There are a few articles out already about the World Games final and I wanted to write a quick note about something that caught my eye watching the game. It isn’t something that makes the highlight films or the stat sheets or anything like that, but rather some nice (and quiet) work on D by the US on the Colombian woman.
At the start I want to say that the footage is a little fuzzy and doesn’t allow me to identify the two players from Colombia in the clips. I’m only able to identify the US players because I know them well and can recognize them even when they are a bit fuzzy on the screen.
The skill I want to show is defending away from the disc. The first example involves Team USA’s Anna Nazarov starting around 5:30 on the game clock:
You’ll see Anna highlighted in the box in tight person D even as the disc moves to the opposite side of the field. It certainly wouldn’t be unusual for someone in Anna’s position here to start poaching in cutting lanes. The fact that she wasn’t looking to poach made me think this tight person D away from the disc was an intentional defensive strategy by Team USA:
About 7 seconds later the disc is moving up the other sideline and Anna remains 100% locked in on her player. The only change in position is that Anna is now a bit deeper and looks to be giving up the underneath space to prevent a deep cut.
Another 7 seconds later the disc is swinging back across the field. Anna is still totally locked in on her player. The only change now is that she’s moved to take away the under cut.
The disc here is in the middle of the field (with the Colombian player positioned directly under the game clock on the screen). The player with the disc and the two cutters coming to him are all wide open, so again this leads me to believe that something about Anna’s D here was an intentional part of the US Team’s strategy.
Later in the game we see a similar idea with Claire Desmond.
The picture below shows the position at 38:47. You’ll see the disc moving to the far side of the field and Desmond positioned about 1 foot from her player:
5 seconds later Desmond and the player she’s guarding have moved 5 yards down the field, but are still right next to each other with Desmond now positioned to prevent a deep cut. As with the first example, Desmond could easily be poaching in the lanes here – especially since she has deep help behind her. The fact that she’s not makes me think the defensive positioning is by design.
Finally, another 5 seconds later the disc is on the far side of the field. The player Desmond is guarding is now behind the disc in the middle of the field and Desmond remains inches away from her.
I hope we hear a bit more about Team USA’s defensive strategy when they return to the US. In the articles I’ve seen so far, Nazarov and Desmond are being praised (rightfully) for their stellar play on O. I wanted to point out that they were also making important contributions on D, too. Those contributions weren’t necessarily showing up in the stat sheet or as the camera followed the disc around the field, but rather those contributions were showing up as Colombia struggled to create open cuts from the far side of the field.