Blaine, Minn. (Aug. 6, 2017) – The semis and finals schedule is slightly different at the 2017 U.S. Open Club Championships than other USA Ultimate events. Semifinals in the men’s and women’s divisions were held yesterday, with finals today – the now-normal schedule. For the mixed division, the semifinals were held this morning, with the final set for 6:00 p.m.
So the day started off with simultaneous mixed semifinals: Slow White v. Drag’n Thrust and AMP v. Mixtape. Slow White came out with a little more urgency than Drag’n Thrust and ticked off two breaks to start the game. After a few early chances, Drag’n got one break back for 3-3, and started to generate some turns. It took their defensive offense a little time to settle down and take the easy, open looks, but they got there, and got the score back on serve by halftime.
In a lot of ways, Slow White lives and dies by Tannor Johnson. He tallied two goals, two assists and two Ds in the semifinal, despite strong defensive pressure from Brian Schoenrock and Jay Drescher. Drag’n Thrust put together a 5-2 run out of the half, jumping ahead 13-10 and holding that lead through a 15-12 win.
Behind the stadium, AMP was taking on Mixtape, but the AMP we’d seen all weekend didn’t show up this morning. Sloppy play opened up huge opportunities for Mixtape. Neither team played with perfect execution, but Mixtape certainly had the upper hand. They jumped out to a huge lead at 10-3 before AMP was able to get some more points on the board. Mixtape ran away with the game and earned a spot in the finals for third straight year.
The first final of the day was the men’s championship game between some familiar foes: Revolver and Sockeye. Aside from having matched up at countless endless tournaments over the years, Revolver and Sockeye also met on day one here in Minneapolis; Sockeye surprised Revolver in that game, winning 17-15.
Revolver played a nearly flawless game in their semifinal against Johnny Bravo yesterday, while it took Sockeye a bit longer to overtake Truck Stop. So despite the day-one Sockeye win, Revolver may have seemed like the favorite coming into the game. Both teams took a couple points to settle in a little, with turns both ways on the first two points that were almost entirely simple execution errors. Sockeye settled in first, converting on a couple of Revolver mistakes to jump ahead 4-1, up two breaks. Revolver got one of those back before half, which happened to coincide with a lightning delay. Luckily, it was a quick one, and play resumed just over half an hour after delay was called.
Freechild plays heavy minutes for Sockeye, moving between the O and D lines seemingly at will. He played eight of the 11 points in the second half, including each of the first five, and he made the most of them. Even when he doesn’t end up with the disc in his hands, he constantly draws the attention of more than just his defender. More than once, a cut from Freechild drew a help defender, leaving a man open for Sockeye.
Revolver ran a lot through their big men, particularly Nick Stuart and Simon Higgins, isolating one of them for an initiation cut and giving them the green light to look deep off their in cuts. In his first year with the team, Tom Doi also played well for Revolver. But in the end, Sockeye caused enough turns, and was impressively stingy with the disc on break opportunities, to earn their first U.S. Open title with a 15-10 win.
Colombia Revolution and Denver Molly Brown faced off in the second championship game of the day. From start to finish, this was one of the most exciting games of the weekend. Both teams are dynamic and incredibly fun to watch. Molly Brown stuck with their standard offensive set for most of the game, centering the disc between Paige Applegate and Claire Chastain and using a flood stack to isolate Lisa Pitcaithley and/or Liza Minor as initiating cutters. Even with Colombia’s impressive defensive pressure, Molly Brown was largely able to keep the disc moving. A couple throwing errors led to Colombia’s first break at 3-2.
Ana Rojas had a huge game, contributing on what felt like every point, either on offense or defense. The same could be said for Yina Paola, Maria Angelica Forero and Manuela and Valeria Cardenas as well. For Molly Brown, along with the usual suspects, Sara Taggart was also a standout for the Coloradans, handling with poise and playing shutdown defense, particularly on the Colombian handlers.
Both teams played with incredible intensity throughout the game, with defense leading the way to some incredible plays. With Revolution up 8-6, a second lightning delay on the day forced a pause in the action, again at halftime. But it was another short delay. And as a result, the game spilled over into the time slot scheduled for ESPN2. So the first goal thrown live on a linear network was from Claire Chastain to Victoria Elmore.
Even without Hannah Leathers and after losing Megan Cousins to an injury, Molly Brown was able to force a few turns from Revolution. They just couldn’t convert enough of them to pull ahead. With an easy offensive hold, Revolution became the first international team in the women’s division to take home a U.S. Open title.
It was a truly historic moment for ultimate. Minneapolis Drag’n Thrust met Seattle Mixtape in the first-ever live linear network broadcast of our sport. The game was live on ESPN2, a channel accessible in millions of homes across the U.S.
The match up may be familiar – today marked the third time Drag’n Thrust and Mixtape met in a championship event final – but the energy was almost palpable. Drag’n Thrust had the added advantage of being the home team. The stands were filled with the team’s families and friends, out en force to show their support. For the first few points, those supporters had every reason to be cheering loudly. Drag’n Thrust jumped out to a 3-1 lead with an early break after Brian Schoenrock baited an in-cut throw. He laid out to get the block and got the bookends score from Jeff Trosvig.
Neither offense was especially efficient. There were a few really long points, and both teams were forced into high-stall throws they would rather have avoided, which paved the way for some great defensive plays and break chances. All of which means it didn’t take long for Mixtape to get back on serve. Mark Burton and Dominic Cavalero both had big games for Mixtape and helped them pull ahead. Mixtape went into halftime up 8-7 after starting on defense.
The second half saw more of the same. Drag’n Thrust rookie Charlie Schuweiler blended seamlessly into the team’s systems, while veterans Sarah Meckstroth and Erica Baken anchored the offensive and defensive lines, respectively. Trosvig also had a strong game but was injured late in the game and needed to be carried off the field. Drag’n Thrust certainly missed him in the closing points.
Mixtape has always played with swagger, and when they’re playing well, they just keep getting better. That was the case this evening. As the game progressed and more things started working for Mixtape, their swagger levels kept increasing alongside their execution. And it seemed only appropriate that the game-winning goal came on a huge rip from Claire Revere, arguably Mixtape’s biggest female offensive weapon, to Cavalero, one of their biggest male offensive weapons.
Mixtape claimed their first-ever championship title, 15-10 over Drag’n Thrust.