Blaine, Minn. (Aug. 3, 2019) – Day two of the U.S. Open Club Championships brought us the first rounds of competition in the Youth Club Championships (YCC) division. The day was full of pool play between some of the best under-20 men and women in the sport, all competing for a national championship.
It may be a few years since Maine Rip Tide was at YCC in the U-20 girls’ division, but this team still isn’t lacking YCC experience. Many of their players competed with Maine’s U-17 girls’ teams that finished fourth in 2018 and second in 2017. Despite coming in as the 14th seed, Rip Tide absolutely rolled through a loose zone put on by Massachusetts’ Valley Ultimate, with YCC veterans Kennedy McCarthy and Emily Pozzy leading the goal-line offense and their team to a 15-4 upset. Maine found a better-matched opponent in third-seeded Bay Area Current in round two. Facing Rip Tide’s person defense, Current was able to hold their own in their long game with Allyn Suzuki and Logan Grade getting some spectacular deep cuts and catches in, but Current struggled to overcome the much-stronger Rip Tide handler marks leading to a series of drops that were quickly exploited by Claire McDonald and Pozzy for easy points. Current never recovered from being down 1-4 and really started to break down once Rip Tide transitioned to a cup-based zone with Maggie Pierce playing in the deep space. Maine went on to win 15-4 in a rather short game that all but guaranteed them the top spot in the Pool C and solidified their place as a team to watch in this division.
Hometown team Minnesota Superior came out harder than expected in their first game against Current, finding holes in the midfield of the Current zone to take an early lead. But they ultimately came up short against the four-person cup and failed to contain Current’s Helana Tremblay and Vienna Lee. Current eventually won 15-10. Minnesota tightened up their offense as the day went on but still struggled to overcome their end-zone crowding and also fell to Valley Ultimate.
D.C. Rogue came out strong with wins against both Colorado Cutthroat and Neuqua Valley Hypnosis with a simple but relentless offense, proving their mastery of the dump-swing-score combination. Rogue’s defense didn’t shine too bright, but they were nothing if not patient. They relied on their offense to convert any opportunity presented to them.
Some great games to look forward to as we wrap up pool play on Sunday are Texas Tango v. Boston BUDA, who both had great days and should be closely matched, as well as Utah Swam v. Oregon Downpour, who upset New Jersey DEVYL.
Philadelphia Forge showed their dominance over Iowa Cornsaw with a 14-4 win, although the points played were far more evenly matched than the final score. Iowa learned early on that there isn’t much use in trying to contain Forge’s handlers and instead switched to a middle-heavy zone with a lone mark. While Forge was free to swing between their handlers, Iowa was able to stop much of their up-line movement, until Forge started flooding the deep zone and just going over most of the Iowa defense. Forge went on to lose a bitter upset in a point-for-point battle against Kentucky’s Pi+ 10-13.
D.C. Swing Vote came out swinging hard against Indiana INcognito with a two-person cup that worked surprisingly well in the first half, keeping the game close all the way to 6-6. For their part, INcognitio relied heavily on their top-tier cutters, often leaving a stagnant vertical stack while their handlers ran a dominator to break around the smaller cup. INcognito’s Quentin Pollard really shined on defense by playing a strategic poach when in the midfield and exploiting Swing Vote’s more lax in-cuts before quickly finding a cutter, often Darren Smith. INcognito peeled away in the second half to a 15-11 upset.
Minnesota Superior will be a team to watch heading into day two of pool play after an easy win over the New York Skyscrapers and a shutout of New Hampshire Frostbite. Minnesota will need to lean on their proven speed and vertical leaping ability of their cutters when they face Vermont Equinox in a fight for the top spot in their pool.
New York Lil’ PoNY got an easy early upset against Pittsburgh Impulse, but found a much closer match against New Jersey DEVYL. Lil’ PoNY moved the disc with incredible speed between their handlers, staying one step ahead of DEVYL’s strong mark defense. Their undoing, however, would also be those give and goes that resulted in repeated drops and failures in communication. DEVYL rarely gave up those easy opportunities and patiently walked up line to take half 8-2. Lil’ PoNY switched to a tight zone in the second half, but it was too little too late as DEVYL effectively found holes in both the wing and deep zones, throwing in the occasional hammer score from Grayson Shovlin to Aylen Learned. Matt Labar also proved to be a key DEVYL asset in the red zone with five points in the 15-6 DEVYL win.
Top-ranked D.C. Foggy Bottom Boys hit a roadblock in their quest to defend their championship against an unlikely opponent: Utah Swarm. D.C. took an early commanding lead 8-4, but Swarm rattled off three consecutive breaks to bring the score within one at 7-8. Rattled by the quick turn of events, D.C. became somewhat erratic in the backfield and dropped several key resets that would have opened up a wide-open break side. Point after point, Swarm exploited D.C.’s relatively one-sided nature towards their defense and forced even more drops with a strong cup, looking to capitalize by transitioning into offense as fast as possible. Down 8-11 in a game to 13, Swarm’s strategy paid off as they rattled a quick point and then another after an interception by defender Justin Mecham. He wasted no time floating one to Trevor Kelley in the back corner of the end zone to make it 10-11. In the end, time was not on Swarm’s side, and the Foggy Bottom Boys held out to win 13-11.
On Sunday, keep an eye again on the Foggy Bottom Boys as they take on the undefeated North Carolina Triforce in a battle for control of their power pool and a better position going into bracket play. Also of consideration is Maine Rising Tide and St. Louis Storm in Pool E as they battle for entrance into the ninth-place bracket. Rising Tide’s Cole More will have to out handle the Storm combo of Alex Bernier and Patrick Driscoll, which should prove to be a pretty even matchup.