Things move quickly at the U.S. Open. The format – five rounds of pool play before moving directly into the semifinals – seemingly gives everything a bigger-than-normal sense of urgency.
In the mixed division, the semifinal teams in Pool A were essentially decided at the end of the day Friday. Seattle BFG and Minneapolis Drag’n Thrust were dominant on day one, and their round one games this morning solidified their spots in the semis. They faced each other, each holding 4-0 records, for their last game of pool play, just to determine their final ranks, and therefore their semifinal match ups. The game started close, with points trading evenly both ways. BFG took half 8-6, but pulled away in the second half, and with the outcome essentially insignificant, Drag’n was fine to end up with the tally in their loss column.
Things were more unsettled in the quest for the second semifinals bid in Pool B. Denver Love Tractor took on Cincinnati Steamboat in the first round, needing the win to stay alive in championship bracket contention. The game was tight throughout, each team with two breaks, before Love Tractor got another one to go up late, 14-12. The game was capped, game to 16, assuming Steamboat was able to tie it up again – which they did! But hard cap went on with the game at 14-14, and a Steamboat turn near Love Tractor’s end zone, after they had a chance to break, was enough for Love Tractor to close it out. Tractor was still alive – but also still needed to beat Slow White in their last pool play game. Despite never looking incredibly dominant, Slow White kept managing to win games, and that’s what counts. They got a couple breaks in the first half against Love Tractor to take a 6-4 lead, but Tractor didn’t quit. They got the breaks back to even things up. But again, Slow White chipped away, eventually claiming a 13-10 win and the second spot out of Pool B into the semifinals.
Madison NOISE and Dallas Public Enemy also put up strong performances through pool play. NOISE defeated Steamboat handily in the last round of pool play to lock up the pool’s third overall spot. And Public Enemy nearly came back from a 0-6 hole against Drag’n Thrust in the first round – similar to their first-round performance from day one against BFG. Public Enemy came out on the wrong end of a three-way tie in Pool A, putting them in the fifth spot, but we’ll see what the rest of the season holds for them. They shouldn’t be overlooked.
The mixed division was first up for the semifinals today, with Drag’n Thrust and AMP taking center stage on the ESPN stadium stream. The Twin Cities crowd was out en force (both for the mixed semi and the later men’s final between Sub Zero and Revolver), vocally supporting their team. Drag’n Thrust started out with a hold and a break, making the hometown crowd even more excited, but it didn’t last long. AMP quickly found the footing that has carried them so effectively through the weekend. Brian Schoenrock and Sarah Meckstroth were again rocks for Drag’n Thrust, and it was especially fun to watch Meckstroth battle with Raha Mozaffari, but AMP worked their way to a 13-10 win and a berth in the finals tomorrow afternoon.
In the second semifinal, BFG continued to remind people that they’re for real. Not that anyone should really doubt the current world champions. But their depth is particularly impressive. No one from the BFG roster features in the top 10 in either goals or assists in the mixed division – they’re just that good at spreading things around. The mix of veteran knowledge and youthful enthusiasm serves them well and led them to a 15-9 win over Boston Slow White; BFG earned yet another finals berth in their short program history.
Tomorrow, AMP and BFG will face off in a match up of powerhouses in the mixed final at 1:30 p.m. ET. Tune in live on ESPN3!