2017 Beach Championships: Day One

Posted: May 21, 2017 12:15 AM


2017 Beach Championships

Well, there was wind. And more wind. Lots of clouds. And we closed out the day with some more wind. 

The day dawned bright and beautiful, which turned out to be completely deceptive. By the time games were really underway, the wind had moved in and ended up blowing almost entirely north to south for the entire day, conveniently in the same direction that the fields run, turning every game into an upwind-downwind battle. Hence some of the low-scoring games we had today. 

But despite the less-than-ideal conditions, teams seemed upbeat and happy to be playing ultimate with friends on the beach. 
As always, teams took some time to adjust to the pace of beach ultimate, but for the most part, the teams that were "supposed" to win won, and by midway through the day, the stronger teams started to separate themselves more clearly from the pack.
In the men’s division, And the Warhawks went 3-1 on the day, with a single point keeping them from a perfect record. Trollvolver edged the defending champions in their first game of the day which puts them atop Pool A at the end of day one. Bayonet, one of last year’s semifinalists, also looked strong on day one, earning three convincing wins and picking up just one tally in the loss column to And the Warhawks. So far, these three teams are the cream of the crop in Pool A. As for Pool B, Midrift picked up right where they left off last year – the 2016 runners-up didn’t even look challenged until their last game of the day, when most teams were looking a little worse for wear. AMPersand and Paranoia are the other frontrunners in the pool right now. AMPersand has the edge after day one thanks to an upwind score in the hard cap when the two teams faced off on in an exciting and hard-fought game on the showcase field this afternoon.
The men’s division continues with pool play tomorrow morning before heading straight to the semifinals at 1 p.m. ET. 
There weren’t many surprises in the mixed division; the top six seeds held. But there were some exciting moments: Canada’s mixed World Championships of Beach Ultimate team is in Virginia Beach this weekend, and they were down at halftime in their first-round game against Arlington, Virginia’s 90s Babies before coming back to take the game 13-11. Overall one seed Point Break faced a similar situation in their third game of the day, going down 1-5 against Big Fish, but they closed the gap to take half and eventually win 11-7. A couple showcase games from the mixed division closed out the day: a rematch of the 2015 Beach Championships final between Point Break and No Tsu Oh, followed by a U.S.-Canada showdown between the Kevin Seiler Experience and Team Canada. In an intense game, No Tsu Oh edged out Point Break 10-8 before Team Canada mounted a second-half rally and won on double-game point in front of packed bleachers in the evening’s showcase.
Tomorrow morning, the mixed division heads into the quarterfinals, where it will take an impressive showing from the challengers to knock off one of the top four teams.
If you’re only looking at initial seeds in the women's division, it might seem strange to see the six seed atop Pool A right now. The Otter Team finished day one with a 4-0 record, including a 12-5 win over Rockford Beaches, the defending champions and a really talented team in their own right (with throwers like Robyn Wiseman and Becky LeDonne and cutters like Courtney Kiesow and Melissa Gibbs it seems almost a given). But the Otter Team is basically half of the U.S. Women’s Beach National Team. The team split in half and added a few friends – the other half of the team is playing under the Skeeahreet flag this weekend and is currently sitting at 3-1 in Pool B. Skeeahreet’s loss came in the first round against LAMP, 2015 semifinalists and 2016 runners-up. LAMP just wears down their opponents. They’re a good offensive team, but like everyone else, they had their fair share of turnovers today. But their athleticism seemed to win the day. They might turn the disc over, but they’ll grind on defense until they get it back. 
The women’s division has one more round of pool play to go before championship bracket play starts, and despite some strong play from other teams, these four look like the cream of the crop.
The mixed masters division added a few new teams this year, but there are a lot of familiar faces as well. In each of the last two years, the Swamp Rats and Over the Hill have met in the final, and so far this weekend, they’ve each set a course that makes a third such match up possible. They are leading their respective pools after day one, and neither one has faced a serious threat. But two of the teams new to the Beach Championships are sitting in the second spots after day one: a hodgepodge of former teammates and friends from the Mid-Atlantic Region – SHAM – and a mish-mash of frequent opponents from the South Central Region – TEXaCO. TEXaCO gave Over the Hill their closest game of the day, but couldn’t quite get past the two-time finalists. But as the saying goes, tomorrow is another day. Maybe it will be the day that someone knocks off the two-time champs or the two-time finalists. Teams have one more shot in pool play before the division heads to the semifinals, starting at 10 a.m.
In the grand masters division, recent team success in the grass division is transferring well to the beach. The top three teams after day one – No Country, Johnny Walker and Hootenanny – were all in the top five at last year’s Masters Championships too. Hootenanny is basically a rebranded version of North Carolina’s Alchemy, fifth-place finishers at the Masters Championships and the big winners at the Beach Championships in 2015. No Country is becoming pretty synonymous with success in the masters division. They won the Beach Championships last year and, in the last four years, have three finals appearances (including one win) at the Masters Championships. So far, this year looks like it’s off to a similar start for them. In their first foray at the Beach Championships last year, Johnny Walker finished fifth, which clearly wasn’t as high a finish as they’d hoped for because they’re back for more this year and look to be firing on all cylinders. A pretty common theme this year, the division’s top teams (No Country and Johnny Walker) are a veritable who’s who of current and past Beach Worlds rosters. Bracket play should be fun tomorrow as these guys, who are pretty familiar with one another at this point – either as teammates or opponents or both – face off once again. 
Everyone in Virginia Beach has their fingers crossed for calmer conditions as they head into bracket play tomorrow, with hopes that the game will move from the punt and play defense side of the spectrum to the range where teams can take advantage of their individual strengths, move the disc more freely and just have more options on the field. 
But no matter what, we’re sure to see some exciting games on day two!

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