By: Noah Robiner
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.
Monday at YCC saw the two championship semifinals: Madison MUFAbots v. Seattle Bankroll and Minnesota Superior v. Bay Area Happy Cows. Both Minnesota and Madison were seeded relatively low in pool play, seventh and ninth, respectively, with Madison being the only team from one of the non-power pools to make it to the semifinals. Despite their hard fought success and accomplishment breaking seed considerably, their powerhouse opponents both came to play on Monday.
The MUFAbots were as energetic and charismatic as ever as they took on Bankroll in their semifinal. However, up against Bankroll’s deep lines and elite throwing skill, Madison was outclassed. Utility asset Margaret Walker, who had some of the best throws and plays on the field, did all she could to turn things around for her fellow MUFAbots, but it wasn’t quite enough. Bankroll utilized their quick movement incredibly effectively, punishing Madison’s mistakes with quick breaks and relatively easy holds. Bankroll defeated Madison 15-10 and was on their way to the finals.
Minnesota seemed to lose some of the confidence and chemistry they had slowly built up through pool and early bracket play. Cutters clogged space, and handlers were forced to look reset early and often. Superior’s play was juxtaposed by the Happy Cows, who were peaking at just the right moment, opening up vast swaths of field space for tall athletic cutters to eat up. More effective cutting also led to better connections on deep shots, which Minnesota tried to mimic to no avail. The Happy Cows locked up their spot in the finals with an emphatic 15-9 win.
The two west coast powerhouses met on Monday afternoon for the championship final. The teams traded points through the first half with the Happy Cows taking smart big shots, especially from within half field, and Seattle working their patented quick disc movement. Early in the second half, the Happy Cows broke out a junky handler match, cutter zone look that slowed down Seattle’s movement and forced some tough resets. The zone also forced Seattle to be too eager with deep shots that turned the disc over to the Cows; the Cows converted the break chances efficiently. It quickly became a game of who was more patient with the disc and who took better shots. Seattle’s offensive system relied on more touches which slowly yielded more opportunities for miscues and drops. The Bay Area’s calm, crisp offense managed to hold on longer and punch in crucial breaks to take a 14-11 lead late in the second half. After an end-zone miscue from Bankroll, Happy Cows lanky star handler Jasper Leto Niemetz got in a power position and shot a long, flat backhand to cutter Helen Gilbert-Snyder who snagged the disc in the end zone to seal the Happy Cows championship.