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.