Johnny Walker is a heck of a Grand Masters team name.
July 29, 2015 by Simon Pollock in News, Recap with 0 comments
Three ultimate hotbeds took home trophies this past weekend as Masters Championships 2015 played out on the the fields of the Aurora Sports Complex just outside Denver, Colorado. Coming off their World Championship title in Lecco last year, Boneyard (Raleigh, NC) took home the Men’s trophy. San Francisco’s Baylands Kite Flying Team took home the title from the Women’s division and the men of Denver’s Johnny Walker staged a comeback that brought the big win home in the Grand Masters division.
Triangle Area On Fire
Led by standout performances on the weekend from Mike Moore (14 goals, 3 assists) and Jared Inselmann (4G, 15A), Boneyard cruised undefeated through the pool and the bracket, with no opponent tallying more than 11 points against the Raleigh-Durham powerhouse. In the championship game, execution errors plagued Denver’s Johnny Encore, with Boneyard staying in control of the first half 8-4. The gap stayed at least two points wide, and returned to four as the game closed 15-11.
“After we won the WUCC title last summer in Italy, we still felt like there was a little unfinished business for us,” said captain Sandy Hartwiger. “Boneyard had never won Nationals, so that was our primary goal from the outset.” The team has made numerous appearances on the national stage since its creation a decade ago, but a championship win eluded them until this past weekend. Hartwiger explained that numerous Boneyard players, whether old Ring of Fire players or otherwise, had never won a national title in the name of the Triangle Area.
“As a team, this is a victory not only for the current Boneyard players but for the former Boneyard players that paved the way for this success,” Hartwiger told Ultiworld.
Boneyard adds their first place finish to the glut of recent high profile wins by teams in the Triangle Area. It began with the big victory for this masters team in Lecco last year, and continued on with a YCC championship won by Triforce, a semis appearance at club nationals by Ring of Fire, and most recently a college championship won by North Carolina Darkside. It’s safe to say that ultimate in the Tar Heel State is alive and well.
Beware the Mature Fists of Fury
It’d be folly to talk about the history of the Women’s division without mentioning San Francisco Fury, 7-time national champions and finalist in nine straight National championship games. The sheer mass of talent bred by this program is unrivaled, and though time has pushed some of those players to other cities or out of the club division entirely, the Baylands Kite Flying Team brought the gang back together to win a title. You know, for old time’s sake.
“Our motto is that winning never gets old,” said Dominique Fontenette on Monday morning. She and her current Seattle Riot teammate Gwen Ambler (8G, 3A) joined many of their old Fury teammates to relive those glory days. Aside from a squeaked-out victory in quarters over DC’s Lame Duck 14-13, Fontenette, Ambler, and company dominated the competition throughout the weekend. It culminated in a 15-6 stomping of the hometown team RIO to take home the title.
Despite their sizable win margin, Fontenette said that she noticed increased parity in the division during the weekend. At an event which is as much a chance for old friends and opponents to catch up as it is to win, she noted that much the best talent crossed over with the top lines of club teams around the country. Baylands itself benefited heavily from the presences of Fury’s Anna Nazarov (3G, 17A) and Gen Laroche (11G, 7A).
It’s a testament to the depth of Fury’s program and the dedication of their players (past and present) that they could bring home this title with both Nazarov and Laroche, while also seeing contributions from three members of the original Fury team from 1997: Kimber Zabora, Leean Nounnan, and Fontenette.
“For some, the win was a testimony to the effort put into building Fury’s long-standing program. For others, it was their first National Championship title but also tangible evidence of their lifetime devotion to grooming young players into champions. For all of us as friends, it means we’ll have another opportunity to play together,” said Fontenette.
Baylands was seeded third overall with RIO (the other finalist) seeded sixth. Top seeded Boston suffered an early exit in prequarters.
One For The Home Team
Teams from Denver made an appearance in each of the three finals, but the only one to walk away victorious was the Grand Masters’ Johnny Walker, seeded fifth overall.
Results were all over the place as seeds quickly went out of the window during pool play, with the eight seed taking Pool A and Johnny Walker taking Pool D. Top seed Minneapolis Surly was bounced by the #2, Oakland’s Shadows, in quarters. The latter then found themselves the victim of Brattleboro’s No Country (3rd overall) in the semifinals, the only match of bracket play that arrived according to seed.
Johnny Walker, unlike the other division champions who found little resistance in the finals, fought from behind almost the entire game, after finding themselves down in a 5-1 hole against No Country. The exciting comeback win was the first of the three finals to be played, but offered the best and most entertaining matchup.
The men of Johnny Walker add their Grand Masters title to two recent big wins for Colorado: the first by Colorado Mamabird in the men’s college division and the second by Johnny Bravo in men’s club, both in 2014.