Machine’s Comeback (Final Part + Summary) – USAU Nationals 2019 Final vs Sockeye
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Hey everyone, in this 4th and final part of this series we’re going to break down the last 3 points of the USA 2019 National Final, including a couple of contested hucks, an inward pivot leading to some nice flow from Sockeye, and pass-by-pass analysis of the all-important universe point to decide the US Men’s Champions. In the last two minutes of the video we’ll summarise how Machine’s comeback unfolded and was ultimately brought to an end by Sockeye. We rejoin the match at 11-11, Machine having just scored 5 points in a row.
Sockeye’s fielding of the pull looks nervous as Montague centers to Dixon. They waste no time in getting the disc away from their end zone, as Trent Dillon goes deep. Dixon puts the disc in the air but the Machine defenders are ready for it and Goff gets the block. The moderate deep separation that Dillon gets on Goff doesn’t matter in the end as Nelson and Graffy are poaching 10 and 20 yards off their marks respectively, leaving Dillon with too much to do. If the huck had been faked, then an overhead to Rehder here in all that space could’ve got opened up an opportunity for Sockeye to flow towards the end zone. After 5 points in a row by Machine, it’s possible Sockeye were snatching too keenly at the opportunity for a quick score, abandoning their usual flow in favour of backing their receivers in the long game and throwing to percentages. Machine’s defence is too solid for that, with downfield defenders very aware and ready to drop onto deep threats, especially early on in the possession. Also note how the defenders around the disc pinch the throwing lane – Bansfield early on, followed by the flash of a foot from Gibson. The foot forces Dixon to use quite a high release for the huck, adding float which allows the defenders time to make up the ground on Dillon. If Goff had managed to catch this block then Machine would’ve had a 3v1 with the nearest other defender last seen 30 yards away.
Machine’s setup from this static disc looks like an iso on Goff, but the movement looks more like clearing or flooding to one side for Bansfield to come under. Kosednar puts Gibson off the early pass to Bansfield and then Graffy goes down with an injury. There was contact with Dillon which was just at an unfortunate angle, and the game stops for 120 seconds as Graffy is helped off.
Machine’s offence is far from smooth as Gibson, Bansfield, and Nelson keep the disc alive on high stall counts. Kanner touches the disc for the first time in the possession and rips it deep. Joe White arrives as backup but is unable to secure the catch. Bansfield started to go deep from the far side early, but the disc takes too long to move – resting in Machine’s hands for an average of [ 31:30-39:15 = 7.8s | 40:00-46:00 = 6s | 46:36-49:36 = 3s | 50:30-53:23 = 2.9s | 7.8+6+3+2.9 /4 = 4.9 ] 4.9 seconds per player for this possession, so Bansfield has to delay his deep cut until Kanner gets the disc and looks up. Whilst he’s eyeing up space for a run-up jump, White, Dillon, and Matt Russel arrive, meaning he can’t bid early without it being a dangerous play and he pulls out. White gets up high between two defenders, and the disc actually bounces out of his hand, in what could’ve been the defining catch of the game for this young player very new on the Club scene. Charlie Eisenhood said before the game that the result could rest on the performance of White, and although he’s had a good game, a catch here would’ve made a big difference late in the game for Machine. White had actually started to cut deep, but saw Bansfield cut deep from arguably too deep a position, which makes him hesitate. Dillon keeps his eye on the thrower for the release, gets a great early read, and burns past White to get early position. In the end Dillon can’t bid as early as he wants either because he’d flatten Dixon. White gets the best take-off but it’s just too hectic to secure the catch this time and Sockeye get possession.
Bansfield pinches the throwing lane as Sockeye work the disc around the back. Gibson gives Freechild a bit of a push to let him know he’s there. Freechild comes under and has to go to ground for a left handed catch, Rehder sets off deep and Goff and Kanner expertly switch to neutralise the threat – Dixon spots this early and fakes the huck. Dillon is in space as White was sucked in by the huck fake. After the disc rests in Dillon’s hands for 4.3 seconds, Sockeye flow smoothly to the endzone, each player holding onto the disc for an average of just [ 3.48-8.04:(4.16=4.3s) – 9:05-12:09:(3.04=3.1s) – 13:12-15:07:(1.55=1.9s) – 16:18-16:55:(0.37=0.6s) – AVG = 3.1+1.9+0.6 /3 = 1.9s ] 1.9 seconds.
But how come they had stall zero options? Bansfield has extended his leash on Dixon, trusting that he can switch with a teammate and efficiently stay in the space near the disc. After the switch Nelson looks to help deep briefly, but because Matt Russell pivots inwards as he catches the disc, he is able to release the crossfield disc within 1.9 seconds, and hit Dixon directly. White is now out of position due to the quick disc movement changing the angle of attack so quickly, and his bid on the scoring pass is as good as it can be without causing contact – Dillon holding his ground and not opening a window for the D by shying away. This is the third time in this point a player has adjusted their bid to avoid dangerous contact with an opponent, it’s great to see players at this level using their athleticism not only to make bids, but also to avoid risking the safety of their opponents – White here having to make a late adjustment on his last step to avoid contact.
At match point Sockeye, their first pull in 6 points goes sailing out of bounds. At the moment of the check, they’re marking 1-to-1 against a tight vert stack, and poaching off Yiding Hou in the reset position, who is interestingly setting up downfield of the disc which enables Machine to immediately make use of the space. Keegan North pulls two defenders deep, allowing Arters to get free under. North makes a nice layout to keep the disc alive, and the Sockeye defence is revealed to be force-middle. Friedman bites on the inside fake and White pivots aggressively inwards after catching, but the Sockeye defence is doing well to stifle the stall zero options and force the disc to continue moving across the back.
Hou throws and immediately accelerates crossfield. North turns inwards on his catch and accelerates out of his throw, using excellent technique and balance control. On defence Snell recognises the crossfield threat and switches to stifle North’s move. Machine’s attack immediately changes direction, as North turns the crossfield move into a fake and attacks upline. Kulczak and Snell switch to also neutralise this move, which leaves a pocket of space in front of Arters. If Hou had continued his move after reversing the flow, then it would have been dangerous for Sockeye with or without the second switch. Instead he sets up in the conventional static dump position, allowing Friedman a rare opportunity to reposition.
Janas touches the disc for the first time since bricking the pull, fakes the flick continuation before throwing the around break backhand to a well timed cut from Hou. The fake keeps Friedman occupied for just long enough, moves the mark over to the open side, and gives Hou something to synchronise his cut with. Machine’s vertical stack counters the force-middle from Sockeye nicely as it opens up around break channels towards the sidelines.
7 points ago Sockeye were up 11-6, after a 6-1 comeback run by Machine it’s now 12-12 – Universe Point in the Men’s Final of 2019 USAU Club Nationals, with Seattle Sockeye receiving the pull.
Sockeye set up a stack whilst Kanner poaches off the dump to disrupt the throwing lane. Montague breaks to Janin and Kanner continues to roam into the downfield throwing lane, so the disc swings back over to Murray, who continues to Russell for yards on the far sideline. There’s some unfortunate hand to face contact between Gibson and Montague, and the play stops for 35 seconds, giving the players a chance to re-assess the field.
Rehder uses his separation to cut into the backfield and Bansfield forces an unfavorable backwards inside-break throw. This extreme force allows Russell to take off deep, but this move is negated by a pick.
20 seconds of stoppage later, with a rising stall count it begins to look like Freechild is in trouble, but Rehder is surprisingly free up the line. Freechild follows his throw to receive a return pass in the narrow channel, Goff switches to help and Freechild dishes to Janin for the winning score. Check out Janin’s footwork as he throws off Weaver to get free at the front corner.
How was Rehder so free up the line for Freechild at a high stall count? Late in the stall, Goff flash poaches into the backfield space, gambling on the disc being released but allowing Rehder to get free downfield. Rehder and Weis crossing paths is an indication that a switch could’ve worked here, but Gibson has already committed under and it’s outside his field of vision. Kanner also thinks about the switch and flash poaches in sync with Freechild’s pivot – but doesn’t follow through. The switch was an option due to Rehder crossing paths with Murray – if this trigger had been recognised and acted upon early by Kanner then Goff could’ve easily picked up Murray, and neutralised all of Sockeye’s options late in the stall.
When Freechild receives the return pass, instead of automatically pivoting and faking down the sideline, he adopts a neutral stance looking infield. This means the defence has to mark honest whilst he keeps his cards close to his chest. Freechild’s use of these critical first few moments after catching the disc, combined with Janin’s excellent footwork, create a window which is only just big enough and only just kept open long enough for the scoring pass.
9 points ago, with Sockeye leading 10-6, they started to falter with overthrows. Machine’s clogging, flash poaching, and highly aware defence was always ready to pounce, taking away Sockeye’s confidence, causing them to hesitate, and punishing them for predictable moves.
When Machine scored it was usually from 1 or 2 passes after a turnover, or Gibson and Bansfield patiently looking for opportunities from the back. White, Kanner, and Hou also made big contributions to Machine’s late run on offence, but they did give Sockeye the disc back a couple of times.
With the game tied at 11s, Sockeye faked the long throws which hadn’t been working out for them, worked the disc under, and took advantage of Machine’s clogging and flash poaching with patience on high stalls and quick disc movement on low stalls. The last point saw Freechild following his throw to get into a powerful position outside the end zone, where some great footwork by both the thrower and catcher secured Sockeye’s first USAU Nationals victory in 12 years.
I hope you enjoyed this series, stay tuned for more and I’ll see you again soon!