Strong Start, Nearly Flawless Offense Send Revolver Back To Title Game

Photo: Paul Andris --
Photo: Paul Andris —

San Francisco Revolver dominated Chicago Machine as they advanced to the final with a 15-11 win.

Chicago Machine came into this game as a big underdog, but their play against Ring of Fire in the quarters showed potential. If they could again minimize offensive mistakes and maximize defensive pressure, they might have a chance against the powerhouse from San Francisco. But captain Kevin Kelly knew how hard that could be. “You can say you’re going to do something against them, but they have very talented players who can throw you into spots that you can’t really always gameplan for,” he said. In other words, everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.

The Machine offense took the stage for the first point of the game. Whether it was the packed stadium, the bright lights, or just the pressure, something got to them early. Tight defense from Revolver tempted Jonathan “Goose” Helton to throw a quick hammer to Bob Liu. An outstretched Liu came up short, and Revolver already had their first opportunity to get a break and a lead.

Lucas Dallman dropped a dime to Andrew Hagan and the first break was in the books. The rest of the game hinged upon the response from the Machine offense.

Looking to ignite the deep game, the Machine offense forced a deep shot to Helton. Revolver was ready for it, and in double coverage Goose couldn’t make the play. Pressure from Revolver forced another errant decision, and when Eli Kerns marched the Revolver defense down the field for a break, Machine had a quick two point deficit.

Revolver was so in sync that a spike from Nathan White timed up perfectly with Eli Kerns’ kick of the disc. The team is on a mission.

The next point finally showed a clicking offense from Machine. Bob Liu threw a beautiful around flick break to get Chicago on the board.

The first look at the Machine defense would be important. How would they deal with these problematic matchups? Kittredge, Johnson, Joye, Higgins, the list goes on. Before the game, Kelly went into detail about the Machine gameplan on defense. “Downfield, we’re trying to make them grind for everything they get,” said Kelly. “We don’t want to give them anything easy.” It would be several points before they started truly reflecting that strategy.

The first look at the Revolver offense was exactly what you would expect. The downfield cutters were isolated, and Ashlin Joye was quarterbacking. Joye hit Joel Schlachet for the goal, untouched and uncontested.

With the score at 4-2, Revolver was still making adjustments to strengthen their lead. A bracket downfield didn’t stop the Machine handlers from finding Goose deep. Their offense was simple: Brett Matzuka and Bob Liu throwing people open, and hitting Goose deep. AJ Nelson enters if all else fails.

Although this plan seems one-dimensional, the playmakers for Machine did enough to trade points for the majority of the game. But it only further emphasized how important those first two points were.

At 5-4, the Revolver offense still had not thrown a single turn. Not only that, but few Machine defenders had even come close to a downfield cut from San Francisco. But on that point, a huck intended for Cassidy Rasmussen sailed a yard too far. Suddenly Machine had its first chance at a break.

The Machine D-line offense didn’t seem qualified to handle one thing: when threatened with a break, Revolver was defensively stout. The personnel of the Machine defense wasn’t equipped to beat Higgins and Kittredge on cuts. In short lived inspiration, Machine gave Revolver the disc back. Travis Carpenter was tight on Beau as he cut deep, but the execution from Revolver was on point. Kittredge got his first goal as San Francisco took a 6-4 lead.

The next defensive point for Revolver showcased the zone designed to slow down the dynamic Chicago handlers. Nathan White was responsible for the mark, with his 6’5’’ frame making over the tops a challenge. The plan worked, and Bob Liu missed a reset to Brett Matzuka. Machine lucked out, with Nathan White cutting under for Kerns who had just tried to hit him deep. Revolver wasted the third break chance of the game, but their offensive prowess was strong enough to offset the mistake.

After another wasted Revolver break chance from a Zachary Travis layout D, Revolver held for the rest of half. Machine faced that same two point deficit at half, 8-6.

Revolver was unchallenged in the first half. There weren’t many opportunities for the Machine D, and when they were there, the Revolver offense was not about to budge. One turn for the Revolver offense wasn’t enough for Machine to claw its way back.

The Machine defense was significantly tighter in the second half. Starting with a Travis Carpenter layout, Machine expended every ounce of energy to push towards a defensive chance. And yet, Revolver was headstrong.

With a 10-7 lead, Revolver busted out the zone again. A poor decision for Brett Matzuka allowed Russell Wynne to run under the hammer. His block set up Greg Cohen to launch one towards Marcelo Sanchez, who skied multiple defenders for the break and the 11-7 lead.

Machine would only get one break the entire game, and it came on a wild play. With Revolver up 12-9, Machine got an opportunity to start a comeback. George Hughes launched a big throw to Michael Schwenk, who hit Walden Nelson just outside the endzone. Nelson rushed the throw and seemingly wasted Machine’s only chance. But a travel call on Hughes three throws prior sent the disc back. With the travel overruled, the disc stayed with Schwenk. A great layout toeing of the line from Craig Poeppelman brought Machine back within two.

That wouldn’t be Machine’s last opportunity to save their season. With Revolver leading 13-11, Andrew Sheehan got a fantastic heads up poach D that gives them a chance for a break. But a drop from Daniel Williams cut the dream short. Revolver held, and sent out the D-line that closed out the game.

After a Machine turn, Lucas Dallman skied three Machine defenders for the perfect exclamation point to a dominating performance. Start to finish, Revolver was unbeatable.

“I’m a little disappointed,” said Helton after the game. “I’m proud of my team, and last year made us what we are this year.” Machine was impressive in multiple areas, but on this day Revolver was unstoppable. “We were close to our best,” said Helton. “Close.”

In a losing effort, Helton racked up three goals and two assists.

As for Revolver, Mike Payne still wasn’t satisfied with the performance. “We had three turns on the offense,” Payne said. “We could turn it over three times less. Thats our expectation frankly.”

The mentality of Revolver never fluctuated throughout the entire game. With the offense having just been broken, they had ice in their veins. Payne argued they were perfectly prepared for this situation. “Our practices are as intense as that semifinal of Nationals,” Payne said. “We’re used to playing with pressure, point after point.”

Simon Higgins shared his coaches sentiment. “We can definitely get better before tomorrow,” said Higgins after the game. “We’re playing just one point at a time, and trying to get the last one out as fast as possible.” That mentality right there creates three offensive turnovers in a national championships semifinal. Higgins finished with one assist and two goals.

Today was the day for Revolver. The efficiency was off the charts, and their ability to spread the disc was as well. 10 different players scored a goal for Revolver, making their depth their biggest advantage going into tomorrow.

Just another day for the national powerhouse.

  1. Preston Thompson

    Preston Thompson has been a staff writer for Ultiworld since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama where he played for four years. He started playing ultimate in the AFDC in Atlanta, GA in 2009. You can reach him by e-mail ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@pston3).

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