US Open 2015: Neat Start!

US Open 2015: Neat Start!

Sideline Energy, Cavalier Logistics and Joe Freund fuel Truck Stop to US Open Glory

In the start to our 2015 campaign, Truck Stop went 3-0 in games we won, fueled by rookie Joe Freund (more on that in a moment) and great energy from the sidelines, helping lead us to tie for first team to get third at any USAU US Open tournament this season.

Head Coach Mike LoPresti and Truck Stop leadership entered the weekend with a focus on process over outcomes in helping Truck grow and improve.

“We wanted to learn about ourselves and see how we measured against the best teams in the country,” LoPresti said in a conference call with himself and also at several of the 15 team meetings held over the four day tournament.

And indeed we did learn. We saw immediately that 17-year-old rookie sensation Joe Freund is social media click-bait, leading the team in favorites per in-game tweet mention and most comments mentioning his name.

Joe Freund - Rookie, child, web traffic higher-power

Joe Freund – Rookie, child, patron saint of web traffic

“That’s not what I was talking about at all,” said LoPresti after reviewing a final draft of this article. Still, even a passing glance at Google Analytics tells the story: mentions of Joe Freund are SEO Gold, with traffic spikes above 1000%.

But the team’s success goes far behind extra mentions of Joe Freund or even common misspellings like Joe Fruend or Joe Friend, which are also likely Google searches. Starting day one at tryouts, the Truck selection committee put a huge emphasis on sideline energy and cheers over things like catching and throwing.

In fact, Kirk Gibsun was cut day one, after captain Jonathan Neeley watched him stand with his mouth closed during one of many drills practicing cheering after the offense had been broken.

The move was considered risky at the time, but Truck’s sideline presence this weekend was noticeably louder than other teams by a relative amount. While we can’t point to a single moment where someone shouting actually put a score on the board, leadership roundly attributed a raucous sideline to our success. Since we mentioned Neeley, it should be noted he unsurprisingly fielded the halftime and postgame interviews with ESPN.  Yes, they let a team that calls itself Truck Stop on ESPN.

Time for the Game by Game Info, box score and stat available here:

Thursday, 9 am against Denver Johnny Bravo

Started off the season against the defending national champs from last year, who narrowly edged us out in a great quarterfinals game last year. Bravo was bolstered in their title run by a player long associated with Truck Stop before he moved to Denver: Ryan Morgan.

Still, we came out red hot and took half after generating a few first half breaks, including rookie Brad Scott’s layout d on an in-cut for Truck’s first break of 2015. The lead extended to 12-10 in the second half before Bravo was able to capitalize on some turns and some great d to run off four straight goals to win, 14-12.

Thursday, 11:15 am against Germany’s Inside Rakete

In their first game, Inside Rakete had pulled off a nice win over New York’s PoNY, so we knew to expect a tough game. Included on the German squad was Truck Stop alumni Phil Haas, a known-baller-outer. But from the start, Germany was off in their deep game, missing several hucks and turns that our d-line punched in. The score quickly got out of hand and we wrapped out our game with a decisive 15-5 victory. In the spirit circle after, Seth Wiggins told the disappointed German squad he knew they hadn’t given us their best game. Indeed, Inside Rakete would upset Bravo the next day (15-13) and finish the weekend 3-3 – kudos to them!

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Erik Salmi makes an easy grab on another perfect Nate Castine swing during the weekend.

Friday, 9 am against Raleigh Ring of Fire

Our game against former mid-Atlantic rivals Ring of Fire was broadcast on Ultiworld’s excellent live stream coverage, and it was a battle. Truck Stop alums Daniel Kantor and Mark Lin suited up against us and both made some great plays.

We jumped out to an early lead and took half 8-5. But Ring came storming back in the second half, tying the game early at 9-9 and eventually taking the lead 10-9. But from that point on, the Truck d-line resumed producing turns and punching in breaks. We closed out the game with a big 14-12 win on a steady o-line point marching it up the field after Kantor got a piece on a disc, but Nicky Spiva made a circus catch to save possession.

Friday, 11:15 am against Vancouver Furious George

We came into this game with a lot of momentum and flushed it all down the port-a-potties. Despite forcing turns on each of Furious’ first two possessions, we couldn’t punch in a break. Meanwhile, their d-line capitalized on a few careless throws and built out an early lead. And then Furious’ o-line started to execute very cleanly and the turns stopped coming. We trailed for most of this game, and though we got a little closer late in the game with a late break off of a Ben Feng poach d, but we fell to the Monkey 14-12.

Friday, 3:45 pm against New York PoNY

It had been a crazy two days in the men’s division at US Open. Despite the loss to Furious, we were still in control with a chance to make semi-finals with a win over PoNY. So we locked in and came out hard. Early points traded back and forth, with each team notching an early break. We took half 8-5 with more great o-line play and some excellent defense. In the second half, our d-line went into overdrive and we rattled off a quick break when Rowan hit Joe Freund (!) on huge flick huck. We hit two more breaks to make it 11-5 and after PoNY scored once, ran off four more scores to finish 15-6 and secure our spot in the semis.

Semi-Finals: Saturday, 5:30 pm against San Francisco Revolver

We matched up against San Francisco Revolver, another team who had broken seed to make the semis. They came into the game having won every game, narrowly edging out Boston Ironside in their first game of the weekend before cruising after.

Our O-line started off strong and each team traded scores before Revolver struck first on the break. But our d-line converted after a deep huck was pushed wide and low to even the break count. Revolver’s D-line helped them take half 8-6. The tightly contested battle continued in the second half, with our d-line getting another break, and the game eventually getting as close at 12-10, but a late break on a missed throw sealed the win for Revolver as they held out to win 15-12.

You can read about the match on Ultiworld (who did not mention Joe Freund once, idiots) or watch the replay on ESPN3.

Cavalier Logistics Throw & Catch & Throw & Catch of the Weekend: Alan Kolick, Peter Prial, Tom Doi

In the ESPN broadcast of our semi-final game, check out the play from Alan Kolick to Peter Prial to Tom Doi at timestamp 1:04:00. Throw, catch, throw, catch. It’s just that easy with Cavalier Logistics, folks.

Throughout the season, winners of the Cavalier Logistics Throw & Catch & Throw & Catch will each receive one free logistics from Cavalier Logistics!

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