CUC Mixed 2016 – Quarters and Semis

On Sunday the 3rd place game followed by the gold medal game shall be played at Ron Joyce Stadium at McMaster University. The journey to this point has not been easy with hot weather, hecklers, and late nights. But I have persevered through all of this to bring you this recap of the top teams at CUC Mixed 2016.

If you want to read up on my predictions for Saturday you may do so here or you may read onwards for the results.

In the first quarterfinal Crash (ON,7) faced Battleship (QC,2). In a close battle both teams worked hard with several small breaks before reaching Universe point at 12-12. Crash pulled to Battlefield and broke to win 13-12 and move onto the semifinals.

The second quarterfinal had Midnight Release (ON,9) facing Nagano 98 (ON,10). Nagano ran away to a 9-1 lead before Midnight played a zone. Having refrained from practicing as a team Nagano spent the next 4 points learning how to play against a cup. Midnight Release scored 4, had 3 scored against them, and then scored 3 in a row. Nagano, having gelled as a team, scored the final 3 points to win 15-8. They would face Crash in the semis.

The third quarterfinal, between Montreal Old Star (QC,4) and Bunny Thugs (SK,1) was also fairly one-sided. Montreal gave up one break in the first half and were otherwise flawless. For Bunny Thugs the experience and chemistry of their opponent was too great and they lost 8-15. Montreal moved onto the semifinals.

The fourth quarterfinal featured Local 613 (ON,18) and TFT (ON,8) in one of the best games of the tournament. Arriving just after half I was informed that there had, in fact, been two halves. Initially Local 613 took half 8-7 but it was due to an Observer error. Rather than letting the error decide the outcome the Observers informed the teams of the situation. At this point Local 613 had the momentum and important halftime lead. Instead they decided to replay the whole point. TFT scored and took half 8-7. I want to take a moment to reflect on and highlight how incredibly spirited this play by Local 613, TFT, and the Observers was. It’s also an example of something we rarely see in Ultimate, participants admitting they were wrong. For me, this game changed the entire tone of the tournament and made me love Ultimate all the more.

Following half time the teams traded points except for a break by TFT. With under 10 minutes left Local 613 trailed 13-11 before starting their comeback. First they held under pressure to make it 13-12. Then a break to make it 13-13 and Universe point. Finally they made a goal line stand and moved it quickly across the field. The disc then came to Katie Fizzell, who had also thrown the previous two points, who launched a perfect flick outside in from one sideline to the other into perfectly open space where Andrew Carroll leaped to pull it down with ease. The moment his feet touched the grass Local 613 rushed the field and celebrated as they were into the finals. TFT, stunned, did not react in anger or frustration. There was sadness but there was also recognition that they had played in an incredible game; they awarded Local 613 with the maximum spirit score possible: 20.

Local 613 now faced Montreal Old Star in the first semifinal. Both teams had plenty of veterans but both teams also faced another opponent: the wind. The first point started jittery with 7 or 9 turnovers before Local 613 broke to score. The rest of the game was mostly back and forth points with Montreal breaking a few times and create a small lead. The last point was a must score for Local 613 but Montreal broke to win. It was a more sedate game without the excitement of the quarterfinals. Montreal received two blue cards, one for a hard foul and the other for wrap around marking, but in each case Local and Montreal shook hands and moved on. All in all it was a standard game with Montreal’s experience winning out between two well matched teams. Montreal moves onto finals while Local 613 shall play for Bronze.

In the second semifinal Crash faced Nagano 98. Crash had played in several close games ahead of this match and were going with called lines. Nagano had yet to feel any pressure and were faced with their first difficult opponent. Each team also had to battle an additional factor: the wind. While it had not been a major issue in the first semifinal the wind speed picked up considerably for this game. The game started out Nagano 98 pulling into the wind and starting the longest point of the game. Much like in the other semi the first point had many turnovers before Crash scored. It highlighted the difficulty that Crash had moving the disc downwind and Nagano upwind. The second point of the game lasted all of 20 seconds as Nagano scored quickly. This pattern repeated itself with Nagano scoring easily downwind and Crash having difficulty. The situation going into the wind was even more difficult for both teams with Nagano having early success. Crash, though, was tenacious and several times when Nagano looked like they’d have an easy downwind point Crash would create a turn and score upwind. The two teams, despite the firepower of Nagano, were well matched in the wind. The final score of 13-10 is indicative of that closeness. This was also a very good game, spirit wise, for both teams and it was great to see Crash players playing more freely and openly than before (I think it helped them).

Crash moves on to play Local 613 in the 3rd place game. In pool play Local 613 won on Universe 11-10 wish indicates this should be a close game. I’m not so sure of that. Earlier in the tournament Crash tends to roll lines. In the last few games I’ve seen more focus and I think they’ll shorten the bench for the medal. I expect it to be a good game and I think Crash’s fundamental style shall give them the medal.

In the finals Montreal Old Star shall face Nagano 98. This is a fantastic game with the older veterans facing the younger talents. Both sides have many worlds appearances under their belts. Both teams are also composed only of stars. Both teams are also teams put together specifically for this year. Both teams have speed, talent, fire, the ability to make chippy calls, but also the maturity to allow the game to flow. Regardless of outcome this is a dream matchup for me as it’s unlikely we’ll get to see the Montreal players play outside of Masters again. The later start time also negates any late night partying affects. I think Nagano 98 shall win due to their larger roster, better stamina, and higher top speed. It’ll take something special for Montreal to win gold.

You can watch the games on the Ultimate Canada live stream starting at 1000 ET.

Finally a thank you. Thank you to those that have been reading and providing feedback throughout the day. Also a thank you to those that have pointed out errors and then heckled me. Since I no longer heckle I appreciate yours and live vicariously, at my own expense.

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