Birmingham Ultimate finish 9th at EUCF 2014

EUCF Team Photo

After victory at UKU Nationals in August, the club had qualified to represent the UK at EUCF 2014 – a massive achievement for only our second season!

With realatively little experience at this level it was a bit of a step into the unknown for the club, but an experience we wanted to embrace and make the most of.

However, the tournament started with a bit of a lesson in what it meant to play at this level – any mistakes were swiftly punished, any weaknesses quickly exposed and after Fridays play we’d finished with a 0-3 record. All the games were close but we just didn’t have the poise to take the win despite feeling like our general play may have deserved one.

Although we tried to treat our first game like we would any other tournament, as soon as it started it was a noticeable step up in level. We started slowly and they took full advantage, racing out to 4-0 lead. We were then left chasing the game. At times we tried to do too much, straying from our usual style and trying to force through unnecessary plays, and eventually their long game took them to the win.

In the second game we tried to keep things simple and focus on the basics, but came up against a strong team (eventually finishing 2nd). We again gave up a break to start the game, but immediately got it back to make it 2-2. But from there on, they went on a roll taking advantage of any mistakes we made and forcing us to chase the game. Riding out the advantage to a 15-10 scoreline.

In the final game of the day, we seemed to have finally reached the level we wanted to be at, battling hard and getting ourselves in a position to win the game, leading 10-8. At this point though, a bit of nerves and inexperience cost us as we struggled to close the game out, eventually losing 15-12 in a game we felt could have been so different.

On Saturday we were determined to get the elusive win, but we started against a good UFO team who were very smart in using their height advantage (a bit of a running theme for us throughout the weekend!), in our biggest loss of the weekend 15-9.

In the final group game against FlyHigh we once again started slowly and were forced to chase the game. Generally it felt quite tight, with some really long points being hotly contested. But again they were just a little more clinical if we made a mistake and they won 15-12.

Which left us with a 0-5 record after the pools… importantly these games showed that we could compete at this level, whilst highlighting the need to play hard consistently to win games.

In the 9-12 bracket our semi-final was against Thundering Herd, a familiar opponent from our semi at Nationals a month before. Once again we came out slow, but switched on to go a break up and for the first time in the weekend control the game and play as we knew we could. Making the most of our opportunities to win 14-10.

With that win we set up a rematch with FlyHigh from the day before. Determind to win and show we could compete with the European teams we came out firing. We were generating turnovers freely and converting on O, as other teams had to us over the weekend. They also seemed to run out of steam towards the end, but we kept pushing and took a decisive 15-6 win.

That meant that we finished in 9th place overall, the highest placed UK team! It felt as though we could have done a little better had we played at the level we finished at all weekend, but at the top of the game there is no mercy and the experience gained will only make the club better.

Full results and statistics can be found here.

It is worth mentioning that the club also finished 2nd in the spirit voting for the mixed division!

Birmingham Ultimate