2022 Youth Club Championships: Day Two Recap

The title contenders are set for Championship Monday at YCCs.

A Dallas Skyline player makes the catch against Washington DC Swing Vote at the 2022 Youth Club Championships. Photo: Natalie Bigman-Pimentel -- UltiPhotos.com
A Dallas Skyline player makes the catch against Washington DC Swing Vote at the 2022 Youth Club Championships. Photo: Natalie Bigman-Pimentel — UltiPhotos.com

This article was written by Esther Gendler.

BLAINE, MN — As the adult club competition reached its conclusion on Sunday at the National Sports Center in Blaine, MN, the concurrent Youth Club Championships moved through their second day of action to set up semifinal matchups in each of four divisions. The U17 girls will conclude their round robin pool play on Monday morning before setting individual placement games, while every other youth division will crown a champion from the final four teams left standing. Let’s go through some of what happened on Sunday to explain how we got here.

U20 Mixed

Bucking the customary impression associated with the adult Mixed division, where upsets and parity are at this point the expectation rather than the exception, U20 Mixed is the only division in Blaine this weekend that produced a semifinal slate comprised of the tournament’s top four seeds — including three teams that reached this stage last year as well. That’s not to say there have been zero upsets along the way, as two of those top seeds dropped a pool play match, but were able to recover with victories in the quarterfinals.

Overall no.1 seed Lexington Pi+ has one of the largest rosters in the division, giving them a large pool of talent to call upon in representing Kentucky at the YCC tournament. Not only is their roster big, but they spread out the responsibility as many players contribute to their success and have opportunity to shine throughout the tournament. Youth superstar Lula Dutille has once again been an especially strong player for Pi+, leading the team with 8 goals and also racking up 6 assists through the quarterfinal round. Christopher Padgett has been a great offensive and defensive weapon for Pi+ with 5 goals, 2 assists, and 5 blocks. Defensive intensity has been a calling card for the club all weekend, led by Bryan Witheril who has gotten 8 blocks in the first two days of the tournament. These three players are sure to make an impact when they face Minnesota Superior in the semis, and any team who faces them will have to adjust to their level and style of play.

Superior has a strong roster this year, with star players who have been recognized on the national level. Ryan Dusaire has been a powerhouse for the hometown team, with 10 goals, 7 assists, and 5 blocks. Whether Dusaire is put on O-line or D-line, he has been a force to be reckoned with every time he steps on the field. Another standout for Minnesota has been Liliana Hobday, the second leading scorer for Superior with 9 goals and 5 assists. Backed up by a roster full of strong handlers and dynamic cutters, Superior will be fired up to play in the semis on their home turf as they look to get revenge in a rematch of last year’s semis against Pi+.

Dallas Skyline is also looking to improve on their semifinal loss in 2021, and perhaps are the biggest underdog heading into semifinals due to their smaller roster and not boasting as many flashy, highlight-reel style plays that the other teams in the mixed division have been showing off. Skyline has been able to take care of business fairly efficiently en route to the championship bracket, playing a sustainable brand of ultimate. Leading the charge for the Texans is Myles Armstrong, with 5 goals, 3 assists, and 2 blocks. Armstrong is without a doubt the player to watch from Skyline as they continue to fight for a spot in the championship game.

Despite skipping the tournament last summer after sharing the mixed title in 2019, Seattle Seven Hills hit the ground running immediately setting the tone for the YCC mixed division. Never stepping their foot off the gas, Seven Hills unequivocally bested all of the competition in their pool as well as against the Bay Area Happy Cows in the quarterfinals. Only letting up 12 points over four games, this team will give any matchup a difficult task. Every player on the roster boasts all-around skills and talent, making pinpointing standouts difficult. This further shows why they have been such a successful team and how they made it into the semis with such ease.

U20 Girls

As was the case on Saturday, tournament top-seed Oregon Downpour continued to crush the competition in the Girls U20 division, besting fellow semifinalists Atlanta cATLanta in a seeding crossover before shutting out tournament no.2 seed Triangle Warhawks in the quarterfinals. Led by Syris Linkfield, Elsa Weybright, and Dane Kokkeler, this Downpour squad has all the tools needed to win a championship; in addition to an incredible array of talent, the core of the team also have recent big game experience together as a similar crew recently helped South Eugene win the High School National Invite in Richmond, VA in June. So far this weekend in Blaine, no team has been able to put up more than four points against them, and Maine Rip Tide will need to pull out all the stops to try to compete with them in the semis.

The 2019 co-champions from Vacationland, who decided to forego YCC last summer, have some star players that have been the difference makers in their journey to the semis. Elise Tardiff boasts 17 goals, 15 assists, and 10 blocks over the course of first two days of the tournament. Another huge player for Rip Tide has been Annie Pozzy, with an astounding 24-assist haul so far this weekend. They squeaked by Seattle Seven Hills 13-11 on Sunday afternoon in the division’s tightest quarterfinal matchup.

On the other side of the championship bracket are the aforementioned cATLanta and Utah Swarm. The combination of Quincy Booth and Sagan Yarborough continued to drive Atlanta’s success on the road to the semis. With Booth in the driver’s seat, cATLanta will have a great shot at making it to the championship game. However it is Utah that are returning to this stage in the tournament for the second straight year. Swarm’s Audrey Selfridge was a huge leader for the team with 11 goals and 5 blocks so far this weekend; Swarm will likely lean on Selfridge if they are to continue their ascent up the division and earn the program’s first-ever finals berth.

U20 Boys

For as lopsided as most of the U20 Girls bracket games have been, the same is not true on the Boys side, as Sunday saw loads of close matchups in the Round of 16 and quarterfinals. The four teams that escaped and remain alive heading into Monday’s semifinals: Oakland smOAK, Minnesota Superior, Boston BUDA, and Utah Swarm. Of those, only BUDA were among the top seeds coming into the weekend, with the other three semifinalists each pulling off a quarterfinal upset to keep their title hopes alive.

smOAK’s roster is full of playmakers who elevate their team with their skills. Leading the strong smOAK squad are Dylan Nice, Luca Adams, and Raekwon Adkins. These three players boast some of the most impressive stats of the division thus far. Nice has been a standout with 12 goals and 15 assists this weekend. Adams has been a consistent playmaker with 17 assists and smOAK are at their best with Adams behind the disc running the plays. Rounding out the trio of stars of the team is Adkins, who does it all with 7 goals, 9 assists, 6 blocks. Oakland shocked tournament top-seed Oregon Trainwreck on universe point on Saturday and they continue to improve as the weekend goes along, soundly beating overall no.2 seed Atlanta ATLiens in the quarterfinal round.

Superior’s road to the semis was not easy, having to fight through two close games to secure their spot. Although their games were close, don’t count out Minnesota from the championships quite yet. This Superior team is full of scrappy players who are hungry for the win. A standout from Superior has been Carter Halstrom, with a balanced stat line of 6 goals, 6 assists, and 6 blocks. The team excels in sharing the disc and each player has been instrumental in the team’s success in the tournament thus far. Perhaps the underdogs going into the semis despite being a higher seed than Oakland, this team has a lot to prove and a lot of heart that could make the difference when they face smOAK on Monday.

Frequent rivals in the past, BUDA took a decisive win over Triangle Triforce in their quarterfinal game to stay in the running for the championship. Although BUDA had some closer games on their road to the semis, the team has pulled through each game to continue in the bracket. Leading the charge for BUDA is Tyler Feeney, who has 8 goals and 4 assists in the tournament, along with Kristof Rohaly-Medved, a do-it-all player with 5 goals, 7 assists, and 2 blocks. Both of these players will be instrumental in BUDA’s upcoming semifinal bout against Utah Swarm.

Swarm had a less stress-inducing path into the semis than the other three teams joining them in the championship bracket. Swarm’s ability to build early leads over their competition and create a buffer in the scores sets them up for success going forward in the bracket. Players to watch as Swarm takes on BUDA in the semis are Grayson Rettberg and Nathan De Morgan. Rettberg is a huge scorer for Swarm, with 10 goals and 3 assists. De Morgan has an impressive 17 assists and 4 goals so far in the tournament, flexing his ability to be a difference-maker for Swarm. With Rettberg and De Morgan working together, the Swarm team should feel confident going into their semifinals game on Monday.

U17 Boys

After an exceedingly close set of quarterfinals where every team gave it their all to each a spot in the semis, three of the same programs that qualified for the U20 boys semifinals will also vie for the title in the U17 division.

In their first two days of the tournament, Boston BUDA easily swept their competition on their road to the quarterfinals. But that round proved much more challenging, as the Bostonians barely edged out New Jersey DEVYL for a spot in the semis. Dashiell Brenner and Ben Feeney are standouts on the BUDA roster thus far in the tournament, Brenner with 14 goals and Feeney with 6 goals and 15 assists. Expect to see more from this duo as they take on the semifinals on Monday.

The Oakland Sparks have played some close games to make it to the semis, with several players stepping up to take the team into contention for the championships. Handler Henry Garcia has been instrumental in the team’s success, with an impressive tournament stat sheet boasting 12 goals, 10 assists, and 2 Ds. Another standout for the Sparks has been Reggie Masket, with 10 goals, 4 assists, and 3 Ds. The Sparks team gives an opportunity for its entire roster to contribute to the game, flexing the depth and well-roundedness of this club on the rise.

Despite a tough universe-point loss to the Sparks in pool play, Washington DC Capitol Heights were able to secure a spot in the semifinals with a 15-10 quarterfinal win over the Philadelphia Padawans. Marcus Lee and Mitchell Blaha have been phenomenal players on the roster and will be the players to watch in their games on Monday. Lee racked up an impressive 22 assists in the first two days of the tournament in addition to 6 goals. Blaha also made a splash for Capitol Heights with 14 goals and 8 assists. The talent on this roster runs deep, with many players making big contributions in every game.

The hometown Minnesota Superior have blown through the competition on their way to the semifinals at this year’s tournament in Blaine. Winning most of their games with double-digit margins, Superior should feel confident going into the championship bracket. Thomas Shope has been an all-around playmaker for Superior, with 6 goals, 5 assists, and impressive overall consistency as a player. Charles Erny has also been a standout for Superior, with 4 goals, 13 assists, and 3 Ds. With the home-field advantage for Superior, their cheering section will be hard to beat by any opponent, which could be a difference maker in tight matchups.

U17 Girls

The younger girls division in Blaine this week has been a study in momentum, as games through the tournament’s first two days have largely been lopsided affairs. In the final round on Sunday, the division’s top two seeds, Seattle Seven Hills and Atlanta rATLers, played the first game of pool play where both sides reached double digits. Seattle edged the Georgians 12-10 to complete an undefeated run through the round robin and secure their place on the division’s championship game on Monday.

They’ll be joined by the weekend’s biggest surprise, as bottom-seeded Philadelphia Pythons head into the last round of pool play have already guaranteed their own title-game position with an 11-6 victory over the rATLers on Sunday morning. Seattle bested the Philadelphians 9-5 in the tournament’s opening round on Saturday and we could see another tight one with the YCC crown on the line.

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