Learning from Revolution’s D against a vert stack

I wanted to highlight the two defensive sets from Revolution on the 9th point. Their match up D – almost a version of a clam D – really disrupts Riot’s O.

Ome moment to highlight from the first clip show how Revolution hands off Cassie Swafford to the deep defender (Elizabeth Mosquera who is off screen) and picks up Sarah Griffith:

Here you see Swafford heading deep:

First Vid Pic 1

Here you’ll see the same defender (sorry, I can’t see the number) picking up Surge who is coming under:

First Vid Pic 2

The other thing to note in this clip is that the defender guarding Alex Ode from Riot (the defender in the white hat) doesn’t seem to be looking to switch. Since Ode seems to start up front with the handlers, it looks to me that Revolution’s D set here is to match up with the handlers one on one and play a little zone D with deep help with the other 4 defenders.

An interesting change here is that all of the Revolution players (aside from the mark) seem to be looking to help / poach / play zone. Notice here how the defender in the middle of the field (in the white hat) moves to pick up Nora Landri who is coming in from the back. That movement is easy to miss because of Ximena MontaƱa’s amazing poach block!

Here’s the initial set with the defender in the white hat in the middle of the field looking to pick up players coming in from the deep space:

2nd video pic 1

Here’s a pic showing her moving to pick up Landri:

2nd Video pic 2

Here’s the full clip of the D on Riot’s second possession:

I think there’s a lot to learn from watching Revolution’s D here. The trouble the D gives Riot feels like a good indication of the trouble this D would give any team playing a vert stack. It is too bad we don’t have a great view of the full field to see how Elizabeth Mosquera is positioned, but even with only part of the information on the D I think there’s something worth trying here.


A few notes from Revolution’s first possession on the 4th point

The fourth point of the Riot vs Revolution game has a couple of possessions and I was watching the first one tonight and noticed a few things.

Here’s the full possession:

The first thing that caught my eye was switching opportunity. Riot’s Molly McKeon is in the front and Bailey Zahniser is in the back and trailing Manuela Cardenas. This looks like a situation where a quick switch on D would have been easy and disrupted Revolution’s flow a little bit.

Next, an incredible play by Laura Ospina. I didn’t really notice it the first few times through the point, but she catches, goes to the ground, spins around, stands up, sets herself, and throws a perfect pass . . . in 3 seconds. I know this is a small thing and I know we’ve talked about Ospina a lot already – but wow is she amazing!

Finally, check out the cut from Yina Cartagena to get open on Jaclyn Verzuh. There’s a couple of really impressive points -> where this cut starts, the burst of acceleration to move down the field when the pass goes up from Ospina, and finally stopping and reversing direction in the blink of an eye. What a nightmare it must be to guard her!

I also want to point out some really great help deep D from Riot’s Lucy Williams. Watch her in the back stepping back to help as Cartagena bursts deep and they staying in that help deep spot until the turn. This is great work by Williams

The athleticism in the Riot vs Revoluiton game is incredible

I’ll have a couple of things to say about the 4th point of the Riot vs. Revolution game. For a quiet Sunday, though, just enjoy the athleticism on display. Wow!

(1) The huck to Shira Stern and the D by Forero

(2) Ospina vs Kelly Johnson

(3) Riot’s goal

Hopefully I’ll get a chance during this game to write a bit about the goal thrower – Lucy Williams. I think she’s one of the most underrated players in ultimate.

Learning from Riot’s Paige Soper

The first time Paige Soper’s play caught my eye was this grab in the 2014 college finals

Since then she’s become one of the top club ultimate players in the world. This year she’s also one of the captains of Riot.

On the 3rd point of the Riot vs Revolution game you won’t see any of the off carts plays from Soper like the one in the college championship. Rather, what I want to highlight is her incredible display of fundamental skills. If you want to understand the building blocks of what it takes to be a world class handler, Soper is the player to study.

Here’s the first 30 seconds of the point – Soper starts with the disc on the far sideline. Things to watch:

(i) Study how her arm moves after she releases her backhands. Note that it doesn’t come across her body. A lot of players learning to throw backhands have a follow through that is too long – that extra movement makes it much harder to throw with a mark. Soper’s backhand form is perfect.

(ii) Watch her fakes. Watch especially why she’s faking and what those fakes accomplish.

(iii) Every catch is with two hands.

A few seconds later in the point Soper’s movement gives a beautiful lesson in short handler cuts (and there’s a slo-mo replay of the cut at the end of the clip). Also note:

(i) Two handed catching again

(ii) The form on the forehand – look how wide she keeps her arm, and that she’s turned her hips and her shoulders to the receiver, for example.

In this last clip you get a master class in two different skills:

(i) turning in the direction of the throw. Look how easy it was for Soper to catch, turn and possibly throw if she thought Verzuh’s cut was open. Turing the opposite direction of the throw stops your momentum and is a much slower motion.

(ii) The around backhand. Not sure words from me would add anything -> this is a perfect example of an around backhand. Absolutely perfect.

If you are a handler looking for player to model your game after, my vote would be that you start by studying how Paige Soper plays. The lessons from her play will help you improve your own fundamental skills and will definitely help take your own game to the next level.

One thing every team can take away from watching Revolution -> try their zone

Before moving on to the 2nd point of the Riot vs Revolution game, I wanted to put together a short post on Revolution’s zone D. It is a little different from other zone’s I’ve seen – and in some ways much more aggressive – but it is something that I think any team could play. In fact, I’d recommend trying it out.

The difficulty with trying out new zone D sets is that your team D is going to be awful for a while. Don’t worry about that – once your team gets comfortable with this type of D you are going to give your opponents fits.

I’ve pulled three examples – two from the Molly Brown game, and one from the first point of the Riot game. The Molly Brown examples also show how to beat this D, but I think you’ll agree that what Molly Brown does is not something that the majority of teams are going to be able to easily replicate.

(1) Molly Brown 26th Point

Here’s the initial set (with Elizabeth Mosquera of Revolution guarding the deep space off the screen).

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 7.25.36 PM

Revolution sends 3 players up for what would probably be a pretty normal looking front for a 3-3-1 zone but uses the other 4 players to completely stop Molly Brown’s pull play. The three Molly Brown players on the far sideline are essentially ignored.

(2) Molly Brown 16th Point

Here Revolution is a bit more aggressive (and again Mosquera is off screen guarding the deep space) – they are pushing super far forward. Here the D doesn’t look like a 3-3-1 at all. It is almost a 5-2!

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 7.39.30 PM.png

One interesting similarity with the prior example is that the far side of the field is again wide open. Revolution also dedicates a lot of resources to preventing the disc from moving down the middle of the field – no way any pull play is going to happen.

One last point – the throw from Chastain to Pitcaithley is the main weakness that this zone D has. But you can’t stop everything – challenge the other team to find and throw this pass. If they can complete it consistently, you probably don’t want to play any zone against them.

(3) Riot’s first point

This is what really caught my eye about their zone approach -> this is super aggressive and something that I think teams should try.

Here’s the initial set up. Julia Snyder finds the hole and puts up a pass to the open part of the field on the far sideline. This time it is Manuela Cardenas who is covering the deep space off the screen for Revolution.

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 7.52.29 PM

As that pass is complete, Revolution has 6 players behind the disc while Riot only has 3!! (Calise Cardenas from Riot is downfield off screen with Manuela Cardenas)

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 7.53.11 PM

A few seconds later you’ll see that Revolution is still challenging Riot to find a throw into the deep space – no panic at all. When there is no good throw down the field, the space 10 yards down the field is now pretty crowded:

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 8.01.40 PM.png

Here’s the film from the pull to Riot first turn.

I really do like how aggressive Revolution’s zone D is. Throwing a D in like this every now and then is something that any team can do and I think will create a lot of confusion for their opponents. Challenging the O to try to find the open spots and put up some longer throws will, I’d bet, generate a lot of turns.


Dear Joel Prushan -> my answer to your question is Megan Cousins

Yesterday Joel Prushan posed this question on my blog:

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 7.04.53 AM

In December I’d written this comment about the play of Megan Cousins as we were starting to look at the Molly Brown vs. Revolution game in the group:

Screen Shot 2018-02-21 at 7.03.06 AM

Unfortunately Cousins tore her ACL in the Revolution game, so we only see her play in the beginning, but I still was able to write two blog posts about her play:

Lessons from the 5th point of the Molly Brown vs Revolution game

A nice example of finding space from Megan Cousins

Here’s another example of a seemingly simple cut down the field from Megan Cousins that puts two defenders out of position:

Here are two more examples of her great play to study from the 2016 Molly Brown vs. All Stars game from 2016:

So, my answer to Joel’s question is to study the play of Megan Cousins. Because of her knee injury you’ll have to look for Molly Brown games prior to the finals of the 2017 US Open. I’m sure there are several filmed games like that to find. Also the 2015 All-Star tour games are all on youtube.

4 ideas to take away from the 1st point of the Riot vs Revolution game

We are starting to look at the Riot vs Revolution game in the study group today. Since we’ve spent the last 6 weeks looking at the Molly Brown vs Revolution game, I’ll probably focus a bit more on the Riot players to start the game just to introduce them. My guess is that Revolution will give us plenty to study through the game, though!

Here are some of my thoughts from the first point:

(1) If you want to learn how to play ultimate – watch everything that Julia Snyder does on the field.

I’ve written a lot about how much I love her game before:

I really like the way Julia Snyder plays

In this game she touches the disc three times – you’ll see a beautiful forehand to space, a nice high backhand to the force side, and an easy backhand to space (after a miracle catch!)

In a way her game reminds me a lot of how Revolution’s Yina Cartagena plays. They both have fantastic field awareness and always seem to be in the right place at the right time. Both are also excellent at taking what the D is giving them. Snyder and Cartagena are a joy to watch and both make the game look way too easy!

(2) Surge is simply terrific

I’ve written a lot about her game, too:

Play like Opi and Surge using these 7 simple tricks

My respect for Surge is infinite

Surge has been one of the top players in the world for a decade and also gives back to the sport in more ways than I can count. In this point you’ll see a fantastic block and also a great example of how the thrower can help move a receiver’s defender.

(3) Learning from Qxhna Titcomb

Parts (3) and (4) are the same video clip – the 20 seconds leading up to the score, but I want to highlight the play of two different players.

First up is Qxhna Titcomb who throws the goal. She’s in the front of the stack when the clip starts. Watch her movement and watch especially how she works with Surge to get so wide open before throwing the goal.

(4) Learning from Nora Landri

Again, the is the same clip from part (3) -> this time, though, focus on the movement of Nora Landri who starts with the disc.

Downfield cuts coming from the handler position are always fun to study. Landri’s timing and positioning here are great. She doesn’t go down the field right away, stays wide, and times the cut perfectly so that Qxhna has plenty of space to throw in to. If you want to incorporate downfield cutting into your own handler cutting repertoire, Landri’s movement here is a great cut to study.