MUD triumphed in the opening match of the World Ultimate Club Championships ©Paul Rutherford for Ultiphotos

Japan’s MUD displayed their strength, and potential title credentials, after defeating Canada’s Traffic 15-10 in the opening match of the World Flying Disc Federation Ultimate Club Championships here at the Atrium Stadium in Ohio.

Risa Shimada starred for the Japanese team with three goals and two assists while the Canadians were forced to play the majority of the first half without their best player, Catherine Menzies.

Menzies, who is the only member of her squad to compete at The World Games 2022, missed a significant portion of the match due to flight issues causing her to arrive during the blockbusting opener at Mason High School.

The electric atmosphere from the stands was matched by the energy of the two teams competing in Pool G of the women’s event.

MUD’s Kanari Imanishi scored the first goal of the 2022 edition before Traffic’s Daisy Lin replied three minutes later.

A two-goal cushion was opened by MUD thanks to Shimada scoring her first before Shori Ogawa caught a spectacular 40-yard pass in the end-zone.

Traffic replied soon after through Marie-Eve Beauchemin but MUD fired back following a combination between assister Shimada and goal scorer Yuko Kashin.

However, the two-goal deficit did not faze the Canadians as Madison Ong and Andrea Moir bagged goals within one minute and 15 seconds of each other to level the match at 4-4.

Traffic and MUD contested a hard-fought opening game of the World Ultimate Club Championships ©Paul Rutherford for Ultiphotos
Traffic and MUD contested a hard-fought opening game of the World Ultimate Club Championships ©Paul Rutherford for Ultiphotos

A common theme of the first half saw MUD taking the lead and Traffic drawing level to keep their hopes alive.

Following goals from MUD’s Rena Hayashi and Traffic’s Jessica Rockliff, Kashino made the most of a defensive breakdown and Jocelyn Proby equalised not long after.

The teams continued to go back and forth with Shimada and Sarah Norton trading goals and Kashino diving for her team’s eighth goal to secure a half-time lead.

A similar picture continued early into the second half as Yuriko Nishikawa restored a two-goal advantage before Menzies made her mark on the tie to rally her team.

They responded to her call as Monica Hsu made it 9-9.

Shimada tallied her third and Yukie Yamaguchi added her first to go 11-9 up and this time there was no miraculous counterpunch from the Canadians.

The Canadians stubborn resistance was broken following goals from Shiori Ogawa, Nishikawa and Sayako Nemoto.

Terri Whitehead recorded Traffic’s 10th goal, but it proved to be only a consolation as Yukiko Akagi wrapped up the match as MUD took the early lead at the top of Pool G.

An Opening Ceremony dedicated to the event’s volunteers was held prior to the first match.

Australia’s Simon Farrow and the US’ Daniel Haas, Tony Carbonneau and Christine and Bob Scheadler received volunteer awards as a symbol of recognition towards all the volunteers, which totals approximately 600 individuals.

Christine and Bob are responsible for founding Cincinnati Ultimate in 1998.

Britain’s Molly Wedge accepted the Spirit of the Games award on behalf of her team for winning The World Games earlier this month.

A flag parade of the 30 competing nations followed before guest speakers took to the stage, including vice mayor Adam Matthews and World Flying Disc Federation President Robert “Nob” Rauch.

The ceremony’s climax was reached with local ultimate player Jared Garel singing the United States national anthem and three ex-Navy military veterans of the group Fastrax parachuting to present the match disc once they landed.

Their landing signified that the competition was open.