Editor’s Note: Jordan West-Pratt is back with his sixth and final update from Team Germany in Manchester. While the games he’s referring to happened last week, the experience WP just got will last a lifetime. So, dive in and check it out. If you’re like us, you wish could have been there!
After getting roughed up all week by everybody and their brother in Blue, it was time for a match against the best in Europe. The Netherlands team beat Germany badly two years ago in the European championships, final score 12-6. I was not in Germany’s lineup back then, but I am told there was a lot of trash talk, and had it not been for the stellar play of American Zimmermann in goal, it would have been closer. Every member of the team who was in that game two years ago, has been following the results of the lower divisions, hoping for a chance to repay the loss. This is as close to a rivalry as it gets out here; I was really excited about being in a game that we could all take personally.
The Dutch played an intense game against Japan yesterday in the play in. and much like our match against the Blue and White, they were up, started to tire, fell behind, and were eventually overtaken. Final score 14-8, an almost identical game and score as our 15-9 loss. Unfortunately for the Dutch and for us, Zimmermann went down with what I am told is a hamstring injury, and would not be available for our game today.
We went with our usual game-day routine, with only one change. For the first time since we have arrived, we had a team breakfast, 8 am, al together. It was an important message about how to succeed at this level, and it helped us get our heads on straight right from the jump. After eggs and beans we headed to a team chalk talk where the hard work of Coach Bergersen would set us up mentally for the challenge ahead. After Xs and Os we hit the pitch for a hour of situational walk through. Back to the dorms, light lunch, pre-game music, then the two by two march to the playing surface.
During walk through this morning Coach Kaley said “we are not the kind of team that has two bad games in a row.” He was right, we came out today with our best effort of the tournament. After a minute we were up two goals, both outside rips from stud attacker Greg Lazarus, and the Dutch were using their first timeout. Bergersen may get the MVP nod for this one though as his scouting report on their O allowed our back end to hold the Orange without a goal for the first 60 minutes. A slick left had dodge and rip was their only goal of the game as veteran backstop Till Friedheim was unbeatable. Final score 14-1.
The question now is whether we have proven that we belong in Blue. This was not our goal when in training camp, and it didn’t become our objective until we had the opportunity dropped in our laps. The two teams who have finished ahead of us in the past are Ireland and the Dutch. Ireland failed to advance to the play-in round, and we had a convincing win over the Dutch. But I can hear the naysayers already.
We lost to every Blue division team in a big way. 24 goals for, 94 goals against. I have to assume that -70, over five games is one of the weaker performances in tournament history. Our only win, while convincing, came outside the Blue Division against a team that played yesterday, our day off, and did not have their starting keeper.
So Saturday is our chance to prove we belong, our last chance. Regardless of what happens, we will place higher than any German team in FIL World Championships history, and of that we can certainly be proud. Nonetheless, we do get to play England in a re-match for something far more valuable to us than placement.
They’re from Blue Division, they have a full roster, and they will be as rested as we are. Germany today is better than Germany last week; we are better than the team that lost 12-3 on opening night. We learned a little something from every team we played, and every time we stepped on the field we got better. Saturday we will show just how far a team can come in ten days. This Saturday our journey ends where it began, England v. Germany for fifth place, bragging rights, and respect.
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