2015 National Championships: Mixed Day Three Recap

Posted: October 4, 2015 01:06 AM

For all but two teams in the mixed division, Saturday at the 2015 National Championships meant that your one game of the day would be your final stamp on the season. Regardless of what field they were playing on or what final placement they were looking to achieve, every team came out with the exciting opportunity to make that final stamp a positive one. So although there was plenty of deserved focus on the semifinal games, there’s still significant information to take away from the rest of the games today as well. Here’s a look at how all of the teams faired on the weekend, with an understanding that Drag’n Thrust and Seattle Mixtape still have tomorrow’s final to write the last chapter of the 2015 Triple Crown Tour.


Championship Bracket
Minneapolis Drag’n Thrust and Seattle Mixtape to Meet in 2014 Finals Rematch


The first semifinal of the day was streamed on ESPN3 and featured Drag’n Thrust and Boston Slow White. Drag’n jumped out right away after scoring their first offensive point and then completing a break on the second point to lead 2-0. Slow White was able to respond, though, with a three-point run of their own. These early points involved quite a few turnovers as both teams tried to settle in. Slow White maintained the lead to 6-5, when probably the most electric play of the game happened. Drag’n Thrust worked the disc to about midfield when Dave Klink put a deep, floaty throw to Brian Schoenrock who made a spectacular leaping grab over the Slow White defender for the score. Unfortunately, Schoenrock was injured on the play and did not return. However, the play may have given Drag’n the spark they needed. The teams traded points to half, with Slow White leading 8-7. After Slow White scored the opening point of the second half to make it 9-7, Drag’n did what they do best and made a run based on pressure defense. Drag’n scored four consecutive points to take the 11-9 lead, a cushion they would not give up. With the time cap coming on, the teams traded points to a final score of 13-11 in favor of Drag’n Thrust. In the absence of Schoenrock, Josh Hemmesch stepped up big time, throwing two assists and scoring twice.

In the second semifinal, Seattle Mixtape took on the Polar Bears in an extremely fast-paced and high-intensity game. It didn’t necessarily start out that way though, as Seattle was misfiring on their usual deep looks early. The Polar Bears did a great job of converting chances to take a commanding first half lead at 7-4. Seattle was able to get one break back before the Polar Bears scored to go into the intermission up 8-6. Two more scores out of half by the Polar Bears extended the lead to 10-6, but then the real action began. Seattle was able to start making the athletic plays they rely on and bring the score all the way back to 10-10. Seattle almost had a chance to take the lead on the next point as well, but a deflected D that continued to sail found Daniel Naruo in the end zone for the Polar Bears score. Naruo led his team with three scores in the game. Seattle quickly responded by taking their chances with a huck to Khalif El-Salaam who made a tremendous skying grab for the score, a trend that would play out through the rest of the game. Seattle brought the energy through the end of the game, scoring four of the final five points to secure the 15-13 victory. As mentioned, El-Salaam became a huge factor, finishing the game with a stat line of five scores, two assists, one D and two turnovers.

The Rest of the Field


T-3: Polar Bears (6), 4-2
The Polar Bears as a program has become used to winning championships, or at least making deep runs into some of the major tournaments throughout the season. After a surprisingly lackluster performance at the 2014 National Championships, it was hard to guess what the 2015 season would hold for this squad. But the Polar Bears exhibited their resolve this weekend and had a tremendous showing in Frisco, highlighted by a comeback win in the quarterfinals against UPA to advance to the semifinals. Expect the Polar Bears to be a force to be reckoned with again in 2016.

T-3: Slow White (4), 4-2
Slow White has finally cracked back into the semifinals of the National Championships for the first time since 2007. They also had to get through two regional opponents in the process of bracket play, giving them the early leg-up as the team to beat out of the Northeast in 2016. Losing to the two-time defending national champions in the semifinals is in no way a knock on their performance this year.

5: CLX (2), 6-1
It’s a challenge to properly evaluate how this weekend went for CLX, with their only loss coming to Drag’n Thrust, thanks to a tough draw in the bracket. Many teams would be ecstatic with a 6-1 record and a fifth-place finish at Nationals. But for a team chasing an elusive championship, it more likely leaves another bitter taste in their mouths. CLX is an amazing representative for the mixed division and many will be curious to see what 2016 has in store for this team.

6: Ambiguous Grey (14), 4-3
Many people overlooked this year’s Grey team out of the Mid-Atlantic Region when evaluating the competition in the mixed division, and that was clearly a mistake. Ambiguous Grey honestly put together one of the more impressive all-around performances this weekend and completely deserves their spot in the 2016 Pro Flight. It will be interesting to see how they respond in 2016, as no one will be overlooking them anymore.

T-7: Blackbird (5), 4-3
Blackbird made an impressive run at Southwest Regionals to win arguably the toughest regional championship in the country and came to Frisco with high hopes. Similar to CLX, a tough draw of Drag’n Thrust in the round of 16 thwarted any plans of making a deep run into the bracket, despite a tremendous effort against that Drag’n team. What was good to see is that Blackbird recovered from that double-game-point loss and won three straight to earn Pro Flight status in 2016. It was a great weekend for this team, and we hope to see them back in the picture next year.

T-7: Metro North (11), 3-4
Metro North ended up finishing higher than any other first-year team at Nationals this weekend. Despite losing their first four games of the tournament (including a tough opening loss to CLX, 17-15), Metro responded and won their final three games to also qualify for the 2016 Pro Flight. Interestingly enough, with that final win coming over Wild Card, Metro North now takes the spot as the second team from the Northeast in the Pro Flight, effectively replacing Wild Card.

T-9: UPA (16), 3-4
This team was tough to get a read on. Coming into the tournament as a virtual unknown in the mixed division, they boasted a roster full of talent that previously competed in the men’s and women’s divisions. The depth of their talent found success early as UPA won their pool and was a mere point away from making it to the semifinals. Unfortunately, after that slipped away, the team ended up losing their final three games by a combined five points. After the fade at the end of this weekend, it will be interesting to see what this team plans to do going into 2016.

T-9: Wild Card (3), 4-3
After four very dominant games to start the tournament (average margin of victory at 5.75 points), Wild Card ran into a stumbling block in the quarterfinals against Slow White. The shock caused the team to limp through the end of the tournament, losing their last three games by an average of 4.33 points. Although the unfavorable results are unfamiliar for Wild Card at Nationals, you can be certain that this team will be every bit as dangerous in 2016 as they look to return to dominance in the mixed division.

11: AMP (9), 3-4
AMP had to deal with some roster turnover in 2015, and it was wondered whether it would lead to some growing pains. But after an impressive regular season and managing to make it out of a tough Mid-Atlantic Region, AMP proved that they can absolutely still compete with teams at this level. AMP did a great job battling through the ups and downs of the tournament, and for this young team, the future looks bright. Expect them to reload in 2016 as they look to improve on this year’s finish.

12: 7Express (13), 2-5
7Express joins their other Northeast brethren in the cause for congratulations after a solid weekend in Frisco. It’s hard to believe that a region can send four teams to Nationals and have all four of those teams finish in the top 12. 7Express got their two wins this year against first-time Nationals teams, and now with two trips to the championships in the last three years themselves, expect 7Express to continue making waves in 2016.

13: Love Tractor (10), 2-5
Love Tractor was finally able to break through the ceiling this year and get out of the South Central Region where Cosa Nostra had maintained control in recent history. In their first trip to the big show, Love Tractor carried themselves extremely well. What’s most impressive is how they stuck together as a team through five early losses and ended the weekend with two impressive victories. These wins create positive momentum going into the offseason, and we may be looking at the development of the next powerhouse out of that region.

14: Bucket (7), 2-5
Despite going 2-5 on the weekend, Bucket didn’t lose a game by more than two scores, including double-game-point losses to CLX and the Polar Bears. If either of those games went the other way, their weekend may have looked entirely different. But this team still had a very successful season and will continue to be the team to beat out of the Southeast until proven otherwise.

15: NOISE (12), 1-6
NOISE did everything right this season to earn their way to the National Championships, and that is an accomplished goal that no one can take away from them. That being said, they learned the valuable lesson that most first-year teams at Nationals have to experience: how to finish games. NOISE started off most of their games extremely close with some of the best teams in the country but often faded late. However, they were able to finish the last game of the tournament with a W, and that experience will help them through off-season workouts and team meetings as they prepare to make another run in 2016.

16: BirdFruit (15), 1-6
BirdFruit deserves a ton of credit as a young team that not only make it to Frisco, but competed all weekend against great teams. This group was cohesive and positively energetic throughout the weekend which can obviously be tough when the results aren’t going your way. But with one Nationals win now under their belts, I’m sure BirdFruit will be prepared to go for more in 2016.


Looking Ahead

Now that the entire 2015 season comes down to one more game, it’s exciting to think about these two high-powered teams going toe to toe for the National Championship title. This will be the fourth match up between these foes in the past year, and results have gone both ways:

  1. 2014 National Championships Final (Drag’n Wins 15-9): This was Seattle’s first run on the big stage, and Drag’n used their experience in these situations to take control of the game. Seattle’s aggressive play led to some early misfires, and Drag’n went on to win convincingly, capturing their second consecutive championship.

  2. 2015 U.S. Open Semifinals (Seattle Wins 16-14): This was an epic back-and-forth game as Mixtape tried to avenge their loss from the year before. Drag’n took control late at 13-12, but Seattle fought back and scored four of the final five points to win 16-14 and advance to the U.S. Open finals.
  3. 2015 National Championships Pool A (Seattle Wins 15-9): Seattle used an eight-point run in the middle of the game to pull away after Drag’n looked to be in control early. Sure enough, these teams both clawed their way through the bracket to meet back up in this year’s final.
  4. 2015 National Championships Final: Once again, these teams will clash as the aggressive, play-making style of Seattle balances against the deep roster and developed system of Drag’n Thrust. Seattle has started to lean even more so on their top playmakers through the bracket, while Drag’n will be forced to have people step up with captain Brian Schoenrock potentially out for the game.

We’re all hoping for a thrilling culmination to the weekend, and chances are we’ll get it. All of the teams that competed this weekend should be proud of what they’ve accomplished, and tomorrow another champion will be crowned.

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