The US Open is nominally the start of the USA Ultimate club season – but this year’s contest, coming at the tail end of the AUDL/MLU pro seasons and only a few weeks before the World Club Championships, saw teams much nearer to peak form than you might expect. For many of them, Revolver included, it would be their only competition before the trip to Lecco, Italy, an opportunity to both lay down markers for Worlds and determine what needs to be fixed in the scant few practices remaining.
After several tough triple-header weekends (two practices/one pro game, for most of the team), Revolver was fortunate to be mostly healthy going into the Open. One significant loss for the offense was Devon Anderson, going down in practice the weekend before our departure. John Levy would also be absent.
One of the great things about the US Open is the international teams that attend, and we were excited to play Columbia’s Evolution in our first game on Thursday. Lucas Dallman opened up the game with a nice layout grab going away, but for the most part the first half was a little sloppy from both sides. The Colombians made a few unforced errors and we were able to capitalize to take a strong lead early, but after a timeout they were able to refocus and from then on played very well. Their excellent break-mark hucks and speedy cutters did a number on our defense, and we traded out the second half. After the game, we got together for a joint huddle and were surprised with coffee candies and bracelets, and we wished them good luck in the tournament and in the World Cup quarterfinals versus Brazil.
Our next game was against Johnny Bravo, and we knew it was a big one. They’ve picked up a lot of big names this year on top of their already impressive squad, some of whom weren’t yet playing (Brodie Smith, Nick Lance,…). After trading to 5-5, we started to fall apart – our defense just wasn’t playing with intensity, and we continued to get beat deep over and over on all kinds of hucks – open side, break, blades – that our marks were failing to take away. Bravo even pulled off a nice greatest for a goal. Meanwhile, our offense had some uncharacteristic mistakes and overthrown hucks that gave Bravo chances that they then put away mercilessly (despite some great offensive D by Joel Schlachet and others). Our defense, when we got the disc, was struggling to move it. All in all, it was not a very impressive performance on our part, and the gap continued to grow as we slumped to a 15-8 defeat.
Now, that reads pretty negatively, but our post-game huddle was surprisingly positive – we knew that the main issue, defensive intensity, was just a lack of focus and grit on our part. We weren’t happy about it, but we knew from practice that we could reach a much higher level, and the challenge we faced was to get there. Our offense also had kinks to work out, but nothing that was unexpected for an early season game. It’s never fun to lose, especially by so much, but the more important thing was to use the loss to fuel our development over the next few days.
Our final game of Thursday was against Sockeye, and we set out to end the day on the right note. We also knew winning this game would be very important for earning a bid to the semis. Our defense stepped it up, getting some early Ds and earning two first-half breaks – although we were beat more than once by an unexpected pinpoint deep hammer from Sockeye! As the game went on, though, we couldn’t punch in any more, and Sockeye was able to earn the two breaks back right in the nick of time to force overtime and then double game point at 15-15. Now, we don’t always huck it to Beau on DGP… but we did this time, for the hard-fought 16-15 win.
Friday and bracket play are coming soon…