By: Noah Robiner
With three rounds of pool play down, there is a clear favorite to take the laurels in the men’s division of the 2018 U.S. Open, but a handful of strong sides still have a shot to steal their glory. Revolver made it look easy on Friday, cruising to three wins in Pool A. PoNY stands the best chance to nab the second seed in the pool and advance to bracket play, while Ring of Fire and Sub Zero were untouchable in Pool B and have all but secured their place in the semis.
The 12 teams weathered a shifting wind and light rain throughout the day, which intermittently gave way to heavy heat. Conditions Saturday promise to be much harsher, with forecasts of moderate winds and periodic downpours.
If Revolver continues their winning ways on Saturday in Pool A, PoNY and Truck Stop, both 2-1, are in contention to snag the second seed, while the Buzz Bullets and Doublewide, both at 1-2, are waiting in the wings should the east coast sides drop a crucial result. Doublewide takes on PoNY at 8:30 a.m., followed by the two games likely to determine the outcome of the pool: Buzz Bullets vs. Doublewide and Truck Stop vs. PoNY, both at 10:45 a.m.
Ring of Fire and Sub Zero, both sitting at 3-0, square off at 8:30 a.m. in a battle that will almost certainly determine the top seed in Pool B and, with it, the privilege to delay the dreaded matchup with Revolver. Ring, a perennial powerhouse, and Sub Zero, who came out strong on Friday with upsets over Johnny Bravo and Machine, face the two lowest seeds in their pool to close out the day and, barring a massive collapse, will both advance to bracket play.
Revolver was in the driver’s seat all game against Doublewide, holding off a second-half surge from the Austin side to take the game 15-10. Joel Schlachet led the way for Revolver with three goals and assists. The Buzz Bullets just couldn’t connect on their deep shots in their first game, paving the way for ninth-seeded PoNY to claim a 14-9 win, as Truck Stop blew past the Osaka Spirits 15-5 in their first game of the day.
Ring of Fire came out on top against Machine in the only close game of the first round. Chicago scored three straight out of half to take a 9-8 lead, but Machine couldn’t contain Raleigh’s Henry Fisher, who exploded for four second-half goals on the way to a 14-12 win. Johnny Bravo held the Loquitos to two scores in the second half en route to a comfortable 15-7 win. Fire of London couldn’t hold off a Sub Zero squad firing on all cylinders. Minneapolis cruised to an easy 15-4 victory.
Revolver and PoNY traded blows early, but sloppy deep shots from New York allowed the clinical Revolver side to pull away in the first half and claim a 15-9 victory. The Buzz Bullets found their rhythm in the second round, hitting their deep shots consistently and relying on contributions up and down the roster to dispatch Washington, D.C. Truck Stop 15-10. Doublewide nabbed their first win of the day against Osaka Spirits, prevailing 15-10.
Ring of Fire won another close game in the second round, this time triumphing 15-12 against Loquitos, and Sub Zero notched an upset over Johnny Bravo, taking a 15-12 victory in a sloppy game. Gregory Cousins tallied six goals and tossed two assists along the way. Machine made quick work of Fire of London, defeating the Brits 15-3.
The first half of Revolver (3-0) v. Buzz Bullets (1-2) provided the best ultimate of the day, as Revolver pounced on an early break chance to enter the intermission up 8-7. From there on out, it was all Revolver, as the intense San Francisco D line forced Japanese mistakes up and down the field to claim a 15-10 victory. Truck Stop (2-1) got back to their winning ways against Doublewide (1-2), overcoming a three-goal, four-assist game from Austin’s Chase Cunningham to win 15-9, while PoNY (2-1) trounced Osaka (0-3) 15-2 to close out the day.
Jonathan Nethercutt and Matt Gouchoe-Hanas both had big games as Ring of Fire (3-0) dealt Johnny Bravo (1-2) a 14-10 loss. Sub Zero (3-0) closed out Friday’s strong showing with a 15-9 win over Machine (1-2), and Loquitos (1-2) pulled out a 15-8 win against Fire of London (0-3).