DAY 1: Emo, Domino
Came out a little slow, got our legs under us and got dialed into playing after a week off (plus int’l travel), and took half 9-5 and the game 17-6. Emo is young but extremely fast, and they gave our D fits to start. Against Domino, had a bunch of unforced errors (drops esp.) but were playing at full speed and Domino didn’t adjust well to tight marks. Half 9-2, game 17-3.
DAY 2: Heads Of State
In the Strahov ‘big bear’ stadium, massive massive stadium, got to watch Chain ahead of time. Nervous warm-up, a ton of energy but it was fraying our execution. Game started on O, and we scored after escaping a dicey possession in our own end zone via a Wiggins huck to BJ. Unleash the hounds – our D went berserk with all its energy (combined with a couple bad breaks for HoS), taking half 9-1. Second half was more even as we relaxed a little bit, but still never in doubt. No turnovers on O, MC demonstrated how to run “Ray Allen” with broken ankles to spare, Skip makes an incredible huck grab off an MC worm-burner, game 17-6. Huge bummer to end this game was a concussion suffered by HoS team leader (and Sockeye favorite as he hung out with us in Seattle for several months and taught us about footy) Dan Rule. Happily, he seems to be recovering well.
DAY 3: Revolver
Power pool play begins. First game at other (main) field site, on turf. Showed up early, watched Chain-Doublewide on our field, game looked super-fast on turf. Drizzle begins during warm-up. (I tweaked my neck during warm-up.) Vs Revolver: Broke on 1st point of game via Nate’s sick layout huck D, then got broken 2 points later on our first O point. Held, then got broken 3 times in a row. Bleh. Battled back, started to get traction, converted on marathon O point to cut lead to 13-10. Sky looks apocalyptic, lightning visible. Game is delayed (even though we’re playing on 3 inches of rubber pellets), everyone is ushered to shelter. After much crowded singing and wetness, we are ordered to continue the game, but players from both teams have already left. Instead we call cabs, which goes poorly, then walk to Chinese food. A handful of folks stick around for massages and mini-disc games before heading home.
DAY 4: Ragnarok, M.U.C., Flying Angels Bern
Other field site again. Due to previous day’s cancellations, all teams have 3 shorter games (to 15). This is more nerve wracking since, with yesterday’s loss, all three of these games are now top-bracket elimination for us.
– Ragnarok: Big lugs determined to huck, esp. on D-Offense. Force-middle proves worthless (bladey hucks over top), but hard 1-way man interspersed with Flo-Rida and Toolbox proves a potent cocktail. We roll to a 15-6 win on the strength of both sides’ D.
– M.U.C: We are a little suprised with their efficiency and end-zone bombing (they lost to Revolver 17-4 in the first round), and get scored on then broken to go 2-0 down. Some sloppy choices on O, especially when we are open all day underneath, though someone gets bailed out by a monster layout from Spencer. We go from 8-6 to 15-8 as our defensive adjustments take hold.
– Flying Angels Bern: Anticipated as toughest match of day, this team has two ringers (Lorenz Stauffer from the Condors and Jonny Remucal (former Sockeye player) who are ready to make an impact. Also feature blonde shorter player who we didn’t know, but who turns out to be phenomenally fast. Nate, who’s been having a rough day pulling, dials it in and starts dropping the back-corner shots we’ve gotten used to, while our O plays well. This feels like a more typical UPA game, with a small lead steadily building over the course of the game. Final 15-12.
Day 5: Phoenix, Ironside (Quarters)
Mathematically-insignificant game against Phoenix at remote, wooded field way off from the Strahov site. Phoenix has massive 7-foot centerfield defender. O cruises in first half and though D forces lots of turns they have a tough time converting in the red zone. Discover that vs. man D, Phoenix will turn the disc over after 5 throws with eerie consistency. Before that they are lethal, we change defenses to get them up to the magic number as much as possible. Our D works it out in the second half and starts putting goals in, we win 17-8.
Ironside game is the featured open quarterfinal, starting at 6:15pm after all other games finish, in the “mama bear” Strahov stadium. Big crowd, lots of enthusiasm. We start on D(?), trade to 3s, then Ironside throws weird “reverse-clam” defense and forces consecutive handler-miscue-breaks. On our third try the O works it out and scores, Ben and Dave confer on sideline to work out the details. Meanwhile our D is still looking for the disc. Our O holds again, and the D gets a break back before half. Ironside takes half 9-7. O scores out of half after one or two turnovers, then D breaks to tie at 9s. Ironside O scores, Sockeye O cruises, then D breaks twice. Sockeye D-offense is brutally efficient. D has influenced the Ironside huck game, they’re resorting to super-squirrely handler tornado which is tough to stop with Jacob especially commanding the disc. Adam Simon gets hurt, which is terribly for them. Up 12-10 and able to serve out the game on O. Hard cap goes on at 15-13, game hard to 17. Next O point, Aaron tries his best to throw a backhand huck out of Andrew’s reach, but ‘Drew makes “legendary” layout grab for a standing ovation and 16-14 lead. Tyler gets incredible D (but strip called, see photo), Harkness gets sick goal-line layout block, but D can’t convert. Skip called on for last O point at 16-15, mutters “Don’t drop it, don’t drop it” over and over as pull goes up. Huck play Ben to Skip, he high-steps reception as George Stubbs closes in on the play from the blindside…. Stubbs touches it, and Skip’s life passes before this eyes, but Skip reels the slight bobble in, dumps to Dave then catches winning goal.
DAY 6: Chain (Semis)
Open semis are scheduled for 8:30am in “Mama bear” stadium. We have option to try to push back to 10:30, but decide we’d rather play Chain earlier (we wake up well, less heat). We start on D, score our first O point with surprising ease, and D breaks for a 2-1 lead. Our D would not see the disc again for a long while – we’re not getting killed deep thanks to a lot of lane-poaching, but Chain is keeping possession and scoring. Meanwhile, our O is giving up turns but getting them all back – O-team’s D is dogged, and their hucks are getting pushed wide by our marks. We take a shortened half 8-7, consolidating the “add.” In the second half, it’s the Ironside game in reverse – break, hold, break, break, and we’re down 10-12. Arrg. We trade, hard cap goes on at 16. O isn’t turning it over anymore, and Phil discovers a talent for playing offense against Zip. At 13-15, game to 16, offense converts on EZO throw from Phil to MC. Our defense adjust to *completely* leaving off-disc handlers and attacking throwing lanes, and it finally pays off, and our D-O works it almost the full length of the field in their imitable small-ball style, capped by a cross-field hammer to Eddie who shovels the goal to Sam. 15-15. Chain possession stalls at 1/3 field and Greg Swanson (who hasn’t set a foot wrong for a week of Ultimate) finally floats a cross-field forehand huck to a triple-covered Zip, which drifts out of bounds on the right sideline. Dylan Tunnel ‘Greatests’ the disc back in bounds, but it lands in the end zone just far of a receiver. D-offense pounds the disc up the flick line with under cuts and swings, 4 of which require layout catches against the swarming Chain super-line D. After a swing to the middle, Tyler sees Nate hauling up the flick line and wobbles a hammer to the end zone. Nate takes it off Asa Wilson’s hand for the goal. 16-15. Game. Pileup. In the postgame “spirit circle”, it becomes clear that Zip thinks BJ and Phil are the same person. Which, in fact, might be true.