Johnny Bravo Hangs On Late Against Truck To Advance To Semis

Johnny Bravo did just enough to outlast Truck Stop in the quarterfinals.

Johnny Bravo v. Truck Stop
Photo by Alex Fraser —
One break.

There wasn’t much time for a post-game huddle after Denver Johnny Bravo closed out Washington D.C. 14-12 in quarterfinals, but one break remained the difference that was creating smiles in the lingering Bravo huddle and provoking frowns as Truck packed their bags.

Truck Stop’s game plan all season has been to pressure opposing backfields and create turns. They got the turns. But they couldn’t convert.

Bravo dominated the first half on defense, forcing five turnovers from Truck Stop’s offense and scoring two of them, where D.C. went 0-1. In the second half, it was Truck who would grind out seven turnovers to Bravo’s two. D.C. went just 1-7, a sneaky flip of a throw from Alan Kolick to Peter Prial.

“Our defense got a lot of turns: a lot more than anyone would have thought we’d have gotten in this game,” said Truck Stop coach Will Smolinkski. That’s been the story this year for this team — their conversion rate. Peter Prial was an unstoppable force on offense for Truck Stop with two goals an six assists.

Johnny Bravo, in this game and elsewhere this weekend, broke out their own switchy looks on defense to frustrate Truck handlers. Oddly enough, the successful switching happened generally on Truck’s defensive handlers, which allowed Bravo’s offensive line to recover after mistakes, and maintain their slim lead. “That’s four years of work that I’ve been putting into that,” Bravo coach Bob Krier said of his team’s switching on defense. “Early on, I said that you can’t expect to play at this high level expecting to go man on man with the top team in the world and to win Nationals. You’re not always going to have that athleticism.”

Denver has had to shift their approach on defense over the years under Krier. Colorado’s Mamabird (2014 College Champions) do not historically run a lot of zone sets according to Krier, so Bravo had grown into a program with a similar approach on defense. The schemes that they used to effectively ‘stop’ Truck have been a long time coming.

“We’re looking for opportunities to work smarter, rather than working harder,” said Krier.

Truck’s offensive effort was an impressive one, but Bravo was near spectacular. Nine players spread out the 14 goal total for Denver, with — no surprise here — Jimmy Mickle leading the way on a massive five assist, three goal performance. Indeed, Mickle’s performance has backed up the reputation that he has built for himself. He played nearly every role for Bravo, appearing mostly on offense, but occasionally on defense as well. To have him complimented by Kurt Gibson’s two assists and three goals just makes the team that much more dangerous.

Bravo will meet Toronto GOAT tomorrow in their semifinal matchup. It’s a different matchup than what some might have expected, as GOAT knocked off the defending champions San Francisco Revolver in a nail-biting game just a field away from Bravo and Truck. One would hope that the raucous cheer from the Toronto sideline didn’t take focus away from the sidelines working to help Bravo and Truck battle out their last two points, but some gazes certainly shifted away as players considered what a win or a loss might mean.

Truck Stop, the benefactors of perhaps their grittiest and most impressive offensive performance to date, drew the short straw and had to pack up their sideline quickly. Just minutes after breaking their huddle, their players were rushing to the showcase field sideline, donning their black jerseys to face the fallen former champs.

“It’s a chance for us to play to our potential,” said Smolinski as he carried his bag to the next field.

  1. Simon Pollock
    Simon Pollock

    Simon Pollock is a former Contributing Editor at Ultiworld. He lives in Seattle and started writing for the site in 2014 while living in Baltimore, MD. Email him: [email protected] or tweet at him: @_simonpollock_ .

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