sidelines, and on the field. Japan, on the other hand, has slightly underperformed. Seeded behind Great Britain as third overall in Pool B, beating GBR and taking second – if not challenging Canada for first overall in the pool – was certainly a reachable goal out of pool play. They showed the strength of their speed and defensive ability, especially against Great Britain, but looked uncomfortable at times against Canada and Austria. They can get another shot at taking down Canada though, and that starts by beating Germany here. If they’re forced to move away from the strategy we’re accustomed to seeing, expect a German victory. But if Germany can’t sustain themselves against the Japanese speed or defensive traps, the Japanese will have a strong chance at winning the game.

Photo by Steve Kotvis of f-go.us

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