Portgual and Switzerland faced off in a pre-quarters game for the right to match up against Canada in the quarter-finals of the Mixed division. Portugal entered as prohibitive favourites having come second in their pool to Russia, while Switzerland finished third in a strong-looking pool B featuring the Philippines and Canada.
The first point set the tone for the rest of the game. Both teams were working exceptionally hard, the Swiss swinging back and forth and the Portuguese limiting them as much as possible. Portugal seemed to be putting on very flat forces to deny the inside shot, allowing the swings to come around because the upfield defenders were quick to get in front of their man when they caught the disc. They drove the Swiss back, closer to their own endzone, and generated the turn. Portugal slotted it in for a hard-earned break.
The next point was even more of a grind. It featured five turnovers, a mix of miscues and nice defensive plays, before Pedro Vargas took control, as he has so many times at this tournament, and spun a backhand in for Miguel Martins to bring down break number two. Portugal were spurred on by a loud sideline and decided to switch to man to limit the Swiss breaks. It paid immediate dividends as David Pimenta laid out on the first pass to intercept the throw. He dished it off, ran into the endzone and brought down a scoober for the third break in a row. Portugal were buoyant, the Swiss were struggling.
They broke out of their stupor quickly. Aaron Riedle sent a picture-perfect flick huck for a score to get them on the board. It was then that the Swiss Masters team arrived and started to make a lot of noise – ‘Hup Suisse’ began to become a very familiar refrain. The teams traded points before another mammoth point at 4-2.
Vargas couldn’t reel in a bad huck, giving Switzerland a chance with the disc. However, they turned on the first pass with a bad huck as the cutter had turned to come under. Portugal turned again, but Switzerland again failed to complete a pass on their chance for a break. Portugal sent it into the endzone to Vargas who called a foul and an injury on the play. He was replaced by David Pimenta. Portugal turned it yet again, though it owed more to a fantastic layout block by Sebastian Gloor than to any error this time, and Switzerland finally converted a break with a fabulous catch by Oswn Metzger, leaning backwards and taking down a listing disc.
Portugal called a timeout to stem the momentum that Switzerland had found. They came out and threw two huge rollcurve throws for the point – Andrew Roy to Pedro Vargas, and Vargas to Ricardo Patrão who laid out despite contact in the back. The teams traded points to half, which Portugal took 6-4.
Switzerland called three women on defence to start the second half but it made no difference to the Portuguese offence. Ines Bringel caught a superb layout score to make it 7-4. The Swiss turned quickly on their next offence, and despite David Pimenta dropping a hammer in the endzone Portugal earned another break quickly. After the Swiss managed to convert their first O of the second half, the score was 8-5.
Switzerland broke the Portuguese on the next point, Vargas turning on a huck and then attempting a layout poach D which was exploited by the Swiss handlers for an easy score. That was to be the last of the Swiss resistance though, as Portugal connected with two hucks on their next two offensive points to seal a 10-7 victory, and a battle against Canada for a semi-final spot.
Portugal captain Sebastien Lacroix said of the game:
“The game was very intense, we started very well on defence and we broke their offensive flow a bit. They came back a bit better and got on top of us, it was difficult for our offence to score. We managed it even if at times we had some lucky shots or throws to someone who wasn’t really open on stall eight or nine. We got away with it, though. I think what made the difference was how we started the game. It helps to start that way, it’s beach so the games are short and it gives a boost to the team.
“There are some really good teams here, even before the top eight. Now, every game is a final and that is the best feeling. Every point is very important, every point you feel the pressure that you have to do your best to score or get a D. It’s a fun feeling.
“It was a process of training a lot to try and come here to do our best. It’s a great feeling to know now that we are top eight and that we are going to play some great teams.”
By Sean Colfer.