Could anyone dethrone the Americans, aside from the other Americans?
July 20, 2018 by Lorcan Murray in Recap with 0 comments
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And so we arrive and the gates of greatness. Eight teams remain, battling for the chance to get into the final four, and move one step closer to the rarefied air at the top of the mixed division mountain. Let’s see how they fared.
Slow White (USA) 15-12 Mixtape (USA)
Slow White came into this game looking for revenge against Mixtape for their semifinal defeat at last year’s American National Championships. They came out looking rather pleased with their 15-12 win. Mixtape started the game with an offensive hold, to which Slow White responded in kind. Mixtape looked the slightly brighter of the two at the start, managing to take a 3-1 lead. Slow White responded by tightening up on defense, notching a hold and breaking back to make it 3-3.
Slow White had some of the most impressive offense seen in this competition so far from that point on. Going up against a variety of Mixtape D-lines, they continued to flow, seemingly effortlessly, through the middle of the pitch. They zigzagged across the width of the pitch with little regard for the force before, more often than not, jacking up some very pretty leading passes to the end zone for the score. The teams traded points until 6-6 before Slow White went on a run to close out the half.
Starting on offense in the second half Slow White looked ready to take over, but Mixtape were able to exert some pressure, and take advantage of the odd miscue, to pull themselves back level at 9-9. Mixtape were playing hard, but from here on Slow White’s offense took on a seemingly unassailable clinical edge, for both their D- and O-lines. A three point run to go up 13-10 put the game effectively to bed. Slow White have definitely looked vulnerable earlier in the tournament, most notably against Mubidisk (ESP), but their last three performances have shown they are an apple one should be wary to take a bite out of.
Wild Card (USA) 15-10 GRUT (NED)
In a rematch of the opening game, Wild Card were able to improve on their initial performance and defeat the European champions 15-10. Both teams were well versed in their opponent’s strategy. Wild Card knew all about Grut’s penchant for a deep shot and had help deep defenders ready whenever their big shooters got the disc on an under. Grut had learned of Wild Card’s initial downfield cutting patterns and combined that with some gritty handler marking to try and suffocate the wild flow that had torn through them in the first encounter.
The real story of this game was throwaways. It is fair to say that Wild Card are the least conservative with the disc of the remaining teams, while Grut seemed to be flustered by the stakes and frequently gave possession away on mistimed throws. Grut were able to generate turns on Wild Card in the middle of the match, going for a brief run to get them back into reaching distance of the Bostonians. This was largely thanks to increasing pressure on the dumps and wildly athletic bids on unders. However, their offense failed them more than it succeeded, allowing Wild Card to rebuild a lead over the course of the second half. This sets up an all Boston semifinal where Slow White will battle Wild Card a shot at the final.
BFG (USA) 15-12 Crash (CAN)
After the first half, there was a fear throughout the stadium that this game could turn into a blowout. Crash, never ones to be counted out, were able to battle themselves back into contention before BFG regained their composure and booked a spot into the semifinals. The first half of this game was somewhat of an unsettling affair for the Canadian champions. Their offense stuttered while BFG’s looked unstoppable. The Seattle side’s players seemed to transform into a series of luminous yellow blurs flashing around the pitch. Taking the half 8-4 BFG seemed predestined to head for the next round.
Crash must have gotten their hands on some secret stuff1 during the break as they came out looking much more impressive. Their zone started to cause overthrows and their D-line offense was able to move the disc with a confidence sorely lacking in the first half. Their three point run to bring the game to 11-9 put some pressure on the Americans, but it couldn’t be maintained. They traded two point scores from there, before BFG finished the match with two assured holds for a 15-12 victory. Their final score was especially comfortable, as it took about five passes in six seconds to advance to the semifinals tomorrow.
AMP (USA) 15-10 Hässliche Erdferkel (GER)
In the last of the quarterfinals, the hopes of a non-American side advancing were summarily dashed 15-10 by Philadelphia’s AMP. Erdferkel started the game with an offensive hold, showing that they had the resolve to get it done on the biggest stage of their clubs existence. However, AMP wasted no time setting the tone. Through a mixture of stifling defense and punishing accuracy, they built up a 5-1 lead. The Philadelphians appeared to all the onlookers that they were going to steamroll their way to the next round.
However, as all European fans know, Erdferkel have one of the strongest mental games in the world. Their love of the sport–both its spirit and its competition–are the driving forces behind everything they do. After a slew of poor decisions, they found their groove in the arena and settled into it comfortably. From 5-1 down, they traded with the well established American side until the end of the game, with neither side giving up a break. Where AMP were precise, quick, and deadly, Erdferkel were methodical, assured and, upon occasion, a little rambunctious. There was still a dappling of turns from both sides, but none were capitalized on by the respective D-lines.
By the end of the game, Erdferkel corrected the crowds misgivings and earned a healthy dose of respect from their opponents in the process. They showed that they have an offense well capable of hanging with the big boys, as long as they trust that they are just as sizeble a squad on the world stage. This result sets up a reprise of the other of last year’s American National Championship semifinals.2