Photos by Marshall Goff, Burt Granofsky and Paul Andris – Ultiphotos.com
This past weekend saw USA Ultimate’s 2016 Club National Championships in Rockford, IL. While many teams showcased elite level talent, all three titles are headed home to the same town.
Boston Ironside defeats San Francisco Revolver to win team’s First National Championship.
The 2016 Ironside team, including Boston Whitecaps standouts like Jay Clark, Piers McNaughton, Tyler Chan and Christian Foster, as well as Whitecaps veterans Jeff Graham, Josh Markette and Danny Clark, was ranked as the top overall seed heading into the annual tournament and did not fail to impress.
After earning a spot in the quarterfinals after winning their pool, Ironside convincingly defeated perennial contender Sockeye, who narrowly defeated fellow Boston squad Dig in Pre-Quarters. Dig, a new team in 2016, comprised of several Whitecaps (Tanner Halkyard, Misha Herscu, Mat Little and Frederik Brasz among others) and coached by Whitecaps Assistant Coach Tom Matthews, came into the weekend as the 15 seed, but was able to force universe point against the former Champions from Seattle, just missing a Quarterfinal matchup with their fellow Bostonians.
Advancing to the semifinals, Ironside was able to dispatch another former national champion team in Denver’s Johnny Bravo, before meeting west coast powerhouse, San Francisco Revolver in the final. The 2016 Final surely brought back memories for the veterans on both teams, as it was Revolver who ended Ironside’s undefeated season in the 2010 Final. In an incredibly close and hard fought game, both teams played at levels one would expect from potential National Champions. With the game tied at 12-12 on a double-game-point, the disc found its way into the veteran hands of two time MLU Championship MVP Jeff Graham for the game winning score.
Also bringing their first ever National Championship to Boston was Slow White, the area’s elite Mixed squad.
Whitecaps’ fans will be quick to recognize many names on the Slow White roster, including veterans Shaun Doherty and Ben Katz, 2016 rookie sensation Tannor Johnson and former Whitecap Miles Montgomery-Butler. Doherty and Montgomery-Butler were part of both the 2013 Whitecaps Championship team, while they were joined by Katz in 2015 for the franchise’s second title. Johnson wowed fans in 2016, setting the single game scoring record against the New York Rumble this past season. Fans may also recognize Slow White’s Captain Hannah Baranes, as well as Erin Rea and Vicki Chang from 2016’s Boston Area Women’s All-Star Game, hosted by the Whitecaps.
Slow White dominated their competition all weekend in Rockford, coming in as the #2 seed and easily working their way through pool-play. Earning a direct pass to the Quarterfinals, they dismissed #1 seeded Philadelphia Amp 15-7, before leaving three-time reigning National Champions Minneapolis’ Drag’n Thrust (#3) in their dust on the way to the Finals.
In the final, Slow White met their first real challenge, facing off against tournament cinderella and regional neighbor, Metro North from Connecticut. The Whitecaps on Slow White would have been familiar with several members of Metro North, who draw from the same talent pool as the Rumble, including 2016 veterans Seth Canetti and Andrew Bosco.
Despite jumping out to a three-goal lead early, Slow White stumbled for the first time all weekend, with Metro North forcing ties at 5-5 and 6-6 before taking their first lead of the game and taking half leading 8-6. Boston came out of the half swinging, forcing a tie at 8-8 before Metro North was able to get on the same page and reclaim the lead at 9-8. With a title in sight, Slow White took over from that point on, using suffocating pressure on defense to outscore Metro North 9-3 in the second half, including four straight goals to end the game, 15-11.
While Ironside and Slow White celebrated their teams first titles, Boston’s elite Women’s team, Brute Squad entered the weekend looking to defend their 2015 title.
After winning it all last season, ending the decade long stranglehold of San Francisco Fury and Washington D.C. Scandal, Brute Squad was looking to repeat as Champions in 2016.
Brute Squad, who made up the bulk of the talent on display during the Boston Area Women’s All-Star Game, were lead by Captains Claudia Tajima and Chelsea Murphy blitzed their way through pool play and the early rounds, knocking off San Francisco’s Nightlock and Colorado’s Molly Brown on their road to the Finals carried by strong play from Angela Zhu and Kami Groom.
The final featured a rematch of the 2015 tournament, with Brute Squad facing off against top-seeded Seattle Riot, a team featuring Seattle Rainmakers Head Coach Fiona McKibben, as well as former Assistant Coach Charlie Mercer. While Brute Squad got the best of Riot in 2015, the Seattle squad had won 2 of their 3 meetings in 2016.
While Boston scored first, the two teams traded goals throughout the game, with Seattle holding a one goal lead at half on a break to McKibben. Neither team was able to pull away in the second half, with the final confrontation set on a double-game-point, 11-11. With the repeat on the line, Lien Hoffmann found Amber Sinicrope in the endzone to seal up the back-to-back title.
With a clean sweep of all three divisions, Boston Ultimate has declared itself to be the apex of elite level club ultimate, earning their citywide moniker of “Titletown”. Boston’s dominance in ultimate is not news to any MLU fans, with the Whitecaps holding steady as the winningest franchise in league history and the only team with multiple titles in their first 4 seasons. Look for Boston to continue producing fantastic talent across the youth, collegiate, club and professional levels.