Johnny Bravo Outshoots Sub Zero In US Open Semis

Denver Johnny Bravo and Minneapolis Sub Zero played a huck-heavy shootout in the US Open Semifinals. That style eventually favored the deeper Bravo, whose 15-11 win sends them to the final.

Johnny Bravo v. Sub Zero at the 2014 US Open.
Photo by CBMT Creative.

MINNEAPOLIS — Those who stuck around late for the last semifinals match-up of the U.S. Open in Blaine, Minnesota were treated to a wild shootout, with plenty of big hucks and spectacular plays on both sides of the disc. Denver’s Johnny Bravo proved to be loaded with too much firepower, however, as they bested home team Minneapolis Sub Zero 15-11 to advance to Sunday’s final.

Saturday night’s game, much like predicted based upon the two squads’ last encounter and Sub Zero’s match against Seattle Sockeye earlier in the day, turned out to be a battle of offensive prowess. Denver and Minneapolis went huck for huck through much of the contest.

Even the points that featured multiple resets and patient working up the middle seemed to occur because defenders were so tired of getting beat deep that they gave their men easier unders.

D lines attempted to fight valiantly, but as both O lines were filled with plenty of star power playing at such a high level in lower winds, the defensive strategies essentially transformed into the equivalent of waiting games for the opponent’s offense to make a mistake and tests of who could execute better after those turns were made.

It didn’t necessarily start out that way, though.

The first point featured three turns by each team, including two separate huge layout blocks by Sub Zero’s Logan Weiss on Bravo’s Sean Keegan. Errant throws on the part of Minneapolis prevented them from capitalizing on these generated turnovers, however, and from that point on, the opportunities were hard to come by and spread out over the course of the game.

A rushed high-release flick by Sub Zero’s Josh Klane led to a big upwind flick from Jack McShane to Stanley Peterson, giving Bravo their first break at 4-2.

Another poor throw from Klane on the ensuing point led to another huge bomb, this time from Kurt Gibson to Jimmy Mickle, eventually leading to a Ryan Farrell score and another break to put Denver up 5-2.

The following point saw yet another overthrow from Minneapolis, and McShane punished them with a sneaky backhand inside break to Gibson for the commanding 6-2 lead going downwind.

It seemed as if it would be a short match.

Yet, despite a pull from Mickle going downwind that was so monster that the D line was essentially jogging to the mark before it came back to earth, Klane began to redeem himself with a gigantic flick rip upwind to Nick Stuart, who made a sensational layout grab in the endzone to pump up his team and bring them back into the game.

The next point would see Minneapolis’ Matt Young make a great D on Denver’s Brett Matzuka’s soft dump pass. Sub Zero’s Julian Childs-Walker would then hit Thomas Murray in the endzone for the 6-4 break. Suddenly, it was a game again.

Though a Ryan Morgan drop would give Minneapolis a chance to go on a 3-0 run, an errant swing pass would lead to a Denver conversion, and the teams would hold until half, with Bravo up 8-5.

Sub Zero Captain Grant Lindsley said Bravo’s O line did a good job all game long of playing tight defense to get the disc back whenever they made mistakes.

Perhaps the absence of Minneapolis’ Simon Montague, who had to leave for a flight earlier in the day, would have made a significant impact, if only by freeing up players like Eric Johnson and Jon Gaynor to play more D points.

Few mistakes were to be seen by either offense coming out of half, however, as five big hucks led to five easy scores to make it 10-8 Bravo.

The teams kept trading until a somewhat sloppier point was ended by Minneapolis with one clean possession of dump swings, breaks and patient working, culminating in a nice around by Danny Miesen to give Sub Zero the upwind break at 11-10 and a chance to tie.

On the ensuing possession, Denver would appear briefly flustered until an enormous flick huck by Mickle and a big sky by Keegan would enable Bravo to hold upwind 12-10.

Lindsley miffed an easy pass to Johnson off the pull on the next point, giving Denver an easy downwind break and all the momentum at 13-10.

A clean huck to Lindsley would make it 13-11, but a Bravo hold and an easy drop by Johnson would be penalized by the focused Bravo. Denver stayed calm marching it up until Gibson hit Will Lokke for the upwind break and final score.

While the game featured numerous giant plays and even bigger hucks from both sides, much of it came down to Bravo’s ability to remain disciplined when the deep shots were locked down.

“When we did that,” Farrell said, “we found there was a lot of space available in the middle.”

Though Farrell said he was disappointed with his team’s repeated failure to position correctly and stop Sub Zero’s pull plays, particularly those involving the dominant Stuart, he was proud of his team’s overall defensive effort and ability to pressure resets and challenge cuts underneath.

Lindsley agreed with this sentiment, recalling two instances in particular where Minneapolis had the disc on the goal line but couldn’t convert the opportunities.

Still, Lindsley remained positive about his team’s performance at the tournament overall. He said that Sub Zero improved facets of their game like punishing the poach, but more importantly learned two important lessons.

“Number one: fight. And number two, we need to expect to be able to beat any team,” Lindsley said.

As for Bravo, they proved just that.

Their current challenges will be that of consistency and executing in the highest pressure situations.

They’ll get their chance to demonstrate both in Sunday’s final against Revolver at 4 PM in the National Sports Center stadium.

  1. Alec Surmani
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    Alec Surmani and some close friends began playing ultimate in high school and started Hercules Jabberwocky. He played college ultimate with UCLA Smaug and has played with various Open and Mixed club teams in the (former) Northwest and Southwest divisions. He started and now leads the team Bay Area Donuts.

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