Revolver Wins Their Fourth National Championship in Six Years

Posted: October 5, 2015 12:40 PM

It wasn’t flashy. It wasn’t exciting. It was just another vintage, grind-it-out and don’t-share-the-toy Revolver win, a 15-9 victory that gave San Francisco their fourth USA Ultimate National Championship in six years. 

Seattle Sockeye came out hot with a beautiful backhand huck from Danny Karlinsky to Zane Rankin that put them up 1-0. On the ensuing possession, Reid Koss layout D’ed Christian Johnson on an underneath cut and immediately turned over a huck deep. But even after getting a second chance, Revolver was unable to score, and Beau Kittredge turned the disc over on the goal line with a forehand toss to nobody. Seattle would convert on a bladey huck to Matt Russell that turned into a dish, goal and break to go up 2-0. 

But that control, and that lead, would be the last Sockeye ever had as they vied for their first championship since 2007. 

"An important thing was knowing that it was going to be a grind, that it’s not going to be perfect," Kittredge said after the game. "Every time that we play that team, they manage to get turnovers out of us, and we had to be ready for that."

Before the game started, I expressed my desire to see a lot of Matt Rehder v. Beau Kittredge in the air. On that first possession that Revolver turned it over, they went deep to Kittredge with Rehder tailing him. The 24-year-old Sockeye stand out made up the ground quickly, and after he and Kittredge tangled legs, the disc sailed over the top, and no foul call was made.

"I actually didn’t think I did that good of a job on him [Rehder]. I should’ve gotten in front of him a little bit more in a few cases," Kittredge said. "But he’s very athletic. He’s definitely I think my favorite player to play against as far as athleticism goes. I know he can run and jump right there with me."

Kittredge also saw a lot of Julian Hausman, who covered him for several consecutive points in the second half and managed to keep him quiet with physical, and often-times aggressive, bump-and-grind defense. 

Revolver got their break back after Rehder came down with a big sky, but Mark Burton landed out of bounds just outside the end zone for the conversion. It was Lucas Dallman, who caught the game-winning goal for Revolver in semifinals, who dished to Taylor Lahey for the conversion.

Aside from a ridiculous trailing-edge layout catch for a goal made by Cassidy Rasmussen to make the score 4-3, the rest of the first half wasn’t particularly exciting. Both teams played intelligent offense, and aside from a handful of poor hucks — not necessarily poor decisions — it was a fairly clean first half. San Francisco took an 8-6 lead when Amherst and Carleton College alum Sam Kanner came down out of a crowded end zone with a tipped disc that he had initially missed on his first attempt to catch it. 

After a Sockeye defensive miscommunication to start the second half, Kittredge slipped behind to catch a goal and give Revolver the 9-6 lead. You suddenly got the feeling this game might be over. Since the wind rolled in on Friday afternoon, significant comebacks in the men’s division were nearly non-existent, with Revolver’s push against Truck Stop in the quarterfinals the one exception.

"Truck Stop had us at 8-5 or something, so this [trailing early] was not an unknown feeling," Kittredge said. "I think we handled it a lot better because of the Truck Stop game, and I also think we were a lot more prepared to grind it, where in the Truck Stop game, we just expected them to give it to us."

Despite it not translating to a break, the game really seemed over after 6’5" Nathan White got an absurd layout hand block on a Rehder backhand huck. Revolver gave the disc back, and Sockeye eventually scored to make it 12-9, but the stifling defense from White was pretty representative of the kind of half Revolver played down the stretch.

The game ended after another clutch Kanner grab, this one a layout just outside the south end zone that turned into an easy toss for the 15-9 win. 

Some parting thoughts:

The scoober has become one of the most important throws in ultimate. I think it’s because marks continue to evolve, and defense is getting better coached every year, but I saw several really great handlers struggle to get off around flicks or inside backhands and instead relied on cheeky scoobers to the break side. Brett Matzuka probably featured it the most in his arsenal, but I saw at least one scoober throw in almost every single game I watched this weekend. 

This weekend I had the unique opportunity to share a room with Steve Dunn, the guy who announces every goal on the PA system during games. It occurred to me while I was watching this weekend that Dunn, who has been doing this for several seasons in club and college, has become a voice that’s extremely familiar for high-level players in both the college and club scenes. I know he was the PA guy for a few of my college national appearances, and I’m sure for a lot of players, the sound of his voice comes with some very good and some very bad memories. Huge props to him for always doing a great job with the player intros and keeping the fans informed on what’s happening on the field. 

Beau told me after the game that he’ll be playing ultimate "somewhere" next year, but he doesn’t know where yet. That, paired with the bombshell that George Stubbs will be coming to Revolver next season, makes for a few interesting storylines to keep an eye on going into next year. 

I saw a few players this weekend that really seem on the cusp of greatness, and now seems like a good time to mention them: Florida United’s Mischa Freystaetter has evolved into more than just a deep goal scorer since his days at Central Florida, and teams are going to have a hard time figuring out a way to stop him in the coming seasons. High Five’s Johnny Bansfield didn’t play a ton this weekend, but when he did, he confirmed that he is a premier thrower in the club division and will be a staple of whatever team he plays on for years to come. John Stubbs showed that last year’s Nationals performance was no fluke, and you can bet that he’ll be a dominant force wherever he plays in the seasons ahead; watching him match up with Rehder was one of the most fun one-on-one match ups I saw all weekend. Ring of Fire’s Jack Williams, the 21-year-old who had that ridiculous layout catch D against Machine in quarters, is one of the best up-and coming-athletes in the game. Look for him to take on a bigger role in Ring’s defense next season, and make sure you’re watching anytime the disc goes up in his direction. 

It seems unavoidable that there will be conversations about re-structuring the format for next year. Several players, coaches and spectators expressed to me their desire to see Thursday’s pool play action to be more incentivized, and it’ll be curious to see if USA Ultimate makes any changes. Personally, I’d love to see a scenario where the bottom teams in each pool were eliminated from championship play, thus ensuring teams don’t just throw their games on Thursday to stay fresh for the win-or-go-home part of the tournament. 

If the ultimate community wants a new champion, they’re going to have to take it from Revolver. Throughout the weekend, I didn’t see any other team exhibit the confidence, mental toughness, togetherness or sheer depth that this Revolver team had. Sockeye certainly had the defense to beat them, but they had trouble converting after the first few points of the game. Truck had the hunger but ultimately not the bench to close it out. Ring of Fire and Machine were both athletic enough to get it done, but neither seem to have the experience — yet — to make that jump. Ironside was underestimated all weekend, but you can rest assured they’ll be back next year and, in all likelihood, reach the semifinals for the eighth consecutive season. 

Relive It:





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