San Francisco Fury and Seattle Riot faced off in the finals of the 2012 Club Championships, the 6th time these teams have matched up in the finals since 2003. Fury looked to cap off an undefeated season with a 7th consecutive title and 9th overall, tying the record set by Boston’s Lady Godiva. A Riot win would give the ladies from Seattle their third title, and first since 2005.
The game started with the teams trading two quick offensive points, airing out their hucks in the wind to get on the scoreboard. The third point saw Riot’s Elle Burnstein getting a D and sending the disc downfield to Calise Cardenas who made a huge layout grab in the back of the endzone, putting Riot up 2-1.
The big question at this point in the game was who would steal the first upwind break score, as each team traded scores on offense. Riot answered that question quickly, grabbing a break to make it 5-3, helped by their zone that forced a Fury turnover, followed by a big upwind huck from Hana Kawai to Sarah Griffith giving Riot good field position to secure the score as Riot’s Shannon McDowell found Kate Kingery for the break score. The 5-3 score was Fury’s first time being down a break all tournament, and Riot quickly added to their lead downwind on a flip from Alyssa Weatherford to Rohre Titcomb to make it 6-3. Fury answered with three of their own, however, grabbing two breaks to make it 6s. After a long point that featured a great D from Fury’s Kaela Jorgenson, reaching over her opponent to block what seemed like a sure huck for Riot, Alyssa Weatherford put a sweet break throw into the endzone to Nora Carr for 7-6 Riot. After a Fury score, Weatherford retaliated once again to take half for Riot, 8-7. According to coach Ben Wiggins, Riot builds their game around their defense, and this was clearly evident in the first half as they fought hard to get break scores.
The second half was all Fury’s. I don’t know what Coach Matty Tsang said to these ladies in the halftime huddle, but they went on a seven-point run before Riot could get another score. Fury’s veteran handlers – especially Alex Snyder, Ness Fajardo, and Nancy Sun - took control of the game with break throws and hucks that seemed oblivious to both marks and the wind. After grabbing a break to tie it at 8s, a long point saw Riot take multiple shots at the endzone, only to be stopped by Alex Snyder’s dominant defense, who then helped patiently work the disc back up the field for another upwind break to Darragh Clancy, 9-8 Fury.
Fury didn’t stop there, taking more break scores in this seemingly unstoppable run. Fury cutter Liz Penny seemed to be everywhere at once, putting sweet throws into the wind and grabbing wide-open scores. Manisha Daryani also stepped up, getting a flying layout D to stop a Riot upwind score and then grabbing a huck downfield to lead to another Fury score, 12-8. The next point started with a huge layout D from Fury rookie Maggie Ruden, followed by Nancy Sun sending a backhand break to Cree Howard for yet another upwind break, 13-8. Fury then rattled off another easy score to make it 14-8, game point for the San Francisco squad. In a last chance effort to stop the flood of Fury scores from turning into a championship, Riot capitalized on an uncharacteristic Fury drop near the downwind endzone as Alyssa Weatherford sent a high release backhand over her mark to Gwen Ambler to make it 14-9. But as the wind picked up and blasted across the field, the stylish score didn’t quite give Riot the momentum they needed to get an upwind break. Fury easily worked it down the field, and rookie Julia Sherwood found Genevieve LaRoche in the endzone for the win. Coach Matty Tsang looked on with pride as his team rushed the field to celebrate yet another championship victory, and then ran to surround injured teammate Emily Damon as she crutched over from the sideline.
After the game, captain Lakshmi Narayan was all smiles as she took a break from celebrating to try to recall her team’s seven point run in the second half. "I don’t remember much of it, the points seemed to go by so fast. We got the job done downwind so we could focus on the upwind points". She also had nothing but praise for Fury’s handlers, who seemed to be effortlessly working the disc in the wind. "Their throws made the cutters’ jobs much easier". After a weekend invaded by Hurricane Sandy, throwers who could work magic with the disc in the wind were truly stars.
- Fury Handler Alex Snyder’s throws were unstoppable, and seemed to cut through the wind like it wasn’t a factor. She also played great defense, coming up with a number of clutch Ds that led to Fury breaks.
- Fury Cutter Liz Penny was all over the field for the Fury offensive attack, getting open easily in the endzone, and putting up sweet throws for her teammates downfield.
- Riot Handler Alyssa Weatherford’s throws were creative and precise. She put on a clinic in how to use fakes to open up throwing lanes, and how to hit a target at close range in the endzone.
- Riot Cutter Calise Cardenas brought intensity to the field that fired up her Riot teammates. She flew through the air to snag acrobatic layout scores and knock the disc away on defense, and used to great speed to get open everywhere.
- To recap those stats: 6th finals faceoff between Fury and Riot. 7th consecutive title and 9th overall for Fury, which ties Lady Godiva’s record.
- Fury also won the Team Spirit Award on their way to the championship by respecting their opponents, handling calls with integrity, and upholding the Spirit of the Game.
- Fury player Lauren Casey was chosen for the Kathy Pufahl Spirit Award, given to a player who exemplifies Spirit of the Game and gives back to the sport of Ultimate.