The Seattle Cascades have re-signed two top players in Mark Burton and Brad Houser. Burton has been a member of the league's All-AUDL First Team in each of the past two seasons, and has thrown a league-high 141 assists over the past two years. Houser emerged as the Cascades' top receiver in 2017 with 46 goals. Seattle missed the playoffs last year for the first time in three seasons.
More than 50K people are going to experience this AUDL men's ultimate showcase game tonight. More than five times that many are going to see it on TV.
This kind of exposure can be a game-changer for our relatively small sport, and presents both an opportunity and a challenge: how do we present ourselves in the face of so many people who are brand new to ultimate?
The sport of ultimate is energetic, athletic, and demonstrates good teamwork. It's non-contact and it showcases skill, strategy, and mental toughness. The cost of playing is minimal and all ages & genders can participate. Plus, it's incredibly fun to play!
As the Seattle Cascades, our values include promoting the women's and mixed divisions of our sport as well as the men's. While this Vikings game demo is awesome, it is an asymmetrical representation of our sport. Our hope is that the faces that light up when they see the disc fly will soon discover that women and girls play too! The onus is on us (ultimate organizations, fans, players) to make that happen.
If the Seattle Cascades get the opportunity to play at a Seattle Seahawks or Seattle Sounders FC game, we will aim to get the Cascades Cup (mixed gender) team on the field: seattlecascades.com/2017-roster/
Written by #24 Andrew Lynch
In the Cascades’ first of two matchups this season against San Jose, the Spiders used solid offensive play and a last second buzzer beater to defeat Seattle 27-26 and hand them their first loss of the season.
San Jose never trailed, and the Spiders’ stars Jackson Stearns, Evan Boucher, and Justin Norden all had impressive offensive games. Norden was especially effective, distributing from the handler set with ease and attacking deep as opportunities arose.
Playing shorthanded with an active roster of 19, Seattle leaned on strong overall performances by Brad Houser and Tommy Li to keep them in the game. The contest also marked the home debuts of Seattle’s two international signings, Daniel Montoya of Colombia and John Doherty of Ireland.
The Cascades offense was broken to start the game and again to make it 4-2, but settled down and ended the 1st quarter only down 6-5.
After a Spiders hold to start the 2nd, the Cascades’ youth movement got involved on O, with a nice deep shot coming from 18-year-old John Randolph to 20-year-old Zach Jackson. The D line had their chances but only converted a single break in the quarter, coming via a big hammer from Alex Duffel to Montoya after a nice layout D from Cam Smith-Bailey. Meanwhile, the Spiders’ D line was able to capitalize on slight execution errors from the Cascades, who went into halftime trailing 14-11.
In the 3rd quarter, the Cascades broke twice to tie things up at 16’s thanks to renewed energy on the defensive side. Offensively, Seattle found a groove, with improved accuracy on deep shots from Mark Burton. They were aided by Smith-Bailey, who ran down a long Mario O’Brien huck and made an incredibly explosive play to save possession before finding the end zone for a goal. The Cascades would go into the final period of play down 19-18.
The Spiders started the 4th quarter on offense and hold to go up by 2. The teams traded holds back and forth for more than 10 minutes, with the pressure steadily rising on Seattle’s D line to get a break as the clock wound down. Finally, at 26-25, John Randolph came up with a huge block in the handler set before making a nice upline cut for the bookends and the tie score.
On the final point, Seattle’s grinding defense led to a miscommunication for San Jose and a heads up D for Sam Pickel. A time out allowed the Cascades to sub in the offensive line, but a floaty throw from Smith-Bailey would lead to a Spiders poach D with 12 seconds left. One timeout and a few short passes later, a blading crossfield forehand from the Spiders’ Chuck Cao found the endzone as time expired.
Despite the heartbreak of letting the chance at the win slip through their fingers, the Cascades are staying positive and looking towards their next matchup. Smith-Bailey took to Twitter after the game to let Cascades fans know he’s ready for his next matchup, saying, “my bad, world. I’ll be back though.”
The loss dropped Seattle to 2-1 and tied for 3rd place in the now-wide open West Division, which features four one-loss teams. The Spiders moved to 4-1 after going undefeated on their tour of the Pacific Northwest, and are now tied with the San Francisco Flamethrowers for 1st place.
The Cascades next home game is May 6th at 6:00 PM at Memorial Stadium, where they play the 2-0 Pittsburgh Thunderbirds as part of the AUDL’s Cross Coast Challenge. We hope to see you all out at the game!
So if you're reading this, you probably know about my previous experiences in Ireland in the sport of Ultimate, and you maybe now understand why I've made this trip to Seattle to play in the AUDL.
But now that I'm here, it's time to talk about my goals for the coming season.
My goal as a player.
I suppose my main goal coming to this league is to see how I compare to many of the top players and teams in the world. Coming from Ireland, the exposure you can get to high level ultimate is pretty low. There's really only one club in Ireland that actually has try-outs and can cut players. The other teams basically take all the players they can, and do their best to run a club that suits new and experienced players in the same training.
Obviously this is great for newer players, as you get thrown in at the deep end playing against players much better than you. I think this is a big reason why I devolved(developed?) so quickly when I started. However the past year or two I've realised, that I am now the old guy in the team, and the challenge and excitement of going to training each week was getting smaller for me. I've not felt fully challenged as an Ultimate player in recent years outside of national competitions.
That's one of the things I'm most looking forward to in Seattle. I know every time I have a game, or a training, that I'm going to be fighting for spots on the game day roster, or trying to stop a great opposition player. I just get to focus on improving myself. I'm not coaching or captaining this team, and it's been a long time since I've got to play on a team as just a player week in week out. I hope the combination of these new surroundings brings out the best in me.
What is my biggest worry about this trip?
My only worry is how long it will take to get up to speed. I've just come back from two broken bones in my throwing hand. A month ago I couldn't throw anything with my right hand. I'm out of shape, and lacking game sharpness. I'm lucky Mark had seen me playing for Ireland, because at least if I start slow, I'll know there is one person on the team who knows I'm better than that. I know that I owe it to my team mates who I have never met to not just arrive and use that excuse to not perform right away.
On a side note to this performing topic, I think about how I'll be viewed by those back in Ireland. I've had many people congratulate me, and wish me the best. I know that there will be a lot of people following my progress back in Ireland. Some friends and some family, but also a few who have told me about their potential interest in doing something similar in the coming years. These would be people who'd respect me as a player and know me as a person, and will expect me to go over, and do big things in the AUDL.
If I'm a success, it may encourage them them try it, but if I fail to perform to the level I'm expecting of myself, perhaps they won't look to do the same.
I feel like my ability to step up to the challenge could have a ripple effect in Ireland in the coming years, and if I raise my game like I intend, this will help move Ultimate forward in Ireland by getting more players to spend a season or two in the AUDL, and gaining valuable experience to take home. Ireland is on the verge of doing something special at an international level in Ultimate, and I've the potential to use this experience to help that happen in the coming years.
My personal goals.
As much as becoming a great player is a huge motivation for me, the real thing I will be getting out of this season is growth as a person off the pitch. I love the sport, and want to learn from better players and coaches. I want learn from coaches how to become a better coach, and as a personal trainer, I want to develop a better understanding for how to train for Ultimate at the highest level.
I'm a real believer that if you love something enough, and put enough time into it, you can eventually find a way to make a living from it. If you wake up every day happy with what you are doing, you will have a happy life. I love being involved with Ultimate, and while I know I'll never be able to make a living from playing it, I'm hoping that this time spent in Seattle will enable me to find a path which leads to waking up everyday, and being able to live off something I enjoy doing related to this sport.
I don't think there's a city in the world more suited to help me in all these areas than Seattle.
I'm excited about this new chapter of my life, and the possibilities it can offer me. If it doesn't work out, and I only end up here for a single season, at least I'll know I gave it a go. Looking back on life later, I know I'll only regret the things I didn't do when I wanted to, and not the things I did, and that's how I want to live my life.
I'd like to thank the Cascades for offering me a chance to write something like this, as I've never had the chance before, and it's nice to be able to do it.
Thanks to those who read it, and hopefully you now have a better idea of who I am, and for those who do know me, maybe you now know me that bit better.
I look forward to taking to the field in the AUDL this season, and the challenges and opportunities my time in Seattle will bring.
And on that, I'll sign off.
See you in Seattle.
John Doherty #13
Like most people I was first exposed to the sport of Ultimate when I got into university in 2010. And like most, I decided to try it out without the intention of taking it seriously.
I must admit that after my first training session, I almost didn’t got back because it's not exactly fun playing Ultimate with a bunch of people who can't throw. But I ended up giving it a chance and after the 3 years I spent in University College Cork doing my degree, it is my experiences in Ultimate which have served me much more than any degree or qualification ever could.
As club captain in my final year, I spent a couple of hours each day, coaching, running fitness sessions, and doing admin work.
The saying “you get out of it what you put into it” never seemed to make more sense to me than with Ultimate that year.
By the end of the year I'd captained our men's and mixed team who both won college nationals, and I coached our beginners who won their beginners college nationals. Off the pitch the club was voted the university’s best club of the year, and I was awarded the university’s ”Sports Club Person of the Year” award. We also were invited to take part in the UK’s University nationals, and went over and won that event also after two previous years of coming up short.
The experiences I got from involvement with Ultimate only spurred me on to take it even more seriously, and to try and pursue a career that involved the same type of daily activities that I was involved with when running the club. I'd found something I loved doing every day. Playing, and being involved in coaching Ultimate is different from anything else. The whole culture of Ultimate, and the youth of the sport mean that there are so many different ways to take the sport forward. It allows leaders in Ultimate to be creative and look for new ways to do things that you don't really have in other sports due to how long they have been around.
I think I'll struggle to ever have another year that is full of so many good memories as that 2013 season. Those 5 months were arguably the best time of my life so far in terms of the successes and happy memories. It's also when I started going out with my girlfriend who I met through the sport also, so I suppose we will call that a plus as well.
Around this time, the AUDL started to become known, and the idea of going over to America to play pro seemed cool, but I knew it would be a couple of years before I'd make that move.
A few weeks later I had an experience that defined my approach to the sport. It was at the U23 world championships in Toronto, and our team did terribly. A season of what we thought was hard work filled with lots of promise ended in an almost complete disaster. The one positive was that after the event I remember our team talk, and I remember saying how we owed it to ourselves to never let a season end like that again for any Irish team we ever played on again, and I know I followed through with that.
Not long after Toronto I came home from a tournament and got a phone call saying my father was in hospital. My father had many health problems in his life, but they never really slowed him down, however this time it was serious, and he hadn't long left. I am still glad to have had those last few weeks with him, where I spent most my time with him. The real message he left me with was that everyone has to make their own way in this life, and that you can choose how it plays out. He was never someone who told me you need to this, or you need to that. I think it's a big reason why I'm so involved with Ultimate, and not tied down with a secure job, and living ''the normal life'' for someone my age. If I was, I'd never end up playing in the AUDL.
After he passed I knew the coming year would be tough, and I decided to try and occupy myself by taking on the role of coaching the U20 Irish Men's National Team. This was just another reason why this sport has given me so much. There aren't many sports that someone only playing 3 years can get the role of a national team coach, but due to the time, effort, and success that I'd had already, I got the go ahead to run the team.
The whole process of running trials, selecting the team, and coaching was something I really enjoyed. It was only later in the season when I was coaching the final team at the World Championships that I realised I probably enjoyed coaching on a daily basis more than I enjoyed playing.
There's something more satisfying about it. Perhaps it was the age of the players I was coaching, and knowing that I could share in any success they had, because I knew I was having a big influence on the team.
Because of all my successes that year, but also with the passing of my father, I'll always look back at 2013 as both the best, and worst year of my life. I also happened to wear the number 13 jersey, and since that year, the number has a lot more meaning to me, which is why the first question I asked when joining Seattle was could I get the number 13 jersey.
In 2015 I was in Copenhagen captaining the Irish Men's National Team at the European Championships. It was funny how only after my 4th year playing I was awarded the role of captain of the National Team, but again, it just goes to show the possibilities that this sport has given me due to my dedication.
In 2016 I was playing at WUGC, and I had made contact with a number of AUDL teams about keeping an eye out for me at the event. It looked like Toronto was going to be my destination. It's through the WUGC campaign that I got to know Mark Burton and he filled me in about how things work in the AUDL. I remember in Amsterdam at a warm up tournament myself and Mark were messing about who was better, and we ended up having a 5-stage competition to see who was better at various Ultimate-related things. The details are a bit foggy looking back on it now, but it went to a tie-breaker, and neither myself or Mark couldn't(could?) hit a target with a disc from about 10 meters away after about 15 minutes of trying. Needless to say, there is no real winner when that happens.
I kept in touch with Mark after that, thinking I'd potentially run into him at some stage in the league. I attended try-outs in Toronto and Ottawa in October. Both teams were interested in having me join them that season, and I had pretty much everything lined up. However a couple things changed for me, and it no longer looked like I'd be going to play. Luckily I knew Mark, and he had been following my Canada prep, and he said he could potentially get me a last minute spot on the Cascades and help me out with some things which made going elsewhere at the time a problem. A couple of conversations later, and I had managed to grab my spot on an AUDL team.
So that's gotten me to this point. As I look beside me now writing this, my bag is pretty much packed and ready. There isn't much else left to dwell on the past, it's time to start looking forward to my future in the sport.
And on that, I'll sign off.
See you in Seattle.
John Doherty #13
The sasquatch roar of a hometown crowd echoed through Memorial stadium as the Seattle Cascades took the field for the first time in 2017. Though the team features a host of fresh faces this year, Seattle's faced paced offense hasn't lost a step. Back to back hammer goals caught by Mark Burton and Cam Smith-Bailey built the foundation for an early 2-point lead that would only grow as the night went on.
After a rousing halftime performance by Overdrive that sparked a fan-led dance party in the stands the Cascades turned it up to 11. Khalif El-Salaam continued to dominate with huge skies against Morgan Hibbert and Gagan Chatha, Vancouver's two biggest aerial threats. Ben Snell punctuated a standout performance with a full-extension layout D to prevent a goal.
Young guns from the USA Junior National Team, Aldous Root and John Randolph both came up with goals. They'll be exciting to watch as they gain experience with a swathe of veteran players. Seattle's experienced offensive handlers Adam Simon and Will Chen tossed up a storm while Mario O'Brien threw 3 assists and 31 completions without a single turnover.
Mark Burton relentlessly attacked the endzone with 5 goals and 6 assists, already on track to top his 56 goals and 74 assists from 2016. Khalif El-Salaam is also in the hunt for statistical supremacy, tying Burton's 5 goals and handing off 3 assists.
Seattle's men look strong. Many will have nearly 3 weeks before their next game when Vancouver will seek revenge on their home turf. Now the attention turns to The Cascades Cup on April 14th where the Cascades' mixed-gender squad will challenge San Francisco for West-Coast ultimate dominance.
Mark Burton: 5 Goals, 6 Assists
Khalif El-Salaam: 5 Goals, 3 Assists, 1 Block
Brad Houser: 3 Goals, 2 Assists
Mario O'Brien: 3 Assists, 31 Completions, 0 Turnovers
John Randolph: 2 Goals, 2 Blocks
We've seen a lot of questions and discussion about the Cascades Cup since our announcement at the beginning of the month. The Cascades value the input of the ultimate community and opportunities to promote discussion about the Cascades Mission and Values. Our General Manager, Xtehn Titcomb has written some responses to some of the questions and concerns that have been voiced by the community. Be sure to check out the original press release to learn more about the Cascades Cup.
What will the gender ratio on the field be?
Our plan is to play each quarter, in alternation, with four of one gender and three of the other. The order will be determined by whoever wins the coin toss.
What field size? What rule set? Will the game be played with refs?
We’ll play the Cascades Cup on an AUDL field with AUDL rules and referees.
Why do try outs conflict with long-established women's events like DiscNW's Women's Winter league?
Due to a couple other large Seattle sports organizations that also use our venue (Memorial Stadium), we had to fit our two tryout weekends within a pre-existing schedule. In other words, the only availability was Friday night and Saturday morning. This was the case in 2015 and 2016, so it’s the third year in a row that we’ve followed this Fri/Sat tryout schedule. In fact, it’s becoming sort of a tradition.
In order to compensate for the late notice and to allow women to attend DiscNW Women’s Winter League, we kept the tryout attendance requirement as low as possible for women: attend one or more of these four dates (Feb 3rd, 4th, 10th, 11th). Two weeks later, the final (invite only) tryout will take place on Feb 23rd.
Our expectation for men is full attendance at our Feb 3 & 4 Combine, and Feb 10 & 11 Tryouts if they make the semi-final cut. The male-identified players who make the Cascades roster will be announced by Feb 20th.
If the AUDL, the Seattle Cascades, or the San Francisco FlameThrowers value women players as much as they say they do, why won't the women on these rosters play throughout the AUDL season?
I can speak officially on behalf of the Cascades, and offer some intuition on behalf of the other AUDL owners. It’s also worth considering the perspectives of AUDL Council Member, Rob Lloyd and AUDL Commisioner, Steve Gordon, who are thinking about the AUDL on a many-years time scale.
The AUDL was created and is being cultivated under the mission to “showcase the sport being played at its highest level.” Every team in the league is a franchise that subscribes to the same AUDL Operations Manual and AUDL Bylaws. Beyond that, we are encouraged to run our individual teams the way we please. This is why you see very different mission statements from team to team... and in the case of Seattle, a set of mission & values that speaks to community, athletic excellence, and gender equity.
[* The following paragraph has been edited; refer to the version below. 2/14, 5pm, XT] The reason the Cascades are not putting women on the field for the entire AUDL season is because this would not line up with the mission and intentions of the AUDL as a whole. Instead, we’re putting women on the field for 1-2 unofficial games in order to tangibly promote women in ultimate. We see this as a step in the positive direction, and by all means not the only/final step we will take to move the needle on gender equity. In fact, this is just the beginning. Whether it’s under the AUDL brand or elsewhere, we have a lot more work to do.
* We're showcasing women and men at the Cascades Cup in order show that women also demonstrate the highest level of the sport. We see this as a step in the positive direction, but by all means not the only/final step we will take to move the needle on gender equity. In fact, this is just the beginning. The way we see it, there is a lot more work to do!
What will the AUDL do if these "exhibition games" are better attended/viewed than regular season games?
Good question. The AUDL consists of 24 teams, and I imagine each ownership group will react in a different way. I, for one, will be excited to see all the attention/coverage that female athletes will be getting. Also, I’ll be curious to compare the fan demographics at “exhibition games” with who attends regular season AUDL games.
What will you do? What will the entrepreneurial minds around the country/world do?
This is not enough. Put women on the field, pay them as much as you'd pay a male player, and make it count towards the team's W/L record.
This is not enough, but it’s what we’re capable of doing this year. While the Cascades Cup is not part of our regular season games, we are paying women and men the same amount for 2017 season.
Why aren’t elite players joining the AUDL to promote change from within?
Many top level players are playing for AUDL teams and shaping the future of the league by building relationships with teammates, managers, and owners. In fact, the majority of AUDL players around the country also play for USAU Ultimate Club Championships level teams.
While I find this question provocative, I would prefer to discuss the question, “what do top level players like about the AUDL and what do they want to change?” Here's my take:
I’m Xtehn Titcomb and I’ve played top-level ultimate with Chicago Machine (USAU), Seattle Sockeye (USAU), Seattle Rainmakers (MLU), and Seattle Cascades (AUDL). I like the pace of the the game that referees enforce, and I like the opportunity to overrule foul calls with the Integrity Rule. I would like to see widespread and consistent acknowledgement from the players that we are in control of the behavior and resulting sportsmanship that occurs within AUDL games. I’d like for every team management group to do a mandatory “arbitration workshop” that addresses these issues head-on with the players. I like the high level of competition that we have at games, and the impact that it has on the growth/reach of our sport. I would like to change the awareness level of players, staff, and fans with respect to gender, race, and class privilege. I think that AUDL owners are in position to promote “healthy masculinity” during the season and take measures to combat sexism. On these topics, I would like to see more discussion between players, management, and owners. I like that we have two female owners of the Seattle Cascades, and that they play an instrumental role in directing our vision, our strategic planning, and our fiscal management. I would like to see more women in leadership positions in other AUDL cities. I like the way the Commissioner (Steve Gordon) and AUDL Council (Andrew Zill, Don Grage, Jean-Levy Champagne, Steve Hall, Tim Debyl) support and care for the various teams around the country, but I’d like to see other team owners step up and become more involved in issues that impact the league and the sport as a whole.
Co-Owner, General Manager
The West Division of the American Ultimate Disc League (AUDL) will soon release its schedule, with seven home games and seven away games for each team. The regular season spans from April to July and culminates with West Division Playoffs and then Championship Weekend.
In addition to seven regular season AUDL home games, the Seattle Cascades are planning to host The "Cascades Cup," an exhibition game featuring a team of ten women plus ten men representing the Seattle Cascades on the field. Seattle will play against ten women and ten men from San Francisco, who will travel to Seattle on the weekend of either April 15-16 or May 26-27. All expenses for the game, including travel, will be covered by the Seattle Cascades and San Francisco Flamethrowers franchises.
Since their founding, the Seattle Cascades have stated explicit goals around gender equity in sports: “it is our responsibility to be advocates and action takers for the mixed and women's divisions so that our sport grows sustainably for all individuals over the long-run.” With this game, the owners of the Seattle Cascades (Seattle based siblings: Qxhna, Rohre, Vehro, Xtehn, and Zahlen Titcomb), are excited to put actions behind their words.
The Flamethrowers are also working to move gender equity forward by "committing to advocate for the growth of women’s and mixed ultimate, to showcase the extraordinary female talent in the club game, and to vocalize our support for women’s professional ultimate. We intend to honor these commitments in ways that are both visible and meaningful." (source)
AUDL Commissioner Steve Gordon fully supports these kinds of showcase events because they move the sport forward as a whole and bring the ultimate community together. The Titcombs and Steve Gordon share the common goal of growing the sport while respecting the attributes which make it unique. "The Titcomb family have been pioneers in advancing Ultimate in so many ways and this is just another example of their passion to advance it for everyone. I would encourage all to come out to support their efforts and enjoy what is sure to be a fun and exciting evening", said Steve.
According to Cascades owner and General Manager Xtehn Titcomb, “There are female athletes in our city who deserve equal playing opportunities to their male counterparts. This game, we hope, will be the catalyst for a broader sequence of actions within our sport to provide greater playing opportunities for women.”
While this game is an exhibition, the Seattle Cascades view it as an important aspect of their season. The Seattle women will be selected during tryouts in February, and will practice together with the men before the game. Both Seattle and San Francisco intend to bring 110% on the field. In fact, there will be a cash prize for the winning team.
Tickets for the Cascades Cup will be for sale at SeattleCascades.com once the schedule is announced in February.
The Seattle Cascades owners are available for questions. Comment below or contact us to get connected directly.
This year's team is going to have a very different feel. I'm excited to see how the personality of the Cascades develops throughout the tryout process and pre-season!
Tryouts start off the same as the past couple years with The Combine. However, we're having a second (closed) tryout weekend in order to spend more time with the top few players who are vying for a roster spot. The decision to build it this way revolves around the selection process itself - instead of overlapping our on-field leadership with Seattle Sockeye as we have done the past couple years, we'll be operating independently. In other words, the team we select in February will represent the Cascades throughout the season regardless of how Sockeye reforms its roster in the spring-summer.
I expect there will be some roster turn-over, more so than this past year. While this normally is a bad sign, in our case it's an opportunity to craft a really strong new identity. We'll be a mix players with different backgrounds, including some players from the Seattle Rainmakers, who recently closed shop.
The behavior of our leadership plays an important part too. While we haven't established official "captains" we have four people slated to select the team and set the tone in February: Khalif El-salaam, Mark Burton, Rohre Titcomb, and Xtehn Titcomb. Khalif ("Leaf") and Mark are going to be our on-field spiritual leaders, while Rohre and I are taking a more global perspective on the players & team. One of the other topics we four are working on is what kind of coaching staff makes sense for the Cascades this year.
2017 Seattle Cascades Selection Committee:
* Khalif El-salaam
* Mark Burton
* Rohre Titcomb
* Xtehn Titcomb
We've announced three key players before the Combine: Khalif El-salaam, Mark Burton, and Adam "Chicken" Simon. I'm really proud of these players and what they're going to bring to the team this year in terms of their work ethic, their teamwork, and their genuine passion for ultimate.
Cascades Tryouts are going to begin next week. It's going to be another groundbreaking season for the Seattle Cascades and I can't wait to update you on some of the other stuff that's in store for 2017!
Hello! I know many of you in a lot of different ways, maybe we are friends, maybe we have played on a team together for a hat league, maybe I have coached you, maybe you have seen me play and I have never met you before. No matter what the case is, I am excited to represent all of you on the stage that is the AUDL. However, I want to take this moment to thank the MLU and the Seattle Rainmakers organization for all they did for me. As a player under them I was appreciated, respected, and very much enjoyed my time playing with them. Similar to teams I have played for in the past, the Seattle Rainmakers will always be on my Ultimate Frisbee resume. #MakeItRain
What does it mean to me to play on the Cascades?
Well, on the one hand it’s just more Frisbee. I have been playing competitively since I was 13, so this is just more time warming up, throwing that plastic piece of my life, creating bonds with teammates and making sure I don’t get broken around. It’s just another opportunity to play, smile, yell and storm the field like I have been doing for the past 10 years.
But on the other hand, this is an opportunity to do something that 10 years ago wasn’t even imaginable. To play Cascades means walking out of the locker room into Memorial Stadium, looking behind me to fans ready to watch me work, sweat, and yell for them and my teammates, to throw a huck as the clock winds down and have it mean something so much more than it did before. To play Cascades means a level of respect that is given, not earned, which is probably the softest way to gain respect but here we are. To play Cascades means I wear the Sasquatch and with it comes a level of authority and unspoken assumptions about my play and where I have been. To play the Cascades means I am no longer playing for myself, I am no longer just playing for my teammates, I am now playing for Seattle. I am very excited to be on this team, to give my all to what it could be and embrace the opportunity head on. I don’t know how other people in the AUDL think about being a pro athlete, but I love it and take it seriously, and attempt to emulate what I think pro sports should look like and feel like.
How am I going to deal with being a rookie Cascade?
Well, it’s pretty simple, I am going to go to games, play against probably a higher level of competition on the pro stage than I have before and see how I measure up. With every goal I score, assist I throw, and block, I’ll get more comfortable, and soon I will break through into the bigger conversations. I will be scouted, I will be respected by my opponents and enjoy the challenge that is being a small fish in a big pond.
You play mixed ultimate? What are you doing here on a men’s team?
I would like for there there to be more opportunities for mixed ultimate to appear on the pro stage, and I am excited to see how myself along with many other mixed players in this league can make that push.
As a male, I have a level of unspoken, unearned, privilege, and whether or not I choose to take advantage of that privilege or not is my choice. Yes, in this situation I have chosen to take advantage of that privilege in order to play the sport I love in front of fans, friends and family who enjoy the sport and seeing me happy. However, I am forever in support of mixed-gender and women’s ultimate and work continuously to increase levels of equity in those aspects of our sport.
I have always been a mixed preference player, and playing Cascades doesn’t change that. So a huge shout out to all the mixed men in the AUDL! Don’t let the single gender bros think or act like they are better than you because of their division bias. We are athletes who can throw, jump and layout as well. Let them know using the sound of fans cheering when you make big plays.
What are you bringing from the Rainmakers to the Cascades?
I am bringing the celebrations and the fan interaction. The best thing for me off the field is creating excitement for the people who come watch and have them legitimately enjoy being at the games. Sitting there watching us catch the disc, drop it and high five our teammates can be fun sure, but nothing is more fun to watch then non spike celebrations IMO. In the past, I have played Rock, Paper, Scissors during a game, thrown discs into the crowd, and we all know I love a good synchronized handshake with teammates. Tell me what YOU want during games so when we score and need the crowd going wild, it will be there. When we are down and need a block, we can use the crowd’s energy, straight “Goku stealing energy for the Spirit Bomb” status.
I am excited and honored to be a ‘Scade. It’s going to be a amazing season and riddled with hard work, infused with a lot of bumps and bruises along the way but I am happy to strap in and start this rollercoaster. Hope to see you all out there!
Follow me on Twitter: @Khalifygreens
Tell me what would get you hyped during a game! What do you want to see and how you want us as Cascades to interact with you! Have any questions? Feel free to ask on twitter as well!
After a win on opening weekend, the Cascades travel to the Bay Area for a two game weekend against the new-look defending champions and a strengthened perennial contender.
#1 Donnie Clark
#2 John Raynolds
#4 Aly Lenon
#5 Kieran Kelly
#10 Adam Simon
#11 Reid Koss
#14 Matt Rehder
#15 Tommy Li
#19 Michael Caldwell
#20 Will Herold
#23 Danny Karlinsky
#25 Will Chen
#28 Duncan Linn
#30 Mark Burton
#32 Alex Duffel
#40 Ky Lewis
#44 Matt Russell
#60 SImon Montague
#77 Ben Snell
#89 Sam Pickel
#94 Sam Hart
#97 Zack Smith
Players to Watch:
Stalwart defender Reid Koss, who brushed the top of nearly every statistical category for Seattle last year will make his 2016 debut and return to his customary role leading the defensive line.
Ben Snell, a standout from the 2015 college champion University of North Carolina joins the team after a season with South Division champs, the Raleigh Flyers.
Nexgen Tour standout, former Carleton College star, and Sub-Zero captain Simon Montague will appear and undoubtedly make his presence felt.
Sam Hart put on a show in Seattle’s home opener. Will he ride that momentum and continue to dominate?
Seattle Cascades @ San Jose Spiders
The Spiders have been dominant since their inception in 2014. With superstars Beau Kittredge (2014 and 2015 AUDL MVP), Ashlin Joye, Cassidy Rasmussen, Simon Higgins and a host of other top tier players at the helm, San Jose squeezed past the Cascades in the West Division final last year by a slim two point margin on their way to a second consecutive championship. Expect a different result this year as they lose Kittredge and Rasmussen to Dallas, and many of their top contributors to San Francisco. They return Kevin Smith, Justin Norden, and Chuck Cao, but will be looking to fill some very big shoes.
Seattle Cascades @ San Francisco Flamethrowers
The Flamethrowers stole much of San Jose’s talent in the offseason in the form of Simon Higgins, Russell Wynne, Greg Cohen, Marcelo Sanchez, and Christian Johnson as well as adding a swathe of Revolver players including Team USA’s Nathan White, Joel Schlachet, and Sam Kanner. Along with returners including Team USA’s Lucas Dallman, they have the top-end talent and depth to make a run at championship weekend. The Cascades seem to be the only thing in their way, but quite a mountain that is to climb. This will certainly be a game for the books. Catch it live on ESPN3 at 6:00 PST!
Cascades 25 – Riptide 21
The Cascades came out with an important win on opening night in the first what will be four matchups against the Vancouver Riptide this season. Avenging 2015’s home opener buzzer-beater loss, it is clear that Seattle is off to the right start. In an unpolished game by both teams, after a brief push where the Riptide took a 1 point lead, the Cascades outscored them 10-7 in the third quarter and never looked back.
The victory came as a result of a balanced team effort. On offense, 14 different Seattle players scored goals, with no individual catching more than three. Seven players tallied multiple assists.
Mark Burton did not disappoint in his debut, racking up 3 goals, 4 assists, and a block as a major driver of the offensive line. His addition has given the Cascades another weapon who is very difficult to contain and will put pressure on defenses already struggling against dominant forces like Phil Murray (5 assists) and Matt Rehder (3 goals).
Big man, 6’4” Sam (Moose) Hart had a fantastic start to his season, leading the team with three blocks. Adding three goals and two assists, he has proven extremely capable as a defensive line converter. After being injured for much of the 2015 season, Moose looks ready to charge. His size is welcome on a defensive line that lacks height when missing star deep defender Reid Koss. With Julian Hausman and Frank Devin Barich injured, the Cascades will have to play smart to stop taller receivers.
The Riptide were carried by their stars Morgan Hibbert (3 Goals, 4 blocks, 2 assists) and Kevin Underhill (6 goals). Vancouver’s lead scorer from 2015, Gagan Chatha, was held to just one goal, though with 3 assists, he may be transitioning to more of a distributor role. They will need more contributors in the future to challenge the Cascades.
The next matchup between Seattle and Vancouver will be on the Riptide’s home turf. The Cascades have two additional games during the weekend between. Will fatigue set in for Seattle, or will more reps against the Bay Area teams just solidify our team chemistry? Find out April 16th.
"We share an understanding of what our organizations are trying to achieve, and how we can work together to get there. Our 2015 partnership went really well, and we're looking forward to working together again in year two."
General Manager, Seattle Cascades
Sockeye and Cascades will share the same captains and coaching staff. Most of the players who join the Cascades will transition to Sockeye in June, after which the two rosters will be fairly similar. Throughout the entire season, Xtehn will work closely with the Sockeye leadership to plan and execute roster decisions, fitness planning, and on field practices.
"As the Cascades, we get valuable opportunities to compete against the best players on the West coast. This puts Sockeye in position to succeed as we enter the Triple Crown Tour in June. "
Captain, Seattle Sockeye
A successful first year has demonstrated that Xtehn and the Sockeye leadership are poised to work well together to cultivate top level ultimate for the city of Seattle. Along the way, the transition from the AUDL season to the USA Ultimate season will be interesting, as AUDL games have referees (with The Integrity Rule in place) while USA Ultimate games use Observers for officiation. Read the Seattle Cascades Mission and Values for one perspective on this topic.
It's going to be an exciting year for Seattle ultimate! The season will kick off with the Seattle Cascades Combine, Jan 29-30. Both new and returning players will vie for spots on the roster of roughly 30 players. In early April, the Cascades will play their first home game at Seattle Memorial Stadium near the Space Needle.
Seattle Sockeye as the Seattle Cascades
Yes. It hurts me to write this. My fingers hesitate at every stroke and my mind searches for a way to stop. The fast-moving traffic outside looks more comfortable than complementing this certain type of salmon. But they did what I actually hope every club team does: they formed an AUDL team and brought about a huge shift in legitimacy and competitiveness to the pro scene. Their cocky, happy-go-lucky, celebrate-as-obnoxiously-as-possible attitude works perfectly on the pro level, which depends on a balance between skill and entertainment. Besides, when you trim off the extracurricular activities, it is easy to see that they are a hard-working, devoted team that avoids playing with poor spirit in a game with refs.
Growing a sport without being able to turn a profit is hard. To make up for that very important big P you need at least four small p’s: passion, purpose, pride, and (most importantly) players. The AUDL is doing a great job at every single one of them all while doing some real amazing things for the community. Like raising around 750K for some really amazing charities. A staggering display of generosity went into making that happen, and Rob Lloyd deserves a huge shoutout for leading this charge. Now that he got rid of his boring, dead-end corporate job I can’t wait to see what he can do.
Originally found on http://skydmagazine.com/2015/08/good-job-ultimate-community/#discussion
To my only semi-trained eye, the Seattle Cascades were so much better than the Vancouver Riptide last Saturday that it was mind-boggling. Beyond just demolishing the Riptide 30-17, the Cascades seemed to have a facility with the game that gave space for personality to emerge out of the athleticism. (That the Riptide won the back end of the home-and-home 26-24 is shocking after seeing the gap between the two teams in Seattle, and it raises all sorts of questions about what a good ultimate sample size looks like).
The play in the first AUDL match I saw had character beyond size and position; even in a single match the way individuals approached the game stuck out. I don’t know that guys were better, but the match looked like two more experienced sets of foes going at each other. That the Cascades were knocked out of the AUDL playoffs this weekend in the quarterfinals would suggest the AUDL is a very strong league.
If, gun to my head, I were asked who I’d bet on to win in a match between Seattle MLU Western Conference Champion Rainmakers and the Seattle AUDL playoff quarter-finalist Cascades, I’d first ask the gunholder to chill because pointing a gun to my head is not within the Spirit of the Game. And then I’d take the Cascades.
That said, I think there’s more going on here than a straight league-to-league comparison. Firstly, while the Rainmakers and Cascades were similarly seeded headed into the playoffs, the underlying goal differential stats suggest the Cascades were the silent juggernaut of the AUDL, while the equivalent team in MLU was the Portland Stags. The Stags size would have really challenged the Cascades based on what I saw of them this year. The Cascades were faster and bigger than the Riptide, they would not have been against an equivalently good MLU team.
Secondly, I don’t know much. But I’d say the play in the two leagues was fairly close. Whatever battles are being waged between the two leagues and top club teams likely make a lot of sense to those immersed in the sport, but to my (relatively still) outside eye, it’s all outrageously good frisbee, well beyond anything I saw in college and certainly well beyond anything I could hope to do myself. Which is a good sign for a burgeoning pro league. If some asshole writing about the league on the internet thinks he can give it a go (see: curling or darts) that’s not a good long term sign.
*looks up professional dart purses*
Well I’ll be.
Anyway, let’s hit this AUDL experience with some bullet points:
•Seattle was staggeringly better in this match. I still can’t get over finding out they lost the next day to the same team. 99 and 94 stuck out to me… I can’t find a roster page to shoutout their names, but 99 and 94 were both really good. Good job, 99 and 94 on the Seattle Cascades. You guys are really good at ultimate.
•Is there pull strategy? Like, what are we doing with pulls? There doesn’t have to be. Thinking about football and kickoffs no one really cares unless it’s close late, but with pulls is there anything in particular that players should be doing consistently? If so, I haven’t really seen it.
•Seattle was so much better that on a couple deep shots, guys were making runs, pulled off the runs, saw the disc hucked deep, and still had time to recover and outrun their defender. These inadvertent double moves made me realize, a) recovery speed is crucial, and b) why am I not seeing more intentional double moves?
•Seattle had a ludicrously good goal-line defensive stand after Vancouver landed a deep shot to an unmarked player on the 1 yard line. They were forced to go backwards after the defense beat the second man to the scene, and then were forced into a low percentage hammer into the corner which fell incomplete. In Seattle though? You gotta hand the disc to Marshawn. Hand. The disc. To Marshawn.
•This goal-line defense made me think about where you start playing defense on a field. If the opposition can beat you deep, why not concede territory and give them a short field. Do any ultimate teams try this? It’s essentially the equivalent of counter-pressing in soccer. You wait for an opponent to get to a certain point where they’ve condensed the field, and then you strike quickly aiming to score off of turnovers. I’d be interested to know if tactics like that could work in ultimate.
•The Seattle Memorial Stadium where the Cascades play is a decrepit stadium by the Seattle Center that manages to feel both old and devoid of personality. It’s kind of a bummer, but it is centrally located. It’s a tough trade off: the Rainmakers play further south, but the facilities are more open and parking is easier. The Cascades did their best to make the stadium their own, but it was too big to take over, and too brutalist in architectural style to really soften up. A lot of teams use this stadium (including the NWSL Seattle Reign) so this isn’t on the Cascades… it’s just the trouble with looking for stadiums near downtown Seattle when you can’t fill up CenturyLink Field.
•The Cascades had great mascots (a pair of Sasquatches, Casey and Kid Casey). The best thing I overheard was in reference to the little one: “I love [sic] Lil’ Casey. He’s got just as much attitude as regular Casey!” As if to prove the point, Kid Casey then Three Stooge’d me for looking down at my phone to write down the quote.
Two more pieces from me this summer, Skyd readers: the MLU Final and then a wrap up of what I’ve learned. I think I’ve learned a lot. I’m certainly using “huck” and “hammer” in fun new ways in my day-to day life.
Originally found on http://skydmagazine.com/2015/07/the-pro-leagues-making-a-comparison/
The Spiders used a workmanlike effort of their own to sneak past the Seattle Cascades 21-19, a day after the Cascades had outlasted the San Francisco FlameThrowers by the same score. San Jose was broken on the opening point of the game, but responded mightily by going up 4-1 in the first quarter and leading the rest of the way.
Late in the fourth, the Cascades twice inched within one, but with the score 20-19 in the final minutes, San Jose’s top star helped his team keep the lead. Beau Kittredge, playing at what he generously estimated was about 70% of his capability due to a rib injury, hauled in a contested deep shot from Chuck Cao for the game’s final score with 1:11 remaining.
Earlier in the point, it looked like the Cascades would have a chance to tie when Kittredge’s painful layout did not produce a catch of a low throw near midfield. But the referees whistled an interference call against Seattle’s Sam Harkness, keeping the disc with San Jose. After the game, Kittredge shared that he believed he was fouled. Many on Seattle disagreed, and replays were inconclusive.
San Jose Player/Coach Kevin Smith felt a combination of pride and relief following the Spiders’ victory, acknowledging that Seattle had more than enough firepower to beat them.
“If we play that game 10 times, I think we win eight of them,” Smith said.
Defensive workhorse Greg Cohen was instrumental to San Jose’s victory, creating four Ds, including a point block on Seattle’s Matt Rehder late in the fourth quarter that basically sealed the game. No one else on the Spiders had multiple Ds in the game.
Unlike 2014, San Jose appears far from invincible, enduring four regular season losses, most of any Final Four team, en route to Championship Weekend. It remains to be seen whether the Spiders will again reign supreme or if the rest of the league’s top squads have caught up.
“We’ll be prepared,” Smith said. “I’ve got two weeks to do my homework.”
As the calendar flips to July, the AUDL playoff picture is becoming clearer. But the championship discussion remains quite murky. This is a very good thing.
It speaks to the health and quality of the league that, by my count, there are still 10 teams in the AUDL that you could legitimately consider ‘contenders’ to win it all in San Jose on August 9. That’s a lot for a 25-team pro league this late into the season.
What makes a contender? I ask myself three questions:
Can I imagine this team reaching the playoffs?
Can I imagine this team making the Final Four?
If the team maximizes its potential and reaches its ceiling, can it beat anyone in the league on any given day?
If the answer to each of those questions is a "yes," then that team is a contender.
Alphabetically, here are the remaining teams that I could envision hoisting the title trophy in early August: Atlanta (9-3), Jacksonville (8-4), Madison (11-1), Pittsburgh (9-2), Raleigh (10-3), San Diego (5-6), San Francisco (7-6), San Jose (10-3), Seattle (7-5), and Toronto (10-1). You might disagree, but I would go to bat for each of those clubs in arguing their merit to possibly become champs in 2015. The list will shrink by two fairly quickly, as a couple of those contenders will not even make the playoffs.
For competition’s sake, it’s an excellent thing that 40 percent of the teams across the league remain as true championship contenders. I’d argue that’s a higher number than most other pro sports leagues at this stage of the season. It’s certainly higher than basketball and football.
It’s also fascinating to note that beyond the top 10, there are another seven teams in the next tier, signifying that on any given day, one of these seven could possibly pounce on one of the league’s best. Between Chicago (7-5-1), Indianapolis (7-4), Los Angeles (4-7), Montreal (8-5), New York (9-3), Ottawa (7-4), and Vancouver (3-9), you have seven teams that, for a variety of reasons, are ultimately flawed in their current pursuit of the title but remain as viable threats to spring an upset.
That’s 17 teams in the very good-to-solid category. A legit 68 percent of the league.
As for the other eight teams? Well, in basketball parlance, these guys are firmly entrenched in the lottery. DC (4-6) and Minnesota (4-7-1) are both definitely better than bottom. Each has gotten blasted by its top 10 divisional foes while simultaneously looming as talented enough to upend someone from the "any given day" category. These two teams, with the right roster management and individual player development, could easily battle for the playoffs in 2016.
Lastly, like any league after more than 80 percent of the regular season, you have the "thanks for playing" tier, consisting of Charlotte (1-10), Cincinnati (2-10), Detroit (0-11), Nashville (1-9), Philadelphia (0-11), and Rochester (1-9). It’s still pro sports, and some of these teams have threatened the league’s best with fourth quarter and overtime drama. But aside from the NightWatch’s early triumph over an undermanned Cannons club, these six have only gotten wins against each other.
At this time in the AUDL, canning the coach and splurging on high-priced free agent talent are not yet traditional tactics. But hierarchies, by nature, are fluid and evolving. If a team is unhappy with their current status, they can do any number of things to attempt to change their future fate.
That brings us back to the premier group of title contenders. A quick rundown of the strengths & weaknesses of each:
Why They Can Win the Title: Solid depth, a season-long upward trajectory, and relatively underrated/unknown contributors
Why They Won’t: Lack of experience
Championship Odds: 12-1
Why They Can Win the Title: Size, explosiveness, and confidence
Why They Won’t: Questionable composure
Championship Odds: 10-1
Why They Can Win the Title: Their innovative system can befuddle first-time foes, great depth when healthy
Why They Won’t: Offensive firepower is lacking
Championship Odds: 8-1
Why They Can Win the Title: Plenty of explosive throwers, an underrated defense, Tyler DeGirolamo
Why They Won’t: Top players have not always prioritized the AUDL
Championship Odds: 6-1
Why They Can Win the Title: Defensive firepower, offensive stability, and healthy confidence
Why They Won’t: Plagued by stretches of inconsistency, especially in the opening quarter of games
Championship Odds: 10-1
San Diego Growlers
Why They Can Win the Title: Top end talent, growing cohesiveness, peaking at the right time
Why They Won’t: Early season struggles hurt playoff chances; on the brink of elimination
Championship Odds: 20-1
San Francisco FlameThrowers
Why They Can Win the Title: Great depth, steady leadership, and confidence that they can beat San Jose & Seattle, since they have already done both
Why They Won’t: Lacking a generational individual talent in his prime
Championship Odds: 10-1
San Jose Spiders
Why They Can Win the Title: The most talent, the championship pedigree, and Beau
Why They Won’t: Western gauntlet could take its toll
Championship Odds: 2-1
Why They Can Win the Title: Tons of talent, a nice blend of youth & experience, and the Seattle system
Why They Won’t: Defense cannot stop San Jose when the Spiders are playing A-game
Championship Odds: 5-1
Why They Can Win the Title: An emerging star like Isaiah Masek-Kelly, an army of active defenders, and the easiest path to the Final Four
Why They Won’t: Injuries to Mark Lloyd & Jonathan Martin mitigate overall firepower
Championship Odds: 8-1
Championship Odds Summary:
San Jose: 2-1
San Francisco 10-1
San Diego 20-1
San Francisco traveled without several key pieces, including captains Eli Janin and Lucas Dallman. Eli Kerns, Jordan Jeffery, Sam Chatterton-Kirchmeier, Jason Yun, and Lucas Young were additional cogs that the FlameThrowers were missing. All season long, the team’s leadership had touted its depth; this would be the weekend to verify it.
“Our mentality going into the weekend was that it was time to prove that we were the deepest team in the league after everybody kept saying it,” said San Francisco Coach Josh Greenough. “The biggest concern was going to be how fast the new lines gelled on O. Alec Surmani moved into a full-time handler role after being a lane cutter for us all season. It was a return to his traditional role, so mostly a mental shift, and Sam Swink stepped back into a primary handler role after a few weeks out with a bad back. Other folks were taking on their usual roles, but were probably facing one level defender higher on the other team’s ladder than they would have normally.”
On Saturday, the FlameThrowers contained the Riptide by doing their best to limit Gagan Chatha’s deep cutting. Viewing him as a crucial piece of Vancouver’s attack, they constantly switched fresh defenders onto him every point. Even though Chatha finished with five goals, most of them came on O points when the Riptide was behind. San Francisco’s ability to retaliate and hold serve on offense after taking the early lead helped them close out the 22-19 triumph.
One day later, the FlameThrowers matchup with Seattle looked very different than the previous week, when San Francisco had prevailed 25-21 in overtime. Whereas the FlameThrowers were missing the aforementioned group, the Cascades added studs like Matt Rehder, Donnie Clark, Ray Illian, and Will Chen, all of whom had missed the first meeting against San Francisco.
“We wanted to start the game like the day before, knowing that we might have heavy legs late,” said Greenough. “The opposite occurred, as a few miscues and nice Ds put us in a hole. They had made a few adjustments by clogging the middle of the field and taking away horizontal cuts with poaches and switches.
“Credit to Seattle. They took away more Ds with great plays than we gave them. In particular, Ray Illian and Will Chen had some highlight-reel blocks.”
Clark scored five times, while 13 other Cascades found the end zone at least once. Rehder and Zane Rankin each registered five assists, while Clark, Illian, Rankin, and Chen all registered multiple Ds.
“Our defensive intensity and sideline energy throughout the game was the biggest factor for us,” said Seattle Captain Reid Koss. “One thing we’ve talked about a lot is being able to compete at the highest levels we can right at the start of games and not waiting until halftime to get to that level, and I think this was us starting to meet that goal.”
The victory lifted Seattle to 7-5 with two games remaining, both against Vancouver. While the Cascades have not clinched a playoff berth yet, they know that one win in the final two games will secure second place in the West.
Even though it is late in the season, teams continue to unveil some wrinkles with their personnel. The Seattle Cascades introduced Carleton product Jesse Bolton during their Bay Area road trip on June 20-21. This past weekend, Bolton played his third game in a Seattle shirt and made several contributions in the team’s 10-goal win over San Francisco. “He’s a great player that is just going to keep getting better as he starts to develop chemistry with the team and getting into shape,” said Koss.
Originally posted on http://theaudl.com/articles/ata/tuesdaytoss12
On Sunday afternoon, the two teams that San Diego is chasing out West shared one of the most exciting finishes to regulation I have ever witnessed.
In the final moments, Seattle’s Zane Rankin and Sam Lehman both elevated for sensational skies, enabling the Cascades to tie San Francisco at 21-all with 1.9 seconds remaining. Rankin soared for Reid Koss’s deep flick with perhaps four or five seconds on the clock, but his remarkable catch landed just outside the end zone. With little time to think, he lofted an airy flick toward Lehman, who climbed over the shorter Evan Boucher for the improbable goal.
Rankin’s throw was very iffy. After the game, he admitted to me that when he released it, he thought it would be knocked away. But Lehman, who just wrapped up an All-Freshman season at Brown University, launched himself above the pack for the dramatic snag.
“Zane’s throw to Sam Lehman in the final seconds was a prayer shot,” said Seattle veteran Danny Karlinsky, “but Lehman is a guy with a ton of heart and has been playing his hardest at every game and practice, and I think that helped him in that huge moment. We were obviously going bananas once he made that grab and we knew we had a shot in OT.”
Amidst the frenetic finish, San Francisco FlameThrowers found a way to regroup. Having led for almost the entire game, the FlameThrowers calmly punched in the first score of the overtime on offense, then capitalized on a few crucial unforced turnovers to put the game away.
Even though Seattle had stormed into overtime with all the momentum, the Cascades were flattened in the final five minutes, with San Francisco outscoring them 4-0 to earn the positive result, 25-21.
The victory, for at least a week, moved the FlameThrowers into a tie with the Cascades, with San Francisco owning the tiebreaker by virtue of the head-to-head win. Of course, two squads will meet again this weekend in Seattle. This time, it will be San Francisco on the second day of a back-to-back following the FlameThrowers’ Saturday test in Vancouver.
Although Seattle did not register a win in its Bay Area road trip, the members of the Cascades still looked at their weekend as a very positive experience, mostly in terms of continuing their process of improvement and providing plenty of playing time for some of their younger players. Star deep cutter Matt Rehder missed Sunday’s game when his ankle felt mediocre during warmups, and the Cascades were also without several other key pieces like Donnie Clark and Ray Illian. Meanwhile, the young kids stepped up. Zane Rankin and Sam Lehman teamed up for the adventurous tying goal, while 18-year-old Sam Cook made the greatest play of the day earlier in the fourth quarter. With less than six minutes left, Cook authored a dynamite full-extension layout for a score that brought Seattle within one. “I had complete faith in Sam Cook as that disc went up,” said Karlinsky. “Just felt the energy of the game shifting our way at that point, and he wasn’t going to let that stop.” With all due respect to Karlinsky, from my vantage-point, I did not envision Cook making the grab. When he did, I was astounded. I have not seen everything in the league this week, but I will say this: If AJ is #1 and LA’s Jeff Silverman is #2, then Sam Cook probably deserves the bronze position in this week’s AUDL Top 10.
Originally posted on http://theaudl.com/articles/ata/tuesdaytoss11
Beau Kittredge of the San Jose Spiders is a unique character. He’s confident in himself, unafraid to speak his mind, and almost always expects his team to win. He’s wisely surrounded himself with superb talent, allowing him to pick his spots carefully. When he chooses to, he dominates. Other times, he serves as a pivotal decoy while worthy teammates thrive.
Through the years, Kittredge has occasionally made winning look so easy that it does not seem fair to opponents or real to spectators. Having seen him in ‘destroy’ mode, it is jarring when, out of the blue, his team experiences adversity. It’s like an expensive car on cruise control running into some unexpected traffic. But sooner or later, even if you’re frustrated along the way, you figure out how to regain top speed and blaze ahead.
On Sunday afternoon in Seattle, the Spiders’ journey experienced more than a little standstill. After the Spiders had won the first quarter 7-6, the Cascades stunningly outscored them 9-2 in the second. In the past, Kittredge might have expressed anger to his teammates in this type of situation. But this was no ordinary pothole or lane shift.
“I actually didn’t get angry,” Kittredge said, chuckling when asked if his frustration boiled over at any point during his team’s struggles. “It was such a complete failure on everybody’s part, including my own, that I couldn’t really be upset. The wheels came off, and it was like the whole car just exploded in the middle of the highway.”
This is a franchise that, heading into its May 24th game, was 7-0 on the year and 23-1 all-time. But two losses in its next three games had removed any feeling of awe or invincibility. Some sweet revenge on Saturday in Vancouver paused San Jose’s stumbles, but the disastrous second quarter on Sunday resulted in a complete derailment of their game plan.
“You can’t really be mad at that,” Kittredge said. “You just have to collect the pieces and try putting it back together, which we kind of managed to do.”
The Spiders trailed the Cascades 15-9 at the half, and Seattle’s 5-2 run to start the second made it 20-11 in the third quarter. Even Frank Reich’s Buffalo Bills might have called it a day.
But the Spiders, largely riding many lesser-known pieces from their second string, gradually fought their way back into the game. San Jose’s leadership specifically mentioned Tyler Grant, a 35-year-old ultimate vet, for making a critical difference despite playing through a knee injury.
“Playing hurt, he still managed three Ds and three assists,” San Jose Captain Kevin Smith said. ”[He] was a staple of the D lines that mounted the comeback against the Cascades. He was unfazed by the score and was running on sheer willpower throughout the weekend. His poise and experience really stood out.”
Down 21-14, San Jose scored four times in a row to inch within three, but Seattle remained calm and answered with a hold and another break to make it 23-18. Zane Rankin, the former San Francisco FlameThrower who was playing just his second game for the Cascades, hauled in his team-leading fourth goal to give Seattle a five-goal lead with 6:30 to play.
From there, the Spiders found their zone, taking advantage of some careless Seattle mistakes. With 3:11 left, Cassidy Rasmussen snagged a hammer in the end zone to make it 23-20.
Kevin Smith scored with 2:45 remaining, and it was 23-21.
Kittredge then intercepted a toss from Seattle’s Will Chen—his only D of the game—and found Ashlin Joye for the goal that brought San Jose within one with 1:38 left.
With 45 seconds on the clock, San Jose’s tight defense dramatically forced a stall, calling a timeout in search of the equalizer. Shortly after the restart, Sean Ham hit Simon Higgins and the Spiders had come all the way back from their nine-goal deficit, tying it up at 23 with 31 seconds left.
It looked like Seattle might score the game-winner in the last seconds of regulation, but a good defensive stand forced an errant hammer that landed on the ground shy of Ray Illian, sending the wild western division bout into overtime.
“Everyone was pumped up, yelling, going crazy,” Higgins recalled, who contributed three goals and three assists in the game. “When we got to overtime, we had everything. They looked depleted. We had the fire. But maybe it was the back-to-back catching up to us, or something else, but we couldn’t get that first score.”
Before the extra session, San Jose’s sensational cutter Greg Cohen, a guy who never lacks energy, aimed to fire up his team in the huddle by comparing their rally to one of the Golden State Warriors great comebacks from their first round series with the New Orleans Pelicans. There are a lot of Warrior fans on the Spiders, so the analogy was apt, comparing Golden State’s tremendous turnaround and ensuing overtime victory to San Jose’s seemingly eventual triumph.
Only one problem.
“That did not happen for us,” Kittredge said. “We just kind of ran out of gas. They scored one upwind, and it was our turn to score upwind and we didn’t. They kinda ran out the clock. We had some throwaways that were caused by tiredness and lack of concentration.”
After their 5-0 run in the final six minutes and a 12-3 overall rally that evened it up, the Spiders fell flat in the overtime. The comeback went to waste in terms of earning the victory, but it definitely gave San Jose confidence heading into the upcoming rematch with Seattle, scheduled for this Saturday night on ESPN3.
“Of course, we still lost,” Joye said. “But I think it was important for us to make that run at the end of the game and give us some momentum heading into this Saturday. I feel confident and feel we have a good chance at securing the number one spot in the West after this weekend.”
Interestingly, while the Spiders were riding on adrenaline from their captivating comeback, the Cascades rediscovered their poise and identity.
“We knew that the mistakes we made were in our control, and just a little more focus would push us through,” Seattle Captain Reid Koss said. “We won the flip and chose offense knowing we would have to score upwind, but I felt pretty confident in our offense that they could get the job done. The point wasn’t fast, but we were able to score upwind without a turnover. When the Spiders had the disc, we made them work for it, eventually got a turn, but then immediately hucked it away. We kept up the pressure, though, and forced a first-pass turnover from Ashlin to Beau. After our defense possessed for a few passes, we called timeout with a little over a minute to go and ran out the clock just about all the way before scoring to effectively end the game.”
The final score was 25-23, with Seattle improving to 6-3, even in the loss-column with 9-3 San Jose. The Cascades travel to both Bay Area destinations this weekend, with first-place in the West very much on the line. Having held serve at home in their first meeting with the Spiders, Seattle is in a position, despite almost coughing away a nine-score lead, to build on their dramatic overtime win.
“I think some people definitely would have been extremely down if we lost,” said Koss. “We played so well for so long, and to not get a result would have been painful. Looking forward, I think we are aware that this weekend will likely have a pretty big effect on the end of the season standings, but I don’t think it’s make or break. Every game in this division is a toss up, so neither of us can just assume any wins in any of the rest of our games.”
If San Jose can win this Saturday, the 10-win Spiders would be impossible to surpass. Having already clinched a playoff berth by virtue of their 26-23 triumph over Vancouver, they can wrap up homefield advantage if they beat the Cascades by more than two.
If Seattle prevails, the Cascades would hand the Spiders a fourth loss, and more importantly, gain a potentially gigantic tiebreaker thanks to a sweep of their season series against San Jose. Even if the Cascades slipped in their tough Sunday tilt at San Francisco, they could still win the regular season title in the West by winning their last three games after this weekend (home vs. San Francisco, home vs. Vancouver, and at Vancouver). No cakewalk, but definitely doable.
Understandably, San Jose’s attention is devoted to this week, as the Spiders will aim to bounce back from their first home loss ever, not to mention three losses in their last five games.
“Our main takeaway [from this past weekend] was lick our wounds, come back out, and get ready for this next game that should decide who the Western leader is, which is something we want to be,” Kittredge said.
With San Jose and Seattle set to square off again this Saturday, fans hopefully will get another taste of one of the great head-to-head matchups in all of ultimate. Beau Kittredge and Matt Rehder have gone against one another with national club championships on the line, with world club championships at stake, and now will battle for first place in the greatest pool of teams pro ultimate has to offer. Neither shies away from the challenge, and the showdown is simply a treat for fans watching in person or on ESPN3. “I would like to play against Rehder more, but he plays offense, so I only see him a few times if I go play defense,” Kittredge said. “He seems pretty explosive, which is fun. I’ve hung out with him a few times outside the field. He’s a super nice guy. Really laid back.” The age gap between the two dynamos is substantial as Kittredge turns 33 next week and Rehder will be 24 on July 18. Kittredge’s club has often gotten the better of Rehder’s, and it will be interesting to see if that rivalry shifts with Rehder just beginning to enter his prime.
Originally posted on http://theaudl.com/articles/ata/tuesdaytoss10
Seattle entered Week Six in a three-way tie for second place with San Francisco and Los Angeles. By the end of the weekend, the Cascades were comfortably in second by themselves, a byproduct of a Seattle win and four losses combined for the FlameThrowers and the Aviators. According to Los Angeles Coach Franklin Rho, "Seattle played great on both sides of the disc. Their offense was characteristically crisp and controlled, and the defense was very effective at stifling our rhythm and movement on offense. They were very ready for this game, and when they are fully loaded with [Danny] Karlinsky quarterbacking the offense and their stable of stud upfield cutters, they are a beast of a team." In the midst of a three-game homestand, the Cascades will host Vancouver on Saturday night before enjoying a long break. After the matchup with the Riptide, Seattle does not play again until June 14, when they will host first-place San Jose. Six days after that, Seattle will venture to the Bay Area, with the June 20th showdown against the Spiders slated for national exposure on ESPN3.
Originally posted on http://theaudl.com/articles/ata/tuesdaytoss6