Drag'n Thrust Captures Their Third Consecutive National Championship

Posted: October 5, 2015 12:29 PM

The excitement for championship Sunday had been building all weekend at the 2015 National Championships, and finally, the time had come. In the mixed division, the championship game was a rematch of last year’s final between Seattle Mixtape and Minneapolis Drag’n Thrust, and the storylines were all there. Seattle was looking for their first national championship while Drag’n wanted to capture their third consecutive title (to become the first team ever in the mixed division with three championships). Seattle’s aggressive style of play and their young athleticism versus Drag’n’s developed team system and roster depth. And Seattle was looking to avenge their disappointing performance in last year’s final while Drag’n tried to maintain their stranglehold on the top of the division. Needless to say, everyone expected fireworks when these two teams stepped onto the field on Sunday.


Championship Game
Drag’n Thrust Outlasts Seattle Mixtape to Capture Third Consecutive Title

Mixtape started the game on defense and came out ready to go. A quick mistake by Drag’n near their own end zone set up Seattle for the immediate break. The shock of the first point didn’t wear off, and Seattle kept grooving to complete a couple more breaks on sloppy early points. Down 0-3, Drag’n took a timeout to regroup before the game got entirely out of hand. Whatever Coach Jacob Henderson said in that huddle must have worked. Drag’n was able to bounce back with a three-point run of their own, including two assists from Josh Hemmesch who continued his impressive play from the semifinals the day before. The teams then traded a couple of points to keep the score knotted at 4-4.

It proved to be a day of runs, which often plays into Seattle’s game plan. Seattle looks to hang around in a back-and-forth game until they can put on a long enough run of points that puts the game out of reach for the other team. Fortunately for the spectators, Drag’n was the perfect team to deal with these ups and downs and kept the game close each time Seattle seemed to be taking control. Seattle scored three more in a row to take a commanding lead at 7-4. Another timeout by Drag’n helped settle the team again, and they chipped away with three more scores of their own, the fourth three-point run between the teams in the first half alone. Each time Seattle got ahead, they started getting even more aggressive with their deep game, but Drag’n stuck to their defensive plan and forced turnovers on those Seattle hucks. The plan allowed them to get the breaks back and never let Seattle put the game away.

On the last point before half, Bert Abbott put a fast, deep huck to Henry Phan who was able to run it down and make an amazing layout grab for the score on the edge of the end zone. The score got Seattle to the half leading 8-7, up a break.

The second half started off much more cleanly for both sides than the first, with minimal turnovers from either side. After Seattle scored their first point out of the break, this time on a throw to Abbott, Drag’n responded with an offensive score of their own. On the following point, Seattle had a costly mistake, and Drag’n did a great job of capitalizing on this one opportunity that they had, converting the break and evening the score at 9-9. After that, both teams scored three consecutive offensive points to tie the score at 12-12 before the time cap came on, making it a game to 14. In this stretch, Phan and Lani Nguyen provided key plays for Mixtape while Sarah Anciaux and Mike Clark started getting more involved for Drag’n.

After all of that back and forth, this year’s championship game was going to come down to the first team that could score two more times and reach 14 for the win. With the pressure mounting, Drag’n proved once again why they are such a great second-half team and showed that although Seattle is an amazing team in their own right, they still have steps to take before they will be raising the championship trophy. Drag’n pulled and was able to generate enough defensive pressure to take control of the disc. They patiently worked it up the field, even calling a timeout to steady the offense on their way to this crucial break. Finally, it was a short throw from Jay Drescher to Mike Petersen (two mainstays of the Drag’n defense) that converted the score. On the ensuing point, Phan (who had been making big plays for Seattle all day) made a risky decision, hucking to an unfavorable match up, and Drag’n took the disc back. They worked the disc for a handful of throws before Drescher got an opportunity to unleash a monster backhand. The huck soared to the end zone where 6’5" Carlos Wolle was able to make a play, secure the catch and complete the comeback for Drag’n. Ecstasy followed as Drag’n realized what they had fought so hard to accomplish this season.


In the end, the result this year may appear the same on the surface: Minneapolis Drag’n Thrust wins another national championship. But underneath it all, it is clear that the path to get there (both for Drag’n and for all other teams) was entirely different than either of the past two years that shared this same champion. Seattle Mixtape will be even more dangerous next season as they continue to develop experience in these big situations, and the rest of the field will also continue to put pressure on these two teams, making it ever more difficult (and rewarding) to peak at this event. Congratulations to Drag’n Thrust on completing the three-peat against an amazing field of competition at this year’s event. Here’s to another amazing season full of exciting storylines in 2016!


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