Molly Brown Takes Down The All-Stars In Denver

Lisa Pitcaithley lays out for an #SCTop10 grab. Photo: Paul Rutherford -- UltiPhotos.com
Lisa Pitcaithley lays out for an #SCTop10 grab. Photo: Paul Rutherford — UltiPhotos.com

Despite earning a SportsCenter Top 10 appearance for Lisa Pitcaithley, the stars were unable to earn a win on the Colorado stop of their tour as Molly Brown took the showcase game 15-11.

Cradled in a sunny, breezy stadium in Lakewood, CO, the showcase game kicked off Friday night in front of stands that continued to fill as players arrived for the Colorado Cup tournament in town. The sun weighed on the stands, with the wind gusting to around 10 to 15 mph.

I perched nervously in the press box, squeezed in the Colorado heat between intricate video equipment and ribbons of cables.  Headset on. Audio testing. Sweaty palms. Final glances at meticulous notes. Let’s go.

The All-Stars pulled to start, and Molly Brown scored quickly through several fast passes from Opi Payne and an easy goal from Becca Miller. The All-Stars responded in kind with a three pass point as Pitcaithley found Shofner sprinting deep to score along the break side. Molly Brown and the All-Stars continued to trade uneventful offensive points until the score was 4-3. Only the All-Stars had come within 20 yards of the Molly Brown endzone, but they were unable to convert.

The All-Stars showed an impressive chemistry downfield throughout the game; they were rarely cutting into the same space, and they clearly know how to play off one another. But their heavily favored deep game shifted at the new altitude, and the deep shots they took failed to connect when it counted. Their execution errors throughout the game weren’t usually forced by defensive pressure from Molly Brown; they were just errors. A drop from Stevie Miller here, an overthrow from Qxhna Titcomb there, and Molly Brown was able to capitalize through calmer offensive flow.

Were there plays? Absolutely. It’s a showcase game, and these are some of the best young female athletes in the country. Jaclyn Verzuh denied Opi Payne in the midfield, likely checking another item off her rapidly disappearing ultimate bucket list. Pitcaithley snagged a disc nearly off Lindsay Cross’ forehead to score. Hannah Leathers launched one of her signature layout D’s. These moments happened, but they didn’t build into hot streaks.

Considering the level of excellence she submitted during the showcase game and frankly all weekend, it’s not surprising Molly Brown’s first break came through a beautiful assist from rookie Becca Miller. Miller, coming to Molly Brown from CLX, took Molly Brown to half as well, 8-6, on a deep shot from Lauren Boyle.

The second half brought calmer winds, a cooler stadium, and faster play from Molly Brown. The Denver women quickly broke four times to stretch their lead to 12-6, and suddenly the All-Stars were facing a new kind of showcase.

Tightening the screws, the All-Stars worked the disc up the field several times in the second half, highlighting their ability to play nuanced and even clever ultimate. When players looked off the first cut deep down the line, they found better options or handler resets to open the field and utilize the break side. Pitcaithley’s monstrous layout closed the point margin to five, and two breaks kept the All-Stars in the fight, even as the sun and the game score began to set.

The All-Stars would have one more elusive chance to break during the final point, but they couldn’t convert. Molly Brown marched the disc home, with Claire Chastain finding Crystal Davis easily in the endzone to win, 15-11.

Microphones off, notes gathered, and the stands slowly emptied (others estimated there were around 400 people in attendance). The All-Star game in Denver was not the Tour’s best performance to date in its brief existence. They probably wouldn’t have bested Riot on Friday night. The crowd wasn’t as rabid as the Seattle fans or even the Portland fans, instead watching intently and reacting to the big plays. The All-Stars did lose, making their record 2-2 for the tour so far.

But here’s the secret. The All-Stars have nothing to lose. With every game they’re making history as more fans rally to watch, learning these women’s names and building them into the stars our sport needs. Player of the Year Alika Johnston. Young phenom Jaclyn Verzuh. Playmaker Lisa Pitcaithley. The All-Stars will likely lose another game during this tour as their legs ache and the road takes it toll. But I have a hunch they’re focused on the much, much bigger game being played. And they’re winning.

  1. Katie Raynolds
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    Katie Raynolds took a break from Seattle ultimate to test out the Midwestern scene, but now she's back in the Northwest to investigate this "bubble" she keeps hearing about. She played for Northwestern Gungho, two seasons with Chicago Nemesis, and now plays for Seattle Underground. Katie serves as Ultiworld's Women's D1 College Editor, and is damn proud to cover women's ultimate. You can reach her by email (katie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@kraynolds90).

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