Blaine, Minn. (Aug. 4, 2017) – The mixed division got the first-round bye on day one, which really just means they had more time than the other divisions for their teammates to arrive in Blaine. Anyone who had to fly through Chicago last night ran into major delays and cancellations, thanks to a huge storm blowing through the area. So many teams were missing people in the day’s first round, and many others had people arriving right up until game time.
Many of the teams in the field this weekend are already familiar with each other after the Pro-Elite Challenge, but there are some new faces, as well. Plus, a lot can change in four weeks.
Despite some close first halves, everything went to seed in round one. Mischief went into half up 8-7 on Slow White, and the Drag’n Thrust v. AMP game was just as close; AMP broke to win the first half 8-7. The second halves were different stories. AMP held out of half to put them up two, and after trading a few goals, pulled away, scoring four of the game’s last five goals to win 15-10. Slow White also pulled away in the second half and ended up with a 15-10 win. All the usual suspects played well for Slow White against Mischief and throughout the day – Jeff Smith, Rachael Westgate, Tannor Johnson, Lexi Zalk, etc. – but Caitlin Fitzgerald is a big pick up for the Bostonians this season. She was very active in the cutting lanes and also took on big defenses match ups – like Manisha Daryani, one of Mischief’s big 2017 pick-ups.
Slow White struggled a bit against the Japanese and their poachier style of play, but held on to defeat Shinshu LOOSE 15-13. They jumped all over Seattle Mixtape in the last round’s showcase game, winning big and closing out their 3-0 day.
Both Mischief and Mixtape are sitting at 2-1 with NOISE sitting fourth. NOISE started their day strong, outlasting Team Mexico, then playing point for point with Mixtape. But they ran out of steam by the third round and fell to Mischief 15-9.
Things in Pool B look pretty clean, as long as you’re looking just at the records. The first four spots all ended up according to seed, but both the top teams were pushed in at least one game.
AMP finished the day 3-0, with a solid win against Drag’n Thrust and a big one over Fire. In their last game, they met Metro North. Out of the gate, AMP fell into a 1-4 hole, but they didn’t panic. They slowly worked their way back into the game, utilizing their roster from top to bottom. More than possibly any other team in the field, AMP takes advantages of their match ups across all seven people on the line, and their women carry a significant portion of the workload. Raha Mozzafari, Carolyn Normile and Anna Thompson anchor the offensive line and can cross over to play defense. Allysha Dixon is as shutdown a defender as you’ll find. And as the game wore on, Michael Ing came up time and time again with huge Ds.
AMP and Metro North pushed each other all the way to overtime. With the hard cap on, AMP received needing to score to end the game. A high-stall huck from Normile was reeled in by Nico Lake, and patient end-zone offense set up a great inside break throw from Calvin Trisolini for the win.
Metro North was also pushed earlier in the day by Steamboat. A slow start from Steamboat gave Metro North a 4-1 lead, but the rest of the game was a different story. Steamboat fought back, but Metro North was able to hold onto that early buffer to secure a two-point win, 12-10.
The home team, Minneapolis Drag’n Thrust, is sitting alongside Metro North at 2-1 after day one. They fell victim to AMP in game one before moving on to face Migrant. Like Slow White, Drag’n Thrust is a strong team, but they struggled against the Japanese style of defense. Knowing they can’t necessarily match up height-wise downfield, they tend to sag into lanes, while putting little pressure on the thrower. It took Drag’n Thrust a while to figure out how to find open space and beat the sag, but they managed a 15-13 win. It wasn’t the performance they wanted, but they found it again in their third game. As soon as they stepped on the showcase field, their switch flipped. They tallied two breaks against Steamboat in the first half before rolling through the second. Steamboat broke to start the second half, but that was essentially all she wrote. Steamboat is missing Nancy Haskell, one of their offensive weapons, this weekend, plus a couple of their men, but they still have Brittany Winner, who is leading the division in goals will 11 after day one.
More great games are on the horizon, with teams fighting hard to qualify for the semifinals. The mixed division has an extra incentive. They’re fighting for a spot in the finals which are set to air on ESPN2 on Sunday night – ultimate’s first-ever appearance on a major network.