ECC Friday

Revolver – Emerald City Classic – Day 1 (Friday, July 12, 2011)

The whole squad traveled to Seattle last night except Eric Greenwood, who is presently in Iceland. The injured reserve includes Taylor Cascino (hamstring) and Eric Halverson (back). The questionable, Russell Wynne (ankle) and Beau Kittredge (foot), both played after testing it out in warm-ups. The captains handed down 2011 wingmen assignments before the first game, leading to much high-fiving, chest bumping, and general celebration.

Game 1 – 2:30p v. Ring of Fire (North Carolina)

Notable in the first five points, both Mark Sherwood and rookie Zach Travis tallied two impressive layout Ds apiece. After scoring on O to make it 5-4, the D-line earned two breaks after Ring turned over two dump passes near the endzone on catch blocks by Mark Sherwood and Jon Levy. The D-line’s offense was sloppy in the first half, but we managed to take an 8-5 lead into the break as Josh Wiseman cut deep totally uncovered against a poachy man D and Bart Watson launched an easy IO flick huck for the score. Our man defense was more aggressive and impressive in the second half. Bart Watson skied for Ds on two hucks to salvage offensive points. For Ring, athletic #00 Ken Porter tossed his body around as usual, including two tough layout attempts that led to brief injury timeouts. In the end, Robbie Cahill shot an up the line backhand huck to Beau Kittredge for a 15-10 win.

Game 2 – 7:30p v. Bunka Shutter Buzz Bullets (Japan)

We love these guys. To both teams’ delight, Mark Sherwood had roamed their sidelines earlier in the day in full a full blue Buzz kit that he had traded for last season in Prague. Neither team played their prettiest this evening, though. Sam Kanner had a giant sky of their superstar Masahiro, only to lazily throw a lefty backhand behind a wide-open Martin Cochran to miss the goal. Oops! The crowd gasped for that one…. Ashlin Joye had a great layout catch block outside of the endzone to prevent a sure goal. Our game plan had included stopping the give-go but Buzz continued to get the jump on us. Revolver broke to take half 8-4 on a short pass from Russell Wynne to Nick Chapman, who had also made a superb layout block on an under cut by Masahiro. In the second half the offense had several miscommunications and Buzz capitalized to close the gap to 10-9, but not before Jonathan Hester had a beautiful backhand huck away and across the field, a la Steve Dugan, to Josh Wiseman to salvage another O point. We pulled back away and broke twice to win 15-11 on a goal from Mark Sherwood to Ashlin Joye.

World Ultimate Club Championships – Day 6

The early bus never came to our hotel, so we waited for 20-30 minutes and called cabs, but the first scheduled bus arrived before the cabs. After depositing us at the Vrsovice complex for a transfer we discovered that our connection to Strahov had departed just before we got there. We waited 20 more minutes before they could get another bus in to take the crew to Strahov. The team was upset and frustrated that we wouldn’t arrive until 15-20 minutes before our scheduled start, but we knew that somewhere along this week our carefully laid plans would go awry; we just assumed that it would manifest on the playing field, not en route to semifinals. So we let the captains deal with it and tried to remain loose and focused.

Our game was pushed back to 9:00, though the adjacent Chain Lightning-Sockeye semifinal began on time at 8:30. A small crowd filled the shady seats in the stadium as we warmed up and set to work, all distractions behind us and the energy of a Worlds semifinal before us.

Game 10 – Bracket play, semifinals – 8:30 vs Bunka Shutter Buzz Bullets (Japan)
Buzz brought a small roster of about 15 players, so they all play a lot of points, and we hoped to tire them out quickly this game by using our legs to keep moving through, in, and around their battle-tested 2-3-2 junk defense and their man defense. Turns out they weren’t that tired, somehow, in their 6th straight tournament day, so credit goes to their coach, fitness regimen, and post-game acupuncture sessions. They also focus on switching sides of the field fast with low around throws, so we forced backhand, contained the around, and didn’t overprotect the inside- out pump fakes. Except for their super-athlete #10 Masahiro Matsuno, who we assigned to our fastest players #12 Nick Chapman and #14 Mark Sherwood, we fronted everyone downfield; this strategy effectively limited their underneath cuts too, as their cutters shut down until Masa could collect the disc and serve as the middleman between the handlers and the remaining cutters.

#37 Jonathan Hester earned a streaking layout block on an upline dump pass to set an early tone and set off a short cluster of defensive breaks. Revolver took half 9-5 also behind strong play by #1 Brian Garcia, who connected often for goals and assists this game. We could have stretched the lead even further but Masa, who was busy playing almost every point, made several spectacular blocks where he seemingly flew through the air. Buzz could only muster one break in the second half, though, and we took the game 17-14 on a bomb from Garcia to #6 Josh Wiseman.

The blue Revolver jersey went to #10 Masahiro Matsuno for his leading role. This was one of the most high-quality and highly spirited contests in which Revolver has ever been involved.  The level of mutual respect was clearly evident, with opponents congratulating each other after great plays, quickly resolved calls, smiles, and high fives–all while playing a tight and hotly contested match at top speed. It’s a shame only one of us could advance to the finals and unfortunately the emotional loss went to the Japanese.

More R&R, including a team dinner with family and friends, until the finals tomorrow afternoon against our old rivals from Seattle in an all-American affair played out on the pitches of Prague.