Revolver – Northwest Regionals – Day 2 (Sunday, October 2, 2011)
A light mist greeted us at the fields and we left trails of footprints in the dew as we congregated at the site of our semifinal against Seattle Sockeye. Next door, Rhino, back at full-strength (though still without captain Tad Jensen) warmed up for their semifinal against Furious George, who had come back from a three-point second half deficit to defeat Sockeye on Saturday morning. Unlike past years at Northwest Regionals, a win in the semifinals would not clinch a bid to Nationals, and a loss would guarantee an exhausting road toward the second berth.
Game 5 – 9:00a v. Sockeye (Seattle, WA) – Semifinal
There were plenty of local teams and fans rooting for Seattle this morning in what felt a little like an away game for Revolver, similar to the 2009 final at Nationals against Atlanta’s Chain Lightning in Florida. Our O-line had practiced against a big, aggressive four-man cup (posed by our D-line the prior weekend) in preparation for this game, but the pleasant weather prompted Sockeye to withhold their trap zone on all but one point — it didn’t really work as Robbie Cahill and Bart Watson threw several easy hammers to slice through. This game therefore featured a lot of man and transitional junk defense, with Sockeye utilizing frequent switches and extreme angles created by the mark’s force. Revolver’s defense had trouble slowing down the frequent give-go action between Seattle’s handlers that took advantage of the briefest hesitations by the marks or defenders.
Revolver started off strong by scoring on offense and then immediately forcing a break for a 2-0 lead, but things soured a few points later. After scoring on offense to make it 3-2, Sockeye’s D-line broke on three consecutive points to take an important early 5-3 lead. We traded out before Sockeye added another emphatic break going into halftime. 5-8 Sockeye.
In the huddle we reminded ourselves that we had known the road would be difficult at times, but that an excellent opportunity lay before us. The Fish’ well-coordinated defense had stymied the O-line through confusion, energy, and elimination of space that we had taken for granted most of the season. The offense needed to settle down but the defense would have to win the game by erasing those early breaks.
Out of half the Revolver D-line forced another break, but a few points later Sockeye grabbed it right back to stretch their lead to 11-7. We broke twice in a row on blocks by Sam Kanner and Mac Taylor to close the gap to 11-10. The teams traded again until Sockeye took a 14-12 lead with their O-line. Do or die time… Sockeye’s call-and-response “Sock! Eye! Spawn! Die!” cheer had been ringing in our ears all game, but with Sockeye receiving on a 14-13 lead, we heard, “Shattered dreams!” echoing between the sidelines. The hard cap sounded during the ensuing point as Revolver broke to tie the game at 14 each and set up universe point. Sockeye turned over the disc on a deep shot attempt but Mac threw a low backhand to Mark Sherwood that Sockeye’s Tim Gehret flew threw for an awesome layout block, regaining them posession about 30 yards away from the victory. A few throws later, our defense stifled the handlers and Nate Castine rifled a shallow inside-out forehand across the field that sailed over the front endzone cone. Back the other direction, Beau Kittredge came down with a bloody mouth (and two chipped front teeth) after an amazing, jostling grab over Matt Rehder on a towering blady backhand. A short throw later the 15-14 comeback was realized, sending Revolver to the finals and Sockeye via the long route to the back door bracket. We had barely escaped against a team that had performed better for most of the game.
We would face a rematch against Rhino, who had taken care of business against Furious George with an efficient 15-9 win in the other semifinal.
Game 6 – 1:30p v. Rhino (Portland, OR) – Final
After the bye round we were surprised when Rhino trotted out their first O-line of the day and, like Saturday, almost none of our pre-determined match-ups materialized. It seemed that Rhino had decided to rest their starters again, but this time in a game-to-go. Still, we were only able to post two breaks in the first half for an 8-5 lead. The D-line managed only four breaks total against a very competent Rhino offense, but our O-line was not broken once. Their stars like Eli Friedman, Seth Wiggins, Timmy Perston, Breeze Strout, Cody Bjorklund, Matt Melius, Dylan Freechild, etc. only played 0-3 points each in the final, but played a great deal and very well in the back door game-to-go against Furious. We are sad to see that we’ll have to look forward to matching up with them next season instead of in Sarasota.
When Revolver’s O-line completed the 15-10 win we were happy to have qualified for Nationals for the fourth straight year, but knew that we had dodged a bullet. We kibitzed the elimination game between Sockeye and Furious George and witnessed another unfortunate late game collapse by a talented Seattle squad, ending their very successful decade-plus streak of Nationals appearances. In some ways it doesn’t seem fair, but when the dust settled on Northwest Regionals only Revolver and Furious George advanced.