The women’s division got the ESPN2 broadcast game schedule this year, which meant the teams played both the semifinal and final rounds today. Familiar faces filled the semifinal games at the National Sports Center: Fury v. Scandal and Brute Squad v. Molly Brown. Both games started at the same time, but given how fast the Fury v. Scandal game went, you may not have known it. Fury took care of business from start to finish; they were up 8-2 at halftime and closed out the win 15-5.
On the stadium field, it momentarily looked like we’d see a similar outcome when Brute Squad jumped out to a 4-1 lead, up a couple breaks. It took Molly Brown a few points to dial in some throws, but they cleaned things up a bit and were able to earn back the breaks, closing out the half on serve. Molly Brown has some great additions this season. Allysha Dixon adds another big presence to their offensive line, as both a dynamic cutter and a strong thrower. The return of Dena Slattery props up their defensive line, much in the same way Dixon adds to the O line, leading the charge behind the disc after a turn. Claire Chastain, not unusually, plays both ways and seemingly every point. She and Manuela Cardenas continue to click, often going every other with quick give and goes. But Brute Squad is just nearly impossible to match up with top to bottom, as we came to find out even more vehemently in the championship final.
Brute Squad got two more breaks in the second half, which was enough to get them the 15-13 win and a berth in the final.
The championship game was played before a crowded stadium that was there to see two of the longtime best teams in ultimate duke it out yet again.
Technically, Fury was the favorite going into the game. But. That doesn’t count for all that much once the first pull goes up. As mentioned earlier, Brute Squad is incredibly difficult to match up with from top to bottom, but an opposing roster that includes four 2017 World Games players, not to mention multiple 2016 WUGC National Team and recent U-24 players, should – on paper – be the team that can do it. It seemed like that theory would play out pretty well through the first 10 or so points, despite a couple of traded breaks. Fury was up 5-4 before Brute Squad scored six straight to take a 10-5 lead. Individual match ups were fun to watch all across the field, but just as great to watch was Brute Squad’s team defense. They are incredibly successful at clamping down in the red zone and forcing receiver options into a smaller space than their opponent would like or is used to, which generates plenty of break chances.
Although Brute Squad has plenty of superstars in their own right, the stat sheet, as usual, shows a balanced effort. Fury stayed in the game late, getting a break back for 14-11, but Brute Squad was determined to close out the championship. Kami Groom crossed over to the offensive line after that break, as an extra weapon to ensure the win, and despite Fury countering with their own crossover players (on a line that included all four of their World Games players at once: Sarah Griffith, Octavia Payne, Carolyn Finney and Anna Nazarov), it worked. Fury got the disc in-hand, but a turfed first throw gave the disc back to Brute Squad just outside their end zone. Groom was isolated at the front of the stack, and made a great layout grab, alongside a bidding Carolyn Finney, on an up-line throw from Claudia Tajima to seal the game and Brute Squad’s second U.S. Open Championship title.
Brute Squad, unsurprisingly, got contributions from up and down the roster. As usual, Liên Hoffmann was huge for them in keeping the disc moving downfield, no matter who Fury threw at her on defense. Also noteworthy – Brute’s biggest pick up of the year might be Jessie Grignon Tomas, who made more than a handful of spectacular Ds and catches over the course of the weekend.
Brute Squad certainly looks to be in serious contention for another National Championship run. But they’ll certainly have stiff competition. We’ll just have to stay tuned through October to see how things play out.