Sometimes when you drive up the hillside onto the UC Santa Cruz campus in the morning you’ll reach a point where the heavy fog suddenly disappears and you climb into brilliant, refreshing sunshine. Other times you cannot climb high enough to get out of the fog. Today fell into the latter category. Adding to the gloom, Beau Kittredge and Martin Cochran both sat out with injuries, though the former intended to suit up for semifinals if we won our early game. Mac Taylor could barely see out of his bruised and swollen left eye, but he would play. We also learned that Nick Chapman would arrive in time for semifinals from a wedding weekend.
Game 5 – Pool play, pool A – 9:00a vs Wolf (Bay Area, CA)
Wolf features many men that Revolver know very well, including several of our old teammates (including Nat Kinsky, Louis Eisenberg, Ian Ranahan, David “Fetch” Janinis, and Kevin Buchanan), several former Jammers, and a solid young core. The game commenced in a thick fog, so that each team could barely identify seven shapes on the other line and pulls became invisible for a couple of seconds before swooping back down toward the field. For matchups on the opening point, Wolf’s clipboard man for the day, Jason Zhang, walked halfway down the field to figure out which shape belonged to which player on the Revolver O-line. We punched in the first goal, then broke. After Wolf converted to 2-1, Revolver scored and then broke three straight times to 6-1 and an 8-3 lead at halftime. Wolf settled in a bit out of half, trading to 11- 6 on some nice throws by #32 Adam Scow. Offering a different look, we ran a zone, but Wolf continued with patient swinging and a couple of timely hammers until #11 Kevin Buchanan’s lefty around backhand swing was snared by our own #11 Nick Handler on a layout D from the wing position. A rapid fire string of fast break throws later, #4 Jon Levy passed a short IO forehand to #7 Russell Wynne, wide open for the break to 12-6. As the sun burned through the fog layer, Revolver won 15-9 after a few holds and one break apiece.
Our long bye before semifinals commenced while we enthusiastically watched the exciting double-game point between Johnny Bravo and Emerald City, featuring fourteen turnovers, including a two-handed layout point block by Danny Karlinsky. Exhausted by the long point and adrenaline, everyone was a little relieved when ECU finally punched in their O-line conversion to win. Johnny Bravo still locked up the top spot in semis over Revolver. In pool B, Doublewide upset top seed Sockeye, so the semifinal matchups were the same as if everyone had held seed.
Since we would meet Doublewide next, a few of us stuck around to observe their last pool play match against Streetgang while the rest left to graze for lunch. The big changes for Doublewide since Worlds in Prague: standout cutter Kiran Thomas is gone (moved to Atlanta and Chain Lightning), outspoken University of Florida alumnus Brodie Smith joined the squad, and Max Cook was freed up for D-line duty. Their O-line dynamic looked completely different than we remembered it as they let Smith do whatever he wanted: throwing plentiful long, accurate goals and occasionally deciding to cut deep himself. He also pissed off the entire San Diego team. In one incident, he yelled from the sideline to one of his teammates repeatedly to call a time-out in the red zone. Most of Streetgang stopped running when they heard “Time-out!” but the thrower didn’t use a TO, instead throwing the goal.
Game 6 – Semifinals – 2:45p vs Doublewide (Austin, TX)
It’s tough not to focus on someone when he draws so much attention to himself, so we decided to put one of our best markers, #14 Mark Sherwood, on #10 Brodie Smith. But after Smith caught a couple of early goals, his teammate #17 Jacob Anderson yelled to us, “Why do you keep putting that little kid on Brodie?” With #50 Beau Kittredge on painkillers and cleated up, we traded to 4-4 before #40 Mac Taylor caught a D when his man turned downfield just as a swing throw went up. He tossed it ahead to Wynne for the first break of the game (in the downwind direction) and a 5-4 lead. A couple of dubious calls on the part of Smith (one in which he ignored two of his teammates’ out of bounds calls from the sideline, another after #80 Taylor Cascino got up for an awesome D on a hanging disc in the endzone) provided a readily replenishable source of motivation for the Revolver D-line. Excellent team defense and frantic marks brought us to a 13-7 lead and continued when a wide hanging dump throw was snagged up high by #27 Ashlin Joye. He tossed it to #19 Ryo Kawaoka, who swung over to the backhand sideline to #8 Eric Halverson, who saw Joye streaking and launched a big OI flick for double happiness and the UC Davis connection. At 14-8, Sherwood ran a tidy forehand out to #9 Cassidy Rasmussen in stride for the 15-8 victory.
Game 7 – Finals – 4:40p vs Sockeye (Seattle, WA)
Again we meet Sockeye in the finals of a major tournament! After defeating them twice in Prague earlier this summer, they walloped us 8-15 at ECC. Though we were both reseeded to second in our respective pools, we met in the finals as the original top two seeds after they beat Johnny Bravo in the other semifinal 15-10. Revolver received going upwind to begin and we traded to 2-1, when Halverson knocked away a stall nine hammer to #10 Moses Rifkin, then picked it up and walked to the front forehand corner of the endzone to shoot a full-field flick to Taylor, who went up at the same time as #31 Matt Rehder, but both missed and Taylor grabbed it back on land for the first break. At 6-4 an excellent upwind pull pinned Sockeye back in their endzone for about ten throws, including a near Callahan by Levy, except #40 Adam Holt boxed out perfectly to grab it. Eventually a stall nine huck by #2 Aaron Talbot was easily eaten up by Taylor and Revolver’s D-line worked it along for an IO flick from Sherwood to Levy for the break to 7-4. On the ensuing point Sockeye advanced to the red zone but another stall nine crossfield hammer was knocked down by Taylor, who picked it up and launched to #12 Nick Chapman, but it floated and #21 Dave Bestock made a great play in the air to break it up. A few throws later Sockeye faithfully ran a deep shot out to speedster #23 Andrew Fleming, but Sherwood accelerated past him to steal it away. A quick swing later, Joye ripped an IO backhand to Taylor for the break into half 8-4. In the halftime huddle we recognized that we were playing with more passion, but–as always–that it’s not enough. Out of half Sockeye’s O-line used many passes but couldn’t push very far due to the continuing stellar team defense. #24 Alex “Dutchy” Ghesquiere finally snatched a tight, high-stall dump pass and shortly #17 Jit Bhattacharya sped a leading backhand to a full-extension layout by wild-haired Wynne and a continuation to fellow UCSC Slug Chapman for another break to 9-4. At 10-6, Cascino leapt above a pack near the vertical stack for a D before #13 Tyler Grant threw a short huck to Taylor for another break to 11-6. On the next point #12 Ben Wiggins hucked downfield but Chapman, who was trailing by several steps, angled quickly toward the sideline upon hearing the “Up!” call and barely managed to knock it off path and out of bounds. Kawaoka picked up and sent a lefty flick way downfield to Sherwood who gave and go with #37 Jonathan Hester for a short hammer goal and a 12-6 lead. At 12-7 Sockeye presented a junk defense and #1 Tim Gehret produced a catch block when our popper didn’t see him coming. After swinging it across to the flick sideline, #15 Nate Castine fired a big hammer to the far front of the endzone for a neat grab by #5 Reid Koss and a break to 12-8. Revolver pulled at 14-9 and Levy skied #16 Thomas Sebby for a D on a huck. We worked it across the field a few times and then Taylor threw a flick to an easily open Wynne for the break and a 15-9 victory.
At Labor Day in 2009 Revolver lost to Doublewide and Sockeye. We also lost our most recent match to each going into this tournament: 14-15 to Doublewide at Texas Shootout in May and the shellacking to Seattle at ECC. Though we avenged these losses today, we know it won’t be long before we encounter either team in October, hungry for their own vengeance. We’ll need something extra to overcome that.
Two weeks until Sectionals.