Club Championships 2019: AMP Survive Double Game Point Madness As Shame Crash Out (Mixed)

Philadelphia scores the final three goals to hand Fort Collins their first and only defeat of the weekend.

Paul Owens' Philadelphia AMP catches the semifinal winning goal at the 2019 Club Championships. Photo: Paul Rutherford --
Philadelphia AMP’s Paul Owens catches the semifinal winning goal at the 2019 Club Championships. Photo: Paul Rutherford —

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SAN DIEGO – Nick Lance pounded the ground in frustration. Having just turfed a backhand — a throw he’s probably made a thousand times, a fourth turnover of double game point — Fort Collins shame.‘s most illustrious star dragged himself back to his feet, head still hanging. Just a few throws later, Philadelphia AMP completed their late-game comeback to steal a 14-13 win and earn their way to a third consecutive final.

For AMP, it was a third come-from-behind victory on the weekend and second straight that pushed them to the brink. Still, the chance to defend their 2018 national title remains alive. For shame., it put a stop to an unexpected run through the tournament, a cruel end to what had been up to this point a dominant performance in San Diego.

As the tournament moved venues from Surf Cup Sports Park to Mira Mesa High School, a steady but not impossible stadium wind pervaded the field. Fort Collins started on offense, but an errant throw gave AMP the disc early. Steve Rosso, in a bit of foreshadowing of his large impact on the game, wasted no time in sending a deep shot into the wind to Luke Ryan, giving AMP an upwind break to open the scoring. Rosso was a driving force for most of the game, one of three AMP throwers to pass for over 200 yards on the afternoon.

Shame. responded quickly as Lance picked up the first of his four assists. A dominant field marshal and heavy lifter for the Fort Collins squad, Lance had 36 touches in the game, second only to backfield running mate Owen Westbrook. Almost immediately, shame. got their break back. Fort Collins capitalized on a second straight short-field turnover, as Lance flipped another pass into the end zone, showing off the propensity for fast breaks that shame. employed on all weekend.

But by the fourth point, AMP was already adjusting their offensive strategy. One big takeaway from this game was the lack of hesitation AMP had in recognizing an open deep cut. With shame. practically goading Philly into shooting over the top, AMP obliged and found that some of their men were regularly beating their matchups deep as all of Ryan, Rosso, and Sean Mott hauled in goals on away shots. The two teams traded a few holds, as AMP kept pressing their successful long game.

After AMP secured two more breaks to go up 6-4, a shame. player on the sideline wryly commented, “Hey, at least it’s not 11-1,” an upbeat reminder that they had endured a worse start against AMP at the Pro Championships last month.

In fact, the two-goal deficit was the furthest shame. ever lagged during the game. Deep shots began to fail AMP, handlers looked a little stranded, and Fort Collins was quick to capitalize, going on an impressive four-point run. Sarah Pesch had a stand-out role in the first half, effective both as a defender and as a central handler. The top female disc mover for shame., Pesch was involved in everything, with 16 total touches and constantly proving able to get open. Zach Fleming also played a big role in netting those breaks, scoring two of the four. The run brought shame. to half, and spirits were high.

Coming out of the break, AMP started running more four-women lines, a show of confidence in their own women’s depth. They found some magical chemistry between Sean Mott and Anna Thompson in their handler progression and they were able to string together some offensive holds.

Meanwhile, shame. remained clinical, cleanly converting every red zone chance they got. Trying to press their advantage and extend their lead, they charged Lance with the Sean Mott assignment, earning a turnover thanks to an active mark from the former Georgia Tech star. He then completed an around backhand break into the upwind end zone — the same shot that would fail him on double game point — to give shame. their largest lead of the game at 12-9.

Michael Ing — AMP’s leading yardage receiver on the afternoon — turned distributor, shooting long to Rosso for a quick, steadying hold. Philadelphia then clawed a break back as Raha Mozaffari toed the line to close the gap to one. A hold from shame. saw the soft cap come on with Fort Collins up 13-11, making it a game to 15. At this late stage, each team’s big names were chipping in. Mott to Linda Morse for AMP. Kevin Herrera to Owen Westbrook for shame. Everything seemed to be going shame.’s way, as they marched to the doorstep of victory up 14-12.

Philadelphia was in a tough spot: they had to score three in a row to keep their season alive. But if there’s anything AMP has proven they can do this weekend, it’s grind their way to the next round. They had already recovered from a big deficit against MOONDOG in pool play, a win they had to have to survive Thursday. In quarters, they needed a similar comeback to overcome Seattle BFG. AMP had earned the right to feel confident that they could turn a game, even a whole tournament, around by staying focused. “It’s been a really gritty tournament for us, and we brought that grit again,” said Anna Thompson after the game.

Raha Mozaffari referenced last year’s title run as another testament to AMP’s ability to rally, “We weren’t perfect last year either — I think we dropped a game to Blackbird in pool play. We just focus on staying strong and working through our game plan.”

And so it was that they battled for a hold, then a break. Suddenly, it was a tie game at 14-14 with shame. looking shakier than they had at any point so far in the weekend.

The final point was a back-and-forth monster that lasted nearly a quarter of an hour. It all started with shame.’s Nick Lance taking a shot to the corner of the end-zone, a blady flick that carried just a little too far for his receiver to keep in bounds. Then, as AMP recovered the disc, we were treated to a long travel discussion between Lance and Rosso. It was the first of several lengthy stoppages in the point — three different fouls were resolved, a challenged up call, a Fort Collins time out. Lance checked it back in for shame. only to see Malti Mckinnon layout for a huge block to get the disc back for AMP. Philadelphia wasted their second break opportunity, giving shame. a third bite at the apple.

By this point, Lance and Westbrook were working almost a two-man game up the field. After advancing to the red zone, Lance again tried to shape an outside-in flick to the corner, only to push it just beyond the reach of his receiver on the sideline — a third turnover of the point for the 2012 Callahan winner.

Just as wastefully, Ing picked up on the endzone line and chucked an early-stall huck down the field trying to end the game in one throw. Lance picked it off to atone for his latest execution error and began Fort Collins’ fourth attack of the point. This time it was Westbrook whose exhaustion overwhelmed his reason, launching a high hammer into the wind that was batted down by Morse. The madness was contagious. Next it was Rosso who couldn’t help from whipping his own long huck downwind toward Paul Owens. ESPN play-by-play announcer Evan Lepler earnestly questioned on-air whether the point would end before for the first men’s semifinal was scheduled to start 45 minutes later. But the drama wasn’t yet complete.

Once again, shame. advanced all the way up the field. Once again, the disc found its way to Lance. Once again, he attempted a goal-winning pass into the end zone that failed to reach its target. He fell to his knees, he slammed the turf with both hands, he saw his team’s championship dreams slipping away.

At long last, Anna Thompson caught the disc in power position and put it up to young star Owens for the final goal.

AMP played a gritty game and never stopped believing in each other, even when facing a situation where they had to score three straight and push through a marathon of hard moments on double game point. They carried a mix of experience, confidence, and energy that buoyed them to win, even after a rocky start to the tournament. They exhibited an ability to play balanced mixed ultimate that utilizes everyone on the field and adjust to take advantage of the opportunities opponents offered them. But they also will count themselves lucky to have escaped this semi.

Now Philadelphia can head into Sunday with a great shot at another title, playing with the confidence that no matter how far away it seems, a win is never beyond reach.

But let’s all also pour out a White Claw for the team they vanquished in agonizing fashion on Saturday afternoon.

  1. Karoline Hart
    Karoline Hart

    Karoline Hart runs a small vegetable farm in upstate New York. That really should be enough physical activity for anyone. But with a lifelong passion for sports, she makes time in her summer to play as much ultimate as possible. She most recently played the 2018 season with Boston Snake Country and is helping form a women’s team, Rebel Rebel, in Upstate New York this summer. She hopes to spend this summer learning how to create engaging sports narratives so she can use those skills to draw attention to the unseen and underrepresented members of this sport.

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