Women’s divisional favourites the United States of America were put to their toughest test of the tournament so far as they were pushed to their limit by a plucky and motivated Denmark side in a cracking game of Ultimate that was a pleasure to spectate.
From watching the warm up, one might have thought the game was going to be a blow-out as USA seemed to have their usual machine-like level of consistency while the Danes looked rather sluggish and had quite a high level of turnovers in their drills. This looked to be even more the case as the States blitzed their way to a quick 2-0 lead.
Denmark showed their tenacity as they worked hard to claw it right back to 2-2 and bring it back to serve as the two teams began to trade points with some lovely patient offence. With the game tied at 3-3, a nine minute mammoth point would follow in which star Maya Mileck shined with her emphatic defensive positioning and, eventually, her eye for the goal as she notched one of her three assists to shock the USA with a break. While the States regrouped and put home the next O rather quickly, it was Maya again controlling the offensive play by combining with Levke Walczak.
Walczak, one of the key players for the German National Team in years past, has quickly slotted into a key role in this Danish team as she time and time again managed to rally on her teammates by getting free almost effortlessly for resets and battling to win the disc back on defense, even when tasked with marking Paige Soper for much of the game.
Before they knew it, the Danes had rattled the USA again by claiming another massive break to go 6-4 up. After trading once more to 7-5, arguably the two most important periods of the game would follow. A four minute point came next, which saw both teams try use their long game where receivers were merely fingertips away from some massive highlight reel plays. It seemed to be the USA who slowly pulled back momentum when it mattered most, as their defence turned the screw, forcing Denmark to make pass after pass without gaining much ground. After finally putting home their O point, lightning struck twice as an almost identical point would follow, with the States securing a valuable break to tie the game for the first time since before half thanks to a cheeky high release backhand from Amber Sinicrope to Lauren Sadler.
Mileck, again ever present in Denmark’s positive play, was now tasked with playing almost every point alongside Walczak. With the gruelling heat and the unforgiving sand, it was going to be tough for the two to keep up their energy and see out the game. With the game tied at 8-8 and time gone, it was going to be a game to 10 and after another intense six minute battle, the USA landed a knockout blow to the Danes by getting another break as Sarah Anciaux found the ever-free Sadler.
While the Danes were going to do anything but lie down, managing to slot their O and bring it to Universe wasn’t quite enough as the USA are a team that will not give away the disc easily. This proved very much to be the case as they carefully passed the disc up the pitch with patience and an almost scary lack of urgency before they finally put home the winner in the form of a high release backhand break from Cree Howard.
This result leaves the USA unbeaten going into Tuesday’s matches against Australia and Canada while Denmark will no doubt look to bounce back after two tough defeats so far as they prepare to line up against Estonia and the Aussies.
By Aidan Kelly.