Blaine, Minn. (Aug. 3, 2019) – It was bracket day at the 2019 U.S. Open Club Championships! And it did not disappoint. Things kicked off early this morning with the quarterfinal round and headed straight into the semifinals.
Riot seemed to get a handle on their match up the earliest, but that’s not to say it wasn’t a close game. Riot managed to pull away from HUCK to the tune of a 6-3 lead, and despite their trading two consecutive breaks, Riot moved onto the semifinals with a three-point win.
Molly Brown faced off against Revolution in one of a few nailbiters in the round. Molly Brown had control of the game early, mounting an 8-5 lead by halftime. But Revolution followed up their hold out of half with a break to get them moving. As usual, Revolution played tight lines, even within their pretty small roster, and they stuck to their junky zone look. Overall, Molly Brown did a good job of staying patient and taking “as many as it takes,” as Coach Joe Durst advised. But Revolution stayed with their system, kept working their zone and eventually made the most of the opportunities they got. Revolution tied the game up at 10-10 and got the break they needed to go ahead at 12-11 after a great D from Maria Paula Santos. One of many impressive defensive plays from Revolution during the game (and throughout the weekend). A second straight break put them ahead by two and pretty much wrapped things up for the Colombians. As usual, Revolution relied heavily on players like Elizabeth Mosquera and Yina Cartegena – and for good reason. Revolution moved on to their second U.S. Open semifinals berth in as many trips to the event.
Not for the first time this weekend, Brute Squad fought through a less-than-perfect performance in the first half, cleaning things up and refocusing late in the game, to pull out a come-from-behind win. Today’s effort came against the German National Team. Germany jumped out in front 6-2, surprising everyone who was following along with the score line at home. Brute Squad got one break before half, but they still had work to do. All the usual suspects got involved, and things were quickly back in Brute Squad’s favor at 10-9. That momentum continued, and a 5-2 run later, the defending U.S. Open champions had survived the scare and advanced to the semifinals.
And then there was Fury v. Scandal. Like Brute Squad, Fury went down early, with Scandal up as much as four and as late as 9-5. But unlike Brute Squad, Fury wasn’t able to bring it all the way back. But they did manage to bring the game to overtime. They chipped away a break at a time, with some big contributions on both sides of the disc from people like Claire Desmond and Cree Howard. Fury eventually tied things up at 14-14, but Scandal held firm. Robyn Fennig and Carolyn Normile again had huge games for Scandal, along with Keila Strick, who was eating up yards downfield. The score was tied, but Scandal had the offensive advantage, and after two traded holds, they got the upset. Their newly stacked roster is accomplishing just what many people thought it could and making them a big part of the final four conversation, both now and for later in the season.
The women’s semifinals were slightly staggered, with the ESPN-broadcast game getting the earlier start. So Riot and Revolution took to the field at noon local time. It was hot on the turf, with the humidity making the otherwise-reasonable heat feel much more apparent, which meant the game was in for extra water breaks. And after the first couple points, it seemed like a very good thing. Between D’s and miscues and a timeout, the first point was lengthy, to say the least. Riot eventually held, but it was a bit of marathon, taking a solid seven minutes. Given their comparably small roster, Revolution’s legs had to be feeling a bit heavy. At least it looked a little that way early on. Riot took advantage of their slight sluggishness to start the game, breaking on the second point, and the third, and the fourth before Revolution finally got on the board at 4-1. Revolution got their first break for 7-5 after a Riot overthrow. Revolution worked the disc the full 70 in and around Riot’s junk look, with Manuela Cárdenas going nearly every other the whole way. A 7-4 run after halftime brought everyone to double-game point, with a spot in the finals on the line. Riot started on offense and had a chance to win, but the would-be goal slipped through the receiver’s hands in the end zone. A very long 70 yards later, Revolution put the cap on what was an incredible comeback against a great team. They got the 13-12 win and are two for two on finals appearances at the U.S. Open.
In the other semifinal, Scandal was in yet another battle – with Brute Squad this time. In a new twist for Brute Squad, they were the ones to finally jump out in front with an early run. They earned themselves a three-point buffer before Scandal got on the board, with help from Caitlyn Lee and Courtney Verhaalen. Brute Squad carried their buffer with them into halftime. Scandal held to start things off after the break and, coupled with a hold break combo right afterward, the game was suddenly tied at 9-9. Robyn Fennig crossed over to the Scandal D line (a not-uncommon sight this weekend) and got a run-through D that ended in a break when Amy Zhou reeled in a throw from Fennig on the second chance. The goal put Scandal in front 10-9. The lead didn’t last long. Rather than trading just holds, Scandal and Brute ended up trading holds then breaks from the goal for Brute to jump back ahead at 11-10 all the way to their goal that ultimately earned them the spot in the finals with a 15-14 win. Two-goal stints all the way, with several long points thrown in. Both teams were playing to leave everything on the field, coming up with big D’s and impressive bids to save possession with regularity. Scandal received on double-game point, but a tough throw to corral turned it over to Brute Squad, and they capitalized. They took their time moving down the field, taking what was offered until Amber Sinicrope found Zoom, Zoom Kami Groom for the game-winning goal. Brute Squad survived and advanced to a meeting with Revolution bright and early Sunday morning.
Tune into the women’s final – Boston Brute Squad v. Medellín Revolution on ESPN3 and watchespn.com tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. ET / 8:30 a.m. CT.