Labor Day 2010 – Day 1 (Saturday)

After our 4-3 finish at the Emerald City Classic, we had two weekends to work with before Labor Day. We only practiced once, albeit a productive day, and two optional weeknight scrimmage sessions with an unusually strong, motivated turnout. Revolver co-founder Nick Handler married in Lake Placid last weekend and joined us on Saturday morning sporting a bright blue tracksuit. Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Handler!Brian Garcia, Nick Chapman, and captain Bart Watson are absent this weekend, but the remaining twenty-three are all healthy enough to compete on the gorgeous hillside fields of Santa Cruz. The sun shone brightly with an occasional light breeze to propel the sailboats down on Monterey Bay.
Game 1 – Pool play, pool A – 11:30a vs Furious George (Vancouver, BC) This marked our first meeting with Furious in 2010. Through all the years they’ ve had time to figure out what works, a fact that showed right away as they struck with two quick deep shots in their first two possessions to the towering #9 Andrew Lugsdin, a formula familiar to many of their opponents. On their next possession #8 Eric Halverson knocked away another throw to Lugsdin in the endzone but #33 Andy Collins laid out and simultaneously toed the sideline for a fantastic goal to energize his teammates. Revolver broke first to take a 4-3 lead but Furious went right back to Lugsdin deep to knot it up at 4-4. On the next point Furious D’ d a huck to #50 Beau Kittredge and, after a little work, tossed an inside out huck to #2 Adam Silverstein to break back to 4-5. At 7-6 Revolver pulled and #40 Mac Taylor skied for a D on a flick huck. A few throws later #7 Russell Wynne rifled an inside-out forehand that Kittredge muffed. Then Furious swung across the field to the break side to shoot a backhand up the line… but #28 Martin Cochran grabbed a layout catch block with good positioning. Soon Kittredge lead his old Colorado pal Taylor with an IO flick huck to break for half 8-6. Out of half, his confidence high, Kittredge launched another huck, only just as #6 Josh Wiseman turned back underneath, which lead to another break back for Furious George. The rest of the game remained fairly close but we held on to win 15-13. Revolver will probably have to go through Furious George to return to Sarasota, and we’ ll need to play better next time or they could go through us.
Game 2 – Pool play, pool A – 1:15p vs Southpaw (Philadelphia, PA) Revolver has never played a team from Philly, but that didn’ t seem to bother this young squad helped by 6’ 5” #12 Joel Wooten, an old foe from last year’ s championship Chain Lightning team, responsible for some memorable plays in the finals. Southpaw served notice and broke to start the game after #9 Cassidy Rasmussen attempted a floaty huck to Wiseman. One long defensive point with multiple turnovers eventually saw #11 Nick Handler anticipate an IO flick break and cut it off by taking an aggressive angle for the catch D; a couple throws later, #14 Mark Sherwood placed a flick huck to Cochran for an easy goal as his defender #25 Trey Katzenbach ran out of gas for Southpaw. On the next defensive point, Revolver still needing more breaks, Southpaw threw it out the back of the endzone. #27 Ashlin Joye picked up on the backhand endzone line and blasted it full field to Taylor, open by ten steps for another break goal. Southpaw pulled at 7-7 showing junk and #6 Leon Chou tallied a nice block from the short deep position by laying out past a surprised popper; they quickly broke to take half 7-8. After a gut check halftime pause and with the time caps approaching, we forced a huck just too long for a man well-covered by Taylor. Taylor quickly picked up the disc, tossed an outlet to Halverson— whose tired defender was busy trying to switch—for an unmarked flick bomb to wide-open Sherwood and a tie at 8-8. Though we traded the next two points, Revolver had gathered sufficient momentum to finish the game with three breaks for a 12-9 win. Unfortunately, we lost one of our defensive leaders when Cochran fell on his throwing hand on a layout, sending him to the hospital with a broken metacarpal.
Game 3 – Pool play, pool A – 3:00p vs Emerald City Ultimate (Seattle, WA) ECU is another newly formed team that we’ ve never seen before, but they will be an important opponent in the Northwest region, so we hoped to establish ourselves early as an overwhelming force. Co-founded by our old teammate and friend #23 Danny Karlinsky, the Seattle boys share many of the same values we do, like a determined and humble ethic, though ECU emphasizes spreading their values to a wider audience. We received first and traded to 3-3, including the first two goals for Kittredge on throws from #99 Joshua Greenough and Rasmussen. We earned our first break for a 5-3 lead but ECU scored and broke right back to 5-5 after a crazy layout catch block by #1 Mike Kiyoi, who took the inside line on #10 Robbie Cahill on an upline dump pass. Revolver punched in our next possession and then Wynne tallied a footblock on an ECU forehand, then completed the bookend when #17 Jit Bhattacharya swung an around backhand in the red zone for a 7-5 lead. On the next point Joye got a sky D on a deep huck in the endzone. After a couple swings, Halverson launched a tight backhand up the sideline to Taylor for the break into half, 8-5. Out of half Revolver notched another break when #17 Jeremy Cram of ECU hucked a backhand upline that stayed aloft long enough for Wynne to sky for the D. Patient offense led to the red zone conversion when a long breakmark swing enabled #32 Sam Kanner to sneak a quick around backhand to #4 Jon Levy for the 9-5 lead. On the next point, Seattle’ s #8 Patrick Bayliss almost snagged a super-extension layout bid on a huck; but, Revolver worked it briefly before Kanner put up an IO backhand that threatened to sail out the side before Taylor toed in the very back corner to break to 10-5. Then #5 Jimmy Chu, who featured extensively for ECU all game on both sides of the disc, caught a flick on his finger near their own brick. We converted after more small ball and another end zone formation goal from Bhattacharya to Handler for a convincing 11-5 lead. Final score 15-7. In October, when they bring their full roster to Regionals after another month of gelling, it may not be so easy for us.
Game 4 – Pool play, pool A – 4:45p vs Johnny Bravo (Boulder, CO) Yet another opponent we met for the first time in 2010, though we have a bit more history with the Boulderites. Johnny Bravo was the second seed in the pool and gunning for us and their three old teammates, now three of the tallest members of Revolver: Martin Cochran, Beau Kittredge, and Mac Taylor. A doctor was putting Cochran’ s hand in a splint during this game. Beau Kittredge accelerated for a spectacular flying layout D but collided with a young Bravo player and hurt his left hand and shoulder. #19 Parker Krug accidentally whipped a forehand fake into Taylor’ s face and put him on ice with a black eye that swelled almost shut. We traded to 3-3 until speedy #16 Ryan Farrell picked off an IO flick on a poach barrel roll for Bravo. An ensuing blady flick from #20 Josh “ Richter” Ackley to #12 Jordan White gave them the first break. They took half convincingly at 5-8 and we still looked uninspired, but out of half Bravo hucked too far and Joye laced a flick to Wynne, who passed to Levy for a short return flick blade to Wynne for the break to 6-8. Several breaks rounded out the second half, including one for Revolver to close the score to 13-14, but since the hard cap was on, Bravo wouldn’ t need to score the final point. Their fast, aggressive play paid off and we ran out of time to turn the game around, despite mounting a confident push the last few points.
Unenthused about our performance today, we nevertheless joined for a team dinner at Sushi Totoro on Mission St, where the waitress remembered us from the last Santa Cruz tournament: “Wait… are you the guys that play that game with the credit cards?!” Yep, that would be us. She poured Dutchy a Sapporo on the house because she pitifully remembered him being stuck with the bill last time. Everyone gorged themselves on delicious meals and 14 pieces of plastic dropped into Ashlin’s hat with $140 in cash on the table from those opting out of credit card roulette. The waitress, Julie, plucked out the cards one at a time, each participant gleefully raising his arms, blowing kisses to the sky, or yelling in relief as his name was called- -until there only two remained, which happened to be the two most unpronounceable names on the team: Ryo Kawaoka and Jit Bhattacharya. You could have cut the tension with a sushi knife as they mutually agreed that the cash would go to the next card pulled and the remaining would pay the entire bill (instead of “friendly roulette,” when the cash goes toward the bill). As the entire restaurant looked on, Julie pulled the card, made a face, and decided not to try uttering Jit’s name. Ryo picked up the huge bill this time as everyone wound down and headed out for a night of R& R.

World Ultimate Club Championships – Day 7

The team ate breakfast at Hotel Rhea and then traveled to the Vrsovice complex in small groups to eat a light early lunch and soak up the atmosphere around the stadium as the mixed and women’s finals played out. Around halftime of the Fury-Uno game, Revolver walked to a nearby grass field to throw and warm-up, while Sockeye prepared on a separate field. After plyos, Hollywood Squares, and some individual skills work (pulls, hucks, and marking drills), we headed for the stadium under the hot sun and refilled our water bottles. A few minutes of half-field scrimmage and the directors ushered us into the tunnel under the grandstands, where we waited for what seemed like forever to be announced. Sockeye, after finishing a team song, ran out as their names were announced. Then, Rocky Beach, about to play in his final game with Revolver before retirement, led the entire team onto the field.

Game 11 – Bracket play, finals – 14:00 vs Sockeye (Seattle)
We won a tough game against a favorite rival. Check out the link for the video, but the commentators are unfortunately badly misinformed about most things they say, including many mistaken player identifications.

Two momentous plays in particular, from Revolver’s perspective:

  1. #12 Nick Chapman flying down the field on the pull at 8-6, masked by the stack, and blocking the first centering pass. Though we turned it over afterward, it set the tone for the defensive point and eventually led to a second straight break for the defense to take the half.
  2. On a huck to #20 Mike Caldwell of Sockeye, our #50 Beau Kittredge made up a lot of space and laid out high to block the disc in the back of the endzone.

The remaining original nine (Nick Handler, Rocky Beach, Mike Payne, Eric Halverson, Robbie Cahill, Mark Sherwood, Jon Levy, Josh Wiseman, and Ryo Kawaoka), with the team since its debut in 2006, celebrated with their younger brothers a championship long in the making.  Indeed this title belongs to every member of every Revolver team since the beginning, because the team can only build on what has come before it, and all of us have shaped the direction of a team dedicated to intensity, humility, and discipline, founded on a spirit of hard work and camaraderie.

Congratulations to Sockeye for a great tournament, as always–they are worthy opponents and champions. Congratulations as well to all the medalists in every division, including the other three American teams to sweep gold for USA.

Thanks to all the fans out there that followed and supported us along the way!

…but we didn’t put a team together merely to win a world championship… so it’s back to work for everyone–except Rocky Beach, who goes out on top–until another fall series begins in September.

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.

World Ultimate Club Championships – Day 5

Back across town to Strahov for an early game on one of the satellite fields.

Game 8 – Pool play, power pool P – 8:30 vs Ragnarok (Denmark)
Ragnarok presented Revolver with another completely new style of play that confounded us for the first 6-8 points as we traded to start off. Our defenders tend to afford a larger buffer when the disc is across the field, but the Danes punished this with around-the-mark forehand blades for small to large gains and several goals. #1 Henrik Thomesen in particular forced his way open underneath and killed us with these throws. Ragnarok was clearly used to catching these, but Revolver was not, so our defenders blocked three of these throws that popped back into the air before the Danes retained possession. Eventually we dampened the around throws enough and reeled in our buffers to pull away for a 17-10 win. The Revolver jersey went to the fantastically spirited and good-natured #32 Thor Moller, who used his body to work all the way across the field.

Hence Revolver advanced with the second seed intact. We made our way back toward the main Strahov Stadium and ate a pasta and salad lunch at a nearby pub, then returned to the big stadium to watch Fury take care of their pre-quarterfinal opponent. We hunkered down in the shade, hydrated, stretched, and turned our minds off of our next match-up for a while.

Game 9 – Bracket play, quarterfinals – 15:15 vs Colony (Australia)
Didn’t get the name of the jersey winner for this one and the Aussies seemed dispirited to bow out, but they gave us a tough game. They were content to work underneath despite having the ability to work deep too, so we battled to a 15-8 victory in the afternoon heat.

Most of the team walked over to a nearby stadium to kibitz the last quarterfinal game between Ironside and Sockeye, the showcase game at this complex. The large crowd enjoyed the spectacle with a back and forth game, plenty of drama, and a great showcase indeed. Sockeye pulled it out 17-15 after being down two at half.

We face another early start tomorrow with our third consecutive 8:30 start in the semifinal against the dreaded Buzz Bullets. The tournament bus schedule won’t get us all the way back to Strahov in time for our desired warm-up time, so they agreed to send an earlier bus to our hotel.  Time to rest.