October 19, 2014 by Simon Pollock in Preview with 0 comments
Two titans of men’s ultimate will meet in today’s final: Boston Ironside and Denver Johnny Bravo.
The teams have 10 top four finishes between the two of them since 2008 (Ironside’s first year as a team). Though Bravo has been in existence since 1996, the team has not finished quite as well since Boston’s revamping and subsequent return to the spotlight. Ironside have made seven straight semifinal appearances, while Bravo have a top four finish from last year — their first since tying for third in 2008.
In fact, since Ironside’s inception, Bravo have never finished higher than Boston in the final rankings. And yet, be it mental lapse or unfavorable matchup, Ironside have never reached gold — neither team has.
Revolver is Gone
A game against the San Fransisco giant has to be what both teams had been planning for. Revolver has reigned supreme in recent history, with clinical and almost flawless victories at this tournament last year, and an international title at WUCCs earlier this summer. But GOAT, in an unforgettable performance, removed that mountain of a challenge for both Johnny Bravo and Ironside.
Ironside Must be Mentally Prepared
If the last is true, than Ironside have to be worried. Though it was a phenomenally close game, each of Bravo’s lines walked onto the field during semifinals with ice water in their veins. They never trailed GOAT, and only trailed Ironside for two points before breaking to take a 2-1 lead in their pool play matchup on Thursday.
What’s more, Ring of Fire took on the seemingly impossible task of coming back from an 11-6 deficit in yesterday’s semifinal, breaking down Boston’s offense to a point where frustration took hold and misguided hucks started to fly into 50/50 chances for Raleigh to knock down. There was no question early on in the game that Ironside’s defense was scary good, but the offense lacked composure when they should have put Ring to bed.
Nearly the same issues frustrated Boston during their last meeting with Bravo, a windy 12-9 loss. Though Ironside’s defense made a valiant effort to battle back and generated enough turnovers, they could not then convert. They’ll have to wipe their minds clear of that loss. The Boston defense has the skills to to frustrate just about anyone, but they will regret any ounce of composure lost against this hungry Bravo team.
“We’ve been here before and, as simple as it sounds, we just have to go and play ultimate,” said Coach Josh McCarthy looking towards Sunday’s final.
Johnny Bravo Confident, Ready
Bravo will need a repeat performance to finally finish ahead of Ironside for the championship and the season. “I think it’ll be a really similar game,” said Bravo Captain Ryan Farrell. “We knew that game was important…that it would set the tone for our path through the rest of the tournament.”
Denver struggled less in the wind on Thursday than Boston did and Nick Lance and Kurt Gibson were difference makers hucking into a headwind and connecting. Coach Bob Krier trusts his team to take those shots when they work — on the move — and the trust and chemistry that Bravo have put on display so far may again give them the edge over Ironside in this game.
Nonetheless, this is not a position that Bravo aren’t used to being in — the favorite coming into a national title game. “This is everything on the line,” said Bravo’s Kurt Gibson. “They have a great squad and are a very deep team.”
It’s worth noting that before last year’s return to the semifinals, Johnny Bravo had not finished higher than third since 2007, a fact that may lurk in the background as Denver takes the field later this afternoon. Still, they’ve put in the work this year culling talent from outside the region and dedicating themselves to a grueling game-like environment during practice. “If another team in the country has a more intense practice atmosphere than we do I would be really surprised,” said Farrell.
It’ll come down to Bravo maintaining their focus, and Ironside not losing theirs. This final will be as much a mental battle as it will be a physical one. Only one team will come away a first time champion.