EDIT: Some problem with the gif website will see if I can get it fixed, apologies :)
Argentina. We played our second RR game at 6pm that evening. Argentina had played Belgium earlier that day and won 3-2, so they were off to a positive start.
We had played in a warmup so both teams had some idea of what to expect.
We pushed a goal in early driving it straight off a free puck in front of their goal. The next goal happened to be on the close side so we can see a bit of footage as Andrew pushed around the left edge only for the Argentinian D to stop him on the bin and push down the wall.
Then Andre bombs it back to space finding Jesse who slots it through a row of defenders where it's finished by Jeremy on the other side, helped by a bit of a bunt from Ed to free it up.
So, I've mentioned before about how the Argentinians play a different style. What am I on about? Well, some things are pretty easy to see in terms of what a team is doing, or maybe planning, like this...
The wide player went down nearly 10 seconds before the play started on our first free puck, waiting for us to come wide. Quite likely they were expecting us to go wide on frees based on our warmup game. No-one was quite so enthusiastic again, but that wide player always set-up wide and came into the play from that angle, ready to shut things down if we went his way.
But, the reason these guys are fun to play is it's not really clear what they are doing. It's always a bit of a guessing game anyway right? The only people who know what an uwh team is really doing is the team itself, but with these guys it's even harder than usual to see because their forwards behave differently to most other teams.
Australia are an easy example to use, because everyone has been trying to copy them for 30 years and they still do it best. We are very similar in NZ.
If you are a backline player in either of these 2 countries, you are almost always going to be moving into position in a spot behind the puck, between the puck and your goal. You very rarely receive the puck from a team-mate behind you. If you are in front of the puck, you are almost always out of position automatically. This is pretty much the same for any formation or style of play.
Forwards will start behind the puck on strikes, free pucks etc, and if they find themselves behind the puck then fine, they will simply swim straight onto it and work. But, if it goes behind them, they will stay ahead of the puck and operate between the puck and the opponents goal, backtackling, taking up space in opposition rotations, looking for positions to receive a pass from behind. Some forwards operate exclusively up there, and some will roll around and drive onto the puck occasionally if they think their back needs a bit of momentum. How far ahead the forwards look for passes is an adjustable element, you might need to drag them back a bit if passes arent going or the puck/pool bottom is rubbish.
Many many countries operate like this. If you want to see who is playing what, just wait until the puck sits on a wall for a few seconds and see where players setup. You will get a halfback on each team behind the puck on their respective sides, and working forwards coming back to backtackle ahead of the puck.
So, Argentina do put forwards ahead of the puck and pass up/across to them, but only when they have the puck and on the fly, when the forward sees the play happening and swims up... he is never up there waiting for an opportunity to open up. Instead, the forward line seems to rotate back behind the puck and keep on driving onto it constantly, which makes it pretty difficult to see who is who and kinda irrelevant because everyone is doing the same thing apart from the outside half who hangs back further. Sometimes, a lot further. They essentially operate a rotation between forward and back on a given side.
Now just to make clear how little I really knew about the way they were playing, the Argentinians scored a goal against us by swimming to the subs bench, subbing a guy in at the forward end of the bench, passing past me to him and pissing off to score a great breakaway. Shows what I know eh?
They obviously made a conscious decision to slow things down and hold possession a bit more just prior to this, which worked well for them.
Ed got a few "happy birthday"s in the chat for this game, it was his birthday!
For his present, the Uwh gods gave him this...
And I'm willing to bet it'll take longer to forget than the standard pair of socks from Auntie Uncle.
Argentina were most effective when they played their possession game and picked the right time to push through a gap, a lot of the play was far side but this is a good example
The score ended 9-1 to us.
Considering that ARG were being coached by Lugo, a Colombian, were the Colombians going to play a similar style? COL were going to be our next game, so we were about to find out.
I had asked for some photos showing the local habits of our womens team. They have arrived in a flood! So, some quick introductions. For full intros, see the womens blog (I will link to it if someone starts one).
Meet the NZ Womens Uwh team, 2018. I had forgotten how smiley they all are, but this is bringing it all back in a rush. Our hallways were a mass of smiles 24/7 with these guys around
You can't catch these guys out not being happy
Here they are officiallyish, Jane and Rebecca Manager/Coach on the left.
These guys had 8 players for whom this was their first worlds. 8! Not only is that amazing to do so well with such a young group, but also I may have just used the word "whom" in the right place. Possibly.
The women got into the action with our ice-bath pretty much immediately, loving a challenge, and did the old "make something that guys make a big deal over seem a piece of piss"
Although, not all of them seemed to fully understand the game.
Here are Christie's actual recovery boots...
And here was the standard view of any given Womens room...
If you've never been to a competition with a NZ Womens team, you are missing out. They are amazing. They have everything you could possibly have meant to take and forgotten. Also you can see them doing sensible things and copy them. I highly recommend it.
They even find time to do not-uwh stuff, which I hear is very healthy.
Next post will be Game 3 COL and epic show-downs in the other group games.