2014 Nationals - Mixed Division Day 1 Recap

Posted: October 17, 2014 03:15 AM

Brittany Winner recaps day one action from the mixed division at the 2014 National Championships in Frisco, Texas.


2014 Nationals Mixed Division:


This is why they play the games.

Thursday’s pool play resulted in several upsets, shaking things up across the board and setting up some very interesting pre-quarters match ups for Friday.

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Photo Credit: Tino Tran Photography

Pool A

The challenges came early and often in this pool as the Polar Bears and Bucket both hung on to survive their first games of the day.  The Polar Bears won an exciting match against Seattle Mixed, coming back from a big second-half deficit to win 13-11. Bucket was able to hold off a similar second-half run by American BBQ – after trailing 12-8, BBQ scored three straight, but their momentum was cut short by the hard cap. In the second round, Seattle Mixed started fast and never looked back against Bucket. One field over, BBQ was able to complete their comeback run this time, scoring six straight to beat the Polar Bears 13-12 on a score by captain Sarah Carnahan. 

With the teams each carrying a 1-1 record into the last round, the final-round winners would split the one and two spots, and the losers would take third and fourth, with each spot being determined by point differential. This created an uncommon situation where after two rounds, the pool’s seedings were still completely up in the air.  Any of the four teams in the pool could end up in any of the four spots at the end of the day, and there were certainly some surprises.

In one match-up, Seattle Mixed put an end to American BBQ’s trend of second-half heroics, taking care of business with a 15-7 final score. That left the Polar Bears and Bucket game a few fields over to determine who would end up where in the pool.  The Polar Bears started with an early break to go up 2-0, but Bucket took over in the first half, eventually breaking to take half 8-5. The Polar Bears were not able to get back the breaks they had given up, and Bucket went on to win 15-10. 

At the end of the day, Pool A got turned upside down, with the two "wild card" teams showing they have what it takes to compete outside their regions. The Polar Bears, who came in as the overall one seed, finished day one at the bottom of the pool. 

Pool B

It all came down to point differential for this pool, but it was an exciting road to get there.

In their Nationals debut, Santa Maria took advantage of the wind that had been picking up throughout the day and stunned seventh-seeded Slow White. Santa used their signature zone to slow down Slow White’s offense and capitalized on early break opportunities, going up 3-0 to start the game. Slow White wasn’t able to recover, and Santa Maria started the day on a high note, with an 11-5 win. They carried their momentum over to the Drag’n Thrust game, starting with a first-point Callahan by Kristen Smiach. Even after Santa took half 8-5, Drag’n never lost their composure and started the second half by scoring five straight. A three-point run followed, making the final score 13-9 in favor of the reigning national champions. Captain Austin Lien attributed his team’s success in part to a change in their strategy; they started playing a game of field position and utilized Jay Drescher’s and Mike Peterson’s upwind throws, capitalizing on a height advantage over Santa Maria’s men. 

On the neighboring field, Slow White bounced back from their first-round loss to hand D’oh! Abides their second loss of the day, but D’oh! wasn’t done. In the final round, D’oh! took advantage of a Santa Maria squad still recovering from the loss to Drag’n by going up 4-1 before taking half 8-6. The first half saw a lot of hucks from both teams, the highlight being a Top 10-worthy 80-yard bomb from D’oh!’s Anthony Cacallori to Hall Walker for a layout score. In the second half, Santa Maria countered to go up 9-8, but D’oh! rattled off three straight to take the game in soft cap.

The result? Drag’n stayed at the top of the pool with a 3-0 record, while the remaining Pool B teams ended 1-2, with seedings decided by point differential. Santa Maria’s big win against Slow White paid off, and the overall fourteen seed ended up second in the pool at the end of the day. Captain Paige Soper had this to say about Santa Maria’s first day at Nationals: "We came in as the last seed in our pool.  We really had nothing to lose; we only had things to gain. Tomorrow we just need to keep our attitudes up. Even if we get broken, we can’t let teams turn that into a big run." 

Pool C

CLX came in with one goal in mind: win the pool.  At the end of the day, they ended up on top, but not without a fight from AMP in the first game of the day. While the game was markedly upwind-downwind, the two teams did trade a few breaks in the first half. In the second half, AMP took some more aggressive shots on offense, challenging CLX’s defense to work the disc 70 yards up-field against the wind. CLX was eventually able to convert, however, showing excellent patience around the end zone and eventually winning 13-11. 

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Photo Credit: Tino Tran Photography

AMP rebounded quickly, however, and was able to take advantage of a 7 Figures team that had just come off a first-round upset at the hands of Cosa Nostra. 7 Figures led that game through most of the first half, but Cosa never let it get out of hand. They put together a run at the right time, scoring three straight to clinch the upset 13-11. Captain Ryan Pickens attributed the swing to a "team-wide decision to use all our players; when we stopped trying to be superstars and started playing like a team, that’s what made the difference."

In their second-round match up, 7 Figures scored first, but AMP rattled off three in a row and took half 8-5. 7 Figures climbed their way back to tie the game, and a huge layout D by Gary Molano gave them an opportunity to take the lead, but AMP’s Nick Purifico returned the favor with a layout D of his own.  AMP scored the point and went on to win. Captains Raha Mozaffari and Melissa Devlin cited Purifico’s big plays, as well as the calm demeanor of Trey Katzenbach, Owen Murphy and Sara Taggart as keys to their ability to finish the game in tough conditions.

But Cosa Nostra wasn’t able to maintain their momentum of their first-round win and lost to CLX 15-10.  The final round of games in the C pool played to seed, with CLX and AMP notching wins over 7 Figures and Cosa Nostra, respectively. 

Pool D

Following the day’s trend, Pool D also saw some changes in its final standings. 

Wild Card came out ready to play, with a quick O-line score followed by a hand block and a break score to go up 2-0 on Blackbird, the one seed in the pool. The first half saw remarkably few turns, considering that most of the game was played upwind. Eli Janin kept plays alive for Blackbird, laying out for swings that were off their mark, and Wild Card’s offense was nearly flawless. The second half saw more turnovers, as both defenses mixed it up between man and zone coverage. Scott Gatto capped the first-round upset for Wild Card, converting a short-field Blackbird turnover by toeing the goal line to get the win 14-10. 

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Photo Credit: Tino Tran Photography

After a bye, The Administrators gave Blackbird a run for the money before losing 14-12, while Wild Card continued their upset run by beating Mischief. With Wild Card up 7-6 and looking to take half, Mischief’s Kevin Smith notched a solid handblock on Wild Card’s Ian Engler. But on the ensuing mark, Engler got the disc back for Wild Card with a footblock, returning the favor to Smith.

Wild Card locked up the top spot in the pool with their strong start to the day and beat The Administrators 15-6 in the final round. Blackbird and Mischief faced off to determine the second and third spots in the pool. The two team traded points early on, but a four-point run by Mischief to take half would prove to be the difference maker in the game.

Notable Pre-Quarter Match Ups

Field 14 – Wild Card v. Polar Bears – Will Wild Card continue their winning ways, or will the Polar Bears bounce back from a rough start on Thursday?

Field 10 – Santa Maria v. Cosa Nostra – Due to the chaos in the Pool A, the winner of this game will face a Northwest Region team in quarters instead of the perennial power Polar Bears.

Field 16 – Mischief v. American BBQ – Mischief will face another familiar foe in San Francisco rival BBQ.  Mischief will need to prevent big runs by BBQ if they want to advance to quarters. 

Field 15 – Bucket v. Blackbird – Don’t be surprised to see a few spectators on the sidelines hoping for a Dylan Tunnell v. Mac Taylor shootout.

All mixed pre-quarters begin at 11:15am CT.

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