Both teams entered this game desperate for a win. Great Britain let slip a two point lead over Ireland, eventually falling in sudden death to their near neighbours. Germany lost on universe point as well, losing to Australia in a game where the lead changed hands several times. The loser of this game would find themselves in a tough spot for the rest of the tournament – with Australia, the Philippines and Belgium all looking strong it would mean either a very difficult pre-quarter or no pre-quarter at all.
Germany began the stronger by far. They broke twice quickly, surging ahead 5-2. Great Britain were searching for a response, trying to finish points quickly but finding tough German downfield defence frustrating. Germany managed to notch another break for a score, pushing their lead to a scarcely believable 7-3 at the half. Britain’s team talk was audible from the sideline; they were not happy with the response after the emotional let down of the Ireland game. The Germans, on the other hand, seemed calm.
Britain tried to up the intensity coming out of half and scored quickly, Matt Parslow finding Ashley Yeo for a simple score. The Germans, though, would not be flustered. They continued taking advantage of the space that Britain were giving them – trying to clog the underneath lanes, they left themselves vulnerable over the top. Martin Cronacher kept finding Jan Schollän (they hooked up for two scores in a row) and kept pushing the disc down the pitch in big chunks at a time.
They teams traded for much of the half. Both called timeouts in difficult spots, and both converted their offence following the stoppage. At 11-7, the British team came out with a renewed fire and the sideline were raucously engaged. Still, Germany slotted it in with Cronacher turning scorer rather than assister this time. Britain put their own point in, and the next D was much more subdued. At 12-8, in a game to 13, the Great Britain offence told each other: “Just keep putting them in, boys. That’s all we can do.”
They put the point in easily, and set about trying to delay the inevitable. Germany worked the disc downfield with ease but Cronacher, essentially flawless up to that point, threw an inside-out break behind his man in the endzone. Britain scored after Tom Abrams bailed out a high stall throw and popped it off to Sam Bowen. The next point followed a similar pattern; Germany looked untroubled until a bad throwaway on the endzone line. Britain again took advantage after a long point, Tom Cartwright assisting Alex Brooks.
The margin had suddenly narrowed. Now 12-11, the outcome wasn’t quite so inevitable. Britain sent out a pure D line, clearly fired up, and they took the disc back and scored quickly – James Mead with a sumptuous around break to Sam Bowen. The sidelines erupted, Britain were jubilant. The Germans didn’t seem quite sure what was happening.
The universe point featured the two biggest plays of the game. First, Hayden Slaughter made a spectacular layout catch block to take the disc back for Britain. The British sideline went crazy, urging their players on. The disc swung back and forth until a slightly risky shot was taken into the endzone by Justin Foord. It seemed for all the world as though the German defenders had position, that they’d knock the disc away and that all the work that Great Britain had put in up to that point would be for naught. Then Ash Yeo stuck an arm out and ripped it away from both of them with a phenomenal catch. He landed, and there was a momentary pause, as if no one could quite believe he’d taken it. The only sound was Yeo roaring with delight.
The Germans had their hands on their hips. They had the game in their hands, and couldn’t quite believe that it had slipped from their grasp. They go into day two looking for answers after losing two games by a point each. Britain seemed more relieved than exuberant – they needed this. They had seen their tournament flashing before their eyes, saw the hopes they had fading in front of them. They hadn’t blinked, and now they live to see another day.
“I think that was massive for the team,” said Abrams. “We had a tough loss against Ireland earlier in the day and it would have been a real downer to come off two losses for the day in tight games. We’re really happy we showed the grit to come back from three points down.”
Foord was more forthright, but still saw positives: “I think we needed that wake up call. There’s an air of you put the GB kit on and you win, and obviously that’s not the case. So it’s good that we’ve had this shake up early on so we know what we need to do as a team to improve. It’s better to have that now than in pre-quarters, quarters, semis or whenever else that might be.
“We need to find the level that we finish games at at the beginning of the game. We need to get everyone firing from point zero, and if we can get that then we’re in a good position to compete. That’s our goal.”
By Sean Colfer.