This just in: no team comes to the USAU Club Championships to lose.
That may come as a shock to some – what could a pool four seed reasonably expect from their first Championship experience – but once they are here, these teams want to win. They want it all. All the work throughout the season wasn’t just to get the players a vacation and a couple of evenings at the Daquiri Deck. It shouldn’t be so surprising to find out Cosa Nostra traveled to Sarasota expecting to win.
“We’re happy to be here,” explained Cosa Nostra’s Casey Hogg with a sly smile, “But we’re happier to have two wins.” Expectations from others may have not been high for the 16th seed in the Mixed Division out of Texas, but they had ideas of their own. Cosa Nostra opened the day with a surprising 15-13 upset over Michigan’s Overhaul, Pool A’s two seed.
“Any time you beat somebody at [USAU Club Championships], you get a boost in confidence,” Hogg noted. Riding that confidence, Cosa was able to overcome the three seed, Atlanta’s Bucket in a third round slugfest that went down to double game point. The Texans’ 14-13 win demonstrated to everyone else that they were not to a fluke. “This was the goal, to make it to power pools and get ourselves a shot at an easier road to quarters,” added Hogg, “This was the expectation.”
An ability to make goal line stands defensively, containing big plays that could turn into quick scores, really helped Cosa in their upsets. Against the various zone looks – particularly from Overhaul – the team was patient and effective, adaptable to defenses they had never encountered. “We did a great job taking advantage of deep matchups, men and women,” Hogg commented, referring to Cosa Nostra’s ability to open up the downfield spaces to find targets like #60 Eric Hillis. Being able to execute strategic adjustments are the signs of a confident team, so Cosa Nostra is walking the walk.
The road to quarters may be less games, but plenty of challenges await Cosa on Friday. Don’t be surprised, however, if they overcome those obstacles. Because they won’t be.