By: Kevin McCormick
Seattle Mixtape and Philadelphia AMP squared off in a rematch of the 2017 National Championship game. Last year’s contest was an unforgettable game, in which teams traded punches until Mixtape landed the final blow on double-game point. In a game that smelt of vengeance from the outset, AMP won their first national championship in a convincing manner, 15-8.
Starting on defense, AMP applied pressure early, forcing Mixtape to work through their whole team to earn their first hold. After responding with a hold of their own, Philadelphia followed with a pair of breaks, capitalizing on turnovers forced by Luke Ryan and Linda Morse. Seattle entered the game knowing they would need to use more than straight match-up defense against a potent AMP offense, but their defensive schemes showed holes early as Nico Lake found himself wide open in the end zone for a Philadelphia hold before another AMP break to make the score 5-2. Mixtape’s offense gave it their all, as Ellen Goldberg and Brad Houser earned back several turnovers to set up crucial holds and prevent the game from getting out of hand. Abbie Abromovich came down with a huge sky for a goal to keep the game within reach, but the Seattle defense simply could not find an answer for AMP’s poise and patience with the disc, as the Philadelphia offensive unit scored almost all of their points without a turnover. The teams traded holds into halftime, and Mixtape found themselves down 8-5 and desperately needing a spark to get themselves back in the game.
Any hope of such a spark was quickly doused, as AMP continued to fire on all cylinders on both sides of the disc. Khalif El-salaam, playing through injury, outjumped Sean Mott to earn a block on the first possession out of half, but Mott returned the favor to get the disc back, and again a Philadelphia receiver was left wide open deep as Bobby Roos hit Morse for an easy score. After an uncharacteristic red-zone drop from Mixtape, Jesse Bolton blocked a scoring attempt from AMP, only to watch Steve Rosso make a leaping grab to save the goal and extend the lead to 10-5. The teams traded clean holds all the way to 13-8, when AMP decided to seal the deal with smothering defensive pressure against a visibly tired Mixtape, capitalizing on two Seattle turnovers to break twice more for the 15-8 win. Long-time AMP member Ben Pelleg found Morse deep for the game-winning score.
In the end, this contest was not what fans expected, as Philadelphia dominated early and never gave Seattle breathing room. Heat exhaustion and fatigue may have slowed Mixtape down a bit, and they did themselves no favors by having to play an extra game in pre-quarters and dragging out a fierce semifinal against Snake Country that went to double-game point. But AMP had an equally grueling path, also playing in the pre-quarter round and also going to double-game point against Space Heater on Saturday. And while Philadelphia looked less fresh than they did earlier in the tournament, they were still able to apply stifling defensive pressure up and down the field.
Paige Kercher and Dominic Cavalero stood out for Seattle offensively, and Grace Noah had a quiet but strong performance as well. Philadelphia got contributions from throughout the roster, with big defensive plays coming from Ryan, Morse and Eric Nardelli, while Anna Thompson, Carolyn Normile and Nicky Spiva all had jaw-dropping catches. Disc movement from Andrea DeSabato and Raha Mozaffari controlled the pace for the AMP D line after turnovers. The championship is a long time coming for Mozaffari and Coach Patrick Sherlock, each in their 13th season (and Nationals appearance) with the team.