Emerald City Classic Recap

By Tyler Kinley

On Friday night I ran the showcase game against ECU. As it was my
show, I needed to attend to the minutiae, meaning it fell to me to
work the door even as the game begun. Eventually Moses relieved me of
my duties, as he had just twisted his ankle. He didn’t look very
positive (who would, when they get injured?), but I didn’t think much
of it…. until I got into the stadium only to hear we were down 4-1.
ECU ran a poachy transition defense that successfully shut down any
pull plays and effectively stopped flow until manning up. It was new
enough that it took a couple of points to adjust to, and apparently
forced a few errors that ECU was able to capitalize on. When I
entered, the momentum was clearly on their side. We finally punched
one in on offense and got our D back on the field. After trading a
few, the game was becoming somewhat sloppy. Both teams had weird
turnovers, and more than a few times we were able to get a hand on a
disc, only to have it caught by another non-intended ECU receiver. We
fought back well, bringing the game to 12-11 ECU, receiving. Good
pressure, though, earned them a turn, and they were able to break to
win. This was a tough loss that foreshadowed the weekend to come.

Saturday proved a test of our mental strength. Here we are, coming off
of a fairytale run through Worlds earning a silver medal and beating
Ironside and Chain, and we immediately lose to ECU. Now we face Truck
Stop, who we lost to on double game point (13-14). That result
would’ve shocked me if you told me in the middle of the game though,
as I felt strong about our performance to that point. We were clearly
not in Worlds form– throws, timing, precision were all very, very
rusty– but our D was good and I felt in control of the game. What I
didn’t expect was the lull. We definitely let off the gas, and Truck
Stop never did. They fought and fought, and earned that win as much as
we lost it. Frustrating way to start the day, and much of it was our
own expectations.

Boston was up next. Early in the game, again, we get a break and take
a lead and look and feel strong. Our D was there. But, as we were both
missing key players (MC, Bestock, Moses was off and on, Rehder was off
and on, Sam KS was tender, Frank was working up to being ready, the
list just goes on), and we were rusty, they were able to capitalize on
offensive mistakes with good pressure D, some big plays (Reinhardt had
a nice big layout), and good defensive O. After getting the momentum,
they won out– we were never really in this one after they got the
lead back.

Pony gave us fits until the end. It was a relatively close game
throughout, with each team looking rather sloppy, and both teams
liking the huck, whether it was working or not. In the end, we were
able to pull this out on double game point, with us pulling to them.
They gave up the first turn on an overthrown huck, I gave it back with
a terrible upwind flick huck that was just a poor decision, and BJ
Sefton got it back by getting his cleat on a throw and knicking it out
of bounds. Literally, a half inch of cleat was the difference, as that
huck would’ve been the game winner for them. Subsequently Castine shot
it deep to me and we were able to pull this one out, but it could’ve
just as easily been our third loss.

To finish the day we saw Ring. At this point we were down to 16 total,
and Ring had numbers on us. They’d divided their team into 3 lines of
7, and they were making solid playson O and D. We held a lead after
converting a few breaks early, but our O got broken multiple times in
a row on fatigue errors and good Ring D. They’re athletic, for sure.
Both teams were pretty gassed- one hell point near the end had at
least 7-8 turns, and it was a killer for us. Having been on that
point, I can say that by the end of it I simlpy couldn’t do much
beyond a jog. Ring pulled this out in the end, 14-11.

Our huddle after that final game was actually positive. Having
reassessed our expectations based on where we are _now_, rather than
where we were, we could feel good about portions of our play in each
game. In the Ring game, everyone felt strong about our fight– there
were errors, yes, but it felt correctable, whereas early on, we simply
looked lackadaisical or apathetic or simply uninspired at times, which
is a far larger hurdle to overcome. We had regained our energy and
fire, and that felt good.

Sunday was another body blow, as we went down to Bodhi immediately
4-0, all breaks. Ugh. After that, we finally got an O line onto the
field to score a point, and this deficit pushed us back into the hard
work mentality. We finished the game out stronger than we started it
and, even though it was a loss, you could see that guys were figuring
out a new chemistry for this new season. Throughout this game our D
was strong and forced good turns.

Up next was easily the most interesting of any games we played-
Revolver. And we won this game. Handily. But how? Well, this was the
first game where, as the “second best team in the world,” we were the
underdogs. Now, I’m sure everyone will immediately say that we should
clearly know we’re no longer the second best team in the world, but
you still go into any game with some expectation of “easier,” or
“tougher,” or “expect to win,” or “we’re the underdog with nothing to
lose.” In this case, it was the first game that, before the tourney,
we would’ve called it the latter, coming in as the underdogs. And we
came in on fire, both on offense and defense. The first point we (I)
turned it over on an errant inside out look on the first pass (which
sucked), but our post-turn D was gritty and hungry. They put it in,
but it was clear that we were approaching this game differently than
others. We knew they’d score, we knew we’d get broken, and we knew
we’d have to fight back to even make it close. Our D was very hungry
the entire game, and their O, without Robbie, made several
uncharacteristic mistakes which we barely saw at Worlds. Our offense
was good with both deep and underneath looks, and we had a very good
scoring percentage whenever we had the disc, whether it was receiving
the pull or off the turn. This was easily the best game we played all
weekend, and much of it was because we were able to shed the
expectations that come along with being the supposed better team.

To finish the tourney, we crossed over against Streetgang. This game
was all about proving to ourselves we could win a game, regardless of
the opponent. Our D was great this entire game, and forced a lot of
late stall count hucks from streetgang. Their lefty handler was still
strong, and their downfield receivers were very capable and made some
great grabs, but our pressure and desire, based on the cumulative
frustrations of so many losses and so much underperformance was really
unleashed on them and we were in control from the 3rd point on.

Looking forward to Labor Day 2010!

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