Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Santa Barbara Invite 2009

Most cuts have been made, A teams' rosters finalized, strategy is solidified and practiced, players know their roles and all the best teams in California (and some from beyond) descend upon Goleta and the field of UC Santa Barbara to prove themselves to the Ultimate world. The Santa Barbara Invite is what all the teams on the West coast think about when doing wind sprints in the cold and the rain over Winter break.

Driving up the coast, the dark clouds threatened to make things difficult - intense midweek rain had already caused the tournament directors to frantically draft backup plans in the event their fields were unusable. In the end though, the weather cooperated; there was only mild cold, brief showers and mostly manageable wind.

Our first game was against Claremont-Mckenna, a team UCSD has not beaten for a little under 2 years. Our captains and coaches did a great job getting us warmed up before the game - we started with all the fire built up from thinking about this game for weeks and absolutely unleashed upon them the fury of one thousand Triton Stadium track workouts.

We start on defense and immediately get to work. On only their second throw, captain Mark "Dibs" Johnston gets a lay-out D on an in-cut 10 yards from their goal line. He picks up the disc and immediately throws the difficult pass for a score. What a way to begin a season! We continue to pressure their throwers and continue to make them cough up the disc. Justin "Bobble" Elliot’s forehand pulls go so far and hang so long that we are covering them (in their shorts) before they even get a first throw off. We go up 3-0 and they take a time out. On offense, they are running a significant amount of zone but our handlers handled it handily. Throws that normally are low percentage just kept working (save 2 poor choice throws by Stephen "Pumba" Hubbard), cutters were making eye contact with their back turned to the thrower and our defenders, especially Michael "Coppa" Yu and freshman Michael "Hyzer" Tilghman, were making blocks look easy. We took half 7-1. We come out of half time with a renewed focus on doing the right things, sticking to the basics.

On offense, once a throw got through their defensive cup, Brooks "Cork" LeComte, Guy "Kattan" Hughes, Josh "Forge" Nickerson and captain Daniel "SukHour" Cox move the disk easily for break away scores. Cox, though, was thrown a deep shot by Josh Nickerson and, because he had to worry about the defender and landing in-bounds, allowed the disc to bounce off his hand. This is the first, and probably last, deep throw the junior captain has ever not caught. Our freshmen are playing well with good throws and cuts coming from youngsters Owen "Threve" Eigenbrot and Chris "BITUSA" Schmidt. Stephen "Pumba" Hubbard makes up for the earlier mistakes by skying one of their best players. The Squids close out this game 13-4. Eric "Monstro" Hsu films this game in its entirety, foolishly including in-between points, cheering, huddles ect. and therefore has no battery for the rest of the entire tournament.

Next up was Arizona, a team that took one of the two bids from our region to nationals last year and did well against the best in the nation. This game had the unique aspect that we had to look directly into the bright sun when battling a 10-15 mph headwind for half of the points. The teams trade points early, feeling the other out. The UCSD Air Squids strike first with a D at half field and a conversion but Arizona strikes back with one of their own. A good sign, however, is that our offense is scoring easily with throws to and from Alec "Hutch" Miller and constantly open Kyle "Kenobi" Frost.

While their offense is scoring, it is taking them a long time, extra hard work and they are turning the disc over, even if they do get the D back most of the time. We are up at half and are figuring out their match-up-zone that has proved very frustrating for our throwers. We continue to grind, continue the sideline intensity, and slowly build a lead. We do noticeably let up on the gas toward the end of the game. We meet the time cap and manage to finish 'em (Mortal Kombat style) with a Ryu Shōryū-ken (昇龍拳, Shōryū-ken "Rising Dragon Fist") (Street Fighter) from Justin "Bobble" Elliot to catch a huck 3 feet higher than the 2 defenders (Sorry for the mixed metaphor). Final score 13-10.

Our last game of Saturday was against Santa Clara. They are a younger team with a few good players but a very well coached offense. Before the game we talk about the importance of maintaining the intensity we started the day with, even against a team we think we should beat. We do manage to come out with the fire found, switch flipped. All of our defensive sets were generating turns. While it seems that we let up at the end, it was just impossible for us to earn many Ds with our legs because they just kept dropping the disc and turfing easy throws - D's earned with our mental intensity. Young players like Danny "Didj" Broberg, Brian "Jetter" Carnes, and Murphy "Soda" Hitchcock get more playing time and show with good field awareness why they should be on the A team's roster. Michael "Hyzer" Tilghman makes a difficult catch and throws to roommate Ky " 'Schoops" Woodard for the final point. 13-7

With such a solid performance the Squid placed themselves solidly on the top shelf of teams in our region. It was hard work, sometimes during fall track practices and weight training we questioned if it was worth it, but on Saturday night we felt great about that Top Shelf performance. No matter what happens afterwards, whoever looks upon our Saturday efforts will have to admit that the question of "if we had it in us" is certainly answered. We left our mark; you could smell it in the air: We are a Top Shelf team.

Sunday was a battle. We drew a quarterfinal opponent that was our opposite. Los Positas College had the smallest roster at the tourney - we had one of the largest. We can win games with our athletes' sheer athleticism; they heavily rely on their superior throws to win. Most of their team have played for years, we had 8+ rookies. While we did manage to showcase some of that athleticism with amazing catches and Ds from Josh "Forge" Nickerson and Guy "Kattan" Hughes, we found ourselves down 9-6 because of their zone forcing many difficult throws. With a sense of urgency that was missing in the first half, we turn things around to tie at 9-9. The game reaches the time cap and the game will be to 11.
They receive, work it but are forced into a tight spot giving us the disc. Unfortunately, even with a time out to go over strategy, they read us very well and force a bad decision 10-9. We score with our offense and the D team returns to the field for game point. Mark "Dibs" Johnston makes a great play for what should have been a turn but they luck out and have someone to catch the macked disc and they score the last one, 11-10. It felt as though we would have won this game had we played them later in the day when our subs would have been a factor but they could play their starters the whole time. A hard defeat to sallow, double game point losses always are, but it showed us a few things that we need to fix in our strategy and skill set.

Cal Poly forfeits when they look at all their injuries and all our fresh players. It’s a reminder of the extreme importance of a solid and flushed-out team roster. We draw strength from our large sidelines deep into a tournament, not only from their motivation, but because our studs don't have to play every point the whole weekend and thus aren’t fatigued or injured on Sunday.

Our last game is against Santa Barbara, the host team and our long time rival, for 5th place. The game was played on a somewhat torn-up field with 15mph swirling winds that put question marks next to most of our throws. The usual energy that abounds before our teams' battles was somewhat absent during warm up. Both teams had a hard time and the play was sloppy. It was almost as if the 8-4 half time score in their favor was a surprise. We'll we woke up at half time though, and went on a 5-1 run. Great defense was played by Yui "Yui" Takeshita, Tim "Teague" Tirrell and Danny "MyGirlFriendHasMonoAndIMakeOutWithHerDaily,DoIHaveMono?" Broberg. We couldn't seem to convert Ds as easily as them and even with the disc we could not tie the game. They win 11-9. Even with 2 losses on the day, the Top Shelf was confirmed. The close nature of those games shows that we can beat anyone if we do what we are supposed to do from the beginning of the game.

The weekend was tiring and hard but this is in large part due to the fact that it’s the first tourney of the regular season and we haven’t practiced the consistent intensity required for long tournaments. We came out fired up Saturday morning and its clear we need the same for Sunday afternoon. Overall, a 6th place finish against the 16 best teams in our area is very heartening. With 3 weeks until hosting a tournament in San Diego, the Air Squids will have time to fix the bugs and are expecting great things on Presidents Day weekend.


  1. Oh man, that Claremont score is money. I have always disliked the brain eaters and it will always be a score I think about whenever they try and talk shit. Beating Arizona is also sick.

    It seems like you're integrating the fish into the game plan which is also huge. Gotta think about UCSD 2-3 years down the line, not just this May.

    As for Tide, remember, going 1-2 or whatever against a team is fine as long as the 1 win is at Regionals. I remember in '05 when we made semis, we lost to Tide like 13-6 at sectionals but pwned'em at Regionals, BITCHES!!!

    Game plan well, execute well, use emotion to train and prepare, not to play.

    Don't suck. I'll be watching.

  2. My question is...what's up with all the real names?

  3. miss the squids, yes dont understand who is who. I want the video to see pumba sky somebody. bobble pulls the disc?

    Cuatro Coyhaique, Patagonia

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  5. Sorry Alums, a lot of this was for the club sports page (they fine us $100 if we don't have a tourney write up by Tuesday) and Dibs said I had to use real names. I actually didn't even know most of these, had to look 'em up.
    Should be fixed now, let me know if I missed any. Let me know if you would like to be able to post on here to talk about the good 'ol days

  6. You mean Roget played on Sunday and didn't sit in the car sleeping? You guys dropped the ball. I agree with Cuatro, I want a video of this forehand pull, I don't think we've ever had a forehand puller.

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  8. So i lost my video charger at SB, i'll try to find some other video camera to get this video online.