It was a big day at Club Championships, with a few surprises and a lots of business as usual at the top. We’ll go through some of the major story lines to give you an inside look at what happened.
Seth Wiggins: It didn’t look pretty, but it worked
Rhino seemed to be in serious trouble once the news broke that Seth Wiggins had broken his throwing hand thumb. I was quickly assured that he would be playing through it. Early on, in Portland’s match up against Ironside, he was featured on defense as the deep deep in a zone. That wouldn’t last that long, especially when they were down 11-7 to Furious George. He wasn’t the only reason for the comeback and the eventual win, but his play was the most surprising. With his hand wrapped up in big ace bandages and no cast, he proceeded to score goal after goal. It was Rhino’s saving grace, their best player coming through with an impact performance. Oh, did we happen to mention that two of those Thursday goals came on double game point?
How did he remain so effective? He transformed himself back to a young cutter who’s just about too fast for all the other defenders. He’s also has a tiny bit more experience than others on the field. Wiggins would optimize his cuts to gain big yards, and throw lefty push passes right back to handlers. There were a few moments of attempted down field backhands that resulted in turnovers, but it was the lefty flick that caught my eye more. With the broken thumb, teams seemed more willing to let him get behind the defense… almost showing a thought process that said, “he can’t hurt us.” It may have just been the wind, as it was 35 mph strong, but defenses continually let him find space right along the sideline for big late goals.
There’s little doubt that without Wiggins, Rhino was heading towards 0-3. Instead, they’re 2-1 with a chance to find themselves in quarters.
Chase Sparling-Beckley has finally been spotted! The tall gigantic cutter was very effective, but not in the way that most would have thought. We expected big skys, and him torching defenders deep. Instead we saw him pick up the disc at the cone off of a turn and guide the offense down the field like an experienced handler. His throws, along with those of his other Rhino teammates made a difference late in the windy games.
Furious George vs. Rhino Ending
After down 11-7, Rhino went on a 6-0 break to lead 13-11. Rhino’s zone was working well when there were no holes available to the middle of the field. As a result, the defense received the disc at a reasonable field position allowing for Dylan Freechild, Cody Bjorklund and others to put it deep despite the strong crosswind. Furious countered with 2 goals of their own to tie at 13s, and then took a one point lead 15-14. Oscar Pottinger helped get things started with flicks that were unaffected by the wind, hitting Nick Menzies downfield. Menzies would continue to next cutter quickly, just another link in the chain towards a goal.
Portland pushed the game to 16-16 before there was a wild double game point. There were six substitutions alone as Rhino tried to upgrade their throwers and Furious countered with defense in mind. At one point, Furious nearly held the game in their hands but the receiver could not hang on. At the end, of course, it was Wiggins’ turn to go deep and score the game’s final point.
Revolver and Boston both strong
Revolver and Ironside both had great days, going 3-0 without too much trouble. Revolver’s offense pitched a shutout, giving Ring of Fire 7 chances to convert on d, but the Bay Area would get all turns back. Ironside defensive line’s offense started slow, but produced enough turns to beat down Rhino 15-6. Power Pools will be the first real tests for both squads at this tournament.
Chain Lightning, down but not
We’ve been waiting for the old Chain to come alive, but it just hasn’t happened yet. The wind has wreaked havoc on their offense, forcing them to stay patient and work the unders. Chain subscribes to the philosophy that “chicks dig the long ball,” but that piece of wisdom should probably have an addendum for 35 mph wind. Losses to GOAT and Sockeye have shown the inability for the defense to come back in games because of their one dimensional strategy. There is still a ton of talent on this squad, but they’ll have to put it together on day 2 to even have shot of going through pre-quarters.
Sockeye has a hiccup
Sockeye’s loss to Sub Zero is a head scratcher but this type of thing has happened early already this season. Truck Stop took down Seattle at ECC before the Fish rebounded with a win over Doublewide. At the end of the day they cruised to victory against Chain Lightning and GOAT. Sockeye is built for this weather with multiple zone defenses at their disposal. They’ll match up against Ironside in the 2nd power pool game, likely giving Boston some trouble.
Doublewide adds pieces on defense
With the concern of the return of Kurt Gibson and Brodie Smith, I was wondering how the offense would function. Well, when the freshly healed players are put on defense, you don’t have to worry about the offensive chemistry. Gibson would play offense at spots, but was primarily the leader of the defensive line. Brodie Smith got limited action, usually zone situations. Austin battled with Johnny Bravo but pulled away late. All signs point to that Doublewide-Revolver match up being a good one.
We’ll have more analysis on day two!