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Regionals 2011 Preview

September 30, 2011

10 of the last 11 national champions have come from the Northwest Region. Skyd Magazine currently places 4 NW teams in their top 6 open club teams nationwide. Only 2 teams from this region will go on to compete in the National Championships in October.

It is no secret, this weekend will be a bloodbath, and easily the most exciting regionals tournament in a decade.

Rhino has blossomed from great potential into true competitor. They were always on the doorstep, losing in last year’s gut-wrenching game-to-go to Furious on double-game-point.

Furious has found its balance between veterans and youth, knocking off a Revolver-beating Chain and proving itself at the top of the elite competition.

Voodoo’s unphased by its supposed “second-tier” nomenclature, and has twice given Sockeye legitimate runs for our money in meaningful games.

And Revolver, a team with one loss in the past year, but whom Sockeye has not yet faced this season.

This weekend is shaping up to be everything a fan could hope for, and the action begins bright and early, first round, 9am Saturday.

The Northwest’s best rivalry: Seattle Sockeye vs. Furious George. The 1 vs. 2 seeds in the pool, in the first game of the day.

A much-depleted Sockeye recently bested a much-depleted Monkey at Sectionals, although neither team puts much importance into that game’s results– Furious will regain Andrew brown, Oscar Pottinger, Seraglia, Gabe Saunkeah, John Norris, and more, and Sockeye will fill its missing ranks with Nate Castine, Andrew Fleming, Moses Rifkin, Alex Nord, Erik “The Kraken” Doesberg, Simon Montague, Julian Childs-Walker, and more as well. The first game of the tournament may be one of its best, as this game could end up deciding the semifinalst matchups frmo the B pool. Furious is known for its well-calculated set plays and isolated lane cutters gaining huge yards, as well as gritty physical defense and athletic aerial defenders– Sockeye will need to start the day ready, there can be no slow wake-ups.

Next up is the 4th seed in the pool, Wolves. The only California team Sockeye will be seeing in their pool, Wolves comes from the lineage of Wolf — a Northwest team of the last few years. Having won the Open Division at Solstice this year, Sockeye will need to keep focus to ensure not repeating their Sectionals performance against…

And then Voodoo. The same Voodoo who nearly surprised the unfocused Fish at Solstice, in a 14-13 nail-biter. The same Voodoo who took half on the Fish 8-5 at sectionals, before Sockeye woke-up and played gritty ultimate. This, as much as the Furious game, will be a battle of great importance, as Voodoo certainly comes in tto win, and Sockeye can not look past them at all, as has been proven twice now. Wes Simons, Todd Sliva, Sean Sears, Tom Roatto, Ted Werbel… every Sockeye players knows every Voodoo player and vice versa, having played together or against one another throughout the years in college, at goaltimate, at pickup. There are no stars in the eyss of Seattle’s other team, however, and they are out for Fish blood. The Civil War is on, and for the Fish to prevail, we must bring it from the start.

Finally, South Portland Knife Fight. Composed of Portland area current and former college players, SPKF will ensure that Sockeye doesn’t get a rest all weekend. After all, it is Regionals.

Coming out of Saturday, the 1 seed will face the A pool’s 2 seed in the Semifinals, who would be Rhino if the seedings hold out. To follow the tourney from afar, check out Bryan jones of Skydmagazine.com doing an audio play-by-play, as well as Sockeye’s twitter account.

This weekend has all the makings to be the best regional championship in the past decade, and we wouldn’t want it any other way.

Regionals Playlist

September 27, 2011

It’s about that time. Looking out onto the games-to-go, you’ve got to have the right music playing in the headphones. Here’s what Sockeye’s listening to these days.

Sectionals 2011

September 12, 2011

The untold story of Sectionals reads like a who’s who of Seattle ultimate… who weren’t present. Against Furious George in the finals, on game point, Seattle Sockeye had 12 cleated players in sum. But, we’ll get there eventually. First, Saturday.

With only 9 teams at Sectionals, and only two pools, Sockeye would have 3 back to back games and end their day quite early at 2:30pm. All were appreciative of this fact, if for nothing else than to get away from the terrible stench of the nearby dog food factory that pervaded the fields. It was just terrible.

First up, Downpour, another Seattle-based team under the Emerald City Ultimate team. Working the disc amongst their handlers, Sockeye had to really increase its pressure on them to force turns. The skill of this team, one of three (!!) in Seattle, is a testament to Seattle’s ultimate culture and depth. Sockeye take the win, and use some down time to enjoy the day.

Next up is Enemy, a team comprised mostly (if not all) of University of Puget Sound current/former players. Playing loose, relaxed, and taking big deep shots, Enemy sprinted out of the gates against a lackluster and tight Sockeye team who clearly expected an easy road. They wouldn’t get it, and it was a good wake up call. After refocusing and finding some missing energy, Sockeye force some turns, get some breaks, and take the win 15-7. Great fight by the UPS -based Enemy team, who would later provide some fantastic heckling in the finals.

To round out Saturday was Voodoo, another Emerald City Ultimate team. Voodoo and Sockeye know each other in and out, with most players friends across teams, and even having former Sockeye captain Ben Wiggins as Voodoo’s coach. Somehow, Enemy’s wake-up call to Sockeye was not enough. Continuing to sputter on offense with uncharacteristic drops and throwaways and decisions, compounded by a less than pumped-up D-line, Voodoo surged into half, taking it 8-5. It was clear the Fish could not simply expect to win any games from here on out– everything would be earned.

Until now, the sideline voice had been quiet. This is a product of a small roster– with only 15 players (due to a last-minute rescheduling of sectionals that left many out of town, thinking it would be a weekend off, as well as some injuries), the sideline was used more to rest than to create noise. However, at half, Captain Skip Sewell laid into the team, and something clicked. Coming out of half, Sockeye rattled off 3 breaks, and from then on the atmosphere had changed– as well as the sideline energy and voice, now loud and boisterous– with Sockeye stealing back the momentum and winning 15-10. Much respect is due to the V-double O D-double O boys; they played great, clean ultimate, and their 8-5 half would easily challenge many other club teams throughout the nation. It was no fluke that they took half.

A much appreciated afternoon and evening rest followed, complete with icy river baths, amazing football games and a few surprises. This all helped lead into an exciting Sunday.

From the moment cleats were on on Sunday, the Sockeye vibe was different. There was nervous excitement for the big games ahead, and the distaste from such an unenthusiastic start to both the Enemy and Voodoo games only added to the energy of the morning. Blackfish would suffer the backlash from those lackluster starts, seeing a hungry fish D-line from point one. With both man and junk defenses, Sockeye earned multiple runs of breaks to control this game throughout. Sockeye would head to finals.

Against Furious we saw a viable threat in our path, a team that finished strong in the regular season with quality wins over Chain Lightning and Doublewide. Like the Fish, the Monkey was missing many of their key players, mostly on offense. With that being the case, Sockeye fed Furious with a steady diet of junk and zone looks. After taking the first half 8-4, Sockeye shut the door 15-7, taking the 2011 Sectionals title.

Labor Day 2011 Recap

September 5, 2011

After a successful yet unfulfilling Emerald City Classic, Sockeye came in to Labor Day focused and ready to do battle with the 5 teams in our pool, and anyone who challenged us after that. Sockeye arrived at the fields after 2 byes to start the day feeling fresh and well rested. The fog had yet to dissolve, and the heat of the day was yet to arrive. Up first would be PoNY. After taking a big lead against them last year at ECC, PoNY came back to force double-game point, with Sockeye winning only after a BJ footblock. Once again, Sockeye would take a big lead against the east coasters, but there would be no let down this time. The Sockeye D-line was able to patiently work the disc after the turn against the PoNY O-line’s junk defense, and one break often led to another in the 15-9 victory.

After a bye came Bravo, another team that Sockeye had a victory against last year at this tournament, but couldn’t afford to take lightly after Bravo took down Doublewide fairly handily in round 1. At this point in the day, the sun had broken free of the fog, and it had brought some wind with it. This led to a back and forth game where teams that could break upwind often were able to follow it up with a downwind break as well. With Jimmy Mickle throwing huge pulls in both directions, nothing was going to be easy for the Sockeye offense. After a first half filled with a ton of breaks, lots of long points, huge grabs and D’s on both sides of the disc, and Skip somehow not breaking his leg after Reid fell on it from about 5 feet in the air following a huge sky D, Sockeye was able to go into the break up 8-7, on serve. The multitude of long points in the first half meant there was little time left on the clock for the rest of the game. After each team was able to score downwind, Sockeye managed to break upwind just before hard cap, and put the game away with another downwind break for the 11-8 win.

The last game of the day would be against Doublewide, a team that Sockeye would need no motivation against. Doublewide beat Sockeye at Labor Day last year, and proved it was no fluke with a win in pool play at nationals. At this point in the day Doublewide had lost Kurt Gibson to injury, but with Brodie on the field, Doublewide was still a threat to score at any moment. Sockeye came into this game with a strong game plan to stop the aggressive Doublewide huck game ,and with Ray Illian playing strong man-D against Brodie, the fish were able to keep the hucks to and by Brodie to a minimum in a strong first half, taking it 8-6. DW scored first to start the second half and get it to 8-7, but that’s as close as they would get, as the Sockeye D ratcheted up the pressure and a 14-9 win. Day 1 was over, and the fish were feeling like they had their swagger back, but they had a long way to go.

Day 2 started with a challenge before we even stepped onto the field to face Cash Crop. After a day that exceeded expectations, Skip challenged us to not rest on our laurels and to be prepared for a team to step up and punch us in the face, because no team will get through a tournament like this without being hit at least once. Sure enough, Cash Crop came with their gloves on, and when Sockeye went up 2 early breaks, Cash Crop punched right back to get their breaks back. The story was the same in the second half, as each time Sockeye tried to pull away, Cash Crop answered, to the point that they were winning 11-10. Sockeye finally got the message that Skip was trying to deliver though, as they rattled off 4 straight breaks to take the game 15-11 and clinch a spot in semis.

Last game of pool play was against Rhino. Our previous meetings this seasons had been rather easy wins for the fish, but this was clearly not the same Rhino team that we saw in June. Seth Wiggins was now anchoring the O-line (while making plenty of appearances on defense) and Dylan Freechild was playing a ton as well. By now the teams were fairly behind schedule, and the game was sure to be a short one, making each break extra valuable. The game started well for Sockeye, as they were able to stifle Rhino’s offense early and often on their way to a 4-1 lead. Rhino was just waiting for an opportunity to get their D-line on the field, and once they did, they showed patience with the disc and a willingness to grind out a point that is rarely seen nowadays from a D-line (See: Chain Lightning). Sockeye managed to take half up 8-5, but the Rhino defense continued to be a pest, and when Sockeye’s O-line started misfiring on hucks, Rhino had no problem going 70 yards and throwing as many passes as they needed. Sockeye suddenly found themselves receiving going down wind on double game point. An out of bounds pull let Rhino set up their defense, and they quickly forced a turn from Sockeye’s handlers. One upwind huck later, and Rhino had shocked the world by taking the pool, meaning the matchup against Revolver that the fish had been eagerly anticipating would have to be put off at least one more round.

The fish would quickly regroup and turn their focus to their next opponent, Chain Lightning. We played Chain twice last year in important games, first in semis at worlds, then in quarters at Nationals, with the fish coming out on top in both games. Knowing the recent history between the teams, and the fact that Chain had beaten Revolver earlier in the tournament, Sockeye came in to the game expecting a strong challenge, which was exactly what they got. The game started off fairly even, with each team holding serve downwind, and neither team able to convert their upwind break opportunities. Eventually Chain was able to break upwind, an converted the ensuing downwinder for a 2 break lead. While Sockeye had been waiting to score upwind before throwing their vaunted 4-man cup zone, it was decided that we couldn’t wait any longer, and tried it with Chain going downwind. It paid off, as Sockeye got their first break, and quickly got the downwind break as well to get it back on serve until half. Sockeye came out strong to start the second half as well, with their mix of zone and junk defenses creating turns, including a mind-blowing out of nowhere layout D from Tim Gehret to stop Chain from scoring upwind. Sockeye eventually broke upwind to take a 12-10 lead, game to 13, and the team was feeling confident. But you can never count out a team with the amount of athletes that Chain has, and their offense scored upwind and then once again converted the crucial downwind break, meaning Sockeye found themselves going downwind on double game point for a second straight game. After a huck to Andrew and a contested, and contentious, foul call, Sockeye was able to work the disc downfield and found an open breakmark through to 2 open cutters. Unfortunately the disc was just outside the reach of one cutter, and it got tipped just enough so neither player could catch it. Chain was quick to respond with a 50/50 huck that their player came down with to take the game 13-12.

The tangible end results of the tournament were not what we had hoped for after our strong Saturday, but the intangibles that the team had developed throughout the weekend were evident, and all 27 fish knew that the weekend had been a success. There would be no rest for the weary though, as sectionals was right around the corner, with a strong-looking Furious George team awaiting us.

Labor Day Playlist

August 31, 2011

We’re back with another pump-up playlist. This time for Labor Day. Throw those headphones on and start getting ready for another great weekend of Ultimate.

You can follow our team account on 8tracks. We’ll be posting new playlists the week before each tournament this season.

Emerald City Classic 2011 Recap

August 23, 2011

The Emerald City Classic promised some amazing Ultimate, and it delivered. The Fish had their first true test as a team, facing Urutau from Colombia, Boston’s Ironside, DC’s Truck Stop, and finally the legendary Buzz Bullets on Saturday, and battling Streetgang first thing Sunday morning before elimination brackets. Below is a recap of how it all went down.

Urutau is a team comprised of speedy, skilled throwers and receivers from Colombia. Their game is one of quick disc pace and break throws and mid-range hucks that don’t allow receivers much room to catch up and make a play. Sockeye knew we’d need to bring early intensity and force longer away shots to gett he blocks we’d need. Early on, the intensity was there, but the positioning wasn’t, and although Sockeye was gifted with a few turns on miscues from the boys from the south, they were still turnstyling downfield defenders late in points and taking advantage of lost positioning on defense to gain crucial yardage. The Fish came out on top, but were still disappointed with the defensive positioning as our goal for the game and were left with a continued drive to get better.

Next up was Boston. The history is long with the Ship, each team having one or more strong, memorable wins over the other to fuel the competitive fire. Sockeye’s D, combined with an uncharacteristically poor early game performance from Boston, put Sockeye up 5-1. However, neither team would prove capable of a clean offense this game, and Ironside clawed its way back to a 5-5 tied ball game. For a more in-depth analysis of the game, see (insert link to that dude’s video blog writeup). Needless to say, Boston’s game provedd less bad than Sockeye’s and the Fish enter EC with a 1-1 record going into round 3.

Truck Stop. A year ago, they took down Sockeye after rallying a late game comeback into a universe point wni. This did not go unnoticed by Sockeye, and the game was filled with athletic bids from both sides and heated competition. Truck Stop proved itself a highly athletic team, often bidding on any throw regardless of their ability to make a play, adding pressure to the offense and creating an exciting game atmosphere. They push their game on other teams effectively. However, Sockeye’s O began clicking better after the Ironside loss, and Truck was unable to repeat their 2010 ECC performance, this time succumbing to a stronger Sockeye squad.

Then, the Buzz. Many Sockeye players knew of the history between Sockeye and Buzz Bullets, but only a handful participated in those games, and this would be the first encounter between the two teams for a sizable chunk of Sockeye’s young roster. Everyone was stoked, and this energy would be the difference with Sockeye outlasting the battle-weary BB team (who had played not only a full Saturday schedule but also a full Friday schedule, including an evening showcase game against Revolver the night previous). Sockeye’s patient offense found the holes in the Buzz poachy D and cruised to win by a sizable margin.

After a great salmon dinner and showcase game featuring some hot girl on girl action, The Fish hit they hay, looking forward to a big Sunday.

Streetgang felt the wrath of a frustrated and angry Sockeye in 2010, and this year’s game felt oddly similar, with the Fish taking an early lead and continuing to apply pressure throughout. Sometimes it just happens that teams are well-suited against others, and this certainly felt the case in this Streetgang, where the margin of victory far-exceeded expectations from a team we know is capable of big things. Fish win handily.

Then, Ring. The Ring game. By now it is known that Ring won this one, and I will tell you this — not one Fish has forgotten. Ring proved very strong in the handling core, with Noah Saul and Brett Matzuka providing resets far too easily and moving the disc to powerful positions, and their foce-middle D stifled the offensive flow of Sockeye’s own handlers, as well as creating poach block opportunities in short-field throws. Unable to force turns, Ring simply played the better game, and earned a strong quarterfinals win on their way to a respectable finals berth.

To conclude, Sockeye faced Machine. Machine has undergone some sizable changes, not the least of which is installing Dane Cook into the handler set on O. He gives Machine a reliable reset in powerful positions, as well as a confident and dangerous deep hucking game. Combined with a few hyper-athletes in their down field and a savvy and creative mid-game from guys like Mike Shiel, Machine battled the Fish well to a 9-9 tie. However, something clicked for Sockeye’s D, and quickly it became apparent that the Fish would edge out the boys from Chicago after a few breaks in a row broke their spirit. Sockeye wins on breaks.

So what to make of an ECC that saw Sockeye both crush teams and drop major early leads? Hard to say. ECC was a tester tourney for some strategic options, some O/D technologies, and certain roles for players, so the results are skewed slightly, but it is no surprise that the frustrations on the field from losses like the Ironside and Ring games have found their way into the minds of every Fish player in the weight room, on the track, and at every practice. Look for it in our beady little eyes come Labor Day.

Emerald City Classic Preview

August 11, 2011

FINALLY.

After a long pre-season of international clinics, a great and arduous tryout that included both Flowerbowl and Solstice tourneys (and multiple games against our northwest regional competition), and finally countless gritty battles between the newly formed O and D teams, Sockeye is just chomping at the bit for some new competition — and ECC delivers this in spades.

On Saturday, the 2011 Fish kick off this regular season against Urutau, a small and speedy Colombian team whom Sockeye first saw in Colombia in 2009 at the Torneo Eterna Primavera. Urutau has quick breaks and is fast and squirrely across the board — they move the disc quickly and well, rarely putting themselves in tough spots and are always moving. Sockeye’s height might prove a disadvantage on D if Urutau can consistently maintain a high pace of disc movement, although deep shots will have to be well-placed and not floaty. Look for the Fish to slow the pace and force the long ball on D, and expect a few deep looks from the Sockeye O.

Immediately after Urutau comes Ironside. Sockeye took down the Boston boys in Worlds 2010 quarterfinals in a now-famous showcase game that featured the highlight of highlights and multiple lead changes — truly exciting. Then, Ironside exacted revenge at Nationals 2010, ending Sockeye’s series season in the semifinals in a well-played, and again, highlight-filled game. Now the two meet again at ECC, without the pressure of elimination, but both seeing new faces and missing old ones. Each by now is well aware of who to watch out for and both come in with an idea of match ups already — always the makings of an exciting game.

After Ironside, Sockeye faces Truck Stop. One year ago, Truck Stop came back from a slight deficit to hand Sockeye their first of many ECC losses, and the Fish haven’t forgotten. Impressed by a strong performance against Nexgen, Sockeye will certainly not be looking past Truck, and will look to throw everything and the kitchen sink at them to see what works on D. Offensively, nothing new — get the job done and put that D back on the field.

Finally, the Buzz Bullets. For many Fish this will be the first time playing Buzz, as Sockeye has had a great deal of roster turnover since their trip to Japan in early ’08. No need to hide it — the boys are excited, and don’t be surprised if it looks like the first game of the day instead of the last. Buzz is known for very accurate and blading forehands to the weak side, as well as a stifling yet confusing defense that gives the appearance of open throws, yet clamps quickly on mid- to high stall counts. Another exciting game in a very strong ECC pool of teams.

Sunday pits the Fish against Streetgang, whom the Fish also saw a year ago. Always dangerous, Sockeye found success against Streetgang at ECC, but also watched as the same team nearly upset a strong Doublewide at 2010 Labor Day — so clearly, they have the potential to give anybody a game, and are quite athletic. Sockeye will look to figure out their strengths quickly and make them play their “plan B” game throughout.

This year’s ECC will be as exciting as ever, and we haven’t even gotten to elimination games. Bring it on!

ECC Playlist

Every player and every team have different ways of getting psyched up for a game or a tournament. Many put in their earbuds, crank the volume to 11, and focus on the music.

Here’s what Sockeye is listening to in preparation for ECC.

You can follow our team account on 8tracks. We’ll be posting new playlists the week before each tournament this season.

Pre-order 2011 Sockeye jerseys now!

August 2, 2011

Warning: playing in an Alex Nord jersey does not guarantee success or legend status on the Ultimate field.

We are excited to announce the launch of our brand new online store! You can now pre-order 2011 Sockeye jerseys with your favorite fish’s name and number, or create your own!

Plan your attack in red, white or black. Orders ship September 15th.

Video: Sockeye 15 – NexGen 11

July 12, 2011

We are proud to present the footage from Saturday night’s game against the NexGen team in its entirety. We want to say thanks to the 200-300 fans who showed up to watch, and a big thanks goes out to NexGen and UltiVillage for making this all happen.

In addition, here is captain Tyler Kinley talking about the game, Sockeye’s strategy, and the NexGen team.