Photo by Kevin Leclaire – Ultiphotos.com
Ultimate is a sport of big moments – the long downfield huck, the layout goal, the end zone sky and the list goes on. Over the past four years of Major League Ultimate, those moments have been captured by our partners at Ultiphotos. In our new series, Caught in Action, we will look at some of the great moments from MLU’s history and how they have been captured by the talented photographers at Ultiphotos.com.
This week, we are looking back at one of the most important moments in the 2016 MLU Championship Game, as captured by Ultiphotos’ Kevin Leclaire.
The 2016 MLU Championship saw the top team from each conference square off after 9-1 regular seasons and a victory in their respective Conference Final. The Western Conference Champions, the Portland Stags boasted a powerful offensive roster, anchored by Western Conference MVP, Cody Bjorklund, a powerfully physical scorer who has scored more points than anyone in league history. Coming into the game, one of the biggest questions for the Eastern Conference Champions, the Philadelphia Spinners was how they were going to handle Bjorklund on defense. That duty fell to 2nd year defender Charlie McCutcheon. A defensive standout for the Spinners, McCutcheon was known for his quickness and athleticism, but would be significantly outsized by Bjorklund, who had about two inches and 6o pounds on the smaller defender.
As the game progressed, both teams showed that they were in it to win it, with multiple lead changes and highlight caliber plays throughout the game. Coming out of halftime, the Spinners held a slim, single goal lead over the Stags, who received the disc to start the 3rd quarter and quickly tied the game on an assist from Bjorklund. While McCutcheon’s man had tied the game, that would be the end of Bjorklund’s scoring for the day, as the game’s momentum was about to shift for good. After trading a few offensive points, the Spinners once again scored to lead by one as the 3rd quarter wore on. Trying to force the disc to Bjorklund, the Stags lost possession as McCutcheon was able to smack an errant throw out of the air. Immediately turning downfield, McCutcheon raced to his own end zone as Spinners’ handler Gabe Colton picked up the disc and fired a 60-yard backhand where only McCutcheon and Bjorklund could make a play on it.
As both players leapt for the disc, Leclaire snapped the shot from his perch in the stands above, perfectly capturing the moment. McCutcheon came down with the disc, growing the Spinners lead to two. The Spinners would convert the next two points on breaks, including another goal by McCutcheon, and win the MLU Championship, 14-11. (BOXSCORE – WATCH GAME)
McCutcheon would be named Championship MVP.