2022 U.S. Open: Semifinalist Spotlights (Mixed)

San Francisco Polar Bears and Madison NOISE in the 2022 US Open semifinals. Photo: Alex Fraser -- UltiPhotos.com
San Francisco Polar Bears and Madison NOISE in the 2022 US Open semifinals. Photo: Alex Fraser — UltiPhotos.com

BLAINE, MN. – As should be expected in Minnesota in August, the weather can a bit all over the place. If Friday at the US Open was characterized by heat and high winds, Saturday’s weather wasn’t much more conducive to great ultimate, though for a different reason. The day got off to a bit of a soggy start with rain delaying the start of morning competition for two hours. When play resumed, some surprising bracket results left us with an unexpected bank of semifinalists, including only two pool top seeds. Let’s take a look at how those teams survived to the top four and how they fared in the tournament’s penultimate round.

PBR’s Undefeated Run Ends in Semis

The #7 San Francisco Polar Bears started their tournament on a high note, staging an upset to beat #5 Minneapolis Drag’n Thrust on day one in Blaine after the reigning US Open champs1 choked in the second half of the game. The Californians also won with a strong margin against Ames Chad Larson Experience and in their crossover game against hometown rivals Mischief to place them in a comfortable spot in the bracket. Entering day two, they faced #12 Boston Slow in their quarterfinal. Early defensive pressure on Slow pushed them shallow, forcing hard-to-catch passes that frequently shot out of reach. With a strong deep game and a sturdy connection between handlers and cutters, they were able to stack breaks and pull away for an ultimately comfortable 15-10 win.

San Francisco faced #6 Madison NOISE in the semifinals. They did well against NOISE’s defensive pressure, making numerous impressive saves that kept them possession, breaking twice in the first half to go up 6-4 against the Wisconsinites and eventually taking half up 8-7. But PBR struggled in the second frame, showing some weaknesses and shipping five second-half breaks back to NOISE to end their aspirations of winning the first leg of the 2022 Triple Crown Tour.

“I feel like we weren’t ever in a panic, we just just weren’t connecting on things. So I feel real good,” said Polar Bears coach Daniel Naruo. “We love to show how good we are at our system. So if things aren’t looking well, it’s probably just because we aren’t in the right head space and maybe diverging from that system. But when we are on it, we’re just like clicking and just like unstoppable.”

Good Wins, Good Times

As is their usual demeanor, Minneapolis No Touching! came to have a good time. Their first goal of the tournament was to be the last seed and their second goal was to break that seed. While they did not achieve the former,2 they exceeded even their own expectations with how thoroughly they smashed the latter.

Despite losing both of their pool play games on Friday — to NOISE and Slow — the Minnesotans won their prequarter against Dallas Public Enemy, thanks in large part to their experience playing in the winds of the Midwest. Then, in the drizzly quarterfinal round against #20 San Francisco Mischief on day two, the team showed once again that they knew how to succeed in their hometown weather. They played with the relaxed confidence that only a team whose average age sits about 12 years older than the rest of the competition would and did not panic when Mischief scored breaks because they knew they would get them back. Despite not practicing as a team, their warmups of goaltimate allowed them to be successful with their throws.

Heading into the semifinal, No Touching! knew they had already done better than they expected — and, importantly to them, that they placed better than the other Minneapolis team here. However, their lax approach to the game was no match for #9 Philadelphia AMP’s fierce play style in the semifinal. The Minnesotans made the kinds of execution mistakes that the team from Philly did not, and they could also not match up with Amp’s athleticism. Despite going down big early and trailing the entire game, No touching! remained positive and continued to enjoy themselves.

“There’s no reason to get down on ourselves,” said No Touching! captain Jolien Munsterhuis. “We played great all weekend. We came together as a team when we had to, won the games that mattered, and it’s great.”

Madison Hybrid NOISE Fortifying Identity

Coming straight from their sixth place run at WUCC, Madison NOISE were the only American representatives at the world championships that are also competing this weekend.

Remarking on how easy it is to play in a tournament and not feel tight or fatigued from playing for six days straight, NOISE breezed past their competition in pool play. They won against No Touching! with a comfortable lead — a blowout, really — and against Slow on a double game point to escape a comeback attempt from the Bostonians. Winning their pool, they made their way to the crossover bracket to play AMP for bracket placement, where they lost on another game that went to DGP. They came out prepared on day two, however. The Wisconsinites put up a strong lead at the start of their rematch with Slow. Through pushing themselves to run hard defense, they only allowed Slow to score five points against them.

Coming off of their major quarterfinal win, they resolved to challenge themselves more and not let their feet off the gas pedal to help them succeed in the semi. As they faced Polar Bears in the semifinal, NOISE wanted to be sure they kept their energy and focus levels up throughout the game. One way they kept the energy was through their sideline cheers, where they shouted a variety of noises and they kept things upbeat by assuming the identity of Ann Arbor Hybrid3. They succeeded in their game by using every player on the field, working hard every point, and contesting every high pass in the air.

Even though have never made it this far in this tournament, NOISE will approach their final just like any other game.

“We’re gonna obviously start with a good warm up so we’re gonna be there and be mentally in the game and we’re gonna trust each other,” said NOISE captain Emily Cohen. “We’re not going to succumb to any of the pressure being in the final, because it’s new for us. So I think we’re just gonna have fun and do what we’ve been doing the whole rest of the tournament.”

Philadelphia AMP Living Up to the Name

Philadelphia AMP had a wild start to their tournament. They won by quite a bit against Arizona Lawless in pool play, but lost by similar margins to Public Enemy. Despite the loss, they still won their pool play due to point differential. They won on universe point against NOISE in their crossover and went on to play Drag’n Thrust in the quarterfinal. The game was tight for a while, as both teams took turns with the lead. Even when they trailed, AMP remained faithful in their systems and continued holding the pressure in hopes that it would cumulate to make big results in their end game. It added up as AMP was able to force a few too many turns from Drag’n and they advanced to the semifinal.

Coming off of the win, as well as a six hour break between games, the Philadelphians were amped to come into the semifinal4. They knew that they could succeed by taking away the deep shots from No Touching! and definitely won with their athleticism. They gained confidence in their throws throughout the game and connected on most, if not all, of their deep shots with minimal pressure from No Touching!’s defense. AMP’s energy that they added to the field showed that they came to play and came to win. They did just that, showing no mercy to the team from Minnesota, as they took advantage of every single break chance they got on their way to a 15-3 result.

“We often play off our opponents energy and I think we’ve been focusing on it a lot and just in this game we didn’t worry a lot about the other team,” said AMP coach Ben Morgenstern. “We just kept ourselves to the end. Once we started getting on a roll it was easy to say excited. At times, with a big lead like that you can start falling asleep a little bit but when you’re staying happy, rushing the field after every point, keeping each other up, you have a great turnout.”

  1. Though the last time the Mixed division competed at the event was in 2019. 

  2. They were the tournament’s no.11 seed, just ahead of CLX. 

  3. a team who was not even here this weekend 

  4. Pun not intended 

  1. Laura Osterlund
    Laura Osterlund

    Laura picked up a disc her senior year of high school and hasn't put it down since. She played on the mixed/open team at Bethel University where she graduated with a journalism degree. Based out of the Twin Cities, MN, you can find her engaging in all levels of Ultimate: working with Minnesota Strike, playing mixed club, and grinding at local ultimate and goalty leagues. Her ultimate accomplishment - besides helping start a women's league (coming spring 2024) - is winning Z league with Big Blue.



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