Glasgow, starting second bottom in group F began the day with a 15-8 win over second seeded Freakshow from Singapore. This made things exciting. Sesquidistus, from France and also in this pool showed their hand at Windmill, and were known to be beatable by the Scots. The french pushed the pool leaders Crash to 15-13 in the first round of play, which altogether rendered Glasgow’s upcoming matchup as surprisingly human despite both the high seeding maple leaf next to their name. Whilst all Canadian and North American teams undeniably arrive with inherited respect at WUCC – a hand up before the game has even started – the narratives of this pool were starting to look like things might not be so simple, and Glasgow would have a decent chance.
There’s a lot of discussion in Ultimate about not focusing on your opponent. Put the work in, keep eyes on us, keep your mind on your own game – the rest will fall into place. It’s a noble sentiment, but I think Glasgow will have had a glint in their eye going into this match.
After a quick opening trade of points, Glasgow’s defense found themselves with a possession and sliced an IO flick into the endzone for the goal. The Scots rightly erupted. It was a simple score on paper, but it was a solid and assured statement early on in the game. The very next point another opening arrived after Crash overthrew their receiver. Rory Curran and Phillip Webb played the disc back and forth a couple of times before Curran unleashed a huck, unfortunately into Canadian airspace. The opportunity would be given again though, with Curran exploiting the break side this time. Both intended receiver and defender went underneath, but Glaswegian backup play saved the goal. Sometimes scrappy play can sap a team’s momentum, and sometimes it can paint a picture of triumph against logic and provide a boost. It was certainly a boost in this case. It was early days, but Glasgow were clearly not going to be lying down easily.
Now it was the Canadians’ turn for an early push. After a hold they answered with their own break to bring it even at threes. Glasgow were unperturbed, and broke again to reach 6-4 where things were sitting pretty for them. They’d settled in, break-blood had been spilled on both sides, and Glasgow were heading fast towards taking half after starting on defense.
Crash had other plans. In an onslaught that felt like a few short minutes they held, and then scored three consecutive breaks to go from 6-4 down to 8-6 up. The first, second and fourth of this run of goals were worked almost entirely between their women, with Amanda Raimbault, and then Amanda Froese scoring the first two of the run. The game really opened up in this middle section, with the last point of the half containing three turnovers alone. Glasgow’s offense held to begin the second half – a big ask given the momentum, but doing so was far from simple with another two more turns and a time-out required. It was the longest point since Glasgow’s first break, and legs were beginning to tire in the hot and muggy conditions.
Glasgow pushed on, but Crash were by now causing serious damage. Their women dominated possessions still, and they were holding their offense comfortably with the odd additional break peppered in. Crash scored from defense again to make it 12-7 after another gruelling point featuring three turns, a timeout, and Brad Froese from Crash leaping to double roughly his own height to get a block he simply shouldn’t have been able to.
It’s testament to Glasgow’s approach that they had two further moments where they threatened to take this game. A same-third blast leading to a goal from Harriet Hopper brought a rallying cry (‘f***ing come on!’) as the team dared to believe again for a moment at 12-7 down. A few points later, and after having run the Glasgow offense from behind the disc all game, Katie Flight screamed past her assignment to get a block on the reset gaining Glasgow a short field at 13-9. Shouting almost before she connected with the disc, the team were again electric but it wasn’t enough. Five breaks and five points ultimately separated Glasgow from victory. Crash, it has to be stated played a solid and consistent game, and altogether were deserving victors, winning 15-10.
Captain Iain Campbell was balanced, and candid after the game. He rightly pointed out that being disappointed after losing to the top seed in their group was surely a good sign for a team that originally fell two places short of qualification. He explained how the team had no expectations, or specific game plan going into the match; they were unconcerned with scouting and just planned to come out and play. The team’s emphasis on longer term development was present even now, with talks of Nationals and Europeans, and how this experience will put them in good stead. Worlds as a warmup, it seems. Glasgow may not have come out on top here but it’s impressive and refreshing to see a team go so quickly from intense competition in the face of adversity to cool, long term development thinking.
Back to the tournament at hand: Pool F is still mixed up, though not as much as it could have been. Shortly after Crash wrestled control over Glasgow, a nail biting matchup peaked to double-game point between Singapore Freakshow and Vanguard on the next pitch along. Freakshow had controlled this game in the first half, and staved off the Aussies early into the second. The Singaporean handlers wore a grin as they tossed perfectly flat passes around a constricting Vanguard zone cup like bullies playing piggy in the middle. Yet – despite their apparent composure, Freakshow somehow let the win slip through their fingers. Vanguard finally got their turn, and answered Singapore’s 50+ passes with a deep shot and mid-range flick to take the game on double game point. It’s rare to see such close contests this early in a tournament, and rarer still to see so many within one group. It seems Glasgow won’t have an easy day in Cincinatti, but at least it’s still very much all to play for.