National Championships 2022: Madison Silences Champions (Mixed Quarterfinal)

NOISE went on two separate 3-0 runs on their way to an upset over reigning national champions BFG on universe point

Robyn Fennig threw the winning goal for NOISE in their quarterfinal upset over reigning national champs BFG. Photo: Sam Hotaling – Ultiphotos.com

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2022 Club National Championships is presented by Spin Ultimate; all opinions are those of the author(s). Find out how Spin can get you, and your team, looking your best this season.

Day one in the mixed division was filled with close run affairs and shock upsets. Teams scrapped and clawed their way through their pools, fighting for an opportunity to make it into the knockout rounds and keep the season going for one more match. Day two was a markedly less exciting day as every knockout game except two was decided by five or more points. One of those games was decided by four points; the other, by the hands of fate.

In the battle of the capitals,1 reigning champions Seattle BFG went up against reigning fourth placers Madison NOISE for a spot in the semifinal. What threatened to be another competitive blowout in the first few exchanges blossomed into a gripping match up of highlight plays, enthusiastic2 chanting, and grit. In the end NOISE took their first lead with their final throw and booked themselves a spot in the semifinal on Saturday evening.

The game opened with some high octane plays as BFG came out with the energy and hunger to get back to championship contention. Seattle are well known for their aggressive handler movement and both their O- and D-lines displayed it with aplomb in the opening stages, Jason Yun and Martin Le finishing the offensive hold and Eliana Moskovitz and Linnea Soo for the D-line. NOISE started early with some hucks but struggled to connect, something BFG’s defensive captain Reid Koss took advantage of, grabbing Fennig’s huck attempt before loading up Jennifer Ricaurte to send a perfect put into the path of a streaking Mohammud Tilmo for 3-0.

“I think we were just playing well,” said Koss. “Applying a lot of good pressure and forcing them into things that they didn’t really want, we came out with some great energy.”

“It was a little bit of nerves and I mean sometimes we’re slow to come out of the gate,” said NOISE captain Tom Annen. “You know, we’ve kind of been up and down a little bit this weekend, [but] I think we’ve built the whole weekend though.”

At this point a certain degree of certainty started to creep in; bucking the trend is not something that was commonly found in Friday’s mixed competition, however that makes no allowance for chonking it.

“Down three we’ve got to reset the game, reset our mindset,” said Annen.

NOISE reset themselves to great effect, getting a strong hold through the indominable movement of Emily Cohen and furthered through Ben Parrell capitalizing on a BFG drop and hitting Dylan DeClerck3 for the break.

The game would trade for the next few points, both sides putting up some monster hucks as well as working effective unders. Kaitlynne Roling and Leah Bar-On Simmons were particular standouts for BFG and Vanessa Cannaday and Tyler Williams for NOISE.

Interestingly, both teams tried zone, one after the other, each earned a turn, couldn’t capitalize, and then never played it again.

“We felt like because of BFG’s style of play with the way they use their handlers, our zone, even though we did get a turn, was probably not the move in the long run,” explained NOISE captain Daniel Garlock. “I think because we saw how hard we were all running, we felt like we could run with them.”

BFG broke the trading when they returned to match defense with their classic shades of early open lane poaching at 7-5. They got the turn and Moskovitz worked with Yun in their aggressive reset attack before sending it to the impressive Sarah Benditt to take half 8-5 for BFG.

But NOISE were not concerned.

“8-5 is a great score, being down you know?” explained Daniel Garlock. “Being up is great, but that’s kind of a dangerous position. They’re kind of feeling like they’re in control, and we can come up put some strong lines on. We start off on offense, I have faith in our offence. We’re gonna score, put on a strong D line, get us a break, another break and we’re tied.”

The certainty4 of youth is a powerful thing, though somewhat ironically it was the older half of NOISE who were crucial in their fight back. Kelsen Alexander, Vanessa Cannaday, and Avery Johnson secured the hold. Caitlin Murphy read BFG’s set to start the next point and got a block that DeClerck instantly took advantage of, sending a floaty pass over a series of bidding players and into the hands of Sydney French for the score.

The next point would be an incredibly long one, lasting nearly eight minutes and constituting multiple turns. DeClerck continued to be a threatening presence while Robyn Fennig made the transition to the D-line to support their comeback. The drawn-out point ended with Alexander hitting DeClerck for the game tying score, 8-8.

BFG were not happy conceding three on the trot to start the second half and took a timeout.

“We identified where our mistakes were coming from,” said Koss. “And we were able to make those adjustments.”

BFG’s response was an effective return to their system with strong handler movement from always composed and frequently conducting Cheryl Hsu before she hit Yun for his fourth goal of the game and BFG’s first of the half.

They built on this with more tight match defense and lane poaching, Sam Pickel being particularly tireless in his efforts to cover his assignment and the space while Benditt continued to harass Fennig as much as possible. Another long point brought several turns until Moskovitz called a timeout. BFG collected themselves, Conor Belfield abused the dump poach, Moskovitz ran the show before Ricaurte led Benditt into the end zone for a big grab and powerful break, 10-8.

The next few points were an intense affair as the game entered its final few exchanges. The teams traded but never cleanly. Mario O’Brien, who had been central to BFG’s offense all game, got a sensational poach steal on a dump swing and immediately hit the equally impressive Corbin Atack for 11-9.

The teams traded the next two points before cap went on, putting NOISE in need of one more 3-0 run to keep their season alive. They brought on the big guns, went with a fundamental structure of 2-5 and in a surprising change of form Rose Glinka sent a huck to Fennig. It sailed over though, and for the ever-increasing number of people on the sideline it seemed to take NOISE’s championship hopes with it.

Garlock had other ideas. The young captain marched up to the mark with deadly purpose, read Tommy Lin’s intention and got one of the biggest layout blocks of his playing career.5

Lin damn near rescued the possession with his own herculean effort, defining the narrow margins that decided this game.

“After the handblock it felt like I knew we were going to win…well, it felt anxious,” admitted Garlock. “It floated. I tried to get up and chase it, and when he [Lin] didn’t catch it after it floated, it felt like we were going to win.”

NOISE recycled and hit Avery Johnson for the score. DeClerck, seemingly unwilling to let Garlock have all the glory, made a monster layout block himself almost immediately following the pull. Fennig recycled and hit DeClerck for the double happiness and double game point, 12-12.

In these moments that last for a minute on the pitch and a lifetime in our minds, the world shrinks. In this isolated 70×40 yard arena, 14 people step forward to decide the season for their teams, carried in spirit by the dozens of people who got them to this point but ultimately decided by the millimeters of difference the next point would contain.

BFG were on O and came within6 pinching distance of the semifinal berth when Thomas Li sent an arcing blade flick to the nigh undeniable Yun, who could only watch the disc hit dirt in front of his flying form. The teams would trade turnovers as the power of their heartbeats seemed to throw their offenses out of rhythm.

Robyn Fennig had no time for such fickle human tendencies. Following a stoppage in play she looked up and saw Avery Johnson in what qualifies for her skill level as open, and sent the disc into the back corner for game.

NOISE went on two separate 3-0 runs at either side of the second half, showing their never-say-die spirit and ability to come together in big moments. Of course finding themselves in those holes in the first place is an indication of the vulnerabilities they possess. Their match-up tomorrow is against local rivals Drag’n Thrust, who beat NOISE at both Regionals and Sectionals this season.

“We’ve played them a million times,” detailed Annen. “They’ve definitely owned the matchup in the past. I think this year we’ve been building and growing and getting better, and I do have faith that one of these times, hopefully this next one, is the one we’ll put it in. I think we can.”

We may be defined by our past, but that’s only until we take control of our future. While NOISE have history against them, they might just have fate on their side.


  1. Letters not states. 

  2. If stolen. 

  3. More on him later 

  4. *cough* hubris *cough* 

  5. He’s 23, there’ll be more, watch this space 

  6. Literally 

  1. Lorcan Murray
    Lorcan Murray

    Lorcán Murray is an Ultiworld contributor and freelance journalist. He lives in Limerick, Ireland. He plays ultimate for PELT and with his mustache regularly. You can reach him by email: rev.lmurray@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @RevLorcan.

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