Polar Bears Win Their Second U.S. Open Championship in Blaine, Minn.

Posted: July 7, 2014 11:40 AM

The 2014 U.S. Open mixed final, at least aesthetically, seemed to play right into Drag’n Thrust’s claws. They were matched up against a team they had beaten 15-9 on Thursday in similarly windy conditions, and they had the benefit of a large hometown crowd supporting them from the stands. But the Polar Bears aren’t new to championship finals play and didn’t let earlier results or the skewed crowd faze them.

The teams were on serve until 4-4 with Drag’n receiving. A muffed Drag’n throw gave the Bears a short field, and after a few swings, Eric Greenwood found captain An Chi Tsou in the end zone for the first break of the game. 

But the Polar Bears wanted more. Adam Raty took it upon himself to earn another break for his team, pulling down a D before immediately unleashing a full-field huck for the score. The Polar Bears were rolling. Although Drag’n managed to score the next point to stem the bleeding, with the score at 7-5, PBR’s Greg Marliave earned a hand block on the Drag’n goal line. Marliave came away with bookends to take half for the Polar Bears at 8-5.

Half came at the right time for Drag’n. A long break to slow down the ample PBR momentum was exactly what the team needed, and it showed when play resumed. Drag’n’s defense clamped down on the Polar Bear handlers, forcing deep shots that were easily intercepted by the downfield defenders. It was a whirlwind, and when the dust settled, Drag’n had broken four consecutive times to take a 9-8 lead. 

But just as quickly as Drag’n’s momentum came, it left. PBR composed themselves, steadied the ship and went back to playing their game. The teams held serve until 10-10, when a surprise switch to zone defense by Polar Bears generated a short-field turn, and Raty found Greenwood in the end zone to put the Bears back on top 11-10. Another break followed, and suddenly Drag’n found themselves down 12-10.

Perhaps the most important point of the game came at 13-12, with the Polar Bears receiving to work downwind. After a turn, Drag’n’s Jay Drescher immediately launched a backhand huck that was caught just short of the end zone. Drag’n took a timeout, and when play resumed, Drescher attempted to put a touchy throw to Brian Schoenrock on the sideline, but Schoenrock couldn’t keep it in-bounds. Again, PBR would turn the disc and Drescher hucked it back yet again and found a similar result – Schoenrock caught the disc two feet out the back of the end zone. After another incomplete PBR huck, Drescher attempted his now almost predictable inside-out backhand huck once again. This time, PBR’s Natasha Won got a hand on it, allowing Kevin Cocks the opportunity to find Daniel Naruo in the end zone for the 14-12 hold. On the next point, PBR sealed the deal and came away with the U.S. Open Championship and the big check for $2,000. Final score: PBR 15, Drag’n 12.

Although the strong and swirly winds that plagued all three divisions’ finals made playing conditions difficult and turnovers all too common, the game was still competitive throughout. Given that the U.S. Open final was a repeat of last year’s National Championship final, is it possible that the mixed world has a new rivalry? Only time will tell.



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