The U-20 boys' final was a YCC classic!
August 10, 2018 by Michael Ball in Recap with 0 comments
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Few expected to see no. 4 seed Seattle Supreme and no. 5 Washington D.C. Foggy Bottom Boys facing off in the U-20 boys’ division final in Blaine, Minnesota. The two tangled in pool play, where Supreme controlled the game en route to a 13-9 victory. Saturday’s game was played in wind and rain, while conditions for Monday’s rematch couldn’t have been better. Perfect conditions and two hot teams resulted in a double game point classic in which the lead changed six times and neither team lead by more than two, with the Foggy Bottom Boys landing the final blow to win their first YCC title 13-12.
After their pool play win over D.C. locked up their power pool, the Seattle team continued their impressive play through the bracket, including a 12-9 victory over defending champions and no. 1 Triangle Triforce. The Foggy Bottom Boys were able to right the ship and rattle off three strong wins of their own in the bracket, including a commanding 15-10 win over no.7 Atlanta ATLiens in their semifinal.
Supreme started the game on offense, patiently working through D.C.’s 3-3-1 zone look for a turnover-free hold. The Seattle defense then got a run-through block from Wiro Wink, which they punched in quickly for the game’s first break. A drop on their next possession put the Foggy Bottom Boys on the edge of letting the game get away, but an overthrown huck from Supreme gave D.C. a second chance. A huck from AJ Merriman and a big sky from Jacque Nissen led to the Foggy Bottom Boys getting a much needed hold, and both teams settled into the game from there.
After the teams traded holds and a pair of huck turnovers, a throwaway from Supreme gave D.C. a short field to work with, and Ben Preiss found Theo Shapinsky with a crossfield backhand to put the game back on serve. Neither team could establish any sort of momentum in the early part of the game. Two more holds took the game to 4-4 before an overthrow from Seattle’s Connor Ryan led to a first throw huck from Matthew McKnight to Owen Maskelony, who got up big to give the Foggy Bottom Boys their first lead of the game.
However, a quick hold from Supreme and a throwaway from McKnight gave Seattle a chance to put the game back on serve. Patient handler work from the Seattle D-line eventually opened an opportunity for June Rapisura to launch a breakside backhand huck to Cameron Baker, and Seattle retook a one point lead, 6-5. Instead of Supreme building on this break and extending their lead, momentum swung the other direction once again, and the Foggy Bottom Boys put together a 3-0 run to take the game to half and establish their largest lead of the game. D.C. showed impressive execution, scoring twice out of red zone timeouts during the run.
Despite turnovers from both team’s O-lines, the first three points out of half resulted in holds. Up 9-8, the D.C. offense worked the disc smoothly to the goal line. However, Preiss turfed an inside flick to Merriman in the endzone, and Seattle broke quickly the other way with a huck, and Rapisura found Cylas Schooley for the break to tie things up at 9-9.
Both teams held to bring the game to 10-10, and it looked like D.C. would hold again when Merriman released a good looking huck to a streaking Harry Wolfson, who had his defender beaten by several steps. However, the throw hung just long enough to force Wolfson to bid, and he couldn’t come down with the disc. Two throws later, Jasper Dean hit Kai Durvasula in stride with a huck for the break, and Seattle took an 11-10 lead.
Unfortunately for Supreme, this would be their last lead of the game.
The next point was madness, and the pressure on both teams as soft cap approached manifested itself in their throws. Each side turned the disc over twice, overthrowing hucks in both directions. With 70 yards to go for a crucial hold with soft cap taking effect after the point, the Foggy Bottom Boys needed composure moving the disc down the field.
Enter Matthew McKnight. The 6’1″ handler played every point in this game for D.C., receiving centering passes on offense and picking up the disc for the Foggy Bottom D-line. His modest performance in the box score (just one assist) doesn’t do justice to the overall impact of the rising senior. While the entire D.C. roster looked comfortable with the disc, McKnight had an array of break throws that consistently opened up the field in a way that his teammates simply could not.
After working the disc down the flick sideline for several throws, McKnight exposed the weak side with a beautiful inside IO flick, and two throws later, Nissen found Preiss with a lefty backhand to keep the game on serve at 11-11, game to 13. McKnight’s ability to get the disc off the line was critical to the D.C. contingent’s offensive success, as was his propensity to appear in the reset space when needed. And all of this was despite him taking few moments to rest.
In what felt like a blink of the eye, D.C. broke to reclaim the lead. Supreme looked shaky as a pair of poor throws eventually resulted in a change of a possession. McKnight picked up the disc and quickly found a big gainer to the force side, and two throws later, Preiss hit Merriman on an away shot to put the Foggy Bottom Boys back in control and with a chance to break for the win.
As rattled as they looked on the previous point, the Supreme O-line put together their cleanest hold of the half to take the game to 12-12. A side stack play was executed perfectly, as Port hit Ryan with a huck to the goal line, which Ryan flipped in easily to Will Turner. Double game point.
Coming out in a horizontal stack, the Foggy Bottom Boys offense created large amounts of space and gained much of the field in two throws to the force side. However, the Supreme defense clamped down on resets in the red zone, forcing several creative cuts from McKnight to get open for resets. As he’d done all game, McKnight stepped up to make the difficult throw that put his teammates in a position to succeed. An inside IO flick to Merriman at the front of the stack opened up the break side, and Merriman stepped around to throw a perfect backhand to find Aaron Rosenthal at the front cone in stride for the goal and the Foggy Bottom Boys’ first ever YCC championship.
While both teams showed impressive depth and disc skill up and down their entire rosters, their star players certainly stepped up with impressive performances on the biggest stage. Seattle was led by Tony Venneri with three assists and two goals, and Port notched one assist and three goals while marshaling the Seattle offense all game.
For D.C., it was Merriman and Preiss who filled the stat sheet. Merriman had two assists and two goals in the first half alone, finishing the game with four assists and two goals. Preiss, who will be attending Carleton in the fall, finished with an impressive four assists and five goals. However, despite his absence in the box score, it was McKnight who had the biggest impact on the Foggy Bottom Boys. His composure and confidence while playing every single point was impressive for a player of any age, let alone someone entering their final year of high school.
Both teams showed that they were more than deserving of their place in the championship game, and they gave the fans a final that will be remembered for years to come, a showcase of the spirit and talent that continues to grow at every year’s Youth Club Championships.