The end of the group stage.
November 30, 2023 by Edward Stephens in Recap with 0 comments
Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2023 WFDF Pan-American Ultimate 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 Two of the 2023 WFDF Pan-American Ultimate Championships, or PAUC, were teams’ final opportunities in group stage to reach their desired position in the bracket. But a number of surprises and close calls shook things up.
Day Two of the women’s division began with a stale first half from remix (CAN). By the time Terri Whitehead, Georgia Boucher, Erin Lacy, and company began to warm up, they were facing an 8-2 deficit against an opportunistic Soul Lyons (COL). The Soul Lyons’ Alejandra Oviedo has to be one of the most impactful players at the tournament; she plays with the powerful grace of a leopard. Angela Galeano, a smaller, quicker player than Oviedo, was nearly as effective. Together they led the Soul Lyons to a big enough lead that even a furious comeback from remix — they nearly tied the game at 12-12 before falling away — could not overcome. The teams’ true relative talent lies somewhere between the opposite poles of those first halves: they are likely an even match, and both of them could find their way to semis at this tournament. At the bottom of Pool A are Warriors (COL), a far better team than their 0-3 record would indicate. Despite tremendous efforts from the likes of Hanna Rodriguez and Katherine Galindo, they couldn’t find the two breaks they needed to come back against either Malaki (MEX) or Soul Lyons. Warriors’ shortcomings have earned them the dubious prize of having to play Revolution (COL) to start the elimination rounds on Thursday.
Pool C ended with another emphatic Aerosoul (COL) victory, 15-5 over Venus (CAN), as they continue to pad their case as potential favorites entering the bracket. Natalia Gomez has littered the stat sheet with assists, working with Diana Marin on the D-line to dispirit Aerosoul’s opponents. Maria Santos has one of the quicker give-and-go steps I’ve seen at the tournament; Angelica Espinosa continued her fine handling play from Day One whenever the O-line got a chance to take the field. Venus’ Alexandra Paillé and Catherine Goulet could not get much going at all against them, and the previously unbeaten Canadians must reckon with a bad loss entering the bracket.
The much anticipated game at the top of Pool A between Revolution (COL) and Stella (CAN) was tight through a half, but then Revolution pulled away to finish off a 13-9 win. Mangie Forero torched Stella for five assists and three goals, and Revo hold their edge as the presumptive favorites after more than passing their only real test of pool play.
Perhaps the game of the day in the division, though, was between Bamboo (COL) and Qub (CAN) to determine the 2/3 spots out of Pool B. Camille Bizeau was on fire throughout the first half, and Qub were up by a break entering the second period. But Sara Builes and Mariana Ballen were almost as hot as Bizeau in the first half, and they stayed hot to finish the game: Builes assisted on the score to put the game back on serve in the second half, and from there the teams traded intense holds through the 11-10 Bamboo victory. Both teams should feel galvanized by their performances and could potentially spoil the day for one of the top seeds in quarters.
The question we asked yesterday — can anybody beat Blue Devils (DOM)? — got its first real test as they took on General Strike (CAN) for the top of Pool C. General Strike came out firing: Stephen Crew sped into the deep space at every opportunity, Ari Nitikman was steady as could be with the disc, and they earned the first break. Blue Devils, though, were too much, and they wrested back control of the game before the first half was done. Tyler Monroe, operating as the team’s center handler, was essentially a meal ticket to goals, lifting his arm for an untouchable high-release backhand whenever they got into the red zone. Josue Jiménez and Trent Dillon paired well together downfield for the O-line; both Andrés Ramírez and Miguel Pujols were as effective on the D-line today as they were yesterday (which was: *very* effective). General Strike got to double digits, though, and they have room to grow entering the bracket. Could we see a rematch in the final? Elsewhere in Pool C, El Combo (ARG) never quite found their footing. Quake (CAN) were punchy against both of the top sides, though, and they could continue to test — or even beat — good teams in elimination. They have a star on the rise in Louis-Philippe Dubois.
Everyone else in the Open division other than Blue Devils have at least one loss after a wild final two rounds of play. The game of the day was between Flota Chancle (COL) and PoNY (USA). It was a track meet, going to full score universe — 15-14 in favor of PoNY — a full fifteen minutes before any of the other games were finished. The offenses, led by John Randolph (PoNY) and Joc Jiménez (Flota Chancle), gave up turnovers about like a stone gives up blood: for the most part, there weren’t any. Oscar Kohut and Cam Wariner were also great for the PoNY O-line. Esteban Zuluaga came up with a brilliant poach block in the end zone to give PoNY a chance at a late break, but the American’s counter didn’t go anywhere. On another point, PoNY drew up a deep shot off the pull from Randolph to Wariner, but Chancle sniffed it out and covered it with three defenders — they also gave the disc back with relative ease, though. Other than that, the teams played sparkling second halves. At 14-14, Randolph swung the disc to the forehand sideline for Devin Cox, and Cox launched a beautiful 50-yard forehand into Wariner’s stride. The whole point took about 30 seconds, which was par for the course in this fast twitch classic.
Houndd (CAN) stunned Uro Monster (COL) in a hotly contested and emotionally contentious afternoon match. Sergio Perdomo was both the most prolific thrower and the most vocal foul discussion participant for Uro — but neither characteristic was quite enough to push them past a Zach Armstrong-led Houndd. If Uro can mount the kind of defensive pressure they managed on the game’s final point — a nervy Houndd hold that ended with a Logan Dufour seeing-eye flick past Perdomo’s deep poach to Daniel Wong — with relative frequency moving forward, they shouldn’t have much to worry about at the start of bracket play.
Omen (USA) finished their tour of pool play with a strong win over Condor (MEX), who enter the bracket without a win but with a certified game-changing thrower in Victor Bautista. Kyle Romard, Jared Regruth, and Michael Ames were all very sharp for Omen. Warao (VEN) came from behind to take Pool B with a somewhat surprising victory over AFC Rumble (CAN). Behind in the second half, AFC Rumble nearly brought the game level but Warao’s Seth Faris decided to take over in the end, throwing the final two assists of the game and dropping AFC down a notch in the three-way tie.1 Finally, while it didn’t alter the course of the standings too much, Flota Chancle made a statement victory in the final round of play, shaking off their universe point loss to PoNY and downing the previously unbeaten Comunidad el Oso, who still finished at the top on point differential. That put the rest of the division on notice that Chancle are not to be trifled with.
As has proven the case in so many years at so many different events across so many continents, it’s a fool’s errand trying to predict what will happen in the mixed division. Hammers (ARG), who collapsed like a house of cards in the second half of their Day One game against Mischief (USA), began Day Two with a stirring performance against the previously undefeated Academia (COL). Keinys Salamanca — controlling the lanes as a cutter and spotting turn-and-throw hucks for several of their goals — and Maximo Pugliese were magnificent. So was Darbhi David Durvasula. But Academia, who suffered from their share of mistakes, kept the game tight largely thanks to a heroic defensive effort from Alejandro García. He tallied at least three blocks and was untouchable after the turn, frequently guiding the offense to the end zone taking every other pass. He earned a block and worked with María Vásquez and Daniela Agudelo to force universe point. But that was where the comeback stopped, as David Durvasula led the Hammers to a clean hold for the win to throw the Pool C standings into a pretzel.
Union (CAN), like Academia, entered Day Two with a 2-0 record — and by the end of the first round they had improved to 3-0 following a tough win over Volta (ARG). Brianna Prentice and Declan Gainer, handling for the D- and O-lines, respectively, were rock-solid with the disc. But the star of the show was Logan Keillor’s defense. He blanketed the much taller Fernando Blanco, Volta’s primary handler, earned a few blocks, shook the earth landing from bids, and was by a large margin the quickest player on the field. Both of Union’s lines can play with confidence to make mistakes because they can count on him to engineer a couple of breaks a game almost on his own.
The other undefeated team in Pool D, Meclao’ (DOM), had their hands full with Apaches (COL) despite holding the lead for essentially the entire game. The Apaches’ Valentina Aristizabal did an admirable (and sometimes even quite skillful) job containing Genny De Jesus in the lanes, but there was no answer for Nina Finley, who had a hell of a day across both games. Sharonid Lopez, who made a flying block to keep Apaches at arm’s length, and Manuel Arciniega, who did a little bit of everything for Meclao’ before catching the game-winning goal, were also quite strong for the Dominicans.
Union took Pool D in the battle of unbeatens against Meclao’ by virtue of the same strengths. Keillor was once again astoundingly nimble, fast, and bid-happy. Keeping pace with the nimble Leah Tackaberry-Giddens proved an overwhelming assignment for Lopez, and Dan Balzerson continued to show excellent touch on his throws and chemistry with his receivers. In spite of another strong effort from Meclao’’s Finley, Union ran away with the game in the second half. The nail in the coffin was a stirring defensive sequence from Keillor, followed by an away shot that he celebrated the moment he released it.
All three American sides were tremendous on the tournament’s second day and look, for all intents and purposes, to be on a collision course for semis and the final. Drag’n Thrust (USA) put Day One top performers Zen (COL) through their paces with a well-executed game. Clare Frantz and Bryan Vohnoutka were very effective cutters and James Pollard showed off a magical deep backhand huck. He also did an excellent job to limit Juan Pacheco, who had led Zen’s offense on the first day. Mischief (USA) evicted whatever gremlins had afflicted them in their first half struggles on Day One and laid waste to their pool play opponents on Day Two, led by Christopher Lung and Andrea Brown. And NOISE (USA) simply overwhelmed their opponents with hucks. Every time I glanced at their field a deep throw was going up: Robyn Fennig, Dan Garlock, and Frank Qin all shot deep. The first order of business for any bracket opponent will be to figure out how to stop their deep game.
The de facto 2/3 game in Pool A between D-CRASH (COL) and Avalon (MEX) was a barn burner: lots of turnovers, lots of big plays, lots of energy, and, by the end of it, a fair number of fans. D-CRASH’s Laura Herrera is easily one of the finest receivers of the tournament so far — but so is Avalon’s Melisa Paredes. The two of them, as well as Juan Cardona (D-CRASH) and Alan Vazquez (Avalon), battled admirably through what was, frankly, a sloppy match. Sloppy, yes — but it was a pitched fight nonetheless. As D-CRASH started to tighten the score in a brief second half, it became clear that the worst mistake from either side would cost them the game. That mistake came near the red zone from two Avalon cutters who got in each other’s way on a pass that would have been open for either of them. The disc bounced off of their bodies, and Sebastián Pinzón held on to a huck through heavy contact to bring in the game winning goal.
10 Notable Performers from PAUC Day 2
This is not nearly an exhaustive list – just a list of players who caught my eye.
- Gabriela Diaz (Fieras)
- Robyn Fennig (NOISE)
- Mangie Forero (Revolution)
- Joc Jiménez (Flota Chancle)
- Logan Keillor (Union)
- Tyler Monroe (Blue Devils)
- James Pollard (Drag’n Thrust)
- Alejandra Ovieda (Soul Lyons)
- Stephen Crew (General Strike)
- Keinys Salamanca (Academia)
Makawua (COL) was the third team. ↩