It was a historic day in the men’s division. Both finalists were in their programs’ first-ever major event championship game. Both teams have long histories and have been a part of the national conversation for many years, but neither Minneapolis Sub Zero nor New York PoNY had been in a gold-medal game before Sunday.
After an electric performance against San Francisco Revolver in the semifinals on Saturday night, Sub Zero was riding high. Carrying that energy through the finals nearly 24 hours later was always going to be a challenge, and once the first pull went up in the championship game, Sub Zero struggled to find that momentum. They looked like they were playing really loose on Saturday night, like they had nothing to lose in going up against the winningest team in recent memory. They looked much less like that on Sunday afternoon, at least after the first few points.
After a quick PoNY hold on opening point, Sub Zero held on their own offensive point before getting an early break and giving the crowd plenty of reason to get excited – in particular the Fire of London men who seemed to have switched alliances since the semifinals. After a loud night of cheering for PoNY, they were just as loud on Sunday afternoon, cheering in favor of the home team.
But that early break was the highest point for Sub Zero. Play was sloppy on both sides, but PoNY rattled off four straight before Sub got back on the board again. PoNY rolled to an 8-3 lead at halftime and continued in the same vein through the remainder of the game. The second half went a little better for the home team, but PoNY still won the half. A little of the sloppy play remained late in the game, and Sub Zero got break chances on a couple points, but with so many strong all-around players crossing over from O lines to D lines for PoNY, conversions weren’t easy to come by for Sub Zero. They went 0-5 in the second half on break chances.
In the end, PoNY closed out their first-ever championship win with a break. A Sub Zero inside-break flick ended up behind its intended receiver about 30 yards outside their end zone. The PoNY D-line offense took their time, resetting the disc multiple times before Ben Spielman found Matt Lemar for the game-winning goal. Final score: 14-8.
It’s not a surprise to anyone paying attention, but PoNY is a very different team this year. In the championship game, PoNY rookies accounted for four goals and eight assists (six of those from Jimmy Mickle). Adding talented and experienced players like Mickle and Alex Ladomatos, and re-adding the likes of John Wodatch, to the existing core of guys like Chris Kocher and Sean Keegan makes PoNY a real contender in any competition field this year. They’ll get an extra bump – and some height – when another of their new additions, Ben Jagt, is healthy and back in the lineup.
Keep an eye on PoNY this year. If nothing else, they’re really fun to watch.