The division got the matchup it deserved for the final, with Swing Vote and Happy Cows putting together another epic double-game point thriller.
August 16, 2016 by Fred Wolf and Meredith Bray in Recap with 0 comments
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Sunday of the Youth Club Championships brought with it a frenzy of thrilling bracket games across all divisions, the players taking advantage of a second day of beautiful weather in Blaine to give their all out on the field. In Mixed, the crowd was treated to another epic finish between rivals who had proven to the class of the division yet again.
DC And Bay Area Earn Rematch With Semifinal Victories
The excitement started early with a semifinal battle between the Bay Area Happy Cows and Seattle’s Mix-A-Lot. Right from the start, it was clear that the deep game was a major part of the gameplan for both teams, each taking advantage of the near windless morning to send high-powered hucks hurtling toward the endzone.
Mix-A-Lot started strong, utilizing great up-field movement, taking advantage of both break and open sides of the field, and capitalizing on Happy Cow’s early struggle to connect with downfield cutters. Seattle’s Cylas Schooley and Justin Ting were a lethal combination, Schooley’s long throws continually finding Ting in the endzone to give Mix-A-Lot and early lead, 4-3.
Happy Cows had their own arsenal of weapons, notably the handling fluidity of Jeremy Dolezal-Ng and Michael Fodor along with the amazing defensive strength of Helen Gilbert-Snyder and Lauren Carothers-Liske. The Bay Area team recovered from their early miscues and battled back to take a 7-6 halftime lead.
Coming out of the break, Happy Cows connected on a scoober to the endzone to earn a two point advantage, 8-6. Ting then saved Seattle the next point with an endzone layout D before shooting a strike throw to Michelle Yee to get back within one.
As the half wore on, Mix-A-Lot seemed to feel the pressure mounting, looking anxious with the disc and leading to some downfield turns that were quickly capitalized upon by the Happy Cows. Despite dangerous cutting by Yee and tough defensive pressure from Stephanie Phillips, in the end, the Bay Area’s depth proved too much for Seattle to handle. Fodor hit Robin Anthony-Peterson with a low flick to give Happy Cows a three-score lead, then Gilbert-Snyder skied a pile to convert a break on the ensuing point, giving Happy Cows the 13-9 victory and taking them back to the finals for the third consecutive year.
“We’ve always been a second half team,” said Happy Cows coach Geoff Rexroth. “We know that we can pull it out. We’ve got the legs, we’ve got the bodies, and we’ve got the depth.”
In the second Mixed semifinal, Washington DC’s Swing Vote faced off against Philadelphia Forge for the right to square off against the Happy Cows. Swing Vote got the first break of the day after a poach D from Katherine Sanz, giving her team an early 3-1 lead that they would never relinquish. DC cruised to a 7-2 halftime lead over PHUEL, looking sharp.
Despite a tough battle and a second half run led by Josiah Zulauf, Forge could not close the gap. Swing Vote took advantage of their top talents, getting big plays by Anders Juengst and Joe Freund en route to a 13-6 victory and a spot in the final.
Swing Vote Wins Second Straight Over Happy Cows
After the results of the morning, the Mixed division got the matchup it deserved for the final, a replay of the epic double-game point finale at last year’s YCC. Through their exploits up to this point in the tournament, both Swing Vote and the Happy Cows had shown themselves to be the class of the division and were prepared to take on their biggest test of the weekend.
The relationship between these two team is really a special one. The teams combined as the “Swing Cows” to play a college tournament last fall at the Chicago Invite, beating all college teams at the event.
“We didn’t want to see them anywhere other than the finals,” said Swing Vote media representative Kees Humes.
Between the history, the friendly rivalry, and rosters dotted with Junior Worlds-level talent, this matchup had all the ingredients of an instant classic and it delivered.
Jeremy Dolezal-Ng, who will be attending Cal Poly-SLO in the fall, had a spectacular game for Bay Area filling every role and totaling eight goals+assists. When he had the disc on the break side near the endzone, there was nothing DC could do to stop him. Joe Freund of Virginia Tech notched eight points of his own for Swing Vote, but wasn’t as much of a focal point as Dolezal-Ng. Pairs of siblings were huge for both teams in the stat column. Sisters Lauren and Chloe Carothers-Liske were great at finding space in the endzone all game and combined to score four goals for the Bay Area. For Swing Vote, Anders and Ella Juengst were spark plugs on both sides of the disc. UNC-commit Anders was excellent as a handler defender and Ella found the endzone four times in the game on her birthday.
After a rocky first point for both teams, both offenses settled in and cruised for the most of the first half. Bay Area ran a zone a few points in, but it did very little to rattle Swing Vote handlers Rachel Hess and Ted Sither, who were content to throw into the cup over and over before scoring. Both teams held until 5-4, when Swing Vote went to their bread and butter of throwing it up to Freund immediately after a turn. They broke again to take half 7-4 after a layout block by Anders Juengst and seemed to be in control of the game.
The second half started at a similar pace, as the Happy Cows defense struggled to make things difficult for the DC offense. Just when the sidelines seemed to show a few signs of malaise, Bay Area got their first break of the game on a huck to a wide open Robin Anthony-Peterson. They came out with more fire on the next D-point and pinned Swing Vote on their own endzone line. Jake Radack threw up a bailout huck to Freund who came down with it over the Happy Cows defender — some plays just work.
At this point, the teams found themselves in a reverse situation from last year, when Swing Vote trailed by the same score and pulled off a thrilling comeback to win the game. No doubt this was in the back of the Happy Cows minds.
With the score at 12-10 and four minute remaining until hard cap, Swing Vote took a timeout that had the potential to end the game without a satisfying conclusion. DC could have drawn it out in hopes of inducing hard cap but instead signaled that they were ready even before it was observer-mandated. The Happy Cows were aware of the clock situation and were able to score quickly to essentially render the cap meaningless. It was a relief to all spectators who wanted to see the game played out to its conclusion.
In its ensuing O-point, Swing Vote tried to end the game in a single throw to Freund, but a huck fell too long. The Cows were able to strike right back to Alexander Pan to force double-game point for the second year in a row. Bay Area would get a chance with the disc, as a DC huck from Radack sailed too far once again. The Happy Cows worked the disc up to about midfield when Ella Juengst jumped a swing1 pass out of nowhere. A few throws later, the disc would find Ella in the endzone for a storybook ending.
In a show of just how much the teams enjoy each other, they collectively sang happy birthday to Ella in the spirit circle after the game.
No pun intended ↩