2015 National Championships: Mixed Day Two Recap

Posted: October 2, 2015 08:09 PM

There was a marked difference in the sense of urgency on display Friday on every field at the 2015 National Championships. Sixteen teams entered the championship bracket in the mixed division all hoping to earn just two victories that would land them a spot in the semifinals on Saturday. That being said, absolutely none of those victories would come easily as every single team laid it on the line to survive and advance. With that, let’s take a minute to see how each of the four quadrants in the bracket played out and who is still competing for this year’s coveted national championship.


Quadrant 1
Seattle Mixtape Holds Off Ambiguous Grey

Mixed   Quadrant 1 

The top quadrant of the bracket had a very similar feel to the same section of the 2014 National Championships bracket, and once again, Seattle Mixtape found themselves in position to make a run to Saturday’s semifinals. Regardless of the outcomes, because of the draw, the highest seed that could possibly come out of this group was eighth.

Seattle continued their impressive play from the day before and quickly jumped all over AMP, leading 5-1 early. Seattle’s MO has been to attack teams with their deep game offensively, while allowing for the potential to find themselves in high-turnover situations. This strategy has worked so far as other teams have become frustrated with the loose and aggressive style of this opponent. And once AMP fell behind, their more conservative style of play was not designed to complete a large comeback. Despite making a small run in the second half, AMP still fell to Mixtape, 12-9. Mixtape was led by Jennifer Cogburn and Khalif El-Salaam who each scored three times.

Many may have seen Ambiguous Grey as a surprise to even be at this tournament, but if you watch this top team out of the Mid-Atlantic Region play, it makes complete sense why they are giving others all kinds of trouble this weekend. They may not have the flashy talent other teams bring, but it can be masked by the incredible team system they play through. This was on display against BirdFruit as Grey was able to methodically wear down the very talented team from the Northwest. After it was close early at 6-5, Grey started capitalizing on opportunities and opened the game up with a seven-point run. They went on to win 15-9.

The game between Mixtape and Grey was a clash of the two styles described above. Seattle’s aggressiveness allowed them to start the game with a couple of breaks, but Grey’s patience and confidence helped them brush that off and regain the lead at 5-4. However, Seattle responded with big plays and broke Grey to take half at 8-7. In a back-and-forth second half, Grey was never quite able to turn the corner and eventually lost 15-13.


Quadrant 2
Polar Bears Stun UPA

Mixed   Quadrant 2 

UPA was the pool winner in this quadrant (from Pool D) and mysteriously headlined the action, while the rest of the division still tried to get a bead on what exactly to expect from this team. Meanwhile, the 6 v. 7 match up between the Polar Bears and Bucket was one of the more anticipated pre-quarters match ups across the board.

The game between UPA and NOISE was selected for the streaming schedule, and although both are first-time Nationals teams, they each have completely different levels of individual Nationals experience. UPA came out early attacking NOISE with their deep game, hoping to win individual battles and keep points quick. If NOISE had been able to slow down this attack and get into a more back-and-forth game, the outcome may have been different. Instead, UPA was able to stick to their game plan and left NOISE’s margin for error slim. Eventually the pressure got to NOISE, and a few mistakes in the beginning of the second half allowed UPA to extend their lead and put the game out of reach. Cutter Mike Shiel is a driving force for the UPA offense as he scored four times and threw a score in the game.

Polar Bears and Bucket were two evenly matched teams whose styles were very similar and led to marathon points throughout the game. Neither team wanted to give an inch, and the back-and-forth progression of the score was the result of great defense and multiple-turnover points. The turning point came in the beginning of the second half, when the Polar Bears scored the first three points out of the break, giving them a lead they would not relinquish. In an uncharacteristic point for this game, the Polar Bears marched the disc down the field on double-game point without a turnover to secure the win.

So UPA and the Polar Bears played for the chance to move into the semifinals. The Polar Bears were able to get two really early breaks due sloppy play from the UPA offensive line. With a smaller roster, UPA could not afford to get into a dog fight with the well-conditioned Polar Bears. UPA was able to get the breaks back before half, led by Dane Olsen on the defensive line (three assists and two Ds in the game), and went into the break up 8-7. They tacked on one more break in the second half and led as late as 13-11 in a game to 14. That is when the Polar Bears showed their stripes as a former national champion and really put the squeeze on UPA’s offense. After some misfires by UPA, the Polar Bears converted a couple breaks and won 14-13, securing their spot in the semifinals. The Polar Bears were led by Greg Marliave who contributed on seven of the team’s 14 scores in the game.

Quadrant 3
Drag’n Thrust Gets Past CLX

Mixed   Quadrant 3 

This set of pairings was loaded with talented teams (including three of the top five seeded teams coming into the weekend) which meant only one of them would be playing in the semifinals. Some of the teams were simply trying to recover from inconsistent play on Thursday, but regardless, all teams would have to fight through two grueling rounds if they wanted to make it out of this group.

CLX demonstrated why they are clearly one of the top teams in the division when they went up against one of the new teams on the Nationals scene, Love Tractor. On one side of the game, CLX applied pressure to Love Tractor’s offense and made them uncomfortable. CLX has the experience to force their opponent to play outside of their comfort zone, and Love Tractor will need to continue to develop their ability to adapt in these situations. On the other side, the CLX offensive line looked as crisp as ever. CLX won the game 15-8 and moves their sights to the next round, while Love Tractor has nothing to hang their heads about. They will continue to take these lessons and hope to finish out the tournament strong.

The Drag’n Thrust game against Blackbird represented the previous four national championships in the mixed division (Blackbird – 2011-2012 and Drag’n – 2013-2014), and the game did not disappoint. With both teams backed up against the wall, they would have to battle to make it to the next round. Blackbird struck first, going up 3-0 and keeping that lead into halftime. With some help from a spectacular greatest by Dan Gillick to maintain possession while up 7-5, Blackbird went on to convert the score and led 8-5 at the break. Drag’n immediately erased the deficit and tied the game at 8s to start the second half behind smothering team defense. The game then became a tug-of-war as Blackbird’s short rotation tried to match the depth and intensity of Drag’n’s roster. In the end, Drag’n created an end-zone D and converted the score the other way to break Blackbird on the final point of the game and win 14-13. This is the second year in a row that Blackbird has been eliminated from the championship bracket by Drag’n Thrust on double-game point.

The game between CLX and Drag’n would unfortunately have to be played in the quarterfinal round, even though many expected this to be a likely championship game. The two teams from the North Central are all too familiar with each other, so there weren’t many surprises to be had in this game. It seemed like the momentum Drag’n was carrying from their emotional win over Blackbird was the difference. Drag’n was able to jump out early and had a comfortable lead at half, 8-5. With these two opponents being so evenly matched, that deficit forced CLX to start playing out of character, and the gap eventually became insurmountable. Drag’n pulled away and won 15-8, highlighted by three scores from Sarah Anciaux and a score and four Ds from Sarah Meckstroth.


Quadrant 4

Slow White Handles Wild Card
Mixed   Quadrant 4

The last four teams in the bracket all come from the Northeast Region. Having seen each other many times this year, it meant that each team had game plans on how to approach their opponent. In the end, the regional runner-up would actually be the one to make it out of the group.

Wild Card played extremely well on Thursday and came into the bracket feeling confident. Metro North still seemed to be reeling from their opening loss to CLX, a game in which they were largely in control. The confidence difference played out in this game, where Wild Card used their women consistently and never let the pressure off of Metro North. Metro was searching for answers they couldn’t find and made costly mistakes in the middle portion of the game that made it impossible to overcome their seasoned Nationals opponent. Wild Card led by as much as 11-4 before eventually winning 14-8.

The game between Slow White and 7Express was similar in that Slow White used the momentum of a mid-game run to take control of the contest. Slow White has a lot of size and athleticism (both with their men and women) that allows them to shrink the field on defense and open it up on offense. 7Express simply did not have the answers to keep the game close, despite taking a quick, early lead at 2-0. Eventually Slow White won 15-8, distributing scores to 12 different players on their roster.

Slow White came out firing in the game against Wild Card, hungry for the trip to semis that has eluded the program since 2007. They were making plays and doing a great job of converting breaks when they had the chance. Wild Card got out of rhythm because of the deficit and the changing game pattern and could not shift the momentum. Slow White was up as much as 10-3 and held on to win 14-8. This win atones for their regional performance as well as a previous loss to Wild Card at the U.S. Open, where Slow White squandered a 14-8 lead. It’s all water under the bridge now that they’ll be playing in the semifinals here in Frisco.


Here are some other storylines to watch and topics of discussion to share going into Saturday.

1. Seattle Mixtape v. Polar Bears – Semifinal – 12:00 p.m. – Look for Seattle to continue to play their aggressive style in an attempt to rattle the Polar Bears. The Polar Bears should have confidence in their team, though, after a come-from-behind victory in the quarterfinals. A break by either team could quickly be compounded if the other team loses their focus.

2. Drag’n Thrust v. Slow White – Semifinal – 1:00 p.m. – Drag’n Thrust made it out of a very difficult draw in the bracket with a convincing win over CLX. Slow White looked really focused in two strong wins over regional rivals. This game will be won by the defensive lines based on who can shake the confidence of the other team first.

3. Wild Card v. Blackbird and Metro North v. UPA – Pro Flight Play-In Games – Wild Card and Blackbird duke it out for Northeast/Southwest bragging rights as both teams try to finish Nationals with a win. Metro North and UPA try to earn Pro Flight status after both coming in as first-time Nationals teams.

With so many great teams, games and storylines, it’s a challenge to capture it all throughout the weekend. These observations represent some of the key progressions of the events in Frisco, but all the teams competing in the mixed division should take pride in what they are accomplishing here in Texas. Best of luck to all the teams playing for placements on Saturday. By this time tomorrow, we’ll have the finals match up set for Sunday!


Follow along:




Have any questions or comments? We welcome community feedback and discussion made in a respectful manner. Please refrain from profanity or personal attacks, as such public comments negatively reflect on our sport and community.