Monday, March 9, 2009

Stanford Invite '09

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.


  1. Nice writeup dibs, and good job everybody!

    Makes me sorry I didn't make the drive to come watch you guys Saturday.


  2. Not to toot my own horn, but... for the sake of historical accuracy, it should be noted that, contrary to the 2nd to last paragraph, Pumba did not turf anything in the EGO game, he didn't turn it over at all while playing 85% of the points. I'm just interested in historical accuracy.

  3. I had a feeling Pumba would chime in about that. Great writeup, I always look forward to these post-tourney from you guys. Good luck in Texas.

  4. Great work again guys. I love seeing you guys do well and with a 16-5 record thus far, you have all the pieces to make it back to Nationals.

    One thing I also wanted to say regarding the close game losses and what not, is to keep a small goal in mind in big games. After watching the Nationals Finals where Wisconsin beat Florida 15-9 in Boulder last year, I went up to the Hodag captain (Jim Foster) and asked him how they stayed hungry the whole game and he told me, "we just kept saying, game to 3, game to 3. We knew they'd get goals here and there but we looked at it like 5 games in one and we wanted to win them all".

    I believe that this worked because they didn't think about the overall score and stayed hungry for the entire game. Taking half can be a curse and can hurt your intensity but if you keep a goal in mind that is only 3 points, you can maintain your focus.

    This seemed like a great strategy and it is one I have employed here in Connecticut with regard to my club team.

    Best of luck at Centex, I'll be following your results.

  5. we talked about this 'game to three' or 'game to five' strategy a few times; it can be a great way to keep mental focus. Try it in practice a few times, at the end of a practice with game speed, and perhaps sprints or some other type of humilation for the losers.