Blaine, Minn. (Aug. 4, 2019) – Coming off the day’s first two finals, games that included just a handful of breaks and not many more turnovers between them, the mixed championship game was a bit of a shock to the system. The Drag’n Thrust v. Mixtape matchup is a familiar fixture for ultimate fans. Over the past five years, these two teams have met numerous times in the late stages of elite tournaments around the country. But they reach the late states using very different styles of play. Based on their performances in Saturday night’s semifinals, not much had changed on that front. Drag’n Thrust is the more methodical team, while Mixtape is maybe the more exciting team but also more high-risk, high-reward.
But if you tuned into this afternoon’s game, at least early on, you probably wouldn’t have any idea which teams has reached the semifinals. Mixtape rolled to an almost inexplicable 5-0 lead. The run had less to do with Mixtape’s defensive prowess than the numerous unforced turnovers from Drag’n Thrust. Turfed throws, missed resets, throws that popped up over the receiver’s head, questionable decisions – Drag’n Thrust did it all in the game’s first five points. It was a stark change from the super clean offense they showed off during the semifinals. For the most part, they also got blocks on those points to give themselves more chances. But those chances also ended in turnovers. Mixtape jumped out to a giant 5-0 lead before the tides completely changed. Drag’n Thrust regrouped, made some changes on their lines, switching some people around, and went on a giant run of their own – an 11-3 run, in fact. Somehow, after all the craziness of the game’s first half, things ended up back on serve, with Drag’n Thrust in front 8-7 at halftime, partway through their scoring run.
Khalif El-salaam and Jen Cogburn carried a heavy point load pretty much throughout the game for Mixtape, hunting for D’s but also working with people like Adam Simon, Kieran Kelly and Emily Smith-Wilson on most offensive points to try and keep Mixtape in the game. Evan Klein and Emily Smith-Wilson were likely the players of the game for Mixtape, taking charge of the offense. And after the Drag’n Thrust women dominated the semifinal, their men took center stage in the final Sam Berglund was Drag’n Thrust’s most consistent throwing threat in the game, while Leo-Sovell Fernandez was a steadying force behind the disc from start to finish. As usual, Caleb Denecour was all over the place – in a good way – a nearly constant option for Drag’n Thrust downfield.
Once the score line read 11-7, the pace of the game became way more recognizable. Kieran Kelly found Emily Smith-Wilson, who made a good grab up high, for 11-8. Mixtape got their first break in a while at that point, before holds were traded to 12-11. A pair of Drag’n Thrust miscues gave Mixtape the opportunity they needed to tie things up at 12-12 with a nice shot from Klein to Zach Sabin. It became a game to 14, and Mixtape still needed one more break to win. The big guns were out for Drag’n Thrust from here on out. They got a hold with a Sovell-Fernandez to Erica Baken to Kat Ritzmann to Brian Schoenrock play, with Schoenrock laying out to reel in the slightly blading throw. El-salaam and Simon worked the disc up and around the field with Smith-Wilson doing the bulk of the work in the cutting space. She lands just outside the end zone and tossed one up and over to Bryson Simon Fox to get Mixtape the hold.
Drag’n Thrust received on universe point, just needing a hold to win their first U.S. Open Championship. Henry Phan got a hand on Sovell-Fernandez’s throw toward Denecour, but Denecour managed to come back to it and secure it anyway. He put an awkward throw up in the direction of Schoenrock, who made Drag’n Thrust’s second consecutive awkward catch of the point before calling timeout just outside the end zone. Out of the timeout, Drag’n isolated Baken out of the stack, who made the point’s third great catch, laying out to bring in the championship-winning goal.
Drag’n Thrust has been a part of every U.S. Open Championships to date. It took them until this year – in their seventh appearance – to claim their first ever title. And they did it in front of a hometown crowd.