By: Shawn Grund
Blaine, Minn. (Aug. 2, 2019) – Day one of play in the International Club Championships mixed division saw pretty spectacular weather with limited wind that allowed for a fairly substantial deep game by all teams. Mixed saw more than its fair share of upsets as we played through three rounds of pool play and a round of pre-quarterfinals.
To start the day off, third-seeded Space Heater faced what turned out to be a seriously close match up against Seattle BFG. The first-round game was point for point most of the way through the first half with huge flick hucks from Space Heater’s Georgia Bosscher and several overhead D’s by Alan Kolick. Space Heater’s defensive strategy of maximum pressure on the mark caused BFG to turn the disc repeatedly in the first few points. It wasn’t until near the end of the first half that BFG figured out a way around the Space Heater defense by going under the mark. BFG continued their rampage after taking half, although Space Heater started to make a game of it as the wind picked up, culminating in a half-field hammer from Kolick to bring Space Heater within two. BFG turned up the defense, including more than one point-saving tip by Alexa Kirkland, leading to a BFG upset of Space Heater 15-12.
Space Heater went on to face another hard pool play game against Australia’s Ellipsis, whose methodical handler movement took away any advantage Space Heater had with their high-pressure marks. On offense, Ellipsis was not afraid to run up a stall count and swing to an open handler, biding their time until a midfield cutter found an opening. Scrambling to make up lost ground, Space Heater switched to a rapid-paced give-and-go offense that resulted only in more drops and bobbles, securing Ellipsis’ 15-12 upset – and Space Heater’s place as last in pool. Space Heater went on to win their pre-quarter game against Blackbird, eliminating the San Franciscans from championship contention and keeping alive Space Heater’s chance at the title.
In just their U.S. Open appearance, Boston Snake Country was pitted against three-time National Champions Drag’n Thrust. Snake Country ran their offense with an almost methodical restlessness, often leaving a single handler back while sending everyone into a stack and streaming out into a series of in-cuts that were relentless and difficult to defend with such little wind in the late morning. Keeping the disc in motion often opened up the break side against a Drag’n defense that just wasn’t always getting there fast enough to shut down the space. Snake Country took an early lead 3-1, but after Drag’n rallied to take the first half 8-5, Snake Country stepped up the pressure on the Drag’n women, who helped secure much of their team’s lead. Snake tightened up on the marks and got within one point at 12-11. Colette Pellegrini got a quick goal-line interception that gave Snake Country a chance to tie the game with soft cap looming, but ultimately, they swing it away. Drag’n took their time but eventually got their 13th point with Erica Baken in the front corner. Baken went on to score another, along with a quick Meckstroth-Thallon connection to secure Drag’n Thrust’s 15-12 win over Snake Country.
Seattle Mixtape held their own in their pool with wins over Mischief and Colombia’s Voltaje U.C. Mixtape made short work of the fairly loose zone Voltaje came out with and even shorter work of the loose person-defense Voltaje switched to. Mixtape’s own defense struggled a bit to contain Voltaje, who expertly avoided one-on-one match ups against the generally taller Mixtape deeps. Instead, they exploited a series of poaches to rally several last-minute points, but they ultimately fell 12-15. Mixtape found a tougher opponent in their second game against Mischief, who played them point for point until soft cap went on with Mixtape up 12-11. After a long point of throwaways and out-the-back hucks, Mixtape’s Adam Simon connected on a huck to the back-corner to Khalif El-Salaam to put Mixtape up by two, just before the hard cap was called. Mischief went on to score one more, but it was one too few just moments too late.
Holding onto their pool’s top seed, Mixtape moved on to the seeding crossover round to face Drag’n Thrust, who just defeated Tokyo CRAZY pretty handedly in pool play to secure the top spot in their pool as well. Drag’n Thrust jumped out to an early 4-2 lead but soon started developing problems getting the disc through those last five yards and across the goal line. While Mixtape wasn’t able to fully stop their mid-range looks, Drag’n Thrust’s deep looks were being contested left and right, and the handlers were contained to swings and over-the-top throws. Drag’n had no major trouble getting to the goal line, but once there, they found their end zone crowded and were unprepared to face the tight marks they found there. Mixtape gave Drag’n so little room to maneuver in the end zone that in one point, three potential Drag’n goals were sent back due to picks. The first half remained close with a monster out-of-nowhere D by Drag’n Thrust’s Erica Baken and some quick interception conversions by Mixtape’s Kathryn Songer. After a few long points, Minneapolis ultimately took half 8-6 with a rapid connection between Brian Schoenrock and Sarah Meckstroth. Drag’n Thrust went on to dominate the second half, winning one-on-one match ups deep and wearing out their handler marks to open up the short throws. They sealed the win over Mixtape 15-9.
Quarterfinals will start Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. CT, with some interesting match ups, including BFG v. Mixtape and Snake Country v. Ellipsis (who narrowly lost to the top overall seed, AMP, in the crossover round 15-16).