Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Regionals 2008 (masters...)

Wow. Heading off to Nationals tomorrow night for the 17th straight year. Unfortunately, Mooney will be joining us also, so Jim and I will never catch up to him for most appearances at nationals. This will make 20 for Steve. Oh well. Guess I have to cut him if I want a chance...

It's been so long since regionals I had to consult the score reporter. So, they gave us the ridiculously hard schedule again for the second straight year. Not sure exactly why they can justify having the #1 seed start with a schedule against #3 followed by #2. We had an eclectic mix of people out there both days, including people that weren't going to be attending nationals with us (although we didn't know it at the time for some of them). Basically it was 3 teams vying for 2 spots, with GLUM, A&B, and DoG (yea abbreviations) trying to make the big show. We began with GLUM. They had picked up some of the Tombstone/Worlds players. We had actually appropriated one of the Canadians, Shooter. Of course he got some good ribbing from the team. Nothing glamorous about this game. We won 15-12 and it was not very exciting. This brought up round two against A&B. We went up early and then let them back into the game. The D got a number of opportunities and handed them right back. This finally went down to double game point with us receiving. Fortunately, the O was able to grind it in without a turnover, although it was definitely ugly offense. This basically gave us the guaranteed 1-2 game the following morning.

The interesting part of the weekend was that I had my kids for both days as Georgia was unable to cover. I had the genius idea of bringing their bikes out to the fields. Fortunately they had gotten off of the training wheels a couple of months ago, so all day they biked around the fields and the various parking lots. Of course, I didn't find out until next morning from Geoff Doerre that my kids had been getting into trouble and not listening to the organizers very well. I apologized to Geoff, not having known, and on Sunday they were stars. But it was great to see them being independent and keeping themselves amused for the entire day. Fortunately the weather was gorgeous all weekend. I can't imagine what I would have done with bad weather. I guess I would have spent a fortune on a babysitter.

Round 3 was Mt. Crushmore who we handled 15-10. 4th round bye and I hooked up with Dennis at the Devens Grill with the kids for a little bit to get out of the heat (hard to believe this time of year). 5th round against Hexember, again an easy game, 15-7. Since I knew it was the only chance he would make Sunday's game, I made Dennis stay at my place overnight instead of heading back to New Hampshire. We ended going out in Boston until the wee hours. Good times.

Sunday morning against Red Tide Masters team, 15-5. This brought up the much heralded 1-2 game against A&B, who had beaten GLUM on double game point (I don't know the details). Meanwhile GLUM had an easy road against Crushmore. We took our final against A&B 15-12. They threatened a little bit in the second half, but we were able to secure the #1 seed for the second straight year. And for the SECOND straight year, the team that lost the final ended up losing the 2-3 game as GLUM ended up smoking A&B in the betty bowl to win 15-10 and secure the 2nd spot. So A&B fails to qualify for Nationals in I don't know how long.

I watched some Open games before heading over to the Devens Grill to celebrate with Paul Greff and others. After we left, headed outside to a little fair and the kids did the moonwalk for aboutu 20 minutes (gotta love free) before we headed home. The next two weeks were spent trying to persuade certain fencesitters to come to nationals. We got some, and we didn't get others. I guess you'll see who is coming Thursday morning. Let's just call this year S&M, or Smoke and Mirrors...

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Sectionals 2008

And to think this tournament used to have meaning... although even with Open DoG it didn't mean much except a non-practice weekend. It was only at the end that Metal made the tournament at all useful. Now it is just a warmup with zero official meaning. And after the results, thank God...

So this was a weekend that I had the twins, and my ex was out of town all weekend. Normally that wouldn't be an issue except that the weather forecast was horrible. Possible torrential downpours ALL weekend. We had already been kicked off of the grass fields and moved on to the turf fields (blessing in disguise). Unfortunately there were fewer fields, so they kept tweaking the schedule and we didn't know the final schedule until late Friday. Our schedule was game, game, bye, game, game, game. First round was creampuff, second round was against Red Tide to reach the 'power' pool, then bye, creampuff, Bodhi, then creampuff. Based on that schedule, I decided to miss the first game, then get a babysitter and make the big Tide game, swallow the bye ($18 bye), then creampuff and Bodhi before leaving the team to play the last game and relieve the babysitter. Well, I should have saved some money and blown off the Red Tide game. It didn't bode well when I threw away a high stall hammer to Cork on the first point/pass. And it didn't get any better as Red Tide raced away to a 13-6 victory. This was clearly not the same Red Tide team that we had beaten for the Clambake title the previous week (nor were we the same team now that we had around 16 players). Then sitting on our thumbs during the bye with no real interesting games to watch. Bodhi beat Red Tide next to our field 13-8. It was little exciting as Red Tide looked for the big upset, but it was not to be as Bodhi pulled away in the second half.

This set up the next game against Bowdoin College Stoned Clown, who we had also beaten at Clambake. I started trying to get the team focusing on playing man D, as we were having serious issues. This was going to be regardless of the score. Unfortunately I no longer remember the details, but I do remember we struggled with the man defense again, as we did all weekend. We eventually won 13-7. BTW, to this point, it has been pretty much raining non-stop since I have arrived, with minor breaks here and there. Fortunately it was reasonably warm, which was key because I had brought ZERO rain gear. I had shorts and a t-shirt, and that was about it. Nice planning, I know.

We got Bodhi to start the next round about 30 minutes early. Yes, I was trying to get home early. I was hoping for big things against them. Not to be. We got smoked in the first half, and didn't stuff and score until late second half. We again went mostly man in this game. Our early turnovers were stupid ones as opposed to great D, and it didn't get much better. Final score, 13-6.

Like the girl I am, after hanging around for about 15 minutes, I left the team to their druthers in the last game of the day against Red Circus from Halifax. I had watched them play earlier and they were pretty solid. I predicted a difficult game for DoG, and I wasn't wrong. Apparently the game went to double game point with DoG pulling. Bim made a great D (I think) and DoG pulled away to victory.

As occurred for the Saturday games, we didn't get the final schedule for the Sunday games until LATE Saturday night. And there were a few issues with inconsistent times, so we just claimed the one that favored us with a start time of 11AM. I decided to bring the kids with me today, as some other people had said they would bring theirs out weather permitting. It was pouring while I was driving out there, but once we got there, it ended up being gorgeous for most of the day. I had set up the kids under the gazebo with chairs, a huge bag of books and lunch, and all they ever had was lunch, otherwise strolling too and fro, playing with kids. Christian walked up and down the switchback endlessly, getting his exercise as he put it. Catherine was doing her gregarious thing and playing with the other kids.

Oh yeah, and we played. First round against Militia, who we had lost to at Boston Invite in an UGLY game (ugly for our level of play, not spirit). We had beaten them in a scrimmage during the summer prior to worlds, so now was the rubber match. I decided to start the game continuing to work on man to man. The game stayed close for awhile as we struggled to put real pressure. Finally late first or early second half we broke out some zone to man to at least stop their play, but only played maybe 2 points of exclusively zone. We ended pulling away at the very end of the game, winning 15-13. I continued my shift to the D-line. My personal highlight of the game occurred while playing the point in the 2-3-2. I was off point, and at one point Sam TH lofted a bladey cross field forehand for a swing pass. I chased after it and was going to knock it away when I heard the sideline yell something about a Callahan. So instead I went up to catch it, caught it, landed while looking at the cone, and immediately spiked it for the goal (and then apologized to the guy who I had caught it on)! Finally!

This set up a game against Run Silent, Run Deep, another one of our Clambake victims. Unfortunately, it was not to be this day. We tried man, we tried zone. We went down a few stupid goals early, and then very slowly chipped away at the lead, getting within 1 in the second half before gakking some more. Finally we were pulling at 13-14. We got them trapped on the sideline and at stall 9.8, they uncorked a desperation long forehand that was easily caught by one of their players that had slipped behind the defender. I expected them to score immediately (like a good team would... ;) as I sagged, deflated. Unfortunately they sat outside our endzone for the next 10 or 15 seconds as I finally started sprinting to catch up and was about 4 feet away from the thrower when they scored the goal. After I shouted in frustration, Coop correctly scolded me for saying anything while not having sprinted to catch up. I sheepishly agreed with him and apologized. Fortunately that ended up being our last game of the day.

It is clear we are not the same team as we had at Worlds, but that is no surprise. At this point, my near-term goal is to avoid the post worlds meltdown that bit Furious in the ass this weekend, with them failing to qualify for nationals since at least '98. For those who haven't done it, it is REALLY hard to double-peak in the same year, especially within two months. So fingers crossed going into Regionals. Hopefully we will be able to focus a little differently on this tournament as it is finally elimination again...

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