By: Kevin McCormick
The opening day of play in the mixed division of at the National Championships provided plenty of fireworks. Only two teams went undefeated, and none of the four pools finished perfectly to seed. While the bottom seeds from each pool have all been eliminated from championship contention, the upsets among the top seeds have created some very interesting bracket scenarios.
- (8) Blackbird (2-1)
- (1) AMP (2-1)
- (12) No Touching! (1-2)
- (13) Toro (1-2)
Despite an opening-round loss to Toro, Blackbird rebounded with a big win over No Touching! and followed it up with a statement upset over top-seeded AMP in the third round to win the pool and earn a bye to the quarterfinals. Neither AMP nor Blackbird ever had a lead greater than two, and AMP missed a key opportunity when, with a 13-12 lead, they couldn’t connect on a wide-open break opportunity. Instead, Blackbird held to tie the game and quickly broke on a short-field turnover. AMP held to force double-game point, but a smoother offensive point for Blackbird earned them the 15-14 win. Mac Taylor and Maline Wiebe were big contributors on offense all day for Blackbird.
AMP won their games against Toro and No Touching! with relative ease, taking half 8-4 in both games and never really getting a scare of a comeback. But the loss to Blackbird drops them to the second spot in the pool, which means they will now have to play Slow White in the pre-quarter round tomorrow morning.
The win-or-go-home game between Toro and No Touching! was a regular-old huckfest. Both teams are known for their deep games offensively, despite their vastly differing styles of defense, and neither seemed ready to abandon that offensive strategy despite limited early success. The game became one of attrition and field position. Tanner Barcus got bookends to give Toro the lead at 9-8, but No Touching! got the break right back at 10-9 after Toro tried a lazy pass over the zone. The teams traded turnover-ridden holds before No Touching! won 13-12 in the cap, sending Toro packing and rending their earlier win over Blackbird meaningless. No Touching! will play BFG in the pre-quarters tomorrow morning.
- (2) Drag’n Thrust (3-0)
- (11) Polar Bears (2-1)
- (7) shame. (1-2)
- (14) XIST (0-3)
Drag’n Thrust continued to shine bright as they went undefeated and claimed the top spot in Pool B. They faced a hungry Polar Bears team in their first game, who kept the game close for a while until Drag’n pulled away for the 15-11 victory. They easily handled Nationals first-timers XIST in a relatively unremarkable game. Their final game against shame., however, was anything but unremarkable. After going down 0-3, Drag’n had to scrape just to keep the game within reach at halftime. Down 8-6, they called a spirit timeout, and both teams spent halftime discussing some of the heated plays that took place in the first half. The second half saw some much cleaner play from both sides. Drag’n rode great plays from Sarah Meckstroth and Bryan Vohnoutka to come back and win 13-12 to earn a bye to the quarterfinals.
After their first-round loss to Drag’n Thrust, the Polar Bears played a strong, complete game against shame., coming away with a 15-11 victory. They weren’t out of danger yet, as there loomed a possibility of losing to XIST and being eliminated by tie-breaker. The last game was a true nail-biter, with the Polar Bears up for most of the game, but not by much. XIST was able to break late in the game to tie the score and ultimately force double-game point, but PBR held on for the win and the second spot in the pool. They will play Mixtape in the pre-quarters tomorrow morning.
The “elimination” game in Pool B happened to take place in the first round, where shame., in their third Nationals appearance, capitalized on XIST’s inexperience to come away with an easy 15-7 victory. shame. will face Mischief in pre-quarters tomorrow morning.
- (6) Space Heater (2-1)
- (10) Mischief (2-1)
- (3) Mixtape (2-1)
- (15) Jughandle (0-3)
The long-awaited Space Heater v. Mixtape game ultimately defined Pool C in a way few saw coming. With Mischief pulling off a comeback upset over Space Heater in the second round, Space Heater needed to defeat Mixtape by three or more points to claim the pool title. Both teams earned multiple breaks in the first half, with Space Heater earning the last one to go into halftime on serve. But they came out with an unstoppable fire in the second half and never gave Mixtape a chance, rolling to a 15-9 victory and a bye to the quarterfinals. Space Heater saw contributions from up and down their roster, but Alan Kolick, Joe Freund, Sandy Jorgensen and Georgia Bosscher stood out, in particular.
Mischief had, in hindsight, an opportunity to win the pool in their first game against Mixtape. They were behind most of the game, with an offense that just wasn’t clicking. They were able to tie the game 10-10 before giving up three straight to lose 13-10. Mischief salvaged the day by overcoming a 12-10 deficit against Space Heater to win 14-13, and then staving off a do-or-die Jughandle 15-11. Mischief will play shame. in pre-quarters tomorrow morning.
Mixtape seemed to be firing on all cylinders through their first two and a half games, but their final half of the day was their undoing. Losing by six points was exactly enough to fall to third place in the pool; scoring just one more point would have earned them second. They will play the Polar Bears in pre-quarters tomorrow morning.
Nationals rookies Jughandle played with “joyfire” all day but couldn’t keep up with the rest of Pool C, finishing fourth in the pool, which eliminates them from championship contention.
- (5) Snake Country (3-0)
- (4) BFG (2-1)
- (9) Slow White (1-2)
- (16) Cocktails (0-3)
In what was supposed to be one of the more unpredictable pools, Pool D was a mere two points away from going all to chalk. Snake Country earned comfortable wins over Cocktails and Slow White in their first two games and faced BFG in their final game for the pool’s top spot and the bye to quarterfinals. Snake went down 6-8 and was still down 9-10 when the soft cap went off, game to 12. Snake then rattled off three straight for the win. Lexi Zalk, Dan Glatt, Jacob Taylor and Brian Garcia were all over the stat sheets for Snake Country.
BFG had a wild ride of a day. In their first game against Slow White, they led for most of the game by a narrow margin but couldn’t close the door on Slow White. A few late-game breaks tied the score, and eventually, BFG was receiving on double-game point. They forced a tight throw to the side of the end zone that couldn’t be caught in bounds, giving Slow a chance to break for the win. But an immediate turnover from Slow gave BFG another opportunity, one that they quickly capitalized on for the win. In their second game, against Cocktails, they found themselves down 3-5 before going on an epic 12-1 run to earn the win and second place in Pool D. BFG will face No Touching! in pre-quarters tomorrow.
After their heartbreaking loss to BFG, Slow White came out flat against Snake Country and couldn’t hang with them as they fell 10-15. Slow White was pitted against Cocktails in the last round to decide who would play in the pre-quarters and who would go to consolation brackets. The game stayed close for a while, but Slow gradually pulled away to a 15-10 win. Slow White will play AMP in pre-quarters tomorrow morning.