USAU Club Championships – Day 2

Everyone was excited about today’s opponents: a perennial Northwest Regional power and the team that we haven’t met since they handed us a defeat in the finals a year ago.

Game 4 – Power pool play, pool F – 9:30a vs Furious George (Vancouver, BC)
The recent addition of #10 Masahiro Matsuno–on loan from the Buzz Bullets, the team we defeated in semifinals at Worlds this summer in our tightest game of the tournament–brought a completely new dynamic to our game plan. We weren’t sure how in sync the Furious O-line would be after putting him into the rotation after losing a couple of offensive players on Thursday. While both teams prepared for the game we laughed at the similarity between warm-up routines for the two best athletes on the field, Matsuno and our own Beau Kittredge, namely that they don’t really appear to be warming up at all and just going through the motions. Somehow they’re still the fastest guys on the field when the first pull goes up.
#8 Morgan Hibbert was limited by an arm cast but still made several athletic plays, though we kept his giant backhand mostly under wraps. #25 Oscar Pottinger’s forehand did some damage, as usual. A dangerous sideline collision between Matsuno and Mac Taylor worried everyone for a minute, but both men later returned to the field. The lead shifted hands throughout the game but we separated with a late upwind break to win 15-12.

Game 5 – Power pool play, pool F – 12:15p vs Chain Lightning (Atlanta, GA)
Honestly, we had been waiting for this game for an entire year. In the pregame huddle we were reminded of what one Chain player that had been in the audience had said to a group of us as we walked off the championship field in Prague, with our gold medals hanging around our necks: “You know, you guys are lucky. You really dodged a bullet.” Bulletin board material doesn’t get much better than that. Amazing the level of determination and will that our team can unleash when we’re in top form, a level on full display as we roared to a 12-6 lead and a final of 15-6, including several strings of breaks against the talented Chain O-line.

We felt fast and fresh at the end of the day. The team scattered for the afternoon, some to the movies, some to the beach, and some staying around to watch the play-in game that would determine our quarterfinal opponent: Truck Stop defeated PoNY 15-13.

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.

USAU Club Championships – Day 0

We deviated from our traditional condos and rented a four-unit beach house on Siesta Key to ourselves this year. No more walking across a complex to the captains’ condo for the nightly dinners and team meetings. With our hometown Giants in the World Series people could quickly pop in and out of each unit for baseball games, board games, or beach buddies.

In our first Nationals team meeting we discussed team-wide strategies for each of Thursday’s opponents, reminded the defensive players of their individual primary and secondary match-ups, and restated our tournament goals. As always, with each and every game we would strive for a healthy combination of IHD: intensity, humility, and discipline–our most fundamental keys to success and satisfaction.

To our delight, the Giants won Game 1 of the World Series 11-7, which surely bodes well for Bay Area chances this weekend.

Northwest Regionals 2010 – Day 2 (Sunday)

We peppered teammate and Facebook employee Josh Wiseman about the facts and fictions of The Social Network over the hotel breakfast of egg, sausage, English muffins, waffles, oatmeal, and cereal. Then we headed out to the same field we would be on all weekend, where the soft zone had been christened “the bog.” Each opponent learned about this 10×15 yard bog the hard way, while we actually started incorporating it into our individual cutting and defending routes.
Game 5 — Bracket play, quarterfinals — 8:30a vs Outlaw
This morning the captains demoted Kanner to tier 2 and Cascino to tier 3 while promoting Grant to tier 2. We shot to an 8-0 halftime lead in the occasional rain and a quick 15-2 passage to the game-to-go. Afterward, with the rainclouds moving on, we headed across the field complex to watch our next opponents. Rhino ran away from ECU toward the end and we returned to our field to begin warming up.
Game 6 — Bracket play, semifinals — 10:45a vs Rhino (Portland, OR)
Rhino has regained its verve over the last few years since they knocked us out at the last Northwest Regional tournament held in California, back in 2007 (also the only year we didn’t qualify for Nationals). They have rebuilt into a devoted core of young athletes and come to rely on their deep game, which can just as easily lose it for them as win it. We hadn’t met them all season, but we’d watched several of their games in preparation; we tried to impede their north-south flow by poaching and forcing the disc to the sidelines where the margin for error was smaller. Rhino broke first and maintained a thin lead as Orange-Beanie guy made several amazing catches in traffic. Our O-line got the job done for the most part, featuring a couple of cool, precise flick hucks by Watson. Soon enough the D-line made good and reeled off three breaks in a row to take half 8-6 and completely switch the momentum. The second half went according to plan with a couple of extra breaks as Rhino seemed to lose confidence. A 15-11 tally secured a berth at the USA Ultimate championships!
Game 7 — Bracket play, finals — 1:00p vs Sockeye (Seattle, WA)
Another tango with Sockeye! We’ve met several times this year with varied results:
  • Lost 12-13 at Texas Shootout in round robin.
  • Won 13-10 at Worlds in power pool.
  • Won 17-13 at Worlds in finals.
  • Lost 8-15 at ECC in round robin.
  • Won 15-9 at Labor Day in finals.
This incarnation ended up being the third in a series of lopsided results as we won 15-8 (8-4 at half) to take the top spot out of the region. Highlights include a rare handblock on Mike Caldwell by Joye, a poach layout block by Handler, a nifty sky goal by #10 Robbie Cahill on a hanging huck from #1 Garcia, another athletic left-handed layout goal by Cahill on a laser backhand from #6 Wiseman, and a speedy layout D by #50 Beau Kittredge on a blady flick that fluttered the disc enough to force an OB catch. Lowlights included our pulling percentage. Sockeye broke us once and certainly had other chances, but they gave it back more often than usual, and our D-line converted a high percentage of possessions. History suggests that we haven’ t seen the last of Sockeye in 2010.
On to Sarasota.