USAU Club Championships – Day 3

So begin the elimination games. If you can make it this far in the season, all you need is a three-game winning streak! Unfortunately, that’s tough when seven other top-caliber teams attempt the same.

Game 6 – Bracket play, quarterfinals – 9:30a vs Truck Stop (Washington, DC)
Though #22 Brian Stout stuck to the sideline, shirtless and arm in a sling, any thoughts of a lucky break (no offense, Brian) were put quickly to rest by their big blond receiver #99 George Hughes-Strange, who set about dominating the lanes and skies en route to a 7-5 lead for Truck.  Wake up, Revolver–it’s Saturday morning in Sarasota!
We finally got back on track with an outstanding D by Jon Levy on a backside huck that he played perfectly by quickly turning for a high-angled layout at the exact moment to prevent the sure goal. A 10-2 run to end the game yielded a 15-9 victory that felt difficult, despite the differential.

Since we had the later semifinal, everyone headed for the parking lot and drove five minutes to the nearest Chili’s restaurant, where the air conditioning felt wonderful, the cold water refreshing, and the appetizers delicious. We hydrated a lot, didn’t eat too much, watched college football on the HD TVs, and joked with the waitresses and each other.

Game 7 – Bracket play, semifinals – 2:15p vs Doublewide (Austin, TX)
Since we had already dispatched the Ultimate equivalents of the Giants’ NLDS (Atlanta Braves & Chain Lightning) and NLCS (Philadelphia Phillies & Southpaw) opponents, we knew that if we could win our semifinal matchup against Texas that San Francisco would at least win the World Series! Everyone was talking about how dialed #10 Brodie Smith had been for Doublewide, especially since being re-paired with his old Florida running mate #20 Kurt Gibson.  Indeed, they both played well this game making many deep and shorter connections–including a stellar laser hammer from Gibson to Smith late in the game–but clearly sometimes forcing tough stuff because of their extreme trust in each other. We assigned Taylor Cascino and Eric Halverson to put their best flat marks against Smith, since he seemed so determined to huck, and they did well to make his throws rushed and angled into tough spaces instead of easier, straight, leading passes. Halverson tallied a foot block on one of his backhand attempts and Cascino notched a layout comeback block on one of his forays downfield in which Gibson was determined to get the disc to him. We were down early 5-3 but clawed back for a 15-13 victory that won’t rank among our prettiest, but exhibited a ton of athleticism and grit by both teams.

We were excited to be back in the finals, but not really nervous with our tough skin. We had played in the championship game of our last six tournaments, dating back to Cal States, and only lost one of those games. But that lone finals loss, at ECC, came at the mercy of our next adversary, who only lost one game all season (quarterfinals of Worlds, to Sockeye). Yet everyone knows that the final game of Nationals is an altogether different beast.

The entire team, family, and friends took over our favorite Italian restaurant in Sarasota for our traditional Saturday night meal. After thanking everyone for coming out this year and dismantling a wonderful meal, we rejoined the Giants to keep our minds off the next day. At our team meeting that night we reviewed defensive assignments and offensive and defensive strategy points, then split into separate O and D squads for a final talk. In the offensive group, sitting around the pool, we focused on playing a sensible, patient, possession-oriented game to keep the pressure off our defense. In the defensive group back inside, we pointed to the energy needed tomorrow and noted that the outcome of the game would ultimately rest on D-line shoulders. If
we could grab three breaks we trusted the offense to carry the day.