Sean Colfer reports on yesterday’s power pool matchup in the Open Division
Austria came into this match on a high after their their live-streamed victory over Great Britain on the show pitch – yet another statement of intent after topping their pool (despite an unexpected loss to Belgium). A win would continue their unbeaten run through power pools, and guarantee a top two place ahead of their matchup with the United States on Thursday morning.
Colombia had different concerns. They were chasing a victory to remain in contention for a quarter-final spot. They were winless in the power pool and needed to win here and against Australia, also winless in the power pool, to stand a chance.
Austria started the game on offence, but struggled to contain the exuberance of the Colombians. Their zone didn’t faze the South Americans at all and their man defence couldn’t stop the long game. Colombia streaked to a 6-3 lead.
Austria had none of the structure, the decisiveness or the swagger that marked their victory over Great Britain. Colombia were firing on all cylinders, throwing themselves around on D and exerting great pressure on the marks.
Austria managed to gather themselves, though, scoring the next two points before Colombia tried to return to the long game that had served them so well previously. However, Austrian captain Thomas Mitterer intercepted the huck in the most spectacular way – undercutting the offensive player, laying out full stretch at shoulder height and catching the disc just outside the end zone.
The play energised Austria, who scored twice more to regain their lead and wipe out the Colombians’ early breaks at 7-6. The teams traded hucks in the next two points before Colombia turned over poorly near their own end zone. Austria took advantage to take half, 9-7.
At half time, Colombia huddled and discussed the game in sometimes heated tones. In contract, Austria seemed relaxed. They stood on the sideline, drank water and threw some discs.
It seemed to work for Colombia, as they scored two points straight out of half. They couldn’t keep it up though, and Austria scored two of their own to regain their lead at 11-9. They traded huck scores before the stifling Austrian defence generated another turn and quick goal for a 13-10 lead.
The Colombians could feel the game slipping away and started to become more desperate. Some of their decision making became rushed and ill-judged. A dreadful pull, straight out of the side of the pitch to give Austria position on the front cone, didn’t help their cause at all.
The Austrian pressure on defence had stepped up a notch, forcing Colombia to run themselves into the ground for every inch of territory gained. They were exerting themselves to their very maximum, and previous results suggested that they would find it difficult to maintain that level for long.
Sure enough, the Austrians began to find more room on offence. On the final point it took them no time at all to find a long option they liked to Wolfgang Mitterer, their best deep threat this game, wide open for the winning score.
The Austrians celebrated loudly, though it was more muted than after their earlier victory. They were celebrating finishing a job they expected to do, rather than an emphatic statement.
In contrast, the Colombians dropped to the ground, some close to the point of tears. They cannot now make quarter-finals. Austria, though, have very different ambitions. They could potentially face Japan in the quarter-finals, and will go into this stage with the serious intention of bringing some medals back home whoever they face.[Feature image courtesy of Jolie J Lang for UltiPhotos]