2016 Masters Championships - Day Three Recap

Posted: August 7, 2016 03:35 PM
Denver almost completed the sweep. Johnny Walker and Molly Grey each got to make their short drives home with gold medals around their necks, but Minneapolis Surly spoiled the hometown party with their defeat of Johnny Encore in the men’s masters division. 
The grand masters division started the finals party this morning – Johnny Walker v. Minneapolis Surly. It started as a game of runs. Johnny Walker brought to start before Surly scored the next three. Johnny Walker responded with four straight scores of their own. Surly’s heavy hitters were carrying a big part of the load, as usual, with the offense often living and dying with Ricky Eikstadt. Johnny Walker was also careful to set a good match up on Don Tom. Mark Enright and Randy Gage were also playing a big part for Surly. The score was tied at 5-5 before Surly got another break to take half up 8-6. Johnny Walker got the break back early in the second half, tying the score again at 10-10, and earned another big break to go up 12-11 in a game to 13. As the game wore on, Surly’s offense became less dynamic, with most of the movement coming laterally, gaining few yards downfield. They ended up still scoring points, but it took a lot of work on their part. It took a marathon point for Surly to tie the game at 12-12, forcing universe point. Johnny Walker received on the final point. The offense was tight, knowing all they had to do was hold to win. They worked down the field with short passes and plenty of resets, playing conservative offense, until Kevin Monohan threaded the needle for the game winner. Johnny Walker claimed their second straight grand masters title with a 13-12 win over Surly. Staying true to form, Johnny Walker won using their entire team. There were certainly guys who played more points than others or stood out more on the field – Jim Nolte, Heathy Mackay, Mike Knapp, Dan Carson, etc., but it was it was a team effort from the first game on Friday morning to their championship-winning goal this afternoon. 
The women’s masters division was up next, with their first pull going up about 45 minutes after the grand masters guys got their start. From the start, there was little doubt that Molly Grey was going to come away with the championship. They fielded lines that would wreak havoc in the women’s club division. In the masters division, it almost seemed unfair at times. One cutting line included Sally Lambert, Courtney Kiesow, Emily Hanson and finals-day reinforcement Alicia White. They had Holly Greunke, Jana Krutsinger and Marley Steele-Imana back in the handling corps to distribute to them. Salty threw multiple defensive looks at their opponents, desperately trying to find something that would slow down their offense. A couple times, Salty managed to force Molly into a few more throws than normal, either by playing a spongy defense around the handlers or trying to take away the under cuts, but Molly’s disc movement was just too fast. All around, the Molly women are capable handlers, often getting their throws off before Salty could set up an effective mark. For their part on defense, Molly used a combination of hard person defense; straight-up marks to half field with downfield defenders playing under, taking took away the space in the middle; and junky looks with handler defenders sagging into the lanes while speedy players like Dena Slattery took up space in the middle of the field. Despite their best efforts, and strong performances from players like Karen Ko, Salty was down 8-2 at halftime, and Molly continued to roll after the break. Molly Grey won the women’s masters division convincingly, 15-6. 
The men’s masters division played the last final of the day, leaving it on Johnny Encore to complete the Denver sweep. It started out looking good for the Mile High City, with Encore jumping out to a 3-1 lead. They kept it going, getting another break after a D from Craig Forshee on a throw over the middle of the field. Andrew Sheehan threaded the needle to Ryan Farrell for the break – hitting him over his defender and just in front of the defender coming in from the help side. That goal put Encore up 7-4. Farrell was nearly a permanent fixture on the field for Encore in the finals, carrying a heavy load of playing time along with guys like Steven Rouisse, Bart Watson and Adam Simon. Simon had a great game, and he and Farrell did a lot of the heavy lifting to keep Encore around in the second half – Simon got three assists, and Farrell caught three goals in that period (only one was a throw from one to the other). For Surly, Graham Brayshaw was the offensive standout, running down hucks than he probably had any right to be able to. Josh Hemmesch and Mike Petersen picked up some of the tougher defensive assignments, with Hemmesch matching up on Farrell on more than one occasion. Despite having the momentum, Encore gave up three straight scores before taking half at 8-7. The teams traded goals after half all the way to 12-12 before Surly finally got a break to take the lead at 13-12. Surly picked up their defense in the second half, doing a great job of pressuring the cutters downfield and cluttering the space around the thrower, forcing Encore to look at their third and fourth options, instead of their first or second. At 14-13 with Surly in the lead, Nick Turco got a great layout D after Surly forced countless throws from Encore right around the goal line. A nearly perfect outside-in throw down the sideline found its way into Turco’s hands, just past the outstretched fingers of Bob Krier, for the game-winning, bookends score. Minneapolis Surly broke up the Denver sweep and claimed their sixth national title in the last nine years. 
Placement Brackets
Plenty of good ultimate happened on the fields further away from tournament headquarters as well, as the non-finals teams finished out their placement games. 
In the men’s division, Washington, D.C., Rest Stop defeated Real Atlanta in the third-place game, and Black Cans & Highlands claimed the fifth spot. Chicago Pacemaker finished seventh, and the Santa Barbara Beyondors won the ninth-place bracket. 
In the women’s division, Washington, D.C. Lame Duck cruised their way to third place over Philadelphia Loose Cannon. Minneapolis COUGARS defeated Cincinnati Hot Flash on double-game point to take fifth place. Raleigh Retro finished in seventh place, and California Hot Lava won the ninth-place bracket. 
And in the grand masters division, Vermont’s No Country took third place over Portland DinoSlam while Carrboro Alchemy claimed fifth over Alabama BigWheel. San Diego Endless Sunset won the fifth-place game against Boulder Bighorn, and San Francisco Shadows emerged victorious in the ninth-place bracket. 
To see all the results from the weekend, check out the Masters Championships event page on the USA Ultimate website and on the USA Ultimate mobile app.

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