2013 Masters Championships - Day 3

Posted: July 28, 2013 10:50 PM

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"You’re old."
In in a field full of masters-age ultimate players, you might expect that to be a common comment amongst the participants. But age is relative.
"How old are you?"
To be fair, the commenter was only four.
Priorities are relative as well. While the nine year old was focused on imprinting the importance of learning how to tie your own shoes, the over-30 crowd gathered at Dick's Sporting Goods Park in Denver was focused on winning a national championship. While she likely didn't care much about who won and who lost, take heart - she didn't seem too impressed that her friend knew how to tie his own shoes either.
A Lot Rides on This Third-Place Game
The conversation happened on the sideline of the third-place game in the masters men’s division, a game with an opportunity for one team to go to Italy on the line. Either Kelt or Johnny Encore would be a worthy representative, but with the other two spots already claimed by finalists Surly and Boneyard, a trip for only one team was on the line.
The teams were evenly matched, and Kelt played their third straight close game. It was clear that both teams knew the stakes – every point mattered, and the intensity was palpable. The game started out pretty open on both sides. Each team looked for deep shots when possible before Kelt seemed to make a defensive shift to take that option away from their opponents. Their flatter marks forced Johnny Encore to move the disc more side to side, which they did with patience, taking what they were given by the defense. Points were traded throughout the first half. The first break of the game came on the point for half. The Encore defense saved a goal in their own end zone and quickly looked downfield, where they found Jeff Berget. The huck laid Berget out in the end zone for the picture-perfect grab and a break to take Encore into half with a lead.
Perhaps the teams felt tension mounting, but the second half saw more errors and turns than the first. Despite the tension and plenty of contact downfield, the game remained spirited, with players helping each other up mid-point and apologies called out for incidental contact while making cuts.  
While Kelt’s marks were keeping Encore cuts shorter, the Seattle team’s deep game was still an option. Many points saw several swings, waiting for a viable deep cut, before unleashing hucks to their athletic (and oftentimes tall) receivers downfield. While the methods were different, they were equally effective.
After the continuous trading of the first half, Encore and Kelt played a game of mini-runs in the second half. After holding out of half to bring the score to 8-8, Kelt scored again to go up 9-8. Encore responded by scoring two of their own and giving themselves a 10-9 advantage, but it wasn’t to be. The cap horn blew with the score sitting at 11-10 in Kelt’s favor. After an Encore hold, Kelt rattled off another two-point run to seal the game 13-11 and lock up their bid to the 2014 World Ultimate Club Championships.
Grand Masters (scoreboard)
The tournament’s ending couldn’t have been much more exciting. Two of three finals match ups ended on universe point. The lone exception was the first final of the day in the grand masters division where No Country left little doubt about their abilities.
It may not have been the match up spectators expected, but No Country and Georgetown Brewing Company both entered the final with high energy, anticipating a tough battle. The teams were clearly two of the best and two of the quickest in the tournament field.
True to form, No Country stuck with their high risk, high reward style of play. It worked in their favor; they were often quicker and better in the air than their opponents and were able to generate several Ds in the end zone. Playing to their strength, No Country guarded under their men downfield, daring Georgetown to take those deep shots. After earning the turns, No Country was patient with the disc, maintaining possession and recording break after break. They ended the final with only four turnovers, and they balanced their errors by tallying four Ds. Jim Parinella led the way for No Country with three goals and one assist in the final.
Georgetown didn’t lose heart. They ran hard throughout but were forced into difficult throws. When the cutters did gain separation, thanks to smart defense from No Country, they rarely found themselves in a position where the throwers could hit them. Daryl Nounnan did his best to keep the team alive and tallied three assists by the end of the game.
No Country continued to chip away, not giving up on any defensive points, executing effective switches downfield, communicating well. In the end, they worked their way to a convincing 15-8 victory.
No Country leaves Denver with their first Grand Masters Championship title.  
Honorable mentions to Georgetown’s Ken Joye for sporting the tournament’s best beard and Fraser Stanton for the most festive hat.
Masters Women’s (scoreboard)
Conveniently for the fans, the finals’ start times were staggered by half an hour each, making it possible to watch at least part of every game. The women’s final began half an hour after the grand masters championship and brought a whole new level of tension. They may be harder to hear on the sidelines, but the women’s play certainly spoke loudly enough to compensate.
In what was could be called a battle of the two most epic dynasties to date in women’s ultimate, Lady Godiva and Fury, the level of play was worthy of any hype. Up to this point, Godiva’s only challenge came from the Atlantiques in their first round of pool play. But after they shook off any proverbial rust, no other team came close to Godiva. The same was true for the Baylands Kite Flying Team. Their only close decision came in the second round of pool play against Darkhorse. Until they met up each other in the finals.
Godiva earned an early break to go up 2-0, but Baylands quickly returned the favor to put the game back on serve. Both teams ran tighter lines than they had all weekend, with several all-stars on each team playing both offensive and defensive points. For Godiva, Sarah Cook and Maureen McCamley often quarterbacked the offense. They squared off against Julie Baker, Angela Lin and Kimber Zabora who led the way for Baylands. Alicia White also played both ways, offering a cutting option downfield on offense and a threatening deep presence when playing defense.
Both teams displayed remarkable field vision, seeing cuts develop and throwing to space, allowing their receivers to run onto throws where only they could make a play. Godiva and Baylands also threw multiple defensive looks, utilizing zone strategies to slow down the quick movement and big plays that had been the hallmarks of each team throughout the weekend. And it was often effective. The cup minimized the big-play potential and forced several turnovers.
After the initial breaks, the teams traded points into half with Godiva up 8-7. Baylands started the second half with two quick points, including just the third break of the game. Again the teams traded points, and the soft cap went on with Baylands up 10-9, game to 12. Each team held their respective offensive points to tie the game at 11-11 and bring about double-game point with Baylands receiving. Several uncharacteristic turnovers followed for each team, but in the end, Godiva couldn’t be denied. Anna Hare put a beautiful backhand out to Megan Atkinson, that just missed the outstretched hand of a bidding Angela Lin, in the end zone for the fourth and final break of the game and the 2013 Masters Women’s Championship.
For now, Godiva is on top of the rivalry. But only by a point. And there’s always next year.
Welcome to the 2014 World Ultimate Club Championships, Godiva!
Masters Men’s (scoreboard)
In the masters men’s division, perennial powerhouse Surly faced off against Boneyard in the Masters Championship finals for the third time in four years.
In the first year in which eligible club players can double dip, and given that this is a Worlds qualifying year, both teams have loaded up with new, talented players. Surly used all five of the allowable out-of-region roster spots with their most notable pick up coming in the form of Bart Watson. Rumor has it, Watson received an email from Surly in January – the team wasted no time in courting the newly eligible talent. Surly also re-recruited some Surly GM men and several members of the mixed scene including Timmy Murray, currently with Asheville, N.C.’s Cahoots and Kevin Seiler and Dan Kresowik from former World Champions Chad Larson Experience.
Boneyard picked up current Ring of Fire players Josh Mullen, Tuba Benson-Jaja and Stephen Poulous as well as former Ring and current Chain Lightning member Jared Inselmann. Conveniently, 2013 also marks Mike Moore’s first year as a fixture on Boneyard’s roster after the transition from Ring.
The new pickups on each team played huge roles over the weekend, particularly in the finals. With the teams rotating tighter lines in the championship game, the ringers and current club players saw quite a bit of playing time.
Things looked grim for Boneyard to begin the game. Surly got a couple of early breaks to go up 3-2, after starting on defense. But in what turned out to be a game of short runs, Boneyard pulled things together and scored four consecutive points to regain the breaks they had given up and bring the score to 7-6. They went on to take half at 8-7, on serve. But it was Surly’s turn for a short burst – they earned their first break of the half after a Boneyard dump-pass throwaway. Surly quickly followed it up with the half’s second break thanks to a great toe-the-line grab from David Boardman after a layout D on an in-cut.
But Boneyard wouldn’t go away. Jared Inselmann played both ways, rarely sitting in the game’s last 10 points, and drew attention to himself with great play after great play: layout grabs in the end zone and using his height to go up after high, floaty passes. Mike Moore and Josh Mullen also played quite a few points throughout the game. Boneyard took advantage of their steady hands and tough defense to keep them in the game.
The Boneyard defense had chances to tie the game, but Surly took advantage of a spread field after a Boneyard turn, hucking to Matt Wilken and bring the score to 11-9 just after the cap horn blew; game to 13. Both teams held on their ensuing offensive points, and it was game point for Surly at 12-11. After receiving on game point, Surly committed a turnover near their own goal line. Jared Inselmann came up big again for the North Carolinians with a full-extension layout to tack on the score: 12-12. But, as mentioned above, Boneyard wasn’t the only team to pick up big-name talent this year. On universe point, Surly received the pull and threw a couple short passes before Bart Watson unleased a bomb to Kevin Seiler for the game-winning score and Surly’s fifth Masters Championship title in the last six years.
Once again, Boneyard came out on the losing end of a great and fitting finals match up.
When the dust settled, the fields were riddled with cleat marks, stroller ruts and empty water coolers. And there are three more Masters Championship winners to add to the history books: Vermont’s No Country, Massachusetts’ Godiva and Minnesota’s Surly.
Look out Worlds!

For full Masters Championships results and statistics, visit usaultimate.org.


Photos by UltiPhotos.com (Extended Sunday Highlights)

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