Riot Victorious at the 2012 US Open (Women's Division)

Posted: July 11, 2012 12:35 PM
What an exciting day for women’s Ultimate! Because of the delays, the women’s semi-finals and finals occurred back-to-back, leading to full day of high-stakes play. While the semi-finals match-ups left something to be desired in terms of close competition, the championship game proved to be a close, athletic contest between Scandal and Riot. 
Although one might have thought the two semi-finals match-ups would be close-scoring, the Scandal vs. Showdown and Riot vs. Phoenix games proved the opposite: Scandal won 15-7, while Riot came out on top 15-4. The former game began somewhat messily: there were many drops on both sides, yet Scandal managed to get a four-point lead on the Texas team due to their quick offensive movement—cutters throwing short passes immediately to especially active handlers, who immediately threw the disc downfield or swung it—and their aggressive defense. Showdown, however, wasn’t planning on rolling over: they got two breaks in a row, taking advantage of a lull in Scandal’s typically assertive game. This early break wasn’t enough to stop Scandal from taking half 8-4 and go on to clinch the semi-final game with a large point disparity, however, and the game on the next field over wasn’t very different. Riot came out confident and energized, their defensive line forcing Phoenix to turn the disc every few throws. Phoenix’s defense, in contrast, was hesitant, while their offensive players were unable to move the disc quickly due to Riot’s effective defensive pressure. Cate Foster (#17) and Claire Chastain (#52) played standout defense for Phoenix, frequently laying out on D and pressuring Riot’s handlers. Because of Riot’s intensity on both defense and offense, however—and perhaps because they were still shaken by their tough loss to Scandal the day before—Phoenix was only able to score a total of four points the entire game. Riot and Scandal would thus face off in the finals, two definitive wins behind them.
Both Riot and Scandal had different reasons for wanting to win the championship game, as well as specific strategies to accomplish their goal. Scandal was eager to prove that their 10-6 victory over Riot earlier in the tournament wasn’t an accident: as captain Allison Maddux (#5) said before the final game of the tournament, "We’re not dismissing our win…we are pumped to be in the finals, and we want to show people that it wasn’t a fluke." Captain Molly Roy (#55) attributed much of Scandal’s semi-final success to the fact that their "o-line was really clicking" and their tight man defense, hoping that a continuation of these two characteristics would help Scandal beat Riot for a second time. Riot captain Gwen Ambler (#3), on the other hand, seemed confident that her team’s loss was due to their previous lack of focus. To address that, she explained, they had begun to do focus exercises before games. "That made a big difference," she added. In addition to centering themselves, Ambler explained that good player match-ups would be key to their potential success: Maddux, Jenny Fey (#10), and Octavia Payne (#9) would all have to be marked by Riot’s best defenders. 
The championship game began with a bang. Riot got an early 2-0 lead on Scandal due to their characteristically intense defense, while Scandal’s tough handler D made that lead especially hard-won. Because each team’s defensive lines were so effective, Scandal’s and Riot’s handlers had a tough time quickly getting the disc to cutters and establishing unstoppable flow. This meant that handlers on both teams were putting it more, making room for more athletic plays and quicker scores—as well as more mistakes and dramatic Ds. Payne, for example, put it to teammate Sandy Jorgenson (#37), only to be ripped from the air by Riot’s Hana Kawai (#14); Scandal’s Kimberly Beach (#7) neatly received the disc from Payne in the endzone right after Sasha Bugler (#43) hand-blocked a Riot handler. 
2012USOpen D4 Leclaire W1
PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Leclaire,
In the few points before half time, Riot’s defense began to lag as Scandal’s offense began to take control. The D.C. team managed to tie the score 7-7 after being down on Riot by three points, creating a battle to half time. After a long, foul-filled point, Riot took it at their end zone line and punched it in, the ever-energetic Calise Cardenas (#7) catching the disc in the endzone. After a re-energizing half, Riot began to pull away from Scandal. Despite amazing plays from Scandal players, such as Maddux’s low-flying layout D and Charlie Mercer’s sliding layout in the endzone, Riot reeled in the scores. Much of this was due to the intense dirty work of Kawai who often seemed to be everywhere on the field at once, Cardenas’ tireless cutting, as well as the calming yet intense presence of Ambler. Sarah Griffith assisted Riot’s game point to Katy Craley, putting an outside-in backhand deep for a leaping catch. The final score was 15-10 Riot, which made the Seattle team the champion of the 2012 U.S. Open. 
How does Riot plan to celebrate their victory? "We plan to take a break," captain Kate Kingery (#5) smiled, "and then we’ll probably look at the game video, analyze it, and go from there." Congratulations to the 2012 U.S. Open champions.
2012USOpen D4 Leclaire W3
PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Leclaire,

2012USOpen D4 Leclaire W2
Kevin Leclaire, 



Final Standings:


1 - Riot
2 - Scandal
3T - Phoenix
3T - Showdown
5 - Ozone
6 - Molly Brown
7 - Safari
8 - Aerosoul


Full Results (SRT)

Team Spirit Standings:


4.57 - Molly Brown
4.50 - Showdown
4.44 - Riot
4.43 - Safari
4.13 - Phoenix
4.00 - Aerosoul
3.89 - Scandal
3.00 - Ozone



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Images by Ultimate Photos