2013 Youth Club Championships - Sunday Recap

Posted: August 11, 2013 10:59 PM

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In a marked contrast to the first day, the air this morning was a little cool and the sky full of clouds, a welcome environment for most any ultimate player. After one full day of high-level competition, many of the teams were now more established in their strategies, with team identities clearly displayed. Even though many of the teams present had already played one or more tournaments together, there’s no replicating the atmosphere and competition of YCC and just what positive or negative effects that can have on a team. This especially holds true for teams composed entirely of young players, many only beginning to realize their potential.

  U19 Girls:   Scoreboard  
  U19 Mixed:   Scoreboard  
  U19 Open:   Scoreboard  
  U16 Open:   Scoreboard  

U-19 Open Quarterfinals

At the top of the quarterfinals bracket, the Triangle Area secured a victory with a cohesive team effort, despite stellar all-around play from Max Sheppard (#1) of Pittsburgh. To many spectators, Sheppard stood out as one of the most complete players on the weekend, a threat from anywhere on the field, with the disc or without. The final score was 13-8, Triangle Area earning a much-deserved trip to the semifinals.

The remainder of the quarterfinals match ups went to seed, save for Seattle Kingpin upsetting Boston BUDA in one of the best games of the entire weekend. In what easily could have been a semifinals match up, both teams performed exceptionally, though it was BUDA who came out the stronger side to begin. BUDA’s offense was simple and workmanlike, utilizing a vertical stack and continually cutting to the force side. Predictable as it may have been, the offense proved largely effective. They were able to maintain possession early on and gain an advantage in the deep game. Still, it didn’t take long for Seattle to respond and ramp up their own intensity as the teams started to trade. At half, the score sat at 7-5 in BUDA’s favor. Channeling their energy straight into the second half, Seattle was able to orchestrate a mini run, gaining their first lead of the game at 8-7. Their offense stood out in sharp contrast to BUDA – whether operating a vert stack or horizontal spread, Seattle continually looked to swing the disc across the field, opening up the break side and keeping the BUDA defenders off balance. The effect was a more organic flow, with faster disc movement between the players. Despite great defensive presence from Emmet Blau (#25) BUDA couldn’t generate enough stops, eventually conceding the game on universe point, 12-11 after the hard cap.

Chicago stumbled out of the gate falling behind 7-3 in their quarterfinal match up and first game of the day against Atlanta. Coming out of half, the teams would trade points, and after a few defensive changes, Chicago got their first break of the second half. The Micromachines followed up with additional breaks to even the score at 8-8. It looked as if Chicago had scored another break to take the lead, but an errant call from one of the team’s sidelines forced a redo on the play. Upon resumption of the game, Chicago turned the disc, allowing Atlanta to capitalize for a score. Micromachines' momentum had been completely extinguished; Atlanta proceeded to break them three times in a row to go up 12-8 and finally win 13-9.

U-19 Open Semifinals

The semifinals pitted Seattle against Triangle Area and DEVYL against Atlanta. With an added boost of confidence and energy from their universe-point quarterfinal win, Seattle got off to a fast start. It was an exciting game, fast paced and full of athletic plays. Perhaps the most exciting matchup of all was between Christian Golden (#2) of Seattle and Terrence Mitchell (#1) of Triangle Area. Both players possess incredible speed and an explosive quality that meant they always had a chance at the disc, no matter their shorter stature. After getting open at will downfield, one was left to wonder why the Triangle coaches eventually moved Mitchell back to handle, thereby negating some of his overall effect. Credit to the Seattle defense for slowing down the speedy Triangle Area team by applying a middle force, often switching the force with each new thrower. Seattle would win in the end, 13-10.

The semifinals between DEVYL and Atlanta would not be as close. Atlanta looked great all weekend, shining especially bright here against a DEVYL team who had convincingly won their quarterfinal match up, despite lacking big playmakers. The one player who really stood out for DEVYL was Jonah Wisch (#38), the primary handler for the offense, seemingly touching the disc on every third throw. Atlanta’s offense was a vert stack run to perfection, owing to the framework of the famed Paideia School. The collective throwing talent of Atlanta was immediately apparent, as they had no trouble breaking the mark and swinging the disc across the field when no one was immediately open downfield. DEVYL never threatened Atlanta, who secured their place in the finals with a 13-5 victory.

Mixed Division Semifinals

The high-spirited play of the mixed division carried over from yesterday as the round robin came to its conclusion. BUDA first secured a place in the championship game using their aggressive, albeit balanced, attack with their collective height proving a clear advantage. Playing for the second slot in the championship game were Minnesota and Maine. Maine had dominated mixed play all weekend long, and this game wouldn’t be much different, with Minnesota doing all they could just to contain Maine’s collection of talented girls. In a most unfortunate situation, the game was put on hold after Minnesota’s Alex Kunser (#0) made a defensive bid only to remain on the ground, motionless. It was a scary event for all within range as eventually a police and ambulance were called for, fearing the worst and taking the utmost precaution. The ambulance arrived at the fields only to get stuck on its way to the field, bottomed out in a particularly unkind dip. In the most inspiring move of the day, no less than four teams, at least two of which were in the midst of a game of their own, immediately sprinted to the nearby ambulance and helped push the vehicle out of the ditch. Kunser would eventually be placed on a stretcher and into the ambulance but not before all nearby teams, coaches, players and volunteers exhibited their utmost support. Ultimate is a game we all love, but there are more important things in this world, bigger things, and in an instance such as this, teams and backgrounds are all obliterated in the face of one larger community. Without knowing further details, this writer hopes for the best for Kunser and his family and teammates. No sooner had play resumed than Sam Berglund (#18) of Minnesota took to wearing Kunser’s trademark camo bucket hat on the field in a further show of support and tribute. Maine’s lead would prove too much as they finished the drawn-out game, 10-5.

U-19 Girls Semifinals

The semifinals featured a Pool B rematch between BUDA and Colorado. Cutthroat bested Boston yesterday in a close match, and this game would be no different. Both teams played solid defense, creating a number of turnovers which lead to a few incredibly long, drawn-out points. Up until the second half, BUDA and Cutthroat traded points, but after halftime, Colorado would get multiple breaks and maintain their lead for the remainder of the game.

The other semifinal matched up Delaware Valley DEVYL and Seattle Rampage. DEVYL would go down by a large margin early, getting broken four consecutive times by Rampage's stout defense. Although the game was well out of reach, DEVYL continued to play hard for the duration of the game and make some big plays.

U-19 Open Finals

Anticipation was high for the final matchup between Atlanta and Seattle, both deep and talented teams. Unfortunately the tight game everyone saw on paper was not realized as Atlanta dominated from the opening point. Seattle looked flat and out of sync from the beginning, committing multiple unforced errors that Atlanta would capitalize upon to jump out to a 6-0 lead. It was a lead both real and mental that Seattle would never overcome. Atlanta simply had too much momentum in their favor – more players making big plays, the right plays.  Painfully aware of their deficit, Seattle abandoned the calm offensive flow that had helped earned them a finals appearance and began looking to force the disc downfield with hucks, hero shots, which rarely resulted in anything but turnovers. Atlanta relied heavily on the do-everything-exceptionably-well John Stubbs (#14) who put his stamp on the game early and often without ever forcing himself. Watch out George. While Stubbs shone brightest, Atlanta had no shortage of talent, including shut-down defense from Caleb Shorthouse (#1), who may have also had the best last name at YCC, fittingly listed as 5’8". Seattle would eventually clean up their attack, but it was too little too late as Atlanta claimed the YCC U-19 Open Championship with a finals win of 13-7. The Seattle players were visibly distraught when the final goal was caught, knowing full well they didn’t deliver a complete game. Many of the players will undoubtedly learn from the experience and take that knowledge with them to their respective college programs, the future talent of ultimate never in doubt.

U-19 Girls Finals

Denver and Seattle began their championship game on fairly even footing with both teams holding serve to 3-3. This even pace would not continue for long, however, as Seattle would break the game wide open with a big layout D which was converted for a break score. Rampage rode this momentum for the rest of the game, scoring score two more breaks and a lead they would not relinquish. Colorado's offense was never given a chance to get comfortable as Seattle showed multiple defensive looks to keep Cutthroat off balance. Despite Seattle's commanding lead, the game ran until hard cap due to a multitude of unforced errors on both sides. The hard-cap horn finally blew with Seattle leading 12-6 over Denver.

Mixed Final

As with the U-19 open final, the mixed affair wasn’t hotly contested. For all Maine’s success throughout the tournament, they never faired well against BUDA, starting with their 13-5 pool play loss. In the finals, Maine forced risky decisions downfield, playing into BUDA’s strategy, as their tall and well-positioned defenders were continually able to come away with the Ds. Most notable amidst BUDA’s ranks was Peter McGinn (#67) a tall, lanky athlete making big plays on both sides of the disc. After trading for the first few points, BUDA was able to pull away and secure a 13-4 win.

U-16 Open Finals

The finals were pitted Seattle Dynasty against Triangle Area NC Hammer, both of whom won their respective pools. Dynasty broke to gain an early lead at 4-2 and would go on to take half 7-3. Despite a lack of noticeable wind, both teams used an ample amount of zone in the first half, but as the game progressed, the zone play was largely phased out. In the second half, NC Hammer came out looking much more solid, scoring and then breaking Dynasty on the subsequent point to make it 7-5. Triangle Area would continue on the comeback trail and eventually even up the score at 9-9. Seattle would retake control of the game with an immediate score and a subsequent break. Despite NC Hammer having multiple goal-line chances, Dynasty had regained a lead which Hammer would not match again. Final score: 12-9.

Final Thoughts

Though the finals in each division may have been anticlimactic, save the U-16 open championship, this year’s YCC was full of captivating games and plays. For those who were in attendance, the tournament served as reminder of why the sport of ultimate has such pull.

The clouds long since dispersed from the morning, each team of tireless competitors gathered on the grassy slope for the awards ceremony, all smiles and excited conversation concerning everything from jersey exchanges to future hopes and goals.

Photos by UltiPhotos.com (extended Sunday gallery)

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