Surf’s up, L.A.! Point Break rides the wave to victory at Beach Nationals.May 6th, 2015 | By AndyBandit | Category: Articles
May 2nd and 3rd, 2015 marked the inaugural beach national championship tournament held by USA Ultimate. Fifty-six teams in five divisions descended upon Virginia Beach with one goal in mind: winning the first ever beach nationals title.
Los Angeles sent one team: Point Break, competing in the mixed division. Made up of twelve L.A. players past and present plus three out-of-town friends, Point Break walked into the tournament with a lot of chemistry and a lot of promise: more than half the members of the team had won beach world championship titles, and a short-handed squad had fallen a fingertip short of winning San Diego’s One Love One Beach tournament just two weekends prior.
Point Break built on their momentum by taking two easy victories against D.C. and North Carolina teams to begin their tournament. This left them undefeated before facing the top seed in their pool: No Tsu Oh. A Texas-based team with multiple Paganello victories under their belts and a roster heavy with 2015 USA Men’s Masters beach players, No Tsu Oh presented the toughest challenge Point Break met in Day One… and they met it easily. By going up three breaks to start the game, Point Break broke the spirits of No Tsu Oh, closing out a 13-7 win in fine fashion and earning a pre-quarters bye and a direct berth into the quarterfinals on Day Two.
As dawn settled across the Sunday of inaugural beach championships, Point Break saw themselves matched up against the cleverly named Comic Sands. Though these opponents were relative unknowns, hailing from the unlikely beach city of Fort Worth, they had just earned their Sunday spot by knocking out a team comprised almost entirely of USAU 2014 mixed champions Drag ‘N’ Thrust, and all of Point Break recognized that they were not to be taken lightly. Keegan Uhl exhorted the team to come out hard and earn the first few breaks, and the team responded: by scoring three of the first four defensive possessions and going up 7-2 at half, Point Break put the game away early and earned a place in the semifinals.
Point Break matched up in the semis against O-Pig, a DC/Northern Virginia all-star squad that featured five USAU national champions from Sockeye, Revolver, and Scandal. Again, Keegan pushed the defensive line to come out with breaks to set the tone, and again the D-team responded, putting Point Break up four points right out of the gate and earning a 7-3 lead going into halftime.
The second half started easily for Point Break, but at 10-6, the wheels started to come off. The offensive line tightened up, yielding one break after another. O-Pig earned five breaks in six defensive points, and what had felt like a sure thing suddenly seemed to be anything but. Point Break found themselves looking down the barrel of a gun, lined up to receive the pull down 11-12 as the hard cap went on.
With their tournament dreams on the line, Point Break put out a fresh O line and quickly scored. At double-game point, the team earned the goal-line turnover it needed on a baited block of a deep shot by Tyler Grant. With possession and the chance to win, the team pushed it all the way up field, then put up a dicey ball of its own into the middle of the end zone… which Stephanie Pritchard brought down inside doubled defensive coverage.
Game over. Just like that, Point Break had landed themselves a spot in the finals.
Word reached Point Break that on the other side of the bracket, No Tsu Oh had clawed its way through the backdoor; the tournament finals would be a rematch of the pool play game from the day earlier. That rematch, however, was anything but a repeat: for the first time all weekend, Point Break failed to come out of the gate with a string of breaks. The team pulled to start the game and failed to convert on a number of chances. Then, the O-line got broken to put the team in a 0-2 hole out of the bat. No Tsu Oh kept the pressure on throughout, holding their advantage, and the teams traded all the way to a 5-7 score at halftime on stadium court.
With the championships on the line, the team again pulled Tyler Grant onto the D-line to add firepower, and the move paid off: Point Break went on a 7-3 run out of the gates in second half, making the score 12-10 Los Angeles. No Tsu Oh scored on their next point of offense, but it wasn’t enough: a calm and confident Point Break line took the field and marched the disc all the way into the end zone, claiming the first ever mixed beach national championship title for L.A.
The Point Break roster read as follows:
Russell Gaskamp (Captain)
Remy Schor (Captain)
– Credit Russell Gaskamp and Remy Schor with excellent captaining and leadership.
– Keegan Uhl and Kate Wilson provided outstanding strategic direction.
– Alexa Cohen, Tyler Grant, Barrs Lang, and Stephanie Pritchard scored an outsize percentage of the team’s goals.
– Trevor Smith, Erika Swanson, and Evan Valdes served as the team’s primary defensive stoppers.
– Eric Brach, Alice Chen, Lori Eich, and Daniel Walton ate up points on both O and D lines, working as the team’s consistent two-way threats.
Point Break is glad to have earned the inaugural title on behalf of L.A. and looks forward to defending the crown in 2016. In addition to thanking the entire Southern California ultimate community for their support and good wishes, they would like to send special shout-outs to Jeff Landesman, Ben Parrell, Brandon Severson, and Katy Stanton, without whose help in training at One Love One Beach the team might never have reached its full potential.
Vaya con Dios.