Great Britain Women are looking to win big at WCBU 2017. In the last two World Championships of Beach Ultimate (2011, 2015), they’ve come home with bronze. This time, they want something more. Six of their fifteen players were on the squad that tasted bronze in 2011 (Katey Forth, Bex Forth, Ellie Hand, Meg Hurst, Fran Scarampi, Jackie Verrals). Two more (Vanesse Lowe, Issy Burke) took bronze with the team in 2015. Only two of the team have never played for Iceni, and four of them are playing on the Eurostars squad, representing the best in Europe. This is a team out to win.
Switzerland, on the other hand, were looking to play the upset card against GBR, just as they did at WUGC 2016 when they acted as one of the spoiler teams in a three-way tie. Laura Niederhauser, Sarina Schenk, and Veronique Mayor also come off a victory at EUCF with Flying Angels Bern. Despite their dominance on grass, Switzerland didn’t send a Women’s Beach team to Dubai in 2015. Four of the team remain from the last Swiss Women’s outing in 2011 (including Katrin Grenacher, their top goalscorer), but this is a team with far less experience on sand than their British counterparts.
When these two teams met at the Beach Ultimate Confederations Cup earlier this year, GBR came away 9-4 winners. But this was the first game of a tournament. There was heavy heat and a decent wind. It was far from settled.
The game starts out simple enough. The two teams trade until the score is GBR 3-2 SUI. Switzerland are trying out a zone, GBR are playing hard woman defence. Both teams have a few turns, but are looking strong.
And then GBR get their break. They had been looking the stronger of the two teams, and Lucy Barnes brings home the disc for the upwind score. The teams then trade upwind scores for a couple of points. Both seem far more affected by the heat than the wind, scrambling for shade once they come off the pitch. At 5-3 to GBR, the heat hits the players hard.
It’s an 11 minute point. Hurst gets a block for GBR, but Mayor gets one back for SUI. Delaney then gets another for GBR, but they throw away under pressure. SUI get to the endzone but throw the disc over Grenacher. Strehler gets the disc back and Hurst does the same for GBR. Mayor gets her second D for SUI, and they call a time out. A GBR chant of “1-2-3 4!” isn’t enough to stop the disc going for an eventual Swiss score. GBR 5-4 SUI.
The teams then calm down, and get water. Play is much more clinical. Scarampi manages to take half with an upwind score, and Hunter scores a second break for GBR straight after the break. At 9-6, GBR look to be in the driving seat. The end of game hooter goes, indicating a game to 10. But Switzerland turn on the heat. They convert their offence for 9-7. A cross-pitch backhand assist makes it 9-8. Lobel saves Switzerland with a huge layout before a simple score. It’s 9-9.
There aren’t the words to do a sudden death point justice. So we filmed it.
Quotes from the sideline:
Derek Gutley (Swiss coach) –Wind wasn’t a factor, the heat was far more of an issue. We had a few lucky breaks and drops at the end, but it could have gone either way – both teams played really well. GBR played with excellent spirit.
Callum Spiers (Currier Island Mens) – Cracking Game
Sean McCall (USA Grandmaster) – This was a missed opportunity for GBR, a chance to adapt to the wind and heat. Their experience will show through as the tournament goes on. Switzerland was a tough first game.
Magdalena (volunteer) – Beautiful Game
Emilien (volunteer) – Il y avait du suspense
By Harry Mason.