Viva La Revolution! Colombia Takes Gold At The US Open

Revolution capped off a storybook performance with a gold medal.

Revolution’s Manuela Cardenas gets the huge layout D vs. Molly Brown. Photo: Rudy Desort — UltiPhoto.com

Ultiworld’s reporting on the Women’s division of the 2017 US Open is presented by VC Ultimate as part of their year-long support of our women’s coverage. All opinions are those of the author. Please support the brands that make Ultiworld possible and shop at VC Ultimate!

BLAINE, Minn. — Medellín Revolution avenged an early tournament loss to Denver Molly Brown 15-13 in thrilling fashion and claimed the gold medal as the first international team to win the Women’s Division at the USA Ultimate U.S. Open Championship. World Games selections Yina Paola Cartagena and the Cardenas twins, Manuela and Valeria, put on a show for the fans on hand at the National Sports Center.

The stadium buzzed before the game with chatter about which side would win. Many supporters were ecstatic to see how Revolution would fare in their second game against #4 Molly Brown and were sure they were going to deliver a compelling performance as they had earlier in the tournament against #1 Boston Brute Squad and #2 Seattle Riot; others were rooting for the Americans, guaranteeing they would stand their ground against the Colombians and bring home the bacon. The crowd got what they wanted – a legendary performance from both teams, an instant classic that we will look back on for many years.

Revolution paraded into the stadium for the final game just as they have for every other match they played this weekend: smiling, focused, and anxious to put their first point on the board.

Attacking a person defense, Revolution utilized a horizontal stack with either one or two handlers in the backfield aiming to keep the force and break sides clear to maximize the full width of the field. If Cartagena disliked that strategy, the cutters would transition to a side stack of their own – this time with M. Cardenas, Laura Ospina, or Elizabeth Mosquera in isolation. 

On defense, Revolution forced cutters to beat them athletically underneath while allowing Mosquera to roam in the deep space looking to gobble up anything that came her way. Their strategy was effective: Molly Brown handlers struggled to throw around the defenders sagging in the lane, resulting in tight windows. The play of the game came from M. Cardenas, who poached off Lisa Pitcaithley for an enormous layout block.

The gap that resulted in a Revolution triumph was blazing speed and refined explosiveness. It’s not so often that you see Molly Brown outclassed in the athleticism department. Head coach Mauricio Moore and the captains strategized for an intense first half to govern the pace of the game. Their greatness reverberated through the stadium as the powerful Colombian women made agile play after play; M. Cardenas, shortly after her poach block, pounced on a Claire Chastain throw to a Pitcaithley undercut. Revolution wasn’t ready to settle on the performance of one player; a speedy Mosquera deep cut earned a backhand dime from M. Cardenas to break for half, 8-6. The audience soared to their feet in awe.

After a 30-minute lightning delay, players re-entered the stadium and the fans began to trickle back in after the passing rain shower. The extra time during intermission allowed for tactical adjustments from Molly. Denver came out on defense and forced backhand in attempt to challenge the inside breaks the Colombian women dominated with in the first half of play; in effort to take Cartagena out of the handler role, they forced her up the field to see if the other players could fill her shoes. V. Cardenas exploited Molly Brown’s doubt and assisted two of the next four goals, including an impeccable goal line scoober that landed in the lap of Cartagena.

Despite a textbook layout block from Chastain on a handler swing late in the game, Revolution’s momentum fueled their fire to a victory over the Denver contingent.

“It’s awesome for international ultimate and the game in general,” said Chastain about the impressive performance from Revolution. “It shows how important it is for the U.S. Open and international tournaments to happen. It is really cool to see the Colombian women’s growth, especially that it is happening outside the United States.”

Molly Brown, too, came to the tournament to make a strong statement — that they are not “just the fourth best team in the country.”

Chastain commanded her crew through the weekend, often directing traffic and visibly showing her players where to go. She was proud of her team’s performance on the weekend and lauded their process. “We have lofty goals and we are focusing on little chunks at a time. It proved to us that the strategy works for us and is something we can take throughout the rest of the season,” she said.

Molly Brown utilized a side stack that isolated Lisa Pitcaithley and Liza Minor to use their athleticism to win their matchup in plenty of space; aside from Chastain, their backfield consisted of Paige Applegate and Lauren Baecher.

Chastain merits the “first star of the game” award for Molly Brown, but there two other icons for the Molly Brown offense – Minor and Applegate. Minor had an outstanding weekend and has certainly established her role on the Molly Brown roster; she tallied four goals and two blocks in the final match, including the first strike of the game. Applegate, Molly Brown’s center handler, exuded confidence in the handler role and has stepped up in a big way this season.

Molly Brown, with a semis win over Fury, does look like they have taken a step forward towards challenging for a National Championship this year.

Revolution, though, is the biggest story of the weekend. They overpowered three of the best women’s teams on Earth. Chastain said that they are the best women’s club team in the world right now. The Cardenas sisters, Cartagena, Ospina, Mosquera and Alejandra Echeverri are sure to be returning to their upcoming World Ultimate Club Championships roster. That has to make them the favorite to win the WUCC in Cincinnati, Ohio, next summer.

  1. Eryn Ogren

    Eryn Ogren is the Business Development Manager for Ultiworld. You can reach her by email (eryn@ultiworld.com) or Twitter (@iveyeryn).

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