Saturday, September 18, 2010

Southern California Open Sectionals Recap

Saturday was the typical tournament day for Long Beach weather. Extremely overcast with very damp fields upon arrival. Clear skies, beaming sun, and some strong wind gusts by early afternoon. Nothing crazy, though, so overall game conditions were exquisite.

The Santa Barbara Condors had a schedule that included 4 games in a row, allowing us to end our day early. Our first matchup was against Santa Bong Beach, a team comprised of college players from Santa Barbara Black Tide and Long Beach State Stalkers. Condors won 11-0. I played 3 points and had 2 assists, while the whole team looked energized (which isn't common for our us during our first action of the day) and we played relatively well. Considering it was our first game (and this our first tournament) together as a full team against other competition, it was a good start.

Our second game was against Recess, a team of mostly college guys from UCLA. We came out of that with an 11-2 victory. I had fun going up against a couple of friends and former Monster teammates(Penguin and OJ). The game ended relatively quick, and we were able to get an hour rest before our game against the 405.

When we played the 405 at the Santa Barbara Scramble (it wasn't too organized, so don't worry about it), neither team was at full strength. On this day, the 405 was still missing a couple key players (Smeltzer and KG). This game was way tougher for both sides than it should've been. One horrific marathon point saw both teams make at least 6 turnovers in addition to calling a timeout each. Terrible decision-making, horrible goalline offense, and some pretty spectacular defense (Bacon's layout D near the endzone, Jacuzzi's layout point-block that was ruled a foul to name a couple) accounted for a point that lasted close to 10 minutes. Alas, we prevailed 11-8.

Our last game on Saturday was against a team of USC players. Final score 11-2 or so... I don't really remember much about that game. Let's move on.

Sunday was identical to Saturday in terms of the weather, but playing conditions were a little worse due to the fact that school likes to have the sprinklers go in the middle of the night, so there were puddles and mud pools in various spots. (Note to CSULB Facilities staff: Watering/soaking the fields while a tournament is going on is NOT a good idea. That's how the fields get so messed up. C'mon!)

Our last 2 pool play games were against what Dan Bellinger referred to as "jokes." Starting with the La Jolla BAGS, made up of college guys from San Diego. While we went in anticipating another shutout, our lack of discipline and crappy decision-making led to allowing 4 points. Which then led to a very unhappy postgame huddle in which we were mildly berated (that sounds oxymoronic) for our lackluster play.

Game two was against the Nice Guys, a group of older guys who had some skill but seemed to not all be on the same page and communicated poorly with each other. We ran around them pretty easily and won 11-1.

Undefeated in pool play put us into the Finals against also-undefeated San Diego Streetgang, the matchup we had been anticipating going into the tournament. I was expecting us to get 8 or 9 points against them. You should never go into a game expecting to lose (believe me, I've watched enough ridiculous upsets through a variety of sports to know better), but based on the season up to this point (Streetgang competing against Nationals-caliber teams regularly, and winning very often; this being our first real competition) and how we had played so far on Sunday, that was my prediction.

The game started pretty even, with both teams holding on offense, though in completely different ways. Streetgang has some unbelievable throwers and managed to score their points within 2 or 3 throws. Contrarily, they threw a good zone against us, and it took us some time to work it up the field, which we managed to do relatively well. And then it stopped. We started making some bad decisions, forcing some questionable throws, and accumulating turnovers. Streetgang capitalized on the opportunities we gave them (key word: GAVE) and extended a lead. We had some spectacular moments, with insane layout D's by Jason Craig, Ryan Boutcher, Dan Bellinger and myself, but couldn't convert most of the time. The final score was 13-6 with the game-winning grab being made by Forge as he burned me deep.

After the finals game we had to play the Beyondors for seeding. We again played horrendous at the start (I had a drop in the endzone that might be one of my lowest moments in Ultimate) but after a strong disagreement with them at around 5-4, we turned on the jets and cruised to a 13-7 victory to finish 7-1 overall and claim 2nd place and a presumed 3rd seed at Regionals.

We know we have a lot of work to do if we're going to make it to the level we need to be at for Regionals if we're going to actually compete with Streetgang and Johnny Bravo for the coveted spots to Nationals. Hopefully we get those things ironed out at our practice the weekend before.

An unfortunate storyline of the finals game was two seemingly major injuries on Streetgang's side. Keenan and Bevers had their shoulders dislocated as a result of Jacuzzi and myself laying out. Hopefully their injuries aren't too severe and they can return for Regionals. Get better guys!

See you all in Oxnard/Santa Barbara in a few weeks.

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