Seattle Riot was the only undefeated team at the US Open, going 9-0 on their way to the title. They defeated Boston Brute Squad 10-7 in the final, and in doing so, made themselves the frontrunner going into the WUCC.
July 7, 2014 by in News, Recap with 1 comments
The increasing level of competition at the US Open and the looming World Ultimate Club Championships have changed the context of what this tournament means. Because teams are further along now than they usually are, and because World’s is not far down the road, there was something extra on the line in Blaine, Minnesota. The winner would likely emerge as the favorite to win WUCCs and potentially the USAU title.
Riot never trailed in the final, opening the game with a 3-0 run. Brute Squad fought back to tie the game at 3-3, but Riot broke into half through some smooth play from Shira Stern. There would be no more Boston comebacks and Seattle won in soft cap, a break finished off by Charlie Mercer hitting Stern.
“I think their experience really showed. They felt more at home here,” said Brute Squad captain Emily Baecher.
As the low score implies, it was not the most beautiful expression of Ultimate. The gusty conditions certainly played a role, sending throws careening around receivers and leading to zones that forced long and sloppy points. Miscues were plentiful, including in the red zone, and teams had multiple looks on most points; there were 76 combined turnovers in the game.
In the conditions, Riot’s strong zone and disc movement eventually won out. And while the weather was different than when the tournament first started, Seattle’s winning recipe didn’t really change. They played hard D, they moved the disc quickly, and used the break side.
“We talked a lot about having our cutters work together,” said Riot captain Rohre Titcomb. “We talked about going from ‘me’ to ‘we’; don’t cut for yourself, cut for your teammates.”
And when in doubt – or near the end zone – they found Surge. Sarah “Surge” Griffith continued a run of strong and consistent play, particularly near the end zone. She led the tournament with 19 goals, including 3 in the final; she also tallied 14 assists (6th overall), easily giving her the highest total goals and assists.
Seattle credits their early season progress to small group work. The roster is broken down into groups of players, who work together to better understand and execute the strategic vision of the leadership and Coach Andy Lovseth. Early season focus on talking and thinking about the team’s gameplan has obviously reaped dividends.
“The work we’ve put in on defensive fundamentals really paid off,” said Titcomb.
Riot has also spent the US Open working on their mental game, dealing with the ebbs and flows of high level competition. They could have faltered when Brute Squad scored three in a row to tie it, or when Fury was going shot for shot with them in pool play, or even in their tight pool play game with Brute. Each time, when asked to step up and pull away in the later stages of the game, they succeeded.
For the team, the title is icing on the cake, a great sign that they are making strides towards their goals. Riot executed at a higher level than the opposition game in and game out, and their chemistry and play are clear rewards for their hard work and focus. It certainly looks like they are in a great place as they prepare for Lecco.