A weekend full of surprising results sets up a thrilling final month of the club regular season.
August 9, 2023 by Patrick Stegemoeller in Recap with 0 comments
Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2023 club ultimate season 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.
Welcome to Clubhouse Chatter, where the Ultiworld staff keep you caught up on the major events of the club season. The newly-relocated US Open offered up some of the best regular season ultimate we’ve seen in years, and a trio of 15-13 finals capped it off in style. With more analysis and highlights to come, here are your initial takeaways from the weekend out in Colorado.
PoNY Keep It Interesting
Super teams are boring, generally. When outcomes never seem in doubt, when teams pile up so much talent and capital that it distorts your sense of competition, it’s generally a bummer. An exception to that is when a team is so spectacularly talented that they can bumble their way into a (dangerous situation) and then miraculously escape. Like James Bond stumbling into a pool full of genetically engineered killer piranhas and emerging untouched with a martini in hand for reasons that escape traditional patterns of cause and effect.
All tournament long, New York PoNY kept finding themselves in sticky situations (largely of their own making) and then suddenly would be hauling in a winning goal, all smiles. They trailed Sockeye late in the first game of the tournament, then — poof — a win on universe. Down 8-5 at half to Machine? Oh look, it’s 8-8. Hey, would you look at that, 15-13 PoNY final. In the final they were down 5-3, rallied back, then went down another break 11-10 before rolling through the last quarter of the game to win 15-13.
If PoNY do go wire-to-wire as the title favorites that their roster suggests, here’s hoping that they continue to do so with a sense of dramatic style: early game hijinks and late game heroics.
Mixed Mixes It Up (But What’s New)
Over the course of 36 games in the mixed division for 12 teams from four different continents, not one team went winless or undefeated. In what would be a stunning display of parity if this weren’t the club mixed division, every single team lost and won at least one game each, including now back-to-back US Open champs Philadelphia AMP.
The tournament chAMPs1 lost to Mixtape in pool play, but were handed a pretty smooth path through the bracket, not having to play a single team seeded higher than no.6 until they took on top seeded BFG in the final. Philly looked solid if unspectacular in the championship game, slowly building a lead they would maintain to win 15-13.
But the big takeaway from the weekend was not AMP’s ascendence, but rather the chaos they emerged from. Drag’N Thrust lost three straight universe point games. Mixtape beat AMP but then lost convincingly to the Aussies and friends on Ellipsis in quarters. XIST beat Mixtape twice, but couldn’t manage a Seattle sweep, losing to BFG, and dropping a game to PBR in consolation. NOISE, standard bearers of chaos, won their pool and played a fine quarterfinal before getting stomped 15-5 in semis by BFG.
So while this weekend didn’t necessarily clear up the picture of who the national champion is going to be come October, it did illuminate one thing: the mixed division is going to be a fun mess this season.
Scandal Wind Back The Clock
Remember 2013? What a year. We got albums from Daft Punk and Beyonce. Mad Men and Breaking Bad were still on. Memes were good, and not being used to dismantle democracy or our sense of objective reality. Blogs were thriving. We had Vine. Better days. It was also the year Scandal finally ended Fury’s seven season streak of National titles.
A decade later, Washington DC Scandal is back to putting up wins on San Francisco Fury, beating them twice. Once on universe point in a seeding crossover, and second time 15-13 to win the US Open. A blistering 8-2 first half was followed by a nervy second where Fury clawed the gap all the way back to 14-13 before Scandal was able to put in the final hold. If DC had been able to continue their first half dominance for the full game they would be more emphatic title favorites, but as it stands Scandal is definitely in the mix to win a championship.
With a few of the players who were there in 2013 back on the roster (Jenny Fey, Sandy Jorgensen, Alison Maddux) and maybe the best player in the division (Claire Trop had 19 goals and 18 assists, leading the entire tournament in both statistics. Like… what?) Scandal may have the pieces to make this 10 year anniversary tour as good as the original.
Shout out to the YCC winners, ordered here by proximity to Seattle!
T-1 Seven Hills (U20 Girls)
T-1 Seven Hills (U17 Boys)
T-1 Seven Hills (U20 Mixed)
4 Utah Swarm (U20 Boys)
5 rATLers (U17 Girls)
North Carolina has been the youth hotspot of recent times, but if this past weekend is any indication, Seattle is ready to reclaim that mantle in a big way.
Editor’s note: Never do this again. ↩