Great Britain and Spain faced off for a spot in the Masters semi-finals earlier today. The teams were pretty evenly matched and had each had similar results in the lead up to the game. Britain had lost captain Dave Povey for some of the tournament with a hamstring injury but had managed to reach this stage with some strong performances across the squad. Spain had built themselves a reputation for steady offence and excellent disc retention.
Spain started on offence and put it away quickly. They kept that roll going and broke the British offence at the first time of asking for a 2-0 lead. Britain got back on track and went on a two-point roll of their own to level the scores at 2-2 following a gruelling fourth point. They went down with a zone look on the next point and stymied the Spanish flow. A huck went out from a handler but turned in the endzone thanks to some pressure from Ewen Buckling. Britain moved it down the field nicely for an uncontested score in the open corner.
Britain stuck with the zone but the Spanish pulled it apart. Their offence was excellent until the last pass, which went out of the back of the endzone. Britain’s offence was stodgy, struggling to move things, but Al Harding slung it long and Christian ‘Bobby’ Zamore stole the score from his teammate Hermann Kaser. Britain were 4-2 to the good and rolling, having scored four in a row.
The Spanish regrouped and worked through the zone successfully. The teams traded until 6-5, when Britain turned over on the endzone line. The Spanish broke back to tie the game at 6-6. It didn’t rattle the British O line though, and they calmly and efficiently stuck in another point to take half 7-6, with them receiving the disc after the break.
That point went to Great Britain as well, a hammer from Paul ‘Voodoo’ Waite landing in the hands of Felix Shardlow who was fouled. After a brief discussion, he popped it back to Voodoo for the score. The teams traded to 10-9, with some good offence from both sides. The Great Britain O was clinical and the Spanish offence was living up to its reputation, giving the Brits few opportunities to expand their lead.
At 10-9, Britain dropped a pull in their own endzone. They put up a fantastic defensive stand, driving Spain back past the brick mark, but eventually succumbed to good breakside pressure and the game was level at 10-10. Britain regrouped and scored the next point – Zamore with a spectacular layout catch in the far corner of the endzone. It was 11-10 to Britain and it was a game to 12.
Spain took the disc back and called a timeout. They managed to score after a long point, sending the game to universe point. The Great Britain squad rallied around their O line, encouraging them on, while the Spanish sideline erupted and were loud in favour of their team. Britain turned over on the first pass out of the endzone but got it back when Spain sent a throw too far. However, a British huck died just before it reached Kaser, the intended receiver, and Spain were off to the races. They quickly moved up the field and sent in a score to an open man cutting straight down the field, securing a come-from-behind 12-11 win. They were as jubilant as Britain were gutted.
British captain Dave Povey said:
“We felt like we lost the game rather than them winning it. We had the disc in our hands enough times to win, which has been a common theme at the tournament for us. We feel like we’ve under-performed, we’ve under-achieved, and we have a point to prove. We’re still a Great Britain team and we’re still proud to wear the jersey. We have to try and finish as high as we can, which is not where we wanted to be, but we need to send a message we’re better than our finish.
“Results don’t lie. We’ve lost three sudden death games and been up in all three. We had the disc enough times to win and haven’t done it. It’s those key moments where we faltered, but that’s sport. It’s not an individual thing, it’s a team thing. It’s a collective loss rather than any one person with one moment. If the whole team does everything better throughout the game then we’re not in that situation later in the game. The good thing about this team is that we’re a collective unit, it’s one of the closer teams we’ve had in the past few years.
“It hurts, but we’ll rally round and that’s one of the good things about this group of players. It’s a team.”
Spain’s spirit captain, Rodrigo Mogollon, said:
“Before the tournament, we were talking about the quarter-finals and trying to fight as much as possible to get to this point. So, to go to the semi-final, we’re joyous. We’re very, very happy.
“We have started losing in some games and we can come back. We have done it two or three times, it’s one of our strengths that we never lose our mindset. Of course, we got lucky in some moments but we are mentally strong and sometimes you can get these prizes.
“It’s going to be hard, but it will be a new game against France. I think it’s going to be hard because they are playing great Ultimate but I think we have a chance.”
The captain, Juan Urdaneta, said:
“We are friends with the French team. We want to play that game, when we started this game we said that ‘we have a date, for the next one’. We know them and we are going to play hard. We will all we can do for a win.
“We finished fourth in Lignano in 2011, so that was the objective for this tournament, to do better. We will fight to the last moment and do everything to do that. Everyone is able to fight to the last minute, so now we will try to do our best and win. Why not?”
By Sean Colfer.