By: Louis Zatzman
It took a perfect game, but New York PoNY is your new men’s division champion. After surviving uppercuts from Washington, D.C Truck Stop and Raleigh Ring of Fire in elimination games leading up to the finals, San Francisco Revolver was eventually unable to match New York’s intensity. In the end, it was Beau Kittredge – the former Revolver champion – who delivered the storybook ending and won the game 15-7 for his new team in New York.
New York came into the championship game much sharper and more energetic than San Francisco, who just couldn’t stay out of their own way. PoNY committed only a single offensive turnover in the entire game, while Revolver only managed four offensive points without turnovers in the game.
New York’s offense was clean to start the game. They patiently worked the disc down the field, before Sam Little found himself in a little trouble near the end zone. Revolver was pushing handler Sean Keegan out of the reset area, so Keegan calmly raced into the end zone to catch the game’s first goal.
New York managed the second goal of the game when Josh Stevens-Stein laid out on an inside break throw across the middle of the field. Revolver’s defense was tight, but PoNY managed to retain possession with three consecutive dives to wrangle reset passes. Eventually, Stevens-Stein tallied bookends – catching New York’s goal after manufacturing the opportunity with his block – on a Ben Katz throw.
“Josh Stevens-Stein getting the first block of the game was huge,” said Keegan. “It was a great way to set the tone, and it was exciting to see him do that. He’s been doing it all year. He’s another guy that just has to grind against the best matchups on the other team, and it’s a lot of fun to see.”
Revolver continued their sloppy play, turfing the disc on the ensuing offensive point, though they recovered to hold. When PoNY used a zone a few minutes later, Beau Kittredge easily captured an ill-chosen huck meant for Grant Lindsley. New York had trouble finishing all of their early chances, but they earned so many opportunities that they didn’t need a high conversion rate.
PoNY raced ahead 5-2 on a sloppy, multi-turnover point. Ottawa-native Laurent Loiseau skied Marcelo Sanchez for a block at one point, giving New York an incredible highlight in an otherwise conservatively played game. Eventually, Revolver again turfed the disc, allowing an easy Matt Hennessy assist to Ben Spielman.
The half continued with relatively cleaner play, as Harper Garvey aired hucks to Jimmy Mickle and Ben Jagt on consecutive offensive points for New York. They managed one more break en route to an incredible 8-4 lead at half.
Early in the year, PoNY hosted a motivational speaker from New York New York, who won five consecutive titles from 1989 to 1993. David Blau told PoNY about NYNY’s mantra of always playing like they were down by two points. Following in the footsteps of their generational precedent, PoNY stayed hungry, beating Revolver by a larger margin in the second half than they did in the first.
PoNY used creative defensive looks to flummox Revolver. PoNY chased down the pull in junky zone looks, but they were different zones nearly every time. After only a few throws, New York would transition into person defenses. The adaptability and variability of defenses kept Revolver guessing.
“The thing about that basic junk defense that we threw is that it has very few basic rules,” said Coach Bryan Jones. “It’s very descriptive, meaning we don’t have a player who’s supposed to go here or here, based on whatever. We play together and do things to disrupt the opponent and make it weird. That’s the greatness of it…It has a goal to create chaos.”
On the first point of the second half, another errant Revolver play gave the disc to New York, this time as a handler threw the disc to empty space. That break put New York ahead 9-4, and it prefaced perhaps the only section of clean play in the entire game.
Revolver and PoNY combined for five clean offensive holds towards the end of the game. Revolver finally began to communicate better, holstering the disc as New York momentarily flashed poaches in the lane, and allowing Grant Lindsley to dominate. He either caught or threw all of Revolver’s goals during the stretch, as it seemed like they might be figuring out New York’s junk defense.
On the other side of the disc, Revolver couldn’t force a turn from New York’s offense. PoNY was paced by contributions across the board. Chris Kocher, Jimmy Mickle, Sean Keegan and Harper Garvey provided terrific reset options, and all were fantastic at catching the disc under extreme duress. New York displayed discipline by continually choosing to throw unders for short-to-medium gains; Revolver respected the deep threats of Ben Jagt and Jimmy Mickle, and Jagt’s deep cuts especially opened breathing room for handlers in the short space.
“We didn’t do anything special,” said cutter Ben Jagt. “We just played very good, fundamental offense.”
There were, however, some highlights.
To go up 11-6, Jagt received the disc coming under and uncorked a monster backhand to Keegan flying deep. While Keegan had steps on his defender, Jagt put too much pace on the disc. It appeared to be on its way out of the back of the end zone, but Keegan miraculously caught up and just dragged his feet to stay in bounds.
“Jagt can rip it. I’m not sure why he didn’t put it 15 yards shorter,” laughed Keegan.
New York was leading 12-7 when the wheels fell off for San Francisco. The unflappable Revolver – winner of five championships since just 2010 – collapsed. Mike Drost collected an incredible poach block to allow New York to break and lead 13-7. Revolver then threw the disc away on a swing; New York led 14-7. On the final point of the game, Lindsley needed a reset, and Ashlin Joye was dancing in the dump space. Joye went one way, and the disc another.
New York picked up the disc, and Kittredge flew deep. Against his former team, he leapt up to grab the game-winning score. The storybook ending did not escape his notice.
“That’s what I was thinking about,” said Kittredge. “Because I was very tired, and I didn’t really want to cut. I figured if there was going to be a story or something, that it would make a better ending.”