Tuesday, March 31, 2009
As Winter quarter finally came to an end, and glorious spring break started; the squids traveled to their annual spring playground: Texas.
Centex this year was run in the same format as the Stanford Invite. We knew almost all of our games beforehand:
Saturday - Arkansas, UNC, Harvard, Illinois
Sunday - Minnesota, Iowa, Final Placement Game
Splat was nice enough to house the team on Friday night, so we arrived to the fields nice and fresh on Saturday morning ready to play. After 45 minutes of warming up, our opponents (Arkansas) were nowhere to be found. Finally, 10 minutes before the game started, they showed up with a pretty small squad of about 11 or 12 guys. They had 2 real handlers and two fast recievers. My favorite play call of theirs was "blacks" where their two fastest players just went deep for a huck. After trading the first few points with them, we clamped down on their huckers and stopped the easy deep throws, and maintained our offensive poise to win the game 13-9.
Game two was against UNC's Darkside, who I've never played against before. I think the relative ease of the first game lulled us into a false sense of security and we stared the game with a three point deficit. Our offense finally locked down by switching to stack, and we got some turns back on D to make it a close game. At one point, after a particularly long and frustrating point, Bobble spit on the ground after scoring, which really pissed the UNC coach off. Someone pushed Bobble, I pushed the guy back, then someone else pushed someone else and everything escalated. Both sidelines cleared, Coach Stu was up in their coach's face and finally some nearby observers intervened to break it up. The rest of the game was played with observers, and we really stepped our intensity up. On double game point, Pumba had a great layout catch to keep the point alive, and we put the score in to win the game 12-11.
After a tiring and emotional game against UNC, we had trouble focusing for the next game against Harvard (who, by the way, had the ugliest uniforms I've seen). Harvard's play reminded me of Stanford. All their guys were smart and moved the disc quickly around the back. They rarely made a mistake and went up on us by 4 to start the game. Once we settled down we started to get some rhythm on offense. After half the wind picked up, and both teams began to massively overshoot target receivers on downwind points. They chose to throw a force middle defense on our stack, which gave us a couple easy hucks for scores. Even with these points, Harvard handed us our worst loss of the year to this point: 8-13.
The last game of the day was against Illinois, who didn't really come to play. They looked lazy on D and gave us some easy points on O. We found that as long as we cut hard on offense, we were able to score easily every time. We opened up the rotation a bit and even had some (unsuccessful) fish points. We won 13-7.
We found out what true southern hospitality was on Saturday night. Didj's (one of our fish) parents live in Austin and gave us all pads to sleep on, great food to eat, Gatorade, and breakfast tacos in the morning. This combined with the bye, meant that most of us felt nice and fresh in the morning.
The wind was strong when we got there and stared our game against Minnesota. Besides that, I really don't know what to say about the game. We turned the disc over 8 times in the first half and were down 7-1 at halftime. We played really really bad, but they also never gave the disc back. I've never lost a game this bad on Ice. We managed to scrounge up two more points before the game ended, with us losing 3-13. Ouch.
Our next game against Iowa was tough. We had to take a deep breath and try to regroup from that ass raping. We focused on keeping our throws solid and improved our offensive efficiency. On D, our young 4man cup started generating D's. The Iowa handlers looked scared when our cup was on, and they kept trying to jam it through, which didn't work. We won this game 13-10.
In our final placement game, we were pitted against Kansas. They were a very similar team to us, and scored most of their points by hucking to tall athletic receivers. The 4 man cup seemed to be working pretty well against them, so at double game point we put a young cup line in. They got the turn twice, but were unable to score. We lost the game 12-13.
So we went 4-3 in our last tournament of the year. This gives us a final regular season record of 20-8. In the last couple of seasons, we barely broke .500, so I'm glad we stepped it up in the regular season this year. Sectionals is 2 weeks away, and we're excited to start our journey toward nationals.
Dangle lives in Houston, so he let us stay with him on Sunday night on the way down to Surfside.
Monday, March 9, 2009
Stanford Invite from Dibs’ perspective.
This past weekend, the Squids traveled out to Ripon, CA for the Stanford Invite. The format for this tournament was different than any tournament I’ve ever seen. Here’s how it worked:
Cultimate (the company that runs these big tournaments) ranked the top 15 teams (we were an “honorable mention”) and divided the 48 teams into “Tier 1 and Tier 2”. All of the tier 1 teams played against opponents of similar strength, which means there were no pools and no brackets. Going into the weekend we knew almost our entire schedule.
Saturday: Pacific Lutheran (a tier 2 team), UBC, University of Washington, Western Washington
Sunday: UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, the final placement game
The two teams with the best record would then play each other in the final placement game. The next two teams play in the 3-4 game, etc.
Our first game against Pac Lutheran was a great chance for all of us to get warmed up. Individually, they were quite skilled with the disc, but after throwing some questionable zones and dropping a pull, we were able to finish quickly 13-3.
Our game against UBC was observed by “active observers”. They called travels and made up/down calls. I was worried about how this would work for our team, but the only guy who really had a lot of travel calls on him was UBC’s main guy. Haha. With some ridiculous grabs by Forge, and great hucks from Cork, we finished those Canadians, 13-10.
Washington was clearly a solid team. They moved the disc fast and mostly through a redhead guy (who I think is on Sockeye). We had a great game and took half by one. They played close D but we were still feeling fresh, so we matched their intense D with equally crisp offense. There were very few breaks, but we had one more than them and at one point we were up 9-7. Then things seemed to fall apart. They had been solid on doffense all weekend, and when we started making small throwing and catching mistakes, they made us pay. They went on a 6-1 run to finish, 10-13, handing us our first loss. This one hurt. There isn’t an excuse for dropping a game like that. We were not that tired, but we really let our mental edge down. Looking at the weekend, this was really our shot to take down a big time team. Washington killed Colorado and beat Michigan and Oregon. We’ll close better next time we see them.
Western Washington seemed tired. They were undefeated going into our game and we knew they had a ton of talent (including a worlds player) who had massive pulls and hucks, but they just didn’t play hard D. On offense we were able to score almost effortlessly. They kept throwing up long floaty hucks to their tall fast receivers, but our combination of Kattan, Forge, and Bobble got the D almost every time. Near the end of the game, they gave us another scare. They started another run, but we had built such a lead that this time we ended the game before it got too close. At one point we were up 11-4, we ended the game with a win, 13-10. Every year that I’ve been on the squids, we come out soft and then have to fight to come back in the second half. This was the same in our first two tournaments this year, but for some reason at this tournament we always took half, but had trouble finishing. Either way, a win is a win.
On Sunday morning, we arrived to the foggy fields to find the grass covered in frost. After a relatively strong showing on Saturday (winning more games than the past 2 years combined at Stanford), we were excited for the opportunity to show off our talent against UC Santa Cruz, a team that always plays extremely hard. We were one of the first teams to start warming up and we set a positive tone from the beginning. The game started with hard D and sloppy O on both sides. The wet and freezing conditions made it hard to throw crisp forehands, and as a result we (mostly me) turned the disc over again and again. Luckily, UCSC looked equally cold, and we were able to take half by one. In the second half, our defense was able to capture a few breaks, but the weekend trend continued with our offense looking shaky near the end. We gave up a few breaks but at 12-11, we got turnover and called a timeout. Dollar set us up with a play that set Kattan up as a dump and then sent him deep for a throw from Pumba. The play worked perfectly, and Kattan caught a wide open goal for the win, 13-11.
After a bye spent watching and heckling UC Davis, we warmed up to play them in our last set game of the weekend. They played really hard defense and a fast offense, but we were able to keep up despite our long weekend. During a timeout, Pumba beat his brother (a freshman at UC Davis) in pokey. Didj had a great D in the endzone to add a break. The game ended with a scare as a stall 9 floater was thrown up into the endzone that I was able to come down with for the win, 13-10.
At this point the top 2 teams (and only undefeated Tier 1 teams) were Carleton and Florida. There were 5 teams with only one loss: Stanford, Washington, Wisconsin, Oregon, and Us. They set us up against Oregon in a 7/8 game.
Our game against Oregon started with easy offensive scores from both sides. It was clear that both sides were tired and the defense just couldn’t keep up. After some hard mental breaks, we went down at half 5-8, and decided that if we were going to win, we needed to play our top guys on every point for the rest of the game. We battled hard back and were able to climb back within one point, but our legs just fell out from under us. Each of the starting 7 turfed at least one throw. We still held the game close, but fell 13-15.
I’m really proud of the team that came up to Stanford this weekend. We only had 16 to start (from a roster of 24), and ended with 14. Every single fish that made the trip up played great. Soda was always able to get open when we needed it and both he and Didj had some great deep D’s. Our O-line was remarkably consistent (at least in the first half of games) and they were able to hold things together even when things weren’t going our way. Thanks guys. A 5-2 record against these teams is a great stepping stone toward our goal of making nationals.