September 27, 2013 by Charlie Eisenhood in Preview with 1 comments
“Do you wanna be that team that doesn’t make it to Nationals when you have five out of sixteen chances to make it?” – Billy Olli, captain, New York SHUYAMOUF
With five bids on the line this weekend in Devens, Massachusetts, it’s going to be a wild ride for the Northeast Mixed Division. Things get kicked off in an unusual format for the Northeast: pool play. Usually, the set up is a prequarters bracket starting first thing Saturday morning.
That will make for some very important games at the start of the tournament. The top two teams in each pool advance to the Championship bracket. The bottom two? Relegated to the fifth place bracket to have to fight through five straight games to have a shot at a bid.
This year’s favorite is Boston stalwart Slow White. Slow has taken just five losses this season: four of them came against the top three teams in the Ultiworld Power Rankings (Polar Bears, Chad Larson Experience, and AMP). That fifth loss came against in-town rival Lions, who they’ll play at 12:30 Saturday afternoon in pool play.
Slow White has long been a step behind fellow Boston team The Ghosts. Last year they went 1-4 against them, including a 15-12 loss in the Regional final. This year they enter Regionals with a 2-0 head-to-head record.
The team added some strong new pieces this year, including former Bent cutter Julie Sussman along with Shaun Doherty (MLU’s Boston Whitecaps) and Andy Schachter.
Montréal’s Odyssée comes in as the two seed after winning the US Open where they got wins over all of the top Southwest competitors. They only went 3-4 at the Philly Invite, losing 15-10 to Slow and getting edged out by CLX and Bucket by one.
This is their strongest year in recent memory and they are likely to take one of the five bids to return to the Club Championships. But most Northeast onlookers expect to see the Ghosts overtake them for that second position.
Jeff Graham, a standout star for the Boston Whitecaps in Major League Ultimate, is one of the mixed game’s most dangerous cutters. They have a bevy of veterans and they know how to win. Their anticipated finals matchup against Slow White should once again by exciting.
Trying to determine who will take the next two bids is a more challenging proposition. There are a lot of good teams in the Northeast this year, and many of the teams have showed the ability to beat each other in any given game. Last year’s surprise Nationals qualifier Wild Card comes in as the four seed, but they’ll have their hands full on their side of the bracket with new Puppet Regime/Bashing Piñatas/District 5 mashup SHUYAMOUF in their pool and a likely quarters game against New York 7 Express, who took down SHUYAMOUF in the Metro New York Sectional finals.
7X has only taken three losses at their last three tournaments, notching strong wins over Ambiguous Grey, Lions, and SHUYAMOUF. They have strong, athletic cutters that can really open up the field, particularly in good weather conditions. Brothers Mike and Ryan Drost are defensive stoppers. But 7X is 0-1 against Wild Card, taking a 15-9 loss back in June.
Wild Card had a rough Philly Invite, going 2-5, but they rebounded at ECC, posting a 5-2 record. Their only losses came to Mischief, and they had strong wins against Seattle The DOH Abides and AMP. Dartmouth standout Ian Engler, one of Ultiworld’s first line Stars at the 2013 College Championships, captains the team and brings his outstanding quickness to the third strong Boston team.
SHUYAMOUF hopes to rebound after a frustrating loss to 7X at Sectionals. The non-practicing team will have a full roster for the first time this season at Regionals. They only have four losses on the season; two to Slow White, one to 7X, and one to Raleighwood, the top seed in this weekend’s Southeast Regionals.
Despite not playing together except at tournaments, they face fewer chemistry issues than many thrown together teams, since a number of the players have played together for years on New York/Connecticut teams.
The Lions hope to emerge from the other side of the bracket to meet Slow White in the semis. Their marquee win came against Slow White, but they also have Ws against 7X and Wild Card.
Other contenders including Albany’s Destructors and Boston’s Pleasure Town will be in the hunt for one of the later bids as well.
With five bids on the line, nearly every team at the tournament has to feel like they have a shot if they play their best game. It will be a test of endurance, energy, and solid team strategy.