USAU Club Championships – Day 1

The first morning–dew swathed across the short grass, thin fog dissipating in the rising sun–always stirs an excited anticipation. Only one member of Revolver had never experienced Sarasota, but even precocious rookie Russell Wynne had been battle-tested during our undefeated run at Worlds earlier this summer in Prague. Our other five rookies have all been here before with Jam, the Condors, or other squads, in the case of multi-divisional champion Sam Kanner.

Game 1 – Pool play, pool B – 9:30a vs Southpaw (Philadelphia, PA)
San Francisco versus Philadelphia–mirroring the NLCS, which SF won in 6 games! In a rematch of a close victory at Labor Day (in a game that we trailed at halftime), we minimized the impact of #12 Joel Wooten’s deep game by forcing him underneath and then blanketing the other younger, less-experienced downfield targets. The Philly throwers’ frustrations manifested in their facial expressions as they held the disc for long periods of time, rarely able to string together quick consecutive throws. Our O-line went unbroken and we closed out the game 15-7 in time to kibitz the second half of the game next door as Madcow delivered the first upset of the tournament against Johnny Bravo, making things immediately more interesting in Pool B.

Game 2 – Pool play, pool B – 12:15p vs Madcow (Columbus, OH)
We saw their youth, athleticism, and fearlessness on display only an hour before but Madcow was unable to fluster us in our first-ever matchup. Their couple of big guns could loft deep shots, but they weren’t consistently precise enough to prevent our defensive corps from collecting underneath and engulfing most of their errant hucks, including a couple of nice Ds by Martin Cochran. We never let off the gas and won 15-7.

Game 3 – Pool play, pool B – 3:30p vs Johnny Bravo (Boulder, CO)
Our most recent loss this season came at the hands of Bravo at Labor Day as dusk fell on a Saturday that saw our trifecta of ex-Bravos all injured (Martin Cochran with a broken hand, Beau Kittredge with bruised ribs and shoulder, and Mac Taylor with a black eye that swelled shut).  We had been looking forward to a rematch for a while. They appeared exhausted compared to how fresh we felt. We stepped around a pool of vomit on their sideline and helped them stretch out a few on-field cramps–their earlier unexpectedly tough games combined with an unusually hot and muggy day had clearly exacted a toll. Still, they fought and clawed like always, including great play on both sides of the ball from #16 Ryan Farrell despite early cramping. Our stout O-line only allowed one break all day en route to a 15-10 win.

Checking the day’s results found a couple of surprises, but we were not at all surprised to see Furious George advance from the bottom seed of their pool into the power pools. We would soon meet them and Chain Lightning in power pools, buoyed by the Giants’ 9-0 explosion in Game 2 that night, a game that also served as a welcome distraction from all things Ultimate.

World Ultimate Club Championships – Day 2

Only one game today at Strahov Stadium, so we arrived early for a leisurely preparation. We sunscreened with our non-throwing hands and donned the dark blues. During our warm-up routine the wind picked up in a downfield direction, but otherwise the sun baked the rubber pellets in the field turf for a hot, fast playing surface.

Game 3 – Pool play, pool B – 12:30 vs Fire of London (UK)
We rained five pulls out of bounds this game, a mistake that we generally pride ourselves on avoiding. The wind wasn’t bad enough to excuse them, though it never should be, so we tuned them at half-time (9-1) and got back on track. #12 Nick Chapman caught a couple of deep goals by generating separation with his legs. The O-line continued to excel in their occasional employment, still without allowing a break during the first two days. Both O and D-line offensive units did move the disc quickly all game, if not always efficiently, as we wrapped up a 17-3 victory to win Pool B. #17 Lewis Glover of Fire received a dark blue Revolver jersey for his calm, collected, handler distribution and a couple of athletic grabs.

Thus Revolver advances to Power Pool P, where we will face five opponents over the next three days. We only know our schedule for tomorrow, though: the winner of Pool E and our fellow countrymen, Sockeye, in the morning and the runner-up of Pool D, M.U.C. in the afternoon.

Most of the team rode the funicular down the hill from the stadium, walked over the Charles Bridge, and lunched near the river (meals generally cost less on the old town side rather than the castle side). Later a gang watched Doublewide (Houston) defeat Euforia (Colombia) in the showcase game before heading back to the hotel for a team meeting and fitful night’s sleep.

World Ultimate Club Championships – Day 1

All 26 players arrived yesterday at Hotel Rhea and gathered for a team meeting to review logistics, distribute this season’s new Patagonia jerseys, discuss strategy for Sunday’s games, and generally check in about the team’s mental fitness.

This morning we rode the tournament buses across town (if you can call the metro area of nearly two million a “town”) and over the Vltava River to vast Strahov Stadium, which reportedly holds 220,000 people. The plush grass felt really comfortable under bare feet, but the time had come to cleat up. Nick Handler looked anxious to get back into action with the team he founded five years ago, fresh off a year and a half working for a non-profit in Kenya.

Game 1 – Pool play, pool B – 10:30 vs Feldrenner Mainz (Germany)
#11 Nick indeed made an instant impact by starting on the D-line and tallying a layout comeback block to help earn a break. The Germans then confounded us for the next six or seven points with a style that Americans rarely see, namely a reliance on well-placed throws to space released while the intended receiver is either motionless or cutting in another direction entirely. We traded for a period before implementing a different defensive strategy designed to contain the deep threat and turned up the energy. From then we held a 9-4 lead at half and finished 17-6. In the post-game joint huddle the Germans offered a vuvuzela to our own #5 Rocky Beach for his defensive contributions that game and we gave a red Revolver jersey to an enthusiastic
youngster (can’t remember his number, but he wore a soft white helmet) that had made a fabulous stretching layout for a goal in the second half.

We hydrated and ate quesadillas from a stand across from the stadium for lunch and sought out a shady perch in the stands to observed Chain Lightning vs Ultimate Decision (Latvia), which was relatively one-sided after they traded to 3-3. Everyone took turns with the vuvuzela–it’s tougher than it looks! James Herbert and Martin Cochran gave especially strong performances, demonstrating quite a range of sound. We know what you’re thinking… site down vuvuzelas have a range?

Game 2 – Pool play, pool B – 14:30 vs Gigolo (Ukraine)
Several athletic Ds by #7 Russell Wynne and smooth offense after the turn by #27 Ashlin Joye helped power Revolver to a 17-1 victory (9-1 at half) in our second game. #11 on Gigolo earned himself a long-sleeved light blue jersey by virtue of generally gritty defense and a couple of nice offensive contributions including a tight but crisp up-the-line backhand huck. We learned later that Gigolo is a combination of two Ukrainian teams, since they primarily play beach Ultimate, which requires fewer players than proper for a seven-person week-long tournament on grass. A fun game fought hard on both sides.