National Championships 2023: Controversial Call Drives Truck to Semis (Men’s Quarterfinal Recap)

A thrilling high-flying game, potentially marred by a single universe point call

Washington DC Truck Stop’s Troy Holland lays out for the game-winning goal against Boston DiG in quarterfinals of the 2023 Club Championships. Photo: Jeff Bell – UltiPhotos.com

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2023 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.

In a game that featured numerous highlight plays, multiple lead changes, and the single most controversial point of Nationals ultimate since the infamous “bobble gate” controversy in 2018, Washington DC Truck Stop skated to a narrow 15-14 win over Boston DiG. There’s clearly a lot to unpack here.

In the first point of the game, Truck looked sharp, moving the disc down the field with tempo. They were playing classic DC ball, winning small spaces and shredding marks to find open hands. After working down the field without much resistance, they turned it over in the end zone set with a gutshot that popped up too high for Aaron Bartlett. DiG moved the ball laterally for a bit and then lobbed a moonball to Orion Cable, who boxed out two defenders for the break. From the first point it was clear this contest was going to be a dogfight.

After that initial hiccup, the offenses continued to hum until 4-4. DiG received and made it to half field when Mac Hecht turned a OiiO flick that was a bit too spicy for Josh Markette. The disciplined Truck Stop D-line ran their counterattack and Jasper Tom quickly finished the point with an inside backhand to Moussa Dia.

Then the first taste of controversy – and by no means the last – occurred near the end of the first half. Truck Stop pulled to DiG with a stacked D-line to try to take the advantage at intermission. Mac Hecht and Turner Allen played a two-man game until about half-field when Solomon Rueschemeyer-Bailey collected an upline on the trap side. Rueschemeyer-Bailey looked downfield for a few counts, then attempted to step out and deliver an around swing – but David Bloodgood stood in his path. They argued about whether it was a foul or not for some time. Rueschemeyer-Bailey thought that he beat Bloodgood to the spot, while Bloodgood insisted that Rueschemeyer-Bailey deliberately stepped out into him to draw the foul. They ultimately did not come to an agreement and the play got sent back. Eventually, Reuschmeyer-Bailey tapped it back in and retried a long step out around backhand. Bloodgood anticipated it well and got the clean hand block. Bloodgood then whipped a high-stall flick blade to Cole Jurek who somehow managed to come down with it in traffic. Truck would go into half up two breaks.

Both teams held out of half before Truck collected another break to go up 10-7. At this point, the prospects of a DiG comeback were grim, down three breaks to the to the #1 overall seed at the tournament. You could have forgiven them for packing it in then and there.

DiG quickly responded, however, securing their own quick hold and then forcing a miscommunication huck turn out of Truck’s side stack pull play. On the counter, DiG shot to Cable, who made one of the plays of the tournament. Even though he was sealed out by Rowan McDonnell, he managed to high point the disc and sky the pile.

DiG followed up with another break to make it 10-10 after a huge Ethan Fortin layout block on a misplaced swing from Cole Jurek.

DiG continued their momentum late into the game, and even tallied two more breaks to make the score 13-11. With DiG defenders flying around hunting for plays, the Truck Stop offense looked less decisive than normal. Just when the match was starting to slip away from Truck, they managed to secure a hold and break back to get within a point. The teams traded holds until universe point. DiG received and attacked upwind against the elimination-stacked Truck Stop D-line.

This is where things got really juicy. Boston ran a clever side stack motion to free up Markette on the break side. He continued to Peter Boerth who dished and then cleared out to make space for the Hecht, Reuschmeyer-Bailey, and Leo Gordon handler weave. Boerth then split off from his clear to attack the break side. He got the disc back a yard short of the endzone and looked to swing to Hecht to set up a give and go for the score. The throw went up to Boerth, but AJ Merriman swooped in to get the block. Peter Boerth called strip, but the observer overruled him. Before the defense could completely set, Merriman shot a perfect backhand huck to Alexandre Fall who nearly scored. DiG locked up all the options for Fall and he was forced to slot in a risky inside flick to Holland that was D’ed by Topher Davis but corralled on the second effort to send Truck Stop to the semifinal round for the second year in a a row.

Upon further review of the tape, though, the call clearly should have been upheld and DiG should have advanced. If I were DiG, I’d be heated. It must feel, at least in part, as if the game was stolen from them. I hope there’s some solace for DiG in that they played a fantastic game against one of the best teams in the world, but this one is certainly going to sting for a long time.

 

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Truck Stop, meanwhile, are probably forgetting it all ever happened as they prepare for a weighty rematch against Ring of Fire in semis on Saturday.

  1. Jake Thorne
    Jake Thorne

    Jake Thorne is a staff writer for Ultiworld with a focus on the college division. He is a graduate of Cal Poly SLO, where he played for four years. He now lives and works full-time in sales for a fintech company in San Francisco.

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