2015 National Championships: Mixed Day One Recap

Posted: October 2, 2015 12:09 AM

The National Championships are finally upon us, and today 16 deserving teams from across the country represented the remainder of the mixed division in competing for this year’s national title in the third leg of the 2015 Triple Crown Tour. All of the teams were excited for the opportunity, and there were certainly many potential storylines that could develop with this particular mix of teams at the event. Everyone played three games in pool play today, with each one battling for position in the 16-team championship bracket that starts on Friday. Some of the top teams were able to hold their ground while other teams from the pack produced some surprising results. Altogether it was a very exciting day of ultimate, and here’s a look at how each pool of teams fared throughout the day.


Pool A
Seattle Mixtape (8), 3-0
Minneapolis Drag’n Thrust (1), 2-1
New York 7Express (13), 1-2
Madison NOISE (12), 0-3

The day started off with a regional match up from the North Central with newcomer NOISE taking on reigning national champion Drag’n Thrust. Drag’n got a quick break on the first point after a misfire on a huck by NOISE. But NOISE responded quickly and was able to hang tight with their familiar foe. With a 5-2 run in the middle of the game, NOISE turned a 3-4 deficit into an 8-6 lead at half. However, despite trailing 10-11 late in the game, Drag’n was able to score three straight to win 13-11 on a score by Brian Schoenrock, proving that they know how to finish games at this level.

Meanwhile, Seattle Mixtape took absolute control of their game against 7Express, winning 15-5. Mixtape continued their dominant success with a subsequent win over NOISE, 15-8. Several fields away, Drag’n had to work extremely hard to dispose of a feisty 7Express team; they eventually won 13-11. This set up the final round’s showcase match up between last year’s two national finalists to decide the pool, but early results ended up foreshadowing how that game would go.

Drag’n jumped on Mixtape early, leading 5-2 and making it look like this would be a repeat of last year’s result. But Mixtape kept their cool and came firing back, rattling off eight straight points to take a commanding lead in the second half. Drag’n could not muster a comeback at that point, and Seattle finished their impressive day one with a 15-9 victory.

In their last game of the day, 7Express was too much for NOISE and got their first win, 15-9, to round out the pool.


Pool B
Ames Chad Larson Experience (2), 3-0
Washington, D.C. Ambiguous Grey (14), 2-1
Atlanta Bucket (7), 1-2
New York Metro North (11), 0-3

The opening game in Pool B was also quite exciting, with Nationals stalwart CLX matching up with the relatively unknown Metro North from New York. Metro North did a great job of taking advantage of early CLX mistakes, earning themselves a quick 3-0 lead. They maintained that difference into the half at 8-5. Once CLX eliminated the careless errors, they were able to shift their momentum in the second half. The CLX offensive line became almost untouchable and allowed their defensive line to start chipping away at the lead. CLX patiently battled through the entire second half and finally secured a tough 17-15 victory to avoid the early setback.

Ambiguous Grey got their first victory in the pool with a 14-12 win over Bucket. The second round of games was a little less eventful than the first, as CLX raised their level of play in a 15-8 win over Grey. Bucket responded from their earlier loss with a 12-8 victory over Metro North. This all meant that no positions in the pool were pre-determined going into the final round of games, and every result (even every point) could matter in the final pool order.

Ambiguous Grey capped off their successful day with a solid 13-8 victory over a Metro North team still hungry to get their first W. Unaware of that result, CLX and Bucket were going toe-to-toe as both still eyed the potential top spot in the pool. It came down to double-game point with Bucket pulling to CLX. A CLX turnover on a huck that was just out of the reach of Kevin Seiler gave the disc to Bucket. After a few throws, they took their own shot at the end zone and just missed the outstretched arms of a laying-out cutter. After that, CLX marched the disc down the field to score the winning point at 15-14, finalizing the order for Pool B.


Pool C
Boston Wild Card (3), 3-0
San Francisco Polar Bears (6), 2-1
Seattle BirdFruit (15), 1-2
Boulder Love Tractor (10), 0-3

Pool C was the only pool in the mixed division to carry two teams without any previous Nationals experience, BirdFruit and Love Tractor. Both of these teams would have to test the waters quickly against a couple of perennial national-title contenders, the Polar Bears and Wild Card respectively, and both showed that they are capable of challenging teams at this event. After leading 5-3 early, BirdFruit could not hang on against the Polar Bears, despite working hard throughout. They eventually lost 15-13. Love Tractor used a three-point run in the first half to keep the game on serve at the break, but Wild Card was able to wear them down in the second half and won 15-12.

The second wave of games saw the teams with more experience at this event take control. Wild Card shot out to a blazing pace, taking half 8-2 against BirdFruit. Their success did not diminish in the second half, and Wild Card went on to win 15-6. Love Tractor kept it close against the Polar Bears early at 5-4. Then the Polar Bears managed to string together four straight scores, essentially putting the game out of reach before pulling away late to win 14-8.

The early results in the pool made way for a pair of interesting final round match ups, splitting the Nationals regulars and first-timers. Wild Card finished their day with a statement win against the Polar Bears, riding an early lead to a final score of 15-10. Wild Card looks poised to make a deep run in the championship bracket. BirdFruit used team energy to set them apart in their final game against Love Tractor. A young and typically eager team, BirdFruit shook off their earlier losses and pulled away late in a 15-8 win against Love Tractor who will look to rebound tomorrow in bracket play.


Pool D
Chicago UPA (16), 2-1
Boston Slow White (4), 2-1
San Francisco Blackbird (5), 1-2
Philadelphia AMP (9), 1-2

Possibly one of the biggest surprises of day one was the performance by the 16th-seeded UPA from Chicago. Despite having a roster full of players with previous Nationals experience with Machine and Nemesis in their respective single-gender divisions, this particular team still needed to prove themselves in 2015 against other teams in the mixed division. In the end, their individual talent found a healthy balance with team cohesion today, and they were able to win the pool. They started the day against Blackbird and had to battle through long points until the end of the game. A late break by UPA gave them the lead at 10-9, and they were able to trade points from there to a final score of 11-10. In their second game, against Slow White, UPA capitalized on early opportunities to take a commanding 8-4 halftime lead. They didn’t look back and won 15-10. These two wins, combined with the other results of the pool, meant that UPA had secured the top spot in the pool, so they used their final game against AMP to rest some legs for Friday. AMP took the opportunity to secure their first victory, 15-5. Look for players like Tim Halt, Jessica Schulz and Dane Olson to continue to make plays for UPA  all weekend as they now set their sights on bracket play.

Slow White finished second in the pool with convincing wins over AMP (15-7) and Blackbird (15-9) before and after their loss to UPA. Despite the setback against UPA, Slow White played some great ultimate today and will just have to shake off the loss to prepare for the bracket on Friday. Blackbird’s final result was a come-from-behind victory over AMP, 11-10. Both of these teams have the talent to give their opponents fits in the championship bracket, and it may prove that Pool D was just an extremely tough pool to get out of.


All together there were a couple of interesting trends to take away from the first day of play in the mixed division:

1. There are five teams making their first appearance in the mixed division at the National Championships this year. The UPA is one of them but has a roster full of Nationals experience, and they were able to win their pool with a record of 2-1. The other four new teams fought admirably but finished the day a combined 1-11 (the only victory came in a game between two of the Nationals rookies). Hopefully these teams can quickly translate their day-one experiences if they want to recover and stay in contention in the bracket.

2. Looking at initial seeding going into the tournament, the top five seeds are all situated on the same side of the championship bracket tomorrow because of the way games played out today. Seattle Mixtape (8) and UPA (16) shook up the seeding, and in doing so, it’s guaranteed that there will be a team seeded sixth or lower finding themselves in the championship game. This should produce some thrilling games throughout the bracket as teams claw to stay alive.

It was a great day of ultimate throughout the mixed division. And although some teams gained some very important momentum today, the Nationals format places everyone in the same position tomorrow morning. One team is only four wins away from a national title, and every team has the opportunity to get there. Expect the intensity to ramp up on Friday as teams look to extend their seasons one game at a time. Best of luck to all the teams!

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