Watch It Wednesday: USA Club Nationals Final 2016

San Fransisco Revolver v Boston Ironside (USA National Championship – 2016 Men’s Final)


With National Titles in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015 and World Championships in 2012 and 2014, San Fransisco Revolver has been the dominant team of the last 6 years.

There success has been built on an isolation based¹ offensive style, aggressive and confident deep cutting and a slower offensive tempo²than most elite teams.

Revolver reached the final with a 15-9 victory over Vancouver ‘Furious George’ in Quarters and a 13-12 win over Raleigh ‘Ring of Fire’ in the evening semi-final.

Boston Ironside have earned areputation as the bridesmaids of USA Ultimate with 4 Semi-Final and 4 Final defeats in the past 8 seasons.

Boston run a more possession based offence than Revolver. They use a variety of different tactics to create space and like to move the disc quicker (i.e they look for short easy passes early in the stall count) than Revolver.

They won the Chesapeake Open and Northeastern Regionals to enter Nationals on an 11 game unbeaten streak. With star addition (and The Amazing Race contestant) Kurt Gibson on the roster, there was speculation that this could finally be Boston’s year.

They reached the final with 13-8 and 15-11 wins over Seattle ‘Sockeye’ and Denver ‘Johnny Bravo’.

Key Players


#9 Cassidy Rasmussen – The 2015 Ultiworld player of the year has exceptional quickness and great throws, his forehand deep throw is particularly dangerous.

#50 Beau Kitterdge – is the most gifted athlete the sport has ever seen. Kitterdge was a track champion in his home state of Alaska before discovering Ultimate at Colorado University.

#3 George Stubbs – For many years Stubbs was Boston Ironside’s captain and talismanic figure but prior to the 2015 season, he ‘jumped ship’ and moved to the Bay Area.


#3 Kurt Gibson – Gibson had already won championships with Revolver, Austin Doublewide and Denver Johnny Bravo before joining Ironside for the 2015 season. He has been one of the most dominant throwers and defensive players in the past decade.

#14 John Stubbs – How do you replace your star player? Hope he has a younger brother. Younger Stubbs has quickness and excellent game awareness and has become a key part of the Ironside offence.


Game Analysis

First Half

After the turnover in the first point you can see Revolver’s isolation philosophy in action. From 1:25 to 2:00, they create lots of space on the near side by clearing and resting on the far side of the pitch. After the timeout they switch these sides and move the disc down the far side of the field.

Tip: don’t just watch the player with the disc, the action is often elsewhere. For example, at 13:50 Ironside play great defence in the space in front of the disc. Then at 14:05 Revolver make an explosive change of direction and then deep cut for the goal.

At 14:20 we see a possession from Ironside that shows how they like to move the disc quickly and use short passes.

The first half ends with two turnovers by Ironside and zero by Revolver. This shows how costly a single mistake can prove in elite Ultimate.

Second Half

Ironside immediately create a turnover with some good defence. But this is the first time their defensive players have played offence in the entire game. This rustiness means slow movement of the disc and it takes them a long time to score the goal.

A Revolver unforced error, another Gibson assist and just like that the game is tied up and Ironside have all the momentum.

At half time the Ironside coach talks about some defensive adjustments. One of these is to switch Ferraro to mark Kitterdge and Gibson to mark Higgins. This game plan pays off at 8-8 as Ironside play terrific defence, forcing lots of passes and finally a floaty deep throw that is dropped.

Shoutout to my club team Clapham Ultimate and our European Championship victory at 10-10 🙂

At 11-11 we see excellent defence from Revolver to force a high stall timeout and then a big block by the force. After a first half defined by impressive offence, the second half has belonged to the defenders, with both offences under more pressure and requiring more passes to score goals.

—-Watch the final point before reading below—-

At 13-13 sudden death, we see how the pressure can affect even the best players in the World, as the game is ultimately decided by two unforced errors. But don’t be mistaken, both teams played at a phenomenal level throughout the game.

To Consider:

– Look at how both teams created space. Watch individual players throughout a point to see how they made clearing movements and where they rested.

– Look at how explosively offensive players made cuts and used quick changes of direction to get free. Particularly notice how regularly they sprinted into the deep space.

– Note how both teams used fakes to communicate with their teammates and pivot to throw into different parts of the field including the space directly behind the force.



¹Isolation Based Offence – This style involves the majority of players bunching together far away from the disc and allowing a single player as much as possible to cut into.

²Tempo – A high offensive tempo means the offence looks for lots of easy passes, and particularly looks for cuts from players near the thrower early in the stall count. The logic for a high tempo is that the faster the disc moves, the more likely defenders will become out of position. 

Andrew Hillman

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