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.