October 20, 2013 by Michael Aguilar in Analysis with 2 comments
It would be easy to look at the upcoming finals matchup and say, “Here we go again, another year, another Revolver finals appearance.” After five straight finals appearances for San Francisco, it’s even understandable that one could come to that conclusion. But opposing teams and captains have been unhesitant to point out that this is not the Revolver fans may be accustomed to seeing.
“Flat out, I don’t think Revolver is as good as they have been,” Johnny Bravo captain Ryan Farrell said after Revolver’s 14-11 semifinals win over his team. “I think that’s the worst Revolver team in the last three years. When there’s no Robbie [Cahill], and no Bart [Watson], and no [Mark] Sherwood, those other guys filled in great, flat out-played us, but in my opinion that team is more capable of multiple turnover points than other Revolver teams.”
It seems like an odd statement to come from a losing captain, though Farrell is quick to point out that, even this worse iteration of Revolver, they were good enough to beat his team in their most important game of the season. However, even San Francisco’s winning captain easily pointed out that semifinals did not turn out in the way that Revolver would have hoped.
“It’s not the game that we would have wanted to play,” Revolver captain Nick Schlag said. “It wasn’t our ideal game but we did what we had to do given how the game started going. What we said before the game was, ‘There may be points that look ugly. There may be points that don’t go our way.’ We have to erase those points from our minds and go forward and play the next point as hard as we can.”
Schlag’s last point may be the difference in the game for the two teams. While both teams struggled to perform at the same level that they have all tournament, Bravo wasn’t able to right the ship until just after halftime (though with seven turnovers in the last five points, it’s arguable they were unable to right it all), but Revolver was able clean things up in the second half and put itself in a position to win the game.
“We had not experienced adversity so far this tournament and then Johnny Bravo came out of half and hit us with two breaks,” Schlag said. “That could have been the turning point in the game but you look at these guys on the team, a good deal of them have now played in four Nationals finals in a row. They have a lot of experience in these high profile, high-stakes games.”
Meanwhile, though Farrell isn’t confident that inexperience is what hurt Bravo in the end, it can’t be denied that inexperience and slow adjustments from Denver are the what created the three point gap between these two teams.
“A team as good as Revolver is a smart team that’s going to make adjustments,” Farrell said. “We were late on the adjustment. We threw into too many double-covered situations. If we make that adjustment earlier, throw some pump fakes, work the unders and prove that we can win that way too, I think we have a different result. From a decision-making standpoint, we didn’t make those adjustments early enough.”
“I don’t think it was nerves but maybe it was,” Farrell said. “We have a lot of guys who this was their first time in a semis game like this. We’ve played in big games but this is a different thing.”
Part of Revolver’s experience showed itself in the stars that stepped into the semifinal limelight on Saturday night. Beau Kittredge and Ashlin Joye, both mainstays for Revolver’s championship run, each were able to seize San Francisco’s offense by the horns when it was struggling and force production. While Schlag did not admit that Revolver would ever shut down its offense to lean on an all-star or two, he couldn’t deny the impact that those two players have on his squad.
“Beau is a phenomenal athlete,” Schlag said. “We look for him to fill his role just like any other teammate. His role is a little more high profile and we ask a little bit more of him athletically. It never gets to the point where we’re just like, ‘Let’s just huck it to Beau and he’ll come down with it.'”
While Revolver asks more of Beau athletically, it asks more of Joye with the disc in his hands. Though his statistics in terms of goals and assists (3 & 1, respectively) aren’t mind blowing, the moments that those came are what’s impressive. As Revolver struggled early in the game, Joye took matters into his own hands and threw two huge assists and caught a goal in the first four Revolver offensive scores.
“[Joye] is easily one of the most complete throwers in the game if not the most complete thrower in the game,” Schlag said. “My first year on the team was Ashlin’s first year on the team and you can really just see him evolving slowly through his experience on the team. He’s just continued to get better and better.”
The team name is the same. Some of the players are the same. However, this Revolver team is unquestionably different from Revolver teams of the past. The spirits of those Revolver teams continue to live on in this years team, contributing experience and know-how creating a team with true championship potential.