The inaugural U.S. Open Club Championships are a wrap. It was a massive event, one sure to just get even bigger next year, with tons of great teams, exciting games and memorable moments. The event’s YCC division closed out the weekend with placement games, semifinals and five amazing championship games.
Like the U-20 girls’ division, three of the four semifinalists in the U-17 boys’ division this year were the same ones we saw there last year, and the new, fourth team came from D.C. In their first-ever trip to YCC in the division, Capitol Heights made themselves known, going undefeated in pool play and storming their way through the championship bracket after playing in through the pre-quarterfinals. They finally met their match in the semifinals against Seattle Oblivion. The game was close throughout, but Seattle was in the driver’s seat, holding onto an early break. Hucks were a popular choice, with each team trying to out-athletic the other. As a result, break chances abounded, but not many were converted. With Seattle up 14-12 in a game to 15, Capitol Heights earned themselves a chance, breaking for 14-13, and they had a chance to tie the score on the ensuing possession, which would have forced double-game point, but a floaty huck gave the disc back to Seattle. After calling a timeout to set up their offense just outside the end zone, Assaf Golan cut open side from the front of the stack, drawing the defenders’ attention and allowing the second person in the stack an easy two-step move to the break side to catch the winning goal. Seattle advanced 15-13.
The other semifinal between DEVYL and ATLas had a very similar feel: lots of hucks (particularly from DEVYL), lots of break chances and lots of intensity. The score was on serve at halftime, but a couple unforced turnovers from ATLas early in the second half allowed DEVYL to pull ahead 11-8 and had the many Atlanta parents on the sidelines feeling more than a little tense. Not to worry. ATLas broke right back to re-tie the score at 11s, but DEVYL still had the offensive edge. On double-game point, tied at 13-13, appropriately it was number 13, Jake Powell, who got the D Atlanta needed. Rounding out a great performance, Adam Miller threw his third assist of the game, and David Chalmers caught his third goal of the game, moving ATLas on to a rematch of last year’s championship game against Seattle.
The 2016 gold-medal game was one of the most exciting of the entire tournament, with quite the memorable finish. Last year, Atlanta scored to take the lead at 12-11, after the hard cap had sounded. But that didn’t end the game. The teams had decided to add some time to the game after an earlier injury. Seattle managed to tie up the game and break for a 13-12 win. Needless to say, Atlanta wanted to make up for that this year.
True to form, the game was full of hucks, not always to truly open receivers, which allowed for quite a few impressive catches and Ds throughout. Jasper Dean and Gray Davidson repeatedly came up big for Oblivion, with Golan doing a lot of work cutting underneath. Neither team was able to take true advantage of their many early break chances, but Seattle did manage to get one midway through the half, which they held onto to take an 8-7 lead into halftime. They got one more right out of half to put them up 9-7.
Seattle had a little more success with their deep game, while Atlanta seemed most successful when they took their time and worked their way down the field. When they took the time to work the middle of the field and set up their end-zone offense, ATLas looked remarkably smooth. But too many of their deep shots ended up in the wrong hands.
Atlanta got some hope late, with a break to make the score 13-12 with Seattle in the lead in a game to 14. But a clean possession from Seattle on game point got them what they wanted. For the second year in a row, the U-17 boys’ final was the last to finish, and for the second year in a row, Seattle pulled out a win surrounded by a packed sideline.