Wednesday, October 31, 2007

#7 (or is it 5)

The question implied in the above statement comes from the abuse we heaped on Jay Seeger when he won the Masters division in '95 with Squash and we said that Masters was a minus one against national titles. Of course, now that a bunch of us have migrated to the old guy division, we may have to reevaluate this philosophy...

Well, in short, I had a lot more fun than I expected, and having won, it was much more difficult than I would have expected if someone told me we would win. I did not go in with the expectation of winning, just the hope and knowing that we were one of the top contenders, but the tournament itself, and specifically the quarters and semis, were VERY difficult. Fortunately we had some easier games where we were able to open up the rotation, but it definitely tightened up at times. It was hard to manage a roster of 31. I subbed the offense (easier) and Jeff Brown subbed and selected the D (harder).

Logistically, everything went off pretty well. Not buying the tickets until after Regionals cost me probably $200, but doing some last second shopping, Jim was able to find us a very cheap place on Siesta Key. Everyone stayed there except for Mooney who had a room at the Palm with his family. We also had to scramble for jerseys at the last second, having Patagonia second day mail a bunch of Chili and White jerseys the week after Regionals so that we could get them to the printer in time. The shorts we got from BreakMark as the Patagonia shorts have gotten WAY too big and they didn't have any mediums left when we called. They were pretty sweet. The shirts were good while the design was acceptable. Some people liked it, some people were not so fond. But I guess moving away from the dot designs of recent years was the key as they started showing up right around when we started losing. Now that we have the superstitious stuff out of the way.

We flew in Wednesday afternoon with few problems, got the rental car, drove down to Sarasota, stopped in Wendy's for dinner, and then went to our room. Originally Jim, Jameros and I were to have a cottage together (we figured no one else would want to stay with any of us individually, so why not put us all together...). However, the week of, they let us know they had double-booked, so we generously gave it up to the Eastham family, who we NEVER saw while we were there. The condos were about 200 yards away from the Palm hot tub. Wednesday night was also the first game of the World Series with YOUR Boston Red Sox, so everything was coming together perfectly. A few ciders/beers into the blowout, and we go to bed reasonably early. Brian is supposed to get in late from Seattle, and he rolls into my room around 2AM (11PM PST). The next morning when the alarm goes off at 7AM (4AM CST), of course Brian is luggage. We actually get out of the condo around 8 and to the fields by 8:30. For some reason, the anticipated traffic on 75 and University Ave which we had experienced the past few years never materialized. Very weird.

For Thursdays games we were in front of the roped off clubhouse for all 3 games. I had warned the team just before coming that they should bring a second pair of cleats and socks to the fields each day because all the dew on the field would soak cleats and socks during the warmups. Naturally this advice proved foolish, as for the first time in MANY years there was very little moisture on the fields in the morning. In fact, the only real moisture came Friday afternoon during the quarterfinals. It felt good to be back at the show, albeit in a 'slightly' less competitive division. I have my warmup down, which includes not too much throwing, since I get tennis elbow these days, especially after a lot of hammers, and I figured I would be throwing a bunch of them. It would be interesting to speculate exactly how many throws I have made with this wing over my entire career, tournaments, practice, summer league, etc. Probably a pretty scary number.

We opened with Ironwood, who was a first time entrant at the show (that I could see). They were from Arizona, and we were fortunate to start with them, as it was a good warmup, and they were generous with their turnovers. 15-6. This brings up round two against Mileage from Dallas. They were coming off of a double-game point victory over Surly, which I had examined as I could to find out what they were going to do on offense. Basically, they were huck & hope to the nth degree. They had one main tall blond guy that I often just threw the disc long to, whether he was cutting or not, just as long as he was deep. And of course he came down with most of them. We ended up playing a mix of zone and man and after giving up a large late lead, we took the game 15-13. One of the things that I noticed in the masters division is that people were a little more willing to throw over the zone than in Open, although I noticed this more when teams played against OTHER zones than ours. It always befuddles me how Open teams struggle against the zone. I always think zone is a gift and unfortunately, no one really plays it against anymore. We often joke on the line that if somebody throws a zone against us, we should dump and swing for about 40 passes so they think it is working and will play it more.

This brought up the long anticipated game against Troubled Past for command of the pool. It was fun to see these guys, against whom we have fortunately had a lot of success, often at their expense. Billy and Worm had iced us, originally with Worm playing with Truckstop and Billy playing with a local FL team, only to give us a 'in your face' and play with the enemy. We went up big again only to fall back to a close game. I stopped playing around 12-10 because my calf was starting to tighten up and it wasn't worth having it seize completely. Admittedly, it made it a little easier to sub the game as I didn't have to worry about playing time among the handlers now. And Jim made it even closer at 14-13 with a drop. 4 MORE points later, and it is 16-16 with us receiving. Coop throws a beautiful cross field long backhand to a streaking Alec Ewald for the goal. No, wait, Alec, no one within 10 yards, goes up way too early and has the pass go off his fingers out the back of the endzone. He walks back to play D with his head in his hands. Fortunately, Bickford got yet another huge D and we punched it in a few passes later. Game, set, match.

That night was Red Sox game 2. After poaching on the Palm Bay hot tub for awhile, back to the condo for the game. Too freaking exhausted, I finally crash after after the end of the sixth, when Hideki came in to finish the inning and held serve at 2-1. It was a good thing I crashed, as the score didn't change and the Sox went up 2-0. Next morning, the team is pretty good about getting out to the fields around 8:30 again for a 9:30 game. Interestingly enough, I was getting to the fields earlier for the Masters division than I ever did for Open. As the first game wasn't critical, I figured I would hunt down Russ for a quickie calf massage, but as I looked over at the Boston Ultimate sideline, he was continually busy, so I hung out until he freed up before heading over at around 2-1 us. After some hemming and hawing, we figured out it would be best if Jim subbed while I was gone. Half hour later (after Russ beat the shit out of my calf) I came back and Jim had JUST subbed his first line. Meanwhile according to Russ I was good to go for the rest of the weekend if I took care of myself. I ended up playing some in this game, although didn't have to since we coasted to a 15-9 win.

After winning that game, seeds were finalized for our pool and the game against Surly was now meaningless. They treated it that way, and we eventually did also. They were more than generous with their turnovers, and we coasted to a 15-8 victory. It was good to catch up with a lot of the Sub-Zero guys like Cooter, Dan Rydel and Dave Boardman. Little did we know that we would meet them again.

My prediction of having the tougher pool was validated when we ended up sweeping the quarterfinals, although I think a lot of that was due to the matchups, especially with the upsets in the other pool. On Friday morning, OLD SAG went double game point with Old and in the Way before losing. If they had won, they would have won the pool. As a result though, they ended up forth, and lining up across from us for the quarterfinals. This was an obscenely difficult game. They went up a break early, we got it back, they got another break and took it into half. The first half was pretty chippy with calls, as we felt a lot of D's were stolen from us, including 3(!) by Bill Stewart on one point! I believe we started on D the second half, so down a couple of breaks. We could not stop them on offense. I barely recognized ANYONE on their squad besides Paul Bonfanti, Brendan, Sam Sackett, Will Heyman, and another guy who was their main handler. They were short and ran the crap out of us and we couldn't get the breaks. Finally as the weather got worse we got the lead back with a 3 point run to make it 11-10 pulling. Right after we took the lead, they tried to ice us with a half hour lightning break. Although it was already clearing, most of the people headed to their Faraday cages (I mean cars) to ride it out. I stayed at the fields with a few others, and after a half hour, they gave us 15 minutes to warm up, and 16 minutes to cap. We ended up trading to 14-13 pulling before we finally got the D. At one point, we had two injury subs on one called back D play. First I walked in and called in Jim. Then backed out when it was a foul. Jeff didn't notice, and then called Mooney and Greff in only to have to pull them. So imagine my surprise when a bunch of passes later I notice Jim on the field. I completely missed Simon's injury and replacement. Finally, game over and the army of 31 beat the bigger army of 37 to make the semis. That was a LOT of handshakes. Talking to Paul Bonfanti, he figured (and was originally hoping) that they would be playing us in the finals.

And now the long awaited rematch with Troubled Past, who ended up third instead of second in our pool after losing to Mileage that morning to move to our side of the bracket. The day started off poorly for me as I was the first one at our field at 10AM for a 10:30 game. As you can imagine, I was livid at my team for getting there with so little time to spare for the most important game of the tournament so far. It didn't help that when I walked out and stopped on the upwind upsun sideline, Jeffy immediately came over and started barking in my ear with a megaphone to move to the other sideline because they didn't want us there. Naturally this got my hackles up so I stayed for awhile. They took my chair over to the other side, so I sat on their cooler, etc., etc. Much 'hilarity' ensued until FINALLY a teammate showed up (Rick Kenyon) after 10 minutes of this. We ended up going to the other side, although he kept me company for awhile on the evil side. This set the tone for the game early, as it was now elimination, and it became readily apparent both on and off the field. They had a few players who thought it was funny to heckle people on the field during the game after bad offensive plays. I'm not sure I remember ever having that happen to me before at Nationals. I thought it was incredibly unspirited and made me want to beat them all the more. After going up big yet again, the O gave up 3 in a row in the second half and the lead before we got it back, and traded out to 15-15 receiving. After scoring the previous 2 or 3 goals without a turnover, Jim hands the disc on a platter to Worm just outside their endzone. Fortunately we get it back. Then we turn it over AGAIN and I believe Bickford gets it back. Finally we push it in to make it 16-15 pulling. I REALLY don't want to have to go in to the game at 16-16. The D saves me by getting the quick stuff and score with a bladey forehand from Simon to Dan the Can(adian) and we're in the finals. It was incredibly satisfying to win this game because of the poor spirit displayed by the other team. It would have sucked if they had made the finals. Of course, we were fine off the field with them, but that doesn't excuse the game time posturing.

Now the long break before the finals. I went over to the Boston Ultimate guys, told them we had won, and said I had one word for them. "SHOWCASE". Playing in the finals was about the only thing that made it seem like a real division, at least in terms of the other players. We eventually got a pretty good sized audience once the JAM game was over although, like Jim, I barely noticed anything that was happening off the field, including some apparent heckling that I was getting. I had an early forehand inside out turnover which I think we got back, but otherwise I was able to keep up my largely good play from the weekend. At one point, we were going slightly upwind in the second half and I was on the right side of the field being forced forehand. All of a sudden, my teammates were lined up in about 4 different areas to receive a hammer, and I cocked and waited to see who was going to cut for it. There was NO way I wasn't going to throw a hammer here. Finally, Mooney, who had was deepest in the stack and had been curving to the far sideline, looked like the likeliest candidate so I uncorked at least a 45-yard crossfield hammer to him which he ended up catching cleanly although his defender made up most of the ground. One pass later, goal. Very satisfying. I threw a couple of goals in the first half, caught the last goal by the offense to make it 14. The coolest thing was opening up the subbing on the last D point and watching them get the turnover and then have everyone involved in scoring the final goal, including people who hadn't touched the disc all game. Everyone had gotten with the program. This was definitely our most complete game of the weekend, with the only glitch being the two straight the O gave back in the first half.

I was pleased overall with my performance on the weekend. I had between 0 and 3 turnovers a game, including 1 in the finals, 2 hammers in the semis (and maybe one other), and I think 0 or 1 in the quarters (which I'm sure Jim will modify). The only time I had any difficulty getting open was when one Trouble Guy covered me, but only because he was cheating by handchecking me continually. I had to keep slapping away his hand. Someone said he was marking me by putting his hand in front of my face which apparently is now explicitly excluded in the 11 edition. I said I didn't notice and thought it was a benefit because it gave me an unmarked throw on that side. I thought I broke the mark pretty easily all weekend on both sides, including the step around backhand and the step out bladey forehand (often without the step). Except for the end of the Trouble pool play game when I stopped playing because of the calf, I probably played almost all of the O points and was the hitch for almost every point I was in, except for when I switched it up with a fake to me a few times in the Troubled game. I heard second hand that an OLD SAG guy that had covered me a bunch had expressed that he hated covering me because of my first step. Thank god I have that, because there ain't much else. However, I thought I was running very well considering how much less track work I had done this season (interesting comparison) although I had played a bunch of tournaments and had done some low level pickup where I tried to focus on running hard and playing hard D. I thought my D was very good, especially when I covered handlers. And considering how many points I ended up playing, especially compared to last year (playing barely 50% of the O points), I thought I held up very well, feeling almost as fresh at the end of the tournament as at the beginning.

Subbing was an interesting experience, one which I had requested long ago before we had coaches. I think it helped to have an O person sub the O and a D person sub the D so that we could stay in tune with what was happening on the field. At the end of the Troubled Past semifinals (or maybe OLD SAG), I ended up putting the same O line in for the last 6 points because it was playing well, and I didn't feel comfortable putting in someone new at that time of the game. It was sort of cool in that the typical power O lineup was basically old DoG plus Alec Ewald for a little bit of youth leavening. Once the O would get on a run of being broken, then I would have to start putting in some D players. I know some people got iced in the important games, and it is never easy to take. I didn't hear too many complaints from any subbing 'liaisons', but I think part of that is because a lot of people were just happy to be at nationals at all, AND even happier to be part of the National Championship team (maybe THIS should be called the Chumpionship).

And now on to Vancouver!

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

We're goin' to the show baby!

Masters regionals. 3 teams go in (+2), 2 teams leave. After a short fall, we were finally going to put the sack on the line. Would perhaps the last running of the 'dogs' end in ignominy and the first missed nationals since 1991? Stay tuned.

This was basically 3 good teams battling for 2 spots. Tombstone, fresh off their dominating win at Canadian nationals (including a large victory over Glum, the NE regional winner the previous year), had also picked some of the Glum players. The one factor against them was that Monday is Canadian thanksgiving (what are they celebrating? Our Columbus day but refusing to honor Columbus?) and a bunch of their players had not shown up. Above & Beyond brought their usual short scrappy team, although they were missing Faust and Showers (injury) and EO (Friday night scratch). DoG/Big Ego Ultimate was sporting our full roster for the first time all season, and what a large sideline it was. First and last round we subbed freely, and the middle 2 games I ran O subs and Dick Brown ran D subs.

Saturday was one of my better days of ultimate. One of the benefits of moving to Masters is that I still have the mindset of open play, so I was able to get open pretty much all over the field. It took Tombstone until the second half to upgrade their defensive matchup on me after I continued to get open at will. I'm not tooting my own horn here, it was just nice to be a little more open than in Open, and to be playing with people that were familiar with how we cut, where we expect the disc, and when to deliver, even if we haven't played together in years. It was like putting on a pair of broken in jeans.

Our schedule was definitely the most difficult of the 3 top teams. I had had numerous discussions with Jim during the prior week about his battles with the UPA personnel who had to approve the various schedules. The first schedule was actually perfect with easy, tough, bye, easy and tough games. Unfortunately, we ended up with easy, tough, tough, bye, easy. Of the top 3, we were the only ones that had to play the two tough games in a row. NY was bye, easy, tough, easy, tough. Tombstone was easy, tough, bye, easy, tough. So a little annoying, and wondering exactly what the #1 seed got us, but whatever.

Saturday was GORGEOUS (actually a little too hot, hitting the mid-80s'). Our first game was against Mt. Crushmore from New Hampshire. Naturally, being masters, people were filtering in throughout the day. In the initial huddle, I said that we would be calling substitutes during the big games today, with myself calling the O and Jeff Brown calling the D. But in the first game, go free-form BUT only play the side that you will be called in on (we had very few two-way players, at least at this level). We rolled without too much difficulty, winning 15-4. Meanwhile over in the other game, Tombstone was having an equally easy time against Not Dead Yet, winning 15-3. I did take the opportunity to watch their game when I could, having had zero experience against them. They played mostly ho stack and nothing tricky on defense. Dan Fassina had mentioned after Sectionals that at Masters, we would never play teams that had pressured us as much as New Noise had on defense, but that the offenses would be better for the best teams.

The next game against Tombstone was the first of two big games. The game started out reasonably even with both teams trading goals. I think they got a quick break to start which we got back soon after and then got a few more. We were playing a mix of man, zone, and clam, all adroitly managed by D puppetmaster Jeff. We ended up taking half maybe 8-6, 8-5, and didn't really give much of it back in the second half before pulling away 15-10. It didn't feel like that much of a dominating victory despite the score.

On to round 3, important game 2 against A&B. Same pattern as tombstone. Close early, finally pulling away very late for a 15-11 victory. This one felt even less certain than the Tombstone game despite the score. Jim mentioned in his blog that he noticed that Arnold hadn't matched up on him very much. I had noticed in earlier games that Arnold was getting put in on O much more than D which explains Jim missing his hip buddy. However, Arnold did get the opportunity to make numerous d's in our game, including an almost d on the final point of the game, a hanging hammer to somebody wide open in the opposite corner who made a great one-handed grab over Arnold after he appeared from out of nowhere to JUST miss making the D.

This brought on the 4th round bye, at which point a bunch of us took off to check out the other fields only to find out that the top bracket ALSO had a bye the same round. Talk about a crappy schedule, the top 4 seeds were game, bye, game, bye, game. Ugh. Malingered some more, caught up with people, and then back for our last round of the day against Not Dead Yet, who was in the process of giving A&B a reasonably tough game, finally losing 15-10. Having watched them earlier, they clearly seemed to be a better team than Mt. Crushmore, but they ended up being very generous during the game, submitting to us 15-5 without too much exercise on our part. This gave us a good amount of time to watch the Tombstone-A&B game for the right to play us in the first round. The game was pretty exciting, with Tombstone finally pulling away to win 14-10. This set up the rematch at 10:45 the following morning (although I told the team 10:30 trying to make sure we had enough people there).

After this was all done, headed off to the Devens Grill to hang out with Dennis, Dan Fassina and a few others for a few rounds before heading off to Maynard (?!) for a party with Dennis and friends. We ran into quite the neighborly gathering as a row of houses were having a backyard party to celebrate Maynard Day. We got there just as the main plaza was clearing out people after the fireworks. After having a few beers and hanging out at a portable firepit, we headed into town to a bar where Pete Best (formerly Beatles) was playing. Unfortunately, they were running a charity and wanted $25 a head, to which we said no way of course. We ended up walking a little further to Morey's Tavern, closed that, walked across the street to the Blue Coyote Grill, closed that, and then off to crash on a couch.

Up early the next day at 7AM working both ends of the candle, drive home, shower, watch Stargate Atlantis (nerd) and then head back out to the fields, getting there around 10:15 for the 10:45 game. Naturally Tombstone is all over the field while we are dribbling in. At 10:15 I have to be in the first 10 at that point, at least at the field, and NONE of us are up and throwing. By game time we have at least 15+ and start play. In this game the D asserts themselves. The O did well enough, but the D played a number of shutdown man points against the ho stack, causing Tombstone to look to their dumps at high stall counts over and over. The weather was much cooler than the previous day probably starting in the 50s and raining when we got there, though most of the game was actually dry. We ended up taking half 8-5 receiving the second half. The last point of the first half was very contentious with us on offense. I had probably my worst point of the weekend, starting with an outrageous 40+ yard hammer to Coop that ended up hanging up much longer than it should have to get D'ed. This was the first of many turnovers this point. At one point, we turned them over in our endzone, I went to pick up the disk, and then proceeded to call at least 4 straight marking fouls on my defender, who was the same upgraded defender from the second half of the prior game. He was actually marking VERY well, but each throw he either contacted my hand, or my arm BEFORE the throw that he hand blocked. The only one that I even debated taking back was a short hammer that dove into the ground after I hit his hand on the release. I thought it was during the release and affected the flight (which was why it dropped like it did, which it NEVER does) but that was the only close one. Naturally this led to a lot of heckling from both sidelines and field. We finally scored on the point, but it did cast a pall on the game for me for a bit. After half-time, I did not put myself into the game for the O point, figuring it was also time to start opening up the bench a little bit and make sure they could do it without me... :). I stayed out the next two O points, and also noticed that my D guy was out too. I went over to him to ask if my absence was icing him, and he laughed and said they were saving him for the next game. This proved prophetic as Tombstone folded like yesterday's laundry and lost 15-7. The D took advantage of the opportunities they were provided and took the game. I took some more points off and then went in the final point of the game.

After this game, we turned around to catch the end of the Boston Ultimate/GOAT game for the 1 seed. When I got to the endzone, GOAT was being pulled to up 13-11. After a number of ugly points (not spirit, just play), the game ended up tied 14-14, GOAT receiving, next point wins. Forch gets a HUGE block in the endzone, they turn it over a few points later, they get it back, and then Giora uncorks a huge backhand up the line to a streaking Forch who appears to have no chance to get it only to see him to a full extension layout, catch the disc, and then lay on the ground with the disc held in the air.

Later I caught up with Seigs and mentioned 'Where was that Forch the last few years'. Seigs mentioned that Forch was one of the ones who had helped put them in the hole in the first place, to which I responded 'OK he is STILL the same Forch then...'.

This set up the 2-3 game to go between Tombstone and A&B, who had crushed Not Dead Yet 15-3 after skating by 15-10 the previous day. The result ended up being different today, as Tombstone never got untracked. After being close early, A&B started pulling away as Tombstone kept failing to connect on long hucks, and mostly appearing to play pretty poorly. A&B up by 2 at half, and Tombstone with numerous opportunities to make the game tighter in the second half, including the opportunity to get the game to 10-9 (or 11-10) only to have their receiver drop a chest pass in the endzone for the goal. That ended up being game, as Tombstone never recovered despite our urgings for a close game.

After this game, as I was leaving the fields, I caught the end of the betty bowl between GOAT and PoNY. Talk about a barnburner. It looks like GOAT was playing down after their disappointing loss, and after a late comeback by PoNY, it ended up being double game point AGAIN with GOAT receiving. They moved it up the field, including one ugly backhand blade to a GOAT receiver whose defender ended up being in front of him in perfect position to catch the D, only to have the GOAT player catch it from behind at the same time. Call goes to the observer, tie, GOAT keeps it. Another layout block a little later that comes back, and then GOAT wins the game. Barely.

So I have been dealing with rounding up uniforms from Patagonia (which we hadn't gotten ahead of time), housing (which we are still looking for), and general organizational details. Looks like we are going to have the 'old' army down in Florida, with close to 30 on the roster, although a number of Thursday night arrivals. 16 in a row, 14 with DoG, 18 of 19, another entry in the Ultimate History Book Addendum (# total nationals moonee 20, cvh, jim, al at 18). Can't believe I'm still playing this game. And can't wait to get there. I really have NO idea how things are going to turn out, although Double Happiness, I mean Troubled Past, is going to be the #1 seed. We'll see if that affects them...

Oh yeah, forgot about the celebration. Was planning to hang in that night with the kids when I heard about the Boston Ultimate guys doing some celebrating at the Newtown Grill. Headed on over with Jim and we proceeded to tell stories, pat ourselves on the backs, and general gladhanding. On the way out, there was a full pitcher of beer on the table. Discussion ended up veering to a few years ago on the way to the airport from Santa Cruz when we stopped at a restaurant on the way. Tom Matthews had been there earlier and had been challenged to finish a pitcher of beer in two minutes for $20. He had failed miserably, spraying beer out of his stomach partway through. They challenged me to the same, I hemmed and hawed until Dutchie put in another $20, then proceeded to chug 90% in the first minute, and then coasted/sipped the remaining minute. Well, all of a sudden, the offer came on the table again. I tried to drum up support, but only ended up getting about $30 on the table plus a T pass (probably empty) and some business cards. Of course, this time they weren't willing to give me the full two minutes but only 1 minute. Crazy but I said yes. I went out strong again finishing over half in the first 20 seconds. Unlike Santa Cruz, this time I was a little more full. It took me two more rounds with Jim telling me how many seconds left in my left ear. I finally put it away with a couple of seconds left and ran off with my loot, or rather, Jim gave me a ride home...

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Friday, October 05, 2007


What happens at Clambake, stays at Clambake. That was the mantra of this years tournament, and after attending the party, I understand why. In the spirit of the tournament, I started my weekend early by heading up to New Hampshire Friday night to hang out with Dennis "kinesthesia" McCarthy. We partied in Portsmouth until 3AM and then I had to get up at 8AM the next morning. Best part of the tournament so far? The first-round bye giving us our first game at 10:45.

First game was against JMU Hellfish, apparently a reunion team from James Madison. They were interestingly dressed, and had maybe 10 dudes. The game wasn't particularly exciting, we played sloppily, and they scored less than 10. Game 2 was against Jerk Factory, a team from Canada that had beaten the #2 seed in our pool the first round. They proved to be pretty scrappy, keeping it close through the first half, before we finally pulled away for a 3-5 point victor in the second half. The last game was against Bowdoin Stoned Clown who we had beaten handily the prior week at Sectionals on Saturday. More of the same, although the game was closer because they played better and we continued some sloppy play.

We were definitely a different team from the previous week in terms of personnel. At one point I had looked at the roster of people going, and had told Jim that basically we were leaving the defense at home. This proved mostly true as we put together a hodge-podge of man and zone lines on throughout the weekend. I think we only subbed a line once, on the first point of the second half in the semifinals. Otherwise it was free subbing all weekend.

After malingering after our last game for awhile watching some chick games because the weather was GORGEOUS, I finally get on the road to Simon Verghese's Econolodge hotel to shower up. There were four of us in 4 cars, Simon, Dennis, myself, and Dan Fassina from Canada. Naturally, Dan got lost while following us and ended up just getting on 295 south and going straight to the party after he missed the U-turn. I jumped in the shower while Dennis went to the Mobil to buy some nasty fruit flavored beer. Hung out a little longer, then I headed down to the party. The party site was in the middle of nowhere, maybe 20 minutes off the highway off a lonely road.

And now the party... I had brought a tent and thermarest and requested teammates to bring up a sleeping bag because I fully intended to sleep at the campsite instead of even contemplating driving to a hotel from the party. In the back of my mind, I was also assuming that I was just going to end up in my car as it was going to be too much labor to set up the tent, find it in the middle of the night, put it away in the morning, etc. I had the foresight to put my passenger seat down prior to going into the party.

This was hands down the biggest and best tournament party I have ever been to. No question, no competition, no nothing. About the only issue was that the party site was the distance from the fields. When I pulled in, there was a line of about 4 cars, and they were guiding traffic (and had torches lining the field for directions). They asked whether you were staying overnight (go left), or leaving early (go straight). I went left, around the party site, and then pulled in next to a bunch of cars. After a quick primp and getting my warm clothes on, into the party. There were huge barns and outdoor pavilions set up. Basically, there was a large pavilion of about 20 round tables, a much smaller tent that served the beer, including one area with 4 different taps, and another area serving beer directly from kegs/pitchers. They were very strict with the bracelets, which made sense considering the number of under aged people at the tournament. Then you entered the barn where there was a large open space with a DJ. Walk through that barn into another barn that had a bunch of long tables set up for food. To the left from there was an outdoor covered site where they had a band setup that played for hours (different bands I believe but not positive). To the right outside was the grill where they were serving burgers, dogs, chicken, etc with all the fixings, salad, late night ice cream, firepit lobsters for those who had pre-ordered them. Basically it was a food extravaganza.

A lot of tournament bids involved party favors. For instance, for the second straight year Lady Godiva offered in the bid to do a 'party' shotgun. In the large outdoor pavilion, they spent a half hour preparing bud cans for a mass shotgun, at least 7-8 cases, just lining them up one after another. This happened around 10:30PM. While they were getting ready, Tony Leonardo started blah blahing about me being a good gunner, me mentioning that I hadn't lost in maybe 15 years. He wanted to see how fast, I was a little nervous about doing a pregun gun, but finally talked me into it. I went a little too fast, put the can down early, watched him still drinking, put the can back up and finished the beer, then spiked it a couple of seconds ahead of him. A little embarrassing for him. Then it was Ryan Scribner's turn. He had said that Saturday night at Nationals last year, when I was 8 sheets to the wind at the outdoor beach party at our condo that he had beaten, or at worst tied me. Naturally I remember nothing of the sort (well, nothing really at all). He acknowledged that I could barely move, and wanted to race me. I had just finished with Tony, and all of a sudden everyone was about to do the mass gun. So we raced each other as part of the mass gun and I destroyed him. Probably my fastest ever. Unfortunately I had selected a can that had lost a little beer, and he said that it was impossible for me to finish that fast. I finally acknowledged that my can had been a little short, so then I offered to do a third gun unassisted and he could let me know if it was fast enough. So I do a third gun, literally almost as fast as the emptier one (<2.5 seconds) and he acknowledged that he would not have a chance. So, got that out of the way. Now back to the party.

Meanwhile I was feeling really full with all the beer and food, so I went off to the cars to take care of that, and then I was ready for the rest of the party. Bounced around from beer tent to band to DJ to food tent to beer to band to food to DJ to beer to DJ to beer to DJ. Ended up the night dancing to the DJ for close to 2 hours with Melissa, another woman whose name I can't remember, some other guys, etc. Finally roll into my car at around 4AM, all this without coffee.

Oh yeah, and we didn't play until noon Sunday morning also, which ended up being key. I woke up in the car at 9:45 (I had brought the eye Bucky covers, which were KEY to staying dark and asleep late). I poked my head up, and there were maybe 10 cars left out of the 300 that had been there the night before. And I had heard almost nothing. Breakfast was over of course, so I got on the road to the field. Get to the field to find out that we aren't playing until 1PM because the first round started too late. Ugh. So now I have to dick around for 1.5 hours. Watch 'ding' frisbee for awhile with some teammates before we finally head over to our field and try and start the game early. We end up starting maybe 12:45, against yEUTH-ANd-ASIA the Amherst/Boston team headlined by the Pitts (James and Darden). Closer than it should be although we finally put it away.

This sets up the semi against Harvard Red Line, and everything has held to seed so far. We end up receiving the pull and quickly drop to 0-3. The turnovers are ugly, we are out of sync, and we aren't really stopping them, letting them score deep at will. We finally tighten it up although they take half 8-6. They score out of half to make it 9-6 before we finally struggle back and tie it at 10s and 11s. They score again to make it 12-11 and the wheels come off. 3 stupid turnovers and lame D later and Harvard wins the semi 15-11. They definitely played well, we did not play so well, and we would have beaten them handily with our full squad, but you play with what brung ya. The other semi was a barn-burner between Chuckwagon and Red Tide, with Red Tide eeking it out at the end. Harvard then beat Red Tide in the finals, 'validating' our loss (not really). Kudos to them for bringing it this weekend. The side benefit to losing in the semis was that I was able to get home at a reasonable hour around 6:30 to actually see my kids before they went to sleep.

Regionals tomorrow, and I have no idea how we are going to do. On the one hand I can see us winning the region handily, on the other hand I can see us losing it handily. Should be an exciting weekend, and I can't remember the last time there was any doubt about making nationals. Hopefully I won't tighten up as a result, but play in the moment (Peaceful Warrior for those of you who have seen it, GREAT movie).

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