Devyl takes YCC open title over DiscNW

Posted: August 16, 2010 11:55 AM


Sunday dawned bright and breezy. Five Ultimate seemed to sell out of their fuzzy lined hoodies quite quickly, and everywhere, spectators donned whatever warm clothing they might have brought along. I had a sense, watching the early round teams warming up, that the wind was growing, changing from an environmental factor to a late-entry team that wanted to win it all. The teams that won today would be those who looked to beat, not adapt to, the wind.
New England’s BUDA drilled to get ready for their morning match with Devyl. Coach Jason Chow, watching his team prepare, offered his key to BUDA’s advancing: “We have to keep building… we got some our players in around lunch time yesterday, so we spent a lot of time just getting used to each other… we need to stay focused and positive, and keep wanting it.”
Anthony Nunez of Devyl had a similar take: “I want us to continue playing the game we’re playing… our offense only got broken twice all day yesterday. We just focus on ourselves, just being a team of athletes with the skills to take us further.”
The teams came out firing, but the wind kept them both at bay early as they traded downwind points to 2-2. After a few turns on the ensuing point, Devyl's sharp, quick handler movement brought them to a few short yards out of the upwind end zone, where a timely reset following a timeout gave Zach Kauffman the opportunity to hit Dennison Beachis for the all-critical upwind break. The ensuing points seemed to indicate that this was all it would take, with a dropped pull by BUDA, and another upwinder from Jesse Daugherty to Billy Sickles. But BUDA’s Alex Light would find Tyler Chan to answer one of those breaks, and the game was back on as the teams traded points to half. All weekend long, I noticed that no team could seem to match Devyl’s intensity. On the field and on the sidelines, every member of the team was on every point without fail. They gave no quarter, and asked for none. And in the war of attrition that ensues on windy days, that intensity paid huge dividends. Though BUDA continued to play hard, looking for that second break, it never materialized, and Devyl cruised to the semifinals.
Colorado Cutthroat coach Buzz Ellsworth reckoned that his team would “concentrate on the fundamentals, trying to understand what it is that (Superior) want to do, and take that away. They are a little taller than us, so we’ll try and reel in their ability to go long, and take care of the disc.
Coach Nate Wohl, of Minnesota Superior, looked at his team’s keys as being “precision play and mental toughness. We need to play loose and not let adversity take root in our game. Limiting turns and taking away their deep game will be important.
This game started in similar fashion to the other quarter, with lots of D and lots of turnovers. Having shaken off some kind of injury Saturday, Superior’s Ethan Rasmussen picked up his play considerably, while Cutthroat saw more steady work from Carlton Halaby, Max Schein and Pawel Janas. Trading to 5-4, Superior managed to find the space and momentum for Harper Garvey to find Caleb Coleman for the upwind break. After taking half 7-4, Superior simply held serve, and Cutthroat found their upwind advances falling just short frequently as they pressed. Colorado’s intensity flagged a bit under the pressure, and Superior held them off until the cap.
Boise’s Swordfight began warming up for their semifinal looking rested and steady in the wind. Coach Suzie Walter set up their drills and talked about the importance of “going to get the upwind breaks, and never turning near the upwind line. We have the handlers to work against any weather or D, and we are feeling fresh.”
Devyl seemed up to the challenge of keeping up their intensity, and coach Nunez maintained that he was “big on focusing on our team. We play our game our way no matter who we play.”
For Devyl, that game means playing with relentless D and fast-moving O. Idaho’s D had been strong all weekend as well, however, and the game looked like it might be taking a turn in their direction as Ty Swain grabbed a layout Callahan for the first point for Swordfight. Other teams might have buckled then, but Devyl did not have quit in them this weekend, and after a few back and forth points, they came up with the first break of the game from Zach Kauffman to Evan Walter. Swordfight, like BUDA before them, struggled to gain any momentum under Devyl’s D, and, even with spectacular D by Matt Bennett and Josh Gomez, and the strong throws of Zach Gurley, they couldn’t get to the upwind promised land.
The hometown boys of Superior had been loose in the run up to their semifinal against DiscNW, and they seemed at ease in the wind as they warmed up. Coach Pericles Nacionales was keen to keep it that way: “If we keep the same D that we played in the last game, we’ll be fine. On O, we could be a bit more patient… definitely upwind, we need to take our time and make it count.”
Coach Steve Gussin of DiscNW seemed equally low-key: “We’ll get out there and play our best wind ball. It’s not the game we trained for, but it’s the game we’ll play. We trust our guys, and we’ve seen this before.”
That trust looked to be well placed after a couple points in the game, when a few Ds back and forth (Nolan Walsh and Julian Peterson on DiscNW, Ben Swanson-Hysell on Superior) gave DiscNW an upwind look that Daniel Broudy converted to Sam Merritt for 2-1. After the break, Superior’s offence pressed hard, getting huge efforts from Matt Burkhardt, Ethan Rasmussen and Josh Klane. Still, the boys from Seattle held serve on defense from Natan Lee-Engel and Andrew Featherston, and Killian Marsh either throwing or catching. As hard cap went on, with DiscNW up 9-7, they seemed to intentionally cede the final upwind point, perhaps to spare their legs for the final, and Minnesota scored to end the match.
In the lower bracket games, Pittsburgh Impulse ran off several points in a row against Pig in the seventh place game, going from down 10-7 to win the game 12-10. The ninth place game saw Nebraska Youth Club fall to riDISCulous, as the North Carolinians finally got a much-deserved win. Coach Seth Colaner of Nebraska was proud of their effort on the weekend: “A lot of these programs are well established, while many of our kids are having their first meaningful tournament experience. By the end of the weekend, we were playing faster, playing on instinct instead of having to stop and think about what we should do. I think we learned a lot about what it takes to play at this level.”
The final of the 2010 YCC Open Division was a rematch of the previous day’s double disc point win by DiscNW over Devyl. Coach Gussin of DiscNW noted before the final that “one or two big plays are going to decide this game; we’ll see who makes them. That statement seemed prophetic nearly immediately, when Devyl received going upwind, worked defiantly to five yards out of the upwind zone, and called a time out. On the reset, that big play came, courtesy of a Justin Baughn to Evan Walter score to take the upwinder right out of the gate. From there, DiscNW began to press, while Devyl kept the disc moving through Evan Walter whenever they were going into the wind. Devyl captured another upwind break to make it 4-1 when Walter found Loren Whitaker for the score. Devyl’s intensity on D was definitely keeping DiscNW out of their comfort zone. They pressured hard up- or downwind, and made DiscNW work for everything they got. What they got often came as a result of the tremendous hustle of Natan Lee-Engel, who flew everywhere on the field, with huge Ds and four of Seattle’s goals. Still, even that effort couldn’t find the upwind goal they so needed. Soft cap on and game to 11, Devyl turned back DiscNW’s last shot upwind and Zach Kauffman’s pass to Dennison Beachis sealed the game, crowning Delaware Valley Youth League the 2010 YCC Open Champions.
After the game, the Devyl captains offered their thoughts:
Evan Walter: “I’ve only been with the team this last year, but they guys from last year were so focused on this after the hard fight last year.
Justin Baughn: “It was so heartbreaking losing last year, but all these new guys came seemingly out of nowhere; all these schools just started producing these big athletes and big players. Also, the hard work of our coaches, Anthony Nunez and Ryan Belline; I want to give them big ups for all the work they did to get us here and get us ready.”
And so, another YCC is in the books. Congratulations to this year’s champions, Delaware Valley Youth League, and the repeating Spirit Champions, Flying Pig of Cincinnati, Ohio! I would also like to extend my thanks to all the coaches, players, organizers, volunteers and, perhaps especially, parents, for giving me access to the games and giving me your personal insights and observations while out there. You make this job a true joy, and I couldn’t do it without you. See you next year!