2014 U.S. Open - Men's Day 3 Recap

Posted: July 6, 2014 03:33 AM

Semifinal Saturday

Revolver v. Ironside

Revolver beat Ironside 15-11 in the first U.S. Open men’s semifinal. But if you really want the story of the game, 11-5 and 4-2 are the numbers to note. The first is how many turnovers each team forced out of the other’s offense, and the second is how many times each team broke the other. Revolver won both contests.

Revolver’s field spacing was on point all game—at times, scoring cuts capped off points whose one-cut-after-another rhythm had the aesthetic feel of a cascading waterfall.

Chris Kosednar, a long-time Sockeye handler now playing his first season with Revolver, said his new team’s depth is what opens up the field. "A lot of it has to do with people getting pretty open. With Robbie [Cahill], Cassidy [Rasmussen], [the rest of] these cutters, there’s no pressure to do anything. You get easy ones with Beau [Kittredge], then some easy handler movement, then they forget about Beau."

Revolver was just as strong on the other side of the disc, with a number of Ironside’s early turnovers coming because there just wasn’t an open teammate to throw to or the mark had shut down the break side. Revolver broke early to take a 2-1 lead, twice more to go up 5-2, and again to take half 8-5.

"For us, a great defense starts with a great offense," said Revolver coach Mike Payne. "Over the last seven years, our defense has lost a lot in games at practice. This year, the defense has won more often than the offense."

Payne went on to plainly state his team’s effect on Ironside. "Our defense is so close that throws are difficult to execute."

It wasn’t that Ironside’s defensive pressure was poor— they were tight on Revolver cutters all game long, they just weren’t getting turns. Late in the second half, Jack Hatchett, Ironside’s best defender, was part of a play that epitomized Ironside’s day on the defensive end: after working hard to contain Beau Kittredge all game, Hatchett laid out and smacked a Revolver swing away.

The only problem: it ricocheted right into a different set of Revolver hands, and San Francisco scored two throws later.

"It’s definitely frustrating," said Hatchett. "We had good pressure, but they run such a solid system. They’re really good at being in the right place at the right time. You just have to play your A game against them."

For Ironside’s part, perhaps the offense should get a mulligan. Handler Jacob Taylor left the U.S. Open for a wedding last night, and O-liners Alex Kapinos, Will Neff,and Matt Rebholz haven’t played all weekend. A deeper offensive line could mean fresher legs, which would come in handy against Revolver’s relentless pressure. Another silver lining for Ironside: of Revolver’s five breaks, only one came in the second half, when Revolver scored to win the game.

Ironside has a month to troubleshoot before Worlds, where they’ll at least have the possibility of chances to avenge this weekend’s losses to Revolver, Johnny Bravo and Sockeye.

Johnny Bravo v. Sub Zero

Midway through the first half of the second men’s semifinal and with his team leading 4-2, Bravo’s Kurt Gibson walked the disc up to his own end zone line and called a timeout. When the disc was tapped in, Jimmy Mickle broke off of the front of Bravo’s vertical stack and streaked deep. When the defense dropped off to prevent Mickle, a world-class deep cutter, from continuing on an isolated deep cut for Gibson, a world-class deep thrower, Gibson hit Austin Gregerson on an in cut and Mickle decelerated. But as Gregerson—who, it turns out, is a pretty good deep thrower himself—turned up-field, Mickle took off again. The throw went up this time, and 60 yards later, Mickle was trotting off the field after catching the score.

The moral of this story is that Johnny Bravo has some serious firepower. The only guarantee that comes from containing one of their scary thrower/receiver pairs is that you’ll be doing the same thing again as soon as a new stall count is initiated. It’s going to be tough for teams to hang with Bravo this season.

But that’s exactly what Sub Zero did. Though Bravo opened up a first-half lead as big as 6-2 and took half 8-5, Sub’s captains Jon Gaynor and Grant Lindsley said at the break that their focus was on their attitude.

"It’s not adjustments," said Gaynor. "It isn’t plays we’re getting wrong; we’re just not executing. The goal is to stay loose, enjoy the game, have fun. We play best when we’re loose, and we want to make sure that doesn’t get away from us."

"We want to leave with a good taste in our mouths," added Lindsley.

If a nothing-to-lose long game is the definition of fun, the second half tasted pretty sweet for Sub Zero: their first five offensive points were hucks, none of which Bravo had a real shot at stopping; the most impressive was the first, when Nick Stuart blew by both Gibson and Stanley Peterson, one of Bravo’s top deep receivers, to catch a Lindsley bomb in stride. Sub Zero really did look relaxed, and in turn, they hit a stride that was unstoppable.

Sub Zero’s second-half rejuvenation whittled Bravo’s lead down to one at 11-10, but it was then that Sub came back down to Earth. A handful of miscues gave Bravo short fields that they converted into breaks en route to a 15-11 victory.

Part of the challenge for a team as talented but also as young as Sub—their average age is just under 25— is balancing the enjoyment that clearly yields their best play with the razor’s edge that must be walked if they are to compete with the division’s elite.

"It’s true," said Lindsley after the game. "We’re best when we’re goofy, and we’re goofy when we’re winning. So which do you go for? Winning is abstract, but goofy is easy to achieve—we can always make jokes, be louder, control the sidelines."

"Early season success is always dangerous," Lindsley said of Sub Zero’s strong weekend. "We have to approach games with the expectation that we can and should win against any team in the country, but from there, it’s conditioning. We had a lot of miscues late in the game, and I think that’s indicative of room to grow."

Bravo coach Bob Krier heaped praise on Sub Zero. "They were fabulous. Their lineup is NexGen quality, like an under-25 all-star team. They’re going to be brutal in a few years."

For Bravo, Sunday at the U.S. Open is about treating the 2014 team’s first time in a finals environment—one that Krier says is different because of the stadium atmosphere and media attention—as another chance to improve.

"Throw away the first one," said Krier of his team’s 15-8 win over Revolver on Thursday. "Pool play games mean nothing. They’re the national champions and the world champions, and they will be until someone knocks them off in Lecco or at Nationals. They’ve got too many smart minds to let the same problems and same mistakes hurt them twice."

Revolver and Johnny Bravo play Sunday at 5:00pm ET.



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