A historic day for Portland ultimate.
September 15, 2015 by Emily Bowden in News, Recap with 17 comments
This year’s Northwest Regional offered only two bids to Nationals rather than last year’s three. Sockeye, Rhino, and Furious George all made it to Frisco a season ago, but somebody was going to go home disappointed this year.
Considering ranking and regular season performance, it was correctly projected that the bids would go to Sockeye and Rhino, but, in an exciting final, Rhino bested the Fish to win the Region for the first time since 1993, showing that they’re ready to play their hardest at Nationals and take down some other top teams along the way.
Rhino Is Top In The Northwest
Rhino came into the tournament as the second seed, but ready to show Sockeye that their upset of them at Nationals last year was no fluke. In their one regular season game against Seattle, at the Pro-Elite Challenge in July, Sockeye beat Rhino 13-10, and went on to win the tournament. Going into Regionals, both were top seeded in their pools and breezed through pool play on Saturday with 5-0 records to put them in the Sunday finals.
Sunday saw a number of forfeits across both the winners’ and losers’ brackets, which resulted in a large and excited audience watching the Rhino-Sockeye final. This was Sockeye’s game to lose, and Rhino knew it. The game was well-played, and close, but Rhino never let Sockeye find an edge.
Rhino came roaring out of the gate to take an early 4-1 lead and went on to take half 8-4. But a big lull for Rhino coming into the second half followed. Sockeye stormed back with three breaks and tied it up at 8-8 after a huge sky from Sockeye mainstay Donnie Clark.
After trading a few points, Sockeye turned the disc deep, leading Rhino to score and pull ahead at 13-12. Rhino scored the next point as soft cap went on at 14-12. Sockeye turned it and got it back, sending the disc into the endzone to star receiver Matt Rehder. Sockeye then scored on a break to tie it up at 14-14.
Rhino turned the disc, then Sockeye turned it immediately after leading to a Rhino score. The last point was a Sockeye possession, but a huge interception from Rhino gave them the chance they needed to close out the win with a final score of 16-14. An elated Rhino took a moment for a well-deserved celebration:
Rhino Celebration After 2015 Regionals
Sockeye Clinches The Second Bid
The third seeded Furious George played well this weekend, but had no answers for a much stronger Sockeye, who claimed the second bid.
Furious won all their pool play games, save for the game against Rhino, where they were handily defeated 13-7. They beat Powderhogs on Sunday, and got to rest when Anger Management forfeited the following game.
Despite good looks and strong defense from Furious, Sockeye ran the game, taking half after some good breaks and ultimately winning comfortably, 15-9. Furious was clearly disappointed; not having that third bid made it a long shot for this team to get back to Nationals. Still, they still put up some good games and will have things to build on for next year.
The most exciting takeaway from this weekend is Rhino’s victory, and how this will affect their seeding for Nationals. Rhino had a few rough years in the past, but they looked strong and self-assured all weekend, with memories of not qualifying for Nationals in 2013 completely erased. So far this season, Rhino has proven that their success at last year’s Nationals was not an aberration; they will be even more dangerous this season after adding in some key pieces like Eli Janin.
Both Rhino and Sockeye look like promising teams with the skill and desire to drive deep into the bracket in Frisco.
#7 Eugene Dark Star beat #4 Utah PowderHogs 12-9 in pool play to help the Eugene team make it to the top bracket on Sunday, where they gave Anger Management a run for their money, losing 15-12. Furious George also beat Powderhogs 15-12, and Anger Management forfeited to the Canadians, giving them their spot in the game-to-go without having to play a second round game.