October 16, 2013 by Keith Raynor in Analysis, Preview with 3 comments
When it comes to the Mixed division at the Club Championships, the only prediction you can say with certainty is that things won’t go as predicted. A Thursday pool play game between the overall seven and eleven seeds might seem a little irrelevant in the men’s and women’s divisions. In Mixed? It’s a whole different ball game.
Last year’s Championship game? It was between the overall one seed and the eleven seed, after the six seed fell in the semifinals. The year prior? The seven seed and the eight seed. The year before that, the seven seed won it all. Oddly enough, either the seven or eleven seed has made the final for three years in a row now. The Mixed division is just that volatile. Neither of these teams qualified last year and now stand a solid chance of making quarterfinals.
The D’oh! Abides and Asheville Cahoots are probably long shots to continue that pattern, but by now, it should be understood to expect the unexpected. Each team has put together successful seasons, with Seattle going 12-2 and Asheville tallying 29-9, tying them for the lead in wins in the division. That helped earn D’oh! Abides the 8th spot in USAU’s end of season rankings, while Cahoots took the 15th position; our Power Rankings have them at 12 and 18, respectively.
The Seattle squad suffered from limited exposure to the top flight competition. The D’oh! Abides played two back to back weekends of sanctioned Ultimate — Kleinman Eruption, a primarily Northwest tournament, and the Elite-Select Challenge at Emerald City Classic — prior to the Series. D’oh! did go 5-2 against teams in the Ultiworld Top 25 and is 3-1 against the Club Championships field, so they took advantage of what limited opportunities they had. Their two losses — to Groove and Wild Card — were by a combined five points, and the Wild Card game was their only one against a top eight Club Championships seed.
Cahoots also has some of the same issues, with only the US Open and Emerald City Classic giving them connectivity with Championships qualifiers. They weren’t able to do as much with those chances, going 2-6 against the field and 5-4 against teams in the Ultiworld Top 25. However, they have some strong results to point to, like a victory over Odyssée (at US Open, where Montréal was playing well), a blowout win over Ambiguous Grey, and close losses to Polar Bears and Mischief.
The last times the two teams battled one another was at Emerald City Classic. Cahoots was in firm control of the early game, taking an 8-5 half time lead. However, a weak second half from the North Carolina team and a surging performance from D’oh! turned things around, resulting in a 14-11 win for Seattle. The game got a little chippy, with arguments surrounding travel calls bleeding into other interactions. Asheville faced down some “North Carolina!” heckles from the D’oh sideline, referring to a reputation for area Ultimate that Cahoots avoids at all costs. That won’t be forgotten when the two take the field Thursday.
Asheville would suggest that result, and others from their struggling Sunday at ECC, be taken with a grain of salt. Only 17 players made the trip to Seattle, and following an all-out effort against AMP, Asheville was without top end players Tim Murray, Cate Foster-Yackey, Harris Woody, and Juliette McNamara.
Both teams should be much better prepared for a rematch, with The D’oh! Abides having a lot more games under their belt and Cahoots healthy.
Seattle’s chemistry is important for them. As the name implies, the team leans on the original D’oh teams that represented Seattle Mixed in the past. D’oh’s last trip to the Club Championships was 2009 and their current iteration features nine players from that team. Some members were playing together on Bigfoot last season. Suffice to say, this is a team that knows each other’s strengths and weaknesses fairly well, relying on chemistry and depth over top end talent.
That isn’t to say D’oh! is without some scary threats. Former Sockeye big man Ray Illian is the first name to jump off the page, but Seattle Rainmakers teammates Allan Laviolette and Sean Sears are both strong players. Barb Hoover is a goal scoring machine for Washington Element, while Drew Siler, Gabe Pedersen, and Hall Walker bring experience to the table. Linc Verlander is another dangerous weapon.
Cahoots is a team that prefers to let their playmakers do the heavy lifting and then send their defensive unit out to play aggressively. Murray, McNamara, and Foster-Yackey are highlighted throwers in their offensive sets, with Ann Araps churning out downfield yardage. The defense does feature players like Ryan Sitler and Chris Cosgrove, but almost everyone on their defensive group has good speed and will be active in throwing lanes.
A win in this game could prove to make a huge difference in each team’s chance of making the quarterfinals. With Ambiguous Grey — who both teams have beat handily — seeded below them and the dominant Polar Bears team above them, chances are this will decide who finishes second in Pool B. That could mean the difference between playing Mischief — one of the most talented and dangerous teams in the division — and having to go through one of Wild Card or 7 Figures.
Forget the seedings. Don’t let regular season results lead you too far astray. In this game, anything can happen. The only way to see what transpires is to tune in.
Watch the game LIVE on Ultiworld at 11:15 AM CDT on Thursday. Purchase a livestream package, starting at just $12.