In our first post on Dream Cup we talked about the tournament. This article covers our playing experience.
20 of the 22 Firetails were able to attend Dream Cup in Japan (missing Georgia Ewan and Simone Ryan who were unable to get time off from work). It is the only tournament the Firetails will be playing as a team before we go to the World Championships in June.
Dream Cup Champions!
While we were in Japan the Firetails played 9 games. Three of these were on Friday as part of the seeding tournament leading into the main tournament on Saturday/Sunday.
As we won all of our games on Friday we got first pick for our position in the draw for Saturday. Playing on Friday it was obvious it had been a while since we’d played together and we took most of the day trying to get our groove back, particularly on offence.
v Tokyo Gakugei University (Big Apple) 13-6
v Tei-kyo Heisei University (Freegars) 15-1
v Kyoto University (Breeze) 13-4
In addition to the tournament games both the Dingoes and Firetails played separate practice games against Team Japan on Saturday morning. These were Worlds condition games i.e. 100 minutes, points capped. The Firetails struggled on offence and have plenty to work on after being beaten 15-5. The Dingoes went much closer going down 15-13.
We gave our player of the game from Team Japan (Kana (#4)) a stuffed kookaburra – this led to an impromptu round of “Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree” – which went down a treat with Team Japan. (And possibly the only song that everyone on the team, other than Moe, would be able to jump into a round for without any warning).
v Nihon University (Hummingbirds) 8-3
v ZUKU 10-2
We got into the elimination stage of the tournament on Saturday afternoon. The wind came up so both of these games were wind-affected. The first game against the Hummingbirds was quite scrappy, but we eventually got our offence in better shape for the final game of the day against ZUKU.
Quarter-final: v Japan Women’s Masters 9-7
Semi-final: v MUD 10-5
Final: v Team Japan (O line) 9-8
Sunday brought us to the serious end of the tournament. The Japanese Women’s Masters team was a quality side as evidenced by the scoreline. It possibly could have been even closer but the last minute of the game was spent discussing an uncontested foul call (language barrier) meaning the Masters team didn’t use that time to play offence. Masters Team was led by Captain Hara-san (Maiko Hara).
Firetails with Japanese Women’s Masters Team
MUD were somewhat depleted as several of their players were playing on Team Japan, and our defensive pressure forced execution errors. They’d brought up some new young players to replace the Team Japan losses, and that they were friendly and great to play. Also they have sweet long ankle length puffers, which Michelle tried to make a deal for on the result of the game, but no deal!
Hannah scoring against MUD
On the other side of the draw Team Japan, who had split into two teams (their O and D lines) for the tournament, met each other in the semi-final. Team Japan O Line won, so we played them in the final. We had a poor start going down 0-3 but gradually we clawed it back. Moe and Michelle both had strong games, getting blocks and connecting well for 3 goals. Michelle was later awarded MVP from the winning team in the final. We got it to even at 6-6 (but still behind a break as we started on O). Our first time in the lead was when we scored to make it 9-8, which was the final score. Team Japan started on O with only a minute or so on the clock and needed to score to even it and force another point. They were eventually forced to put up a throw to the endzone before time ran out but it was blocked by Ash and time went before we put the disc into play.
Ash with the final block in the game
There was a delayed reaction from the Firetails before we realised the whistle meant we had won – then celebrations erupted!
After the game ends in Japan, the teams line up across from each other and the scorekeeper announces the scores for each team, and then we all shake hands. We had a circle with each of the teams we played but I gather that was unusual. Moe and Michelle taught us a Japanese phrase Otsu-kare-sama-deshita which is commonly said by both teams at the end, meaning something to the effect of “thanks for bringing your best efforts to make this game good”, followed by a single clap. We slowly managed to sound like we knew what we were doing by the last day.
Confirming results at the end of a game
One of the great things about the tournament was the support between the Dingoes and Firetails. We appreciate the Dingoes instigating the more supportive relationship between the teams. The relationship was cemented at the Farewell Party, put on for the international teams attending Dream Cup. Teams from Korea and Chinese Taipei were also at Dream Cup and we enjoyed meeting them at the party.
Firetails and Dingoes