If one final was clearly expected in the minds of third-party observers, it was this one, as Germany and Austria appear to be in a league of their own in the girls U17 division. Expectations were thus pretty high in terms of the level and quality of play, and the game certainly delivered in this respect. The teams traded blow for blow all along the game, alternatively taking the lead and catching up, cheered by an enthusiastic crowd on both sides: while Austrians appeared less numerous, they were just as boisterous as their German counterparts. Weather conditions were rather poor, unfortunately, as it rained for most of the game, with a moderate crosswind. It was a drizzling rain, though, and the field was good enough not to be affected too much, but of course a slippery disc means more mistakes – well, that’s also more turnovers and an even more thrilling game! And boy was it thrilling…
The game took place at 19:00 and was livestreamed on fanseat.
Germany had the O, but it was Austria who scored first, thanks to a huge layout D by Sophie Bretschko. After a short interruption to straighten out the bended disc, Austria finished the job with a few short passes. Germany adopted a different style, at least at the beginning of the game, relying on a longer game to reach the endzone in a couple of passes. The last one wasn’t caught though, meaning that Austria got a 2-0 opportunity, but Kati Hüllhorst, who had just delivered the previous huck, found the resources to make a D in her own endzone. Another couple of throws later, Germany had sent play back to the other side of the field and leveled the score. Another point, another D in midfield, this time by Luisa Denkert, another couple of long, efficient passes, and that was 2-1 for Germany, except there was a call. Never mind, the unfazed Germans simply did the job again, and this time scored for good.
It was a hard-fought game
Make no mistake: we’re not saying that Austria played short and Germany long in a rudimentary clash of styles. This has been seen at times in these championships maybe, but these teams are more subtle than that, they are able to vary their plays according to the circumstances, and they did.
That game had a funny pattern, with quite a large number of turnovers – some mistakes, but also many Ds – but still teams seemed to score in turn, as in a game that proceeds with no turnovers at all.
The show was in the stands as well. While German teams have a well-known cheer to support the player about to pull (with their arms up in the air, helping the disc with all their might), your reporter still had to discover what the Austrians had in store. Well, folks, turns out it’s a chainsaw!
Ooohhh the nice goal! Austrians were ready for action, their vertical stack in the German endzone, when Daniela Setina decided to throw directly for the goal in the opposite corner, which apparently took a while (that would be about one second in that situation) to sink with her team mates, who then scrambled about feverishly in the direction of the floating disc. Obviously someone would have to layout, and sure enough Maja Ortner did, with both arms outstretched for a superbly clean pancake catch just inches from the ground, and it was AUT 5 – 4 GER!
Luisa Kellner and Maja Ortner - just a little bit late this time
Germany quickly equalized though – quickly here means three minutes, which seems in fact to have been an average in this game, which lasted 101 minutes instead of the theoretical 80 for this category – after which Ortner (again!) retaliated with a huck meant for, and duly caught by, Bretschko after a superb sprint. That girl can do everything and seems to be everywhere. This pair, Bretschko and Ortner, along with Setina, were at the heart of Austria’s play in that game, although it has to be stressed that it was a real team effort, as all players touched the disc during points, more often than not.
Charlotte Schall of Germany
On the German side, statistics tell us that Daria Peters, Ramona Boes, and Henrika Linde were particularly active, but then again the scoresheet your writer relies upon only lists assists and goals, and we all know that Ultimate is about a lot more than that. Defense in particular was a key factor in this game, as both teams fought very hard, but in a generally spirited way.
Half-time was reached with Austrians leading 7-6. While the Germans gathered in a circle besides the pitch, their opponents gathered too, but in the middle of the pitch, and made the show with… a choreography! Everyone on fanseat.com for the replay, folks, that was a sight to see.
Marlene Seidel (Austria)
The second half proceeded much like the first, only more and more intense, and rainy as well. Time ran out at 11-11, after which Austria scored, and it was game to 13. The end of this game will be remembered and discussed for a while. Austria scored and celebrated, the Germans were looking dejected. At that point, Austria is the champion, there’s no doubt. All of a sudden… wait, there’s been a call! Apparently, the Austrian player was out when she caught the disc. Well, play resumed after a while, Germany won that point and then the universe point. The champion is Germany after all.
What made this call contentious is that:
a) it occurred after about half a minute of Austrian celebrations,
b) the final was filmed of course, and there is video evidence that the Austrian player was in fact clearly in. However, if Austria don’t request to see the video, then it won’t be used. And they didn’t.
Should Austrian coaches have intervened, asking to see the video? The old debate about whether players should be left alone to solve these issues, in the true spirit of Ultimate, or whether coaches should intervene, whether video should be used at all, whether advisors or observers are needed in top-level competitions, etc. has been rekindled. It must be pointed out that German and Austrian coaches discussed and resolved this situation, agreeing that the final decision is in the hands of the players, always.
Whatever the case may be, this was truly a final in which two golds would have been deserved. But no doubt players from both teams will have another shot at a title, given the great Ultimate tradition in these countries.