US Open 2022: Chain Busts Bracket, Bravo and Truck Stop reach the final (men)

Denver player Johnny Bravo makes a layout catch against Boston Dig in the semifinals of the 2022 US Open. Photo: Alex Fraser —

Blaine, Minnesota — The competitive quarterfinals and semifinals produced entertaining matchups filled with streaking, deep shooting, and passionate energy in humid conditions at the US Open. Despite lightning delays in the early morning, the teams went out shooting in the rain. Each team played to win, but development remained a focus for all groups.

Chain shock machine; Truck, Bravo and Dig advance through the neighborhoods

#14 Atlanta Chain Lightning got off to a strong start with defensive intensity and a D-line that created their own opportunities and capitalized on Chicago’s mistakes. #4 Chicago Machine went through an adjustment period early in the first half after losing two breaks earlier. Paul Arters was a rock for the Chicago offense, finishing with five assists and a goal, but it was Chicago’s energy off the half that kept this talented Machine team in the game. New Chain addition Tom Tulett remained calm and helped raise the team’s offensive level as Chicago increased their defensive pressure. “[We] let the dogs go wild,” captain Brett Hulsmeyer said of his side’s defense, playing two D-lines evenly and holding onto their two-break lead for the 15-13 win. The faith in young D-line guns like Aiden Downey and Colin Hill makes this new Atlanta team a threat to any team.

As Friday’s takeout said, it was a surprise to see Chicago eliminated in the quarterfinals; however, the first day’s catches may have been too daring as this tournament was the first time the entire team had been together. They even made a circle of names ahead of Friday’s games. “We arrived this weekend as an unknown quantity… this weekend was all about rehearsals and first time Frisbee together,” said Machine veteran Pawel Janas. Chicago doesn’t care about results before Nationals. They have a high moving ceiling the rest of the year.

On the same side of the bracket, #12 Washington DC Truck Stop featured a hard-to-break O line. With just one turnover against a physical and athletic San Francisco No. 8 revolver defense, DC’s talented offense fits in well with new faces like Cole Jurek and Andrew Roy. The missing experienced big bodies of Simon Higgins, Marcelo Sanchez and Sawyer Thompson certainly didn’t help this San Francisco side, but captain and veteran Elijah Kerns filled the stat sheet with two goals and six assists. San Francisco’s D line couldn’t get a break against DC’s constant onslaught, and Truck Stop won 15-11. Filled with talented young players, including varsity figures like Stanford’s Kevin Tien, Cal Poly SLO’s Jake Thorne and Santa Clara’s Keaton Viadro, the development of this San Francisco team will be interesting to watch in the second half of their season.

#7 Denver Johnny Bravo and #9 Boston Dig took care of business on the other side of the group by beating #13 Utah Pando 15-12 and Seattle Emerald City 15-9 respectively. After an 8-3 first half in Denver’s favor, Utah kept things interesting with a second half to bring the score to 13-12, down one point. Denver stayed calm, however, to hold and then break to win. Along with Joseph Merrill, Jensen Wells is a player to watch on this improving Utah team.

Stadium semi-finals

The first split semi-final between Johnny Bravo and Dig was a tight game with teams trading breaks in the first half. Friendly banter between players on the sidelines and jokes on the ESPN stream and #LiveUltimate campaign created a fun atmosphere despite the competition. However, whenever the disc was in play, both teams were locked and communicating with players on the field. Young Leo Gordon was an impact player for this Boston group on both sides of the disc. His intensity matched that of anyone on the pitch, and his influence on the pitch was reflected in the stats: six goals and four assists.

However, the depth and consistency of this undefeated Denver team (Saturday) never wavered. Coming out of halftime on serve, Denver’s defensive pressure was hard to follow. Freshman Jackson Cochran was wreaking havoc against Boston’s offense. Recording three blocks, one goal, one assist and no turnovers, Cochran created opportunities for Denver to retire late in the second period. For Bravo, every game is a complete team effort. “What’s really cool about this team is that there aren’t a ton of egos, so everyone has to do their part to get the job done,” Bravo defender Cody Spicer said.

Boston is still early in its season and has a lot to look forward to. “We were in a scrappy game with this team, and we were all super motivated to play at this level,” said Dig returner Ben Field. Cole Moore stood out for this young group from Boston in the semifinals.

In a stadium match under the lights, Truck Stop faced Chain Lightning. By far the best time of the weekend, both teams made big plays and put on a show for the fans. Breaking only once all game, Washington DC’s O line continued to show why they are top notch. DC used the entire court to their advantage with fast, smooth swings that many coaches would drool over. Atlanta struggled to keep up with Jonny Malks and Tyler Monroe, and newcomer Cole Jurek came in with some big hits and sent one in too.

On duty at halftime DC up 8-7, Atlanta’s defense couldn’t find a break, squandering its rare opportunities. Brett Hulsmeyer was a beast on the O line for Atlanta, getting big on deep shots and sprinting the length of the field to roll back the cornering drive, but DC’s second-half defense forced Atlanta’s mistakes, which earned Truck Stop a crucial break making it 12-10. Adjusting to a flatter DC backhand strength was a key factor in forcing Atlanta turnovers on deep looks, truck returner Codi Wood said. Scary to think that this DC team has only had one practice under their belt. Brett Hulsmeyer makes a strong case for the all-tournament first team. He’s scored 14 goals on the weekend so far (second highest) and clearly a big leader for this young Atlanta team.


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