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2019 U.S. Open Club Championships: U-20 Day Two

Blaine, Minn. (Aug. 4, 2019) – North Carolina Triforce squared off against the D.C. Foggy Bottom Boys in the morning’s first round, while both teams were undefeated and looking to take the top spot in their pool. While the game would not eliminate either team from the championship bracket, it would determine who got a potentially easier position in the quarterfinals. After a hard-fought battle against Utah Swarm on Saturday, D.C. was looking to come out strong against Triforce. While the game went back and forth early, D.C.’s defense hadn’t tightened up much since their game against Swarm. Triforce’s horizontal stack got the better of the one-on-one matchups for a few quick breaks with some great field awareness by Matti Lee, who also ran an effective middle-handler position. With Triforce running person defense, most of the Foggy Bottom Boys’ offensive points came down to sheer athleticism, but the Boys got a few momentary advantages when Triforce’s defense had some trouble staying onside on their pulls. After the yardage penalty for multiple offsides calls, the Foggy Bottom Boys had little trouble advancing just half the field, helping them keep pace with Triforce going into the start of the second half. Perhaps frustrated that their offense was not making the gains they needed, the Foggy Bottom Boys switched to a zone defense to stop the constant and consistent up-line breaks Triforce’s offensive line has become known for. The new defensive strategy was effective on the wings, but D.C. was forced to abandon it after Triforce adapted to exploit the more open middle space while still being able to leverage the minimal wind and their athleticism in the deep space. Triforce walked to a comfortable 15-11 upset against the top-ranked D.C. Foggy Bottom Boys.

Minnesota Superior caught up with Triforce in the quarterfinals. The teams came out on par through the first 10 points, with no breaks either way. Triforce’s 3-3-1 zone was successful in delaying Superior’s advance down the field, but the Anthony Jirele-A.J. Larson combination is a potent force for the Superior offense. On the flip side, Minnesota’s person defense was effective in hampering Triforce’s swings, but it was not enough to slow them down. Rather than swinging up-field, Triforce found other reset options amongst their handlers until a deep matchup was in their favor. Triforce eventually wore down Superior’s legs and went on several break streaks to win 14-8 in the soft cap.

Boston BUDA, who made short work of Texas United in their last pool game and Utah Swarm in the quarterfinals, will face the very real challenge of Triforce in the semifinals on Monday morning. On the other side of the division, the Foggy Bottom Boys fell in the quarters on double-game point to Bay Area Red Dawn, who will face the Atlanta ATLiens who they squeaked out a comeback win against New jersey DEVYL.

U-20 Girls

Oregon Downpour handed a clear defeat to Utah Swarm in pool play, knocking them out of the championship bracket. The teams were fairly evenly matched in person defense, with Swarm putting consistent pressure on the mark, forcing several key turnovers early in the game. Downpour quickly brought out a horizontal stack on offense to open up more lanes for their handlers and threw a pretty mean zone on defense that succeeded in forcing Swarm to rely on their deep game which became problematic when the wind picked up some. The Downpour defensive line found success in simply containing Swarm’s handlers and letting the clock run, forcing enough throws to create a turnover, then punching it into the end zone. Swarm later employed a zone of their own but had trouble getting set up on a turn with Downpour quickly transitioning to offense, leading to a slow but confidant 12-5 Downpour win. That strategy did not serve Downpour nearly as well in the quarterfinals against D.C. Rogue who eventually eliminated them 14-10.

Maine Rip Tide proved once and for all why they are a team to watch in their quarterfinal match against highly ranked Texas Tango. Postgame line dancing aside, Tango found themselves unable to contain Rip Tide’s deep looks from the combination of Emily Pozzy, Maggie Pierce and Kennedy McCarthy (who played as an option handler and had a hand in over half of all Rip Tide’s scores). As a young member of a predominantly young U-20 team, Pozzy currently leads the team in assists with no slowdown in sight for either this Youth Club Championships run or her ultimate career. Rip Tide walked away to a 14-10 win and a matchup with D.C. Rogue in the semifinals Monday morning.

On the other side of the bracket, the Triangle Area Warhawks worked their way to a fifth straight quick win with the help of handler Grace Conerly and cutter Charis Barry. They will face also-undefeated Boston BUDA in the semifinal round tomorrow morning. BUDA eliminated California Current in a close quarterfinal to reach the semifinals.

U-20 Mixed

The name of the game for U-20 mixed this YCC is upset, upset, upset. After some stunning losses by Maine Rising Tide, Philly Forge, D.C. Swing Vote and the Bay Area Happy Cows, Oregon Flood also faced elimination at the hands of Indianapolis’ INcognito. Flood found themselves down 1-4 but rallied in the first half through quick points with handler Ke’ali McCarter finding AnnMarie Haberman and Moya Moses in the end zone a few times. Flood was able to keep the game on an even keel, matching point for point match to 10-10 before the soft cap went on. INcognito picked up a quick point with a cross-field hammer from DeVonte Smith to his brother Darren, but the D line was unable to stop Flood from evening it at 11s. On double-game point, Flood’s Ke’ali McCarter got a spectacular goal-line D, but the tipped disc was quickly snagged by an INcognito handler before Nick Phillips connected with Maximillian Humbert in the end zone to win the game and eliminate Oregon from the championship bracket.

On the next field over, a similar situation was playing out between Philadelphia Forge and the Bay Area Happy Cows, who were both upset by Kentucky Pi+ in pool play. Only one team could advance to the championship bracket, and both teams were convinced it would be them. Running against Forge’s impressive person defense, the Happy Cows found a lot of success in running handler dominator sets to work the disc up the field yard by yard. They managed to keep the game close with an advantage at 9-8. It seemed soft cap could not come soon enough as both teams attempted to get and stay on top just long enough to claim victory. Forge switched to a cup-heavy zone defense with an intent to transition quick onto offense after a turn and leverage the cup players to strike at the end zone as fast as possible. While the zone was effective on a turn, the Happy Cows were able to find the right holes to rattle off two more goals for an 11-9 win. Unfortunately, the Happy Cows fell into a quarterfinal matchup against the favorites, Seattle Bankroll.

Upset-master Pi+’s streak came to an end against INcognito in the quarterfinals, and now INcognito advances to face Connecticut Harpoon (who upset Vermon Equinox in their own quarter) in the semifinals. Hometown team Minnesota Superior was eliminated by the Madison MUFAbots in the quarterfinals, and Madison will face Bankroll in the semifinals Monday morning.