From the brain of Tyler Kinley (also posted on RSD)
Labor Day was dope– big thanks to Danny and his crew for putting on another solid event. Here’s a recap from my perspective.
Last year we rented an awesome house, that was perfect for saving some money and hanging out and whatnot. This year we tried to do the same thing, and we kind of screwed ourselves, only finding a good option at the last minute and having it be cold, far away, and with pretty meager sleeping options. This kicked off our Saturday with pretty poor
First game was Rhino, who has consistently gotten better over the last few years, as their core gets more experience together and they grow their young talent. We played ok, they played slightly better for most of it, and the game was intense throughout. Both teams got breaks back and forth. On one big bid, Matt Melius broke his nose (looked pretty severe) on Mike Caldwell. He said this was like the 3rd or 4th time he’s broken it. The game came down to the wire, with us pulling on double game point. In a weird play that I didn’t see (I was guarding someone else) I guess their handler threw to an in-cutter guarded by Nate Castine, who bid but didn’t get the D, and there was some body contact. The cutter dropped the disc somehow, and no foul was called, and we picked the disc up and punched in a goal for the win. Some Rhino guys were pissed, but I think more pissed that their own player didn’t cvall a foul, since we didn’t really contest anything since there wasn’t a call at all. Strange ending to a great game. Rhino has some serious potential come NW Regionals.
Second game: Streetgang. We beat Streetgang pretty handily at ECC, and had a good idea of our strategy going into this one. Their lefty handler has fantastic throws, and we tried to minimize his impact as much as possible. They’ve got good receivers as well. We rolled off multiple breaks late in the game with a combination of good pressure
and miscues on their part to win this one 15-9.
Then we faced Doublewide, who is very tall and fun to play. I was
surprised at how much DW has re-engineered their offernsive game to
incorporate Brodie, although he is definitely a player that you can
make that type of change for. He was part of most of their goals
against us, taking handler defenders deep and throwing goals when
guarded by downfield defenders. Notably, Kurt Gibson and Matt Randall
weren’t there. Adding those two to the already tall and athletic
lineup of K-rich, Jake Anderson, and Brodie, and you’ve got the
makings of a really fantastic Southern Regionals final. They had the
chance to put the game away at 14-11 on a goal-line turnover, but we
forced a D, put it in, and got a break back as well to make it 14-13.
We then got a turn but were unable to convert, and a Brodie hammer to
Max Cook sealed the game at 15-13. Had we scored that break, who
knows– it would’ve been yet another time we pulled on double-game
We concluded our day against Sub Zero, who has a lot of new faces and
look young. We figured that this team would live and die on hustle,
being somewhat younger and with so much roster turnover, but it was
shocking how well they played together. Time after time #38 dropped
big hucks – both forehand and backhand – and their receivers made
plays on them, either going up over defenders or laying out
spectacularly. Their D was strong as well. Usually we are able to up
the defensive pressure and at least force a turn out of a few points,
but this team kept connecting and we barely got any opportunities. A
zone squeaked one out of them on a hammer out the back of the endzone,
and on double-game, we were able to get a couple of turns and punch
the game-winner in. Very, very close game.
Saturday night we hung out at the house and tried to reconfigure our
sleeping arrangements so they weren’t so cold/miserable. We were only
somewhat successful, as every inflatable mattress lost air and space
heaters died in the middle of the night.
Sunday morning we had a later start. When we arrived at the fields,
visibility was ridiculously low. The fog is always there in the
morning at these santa cruz fields, but I’ve never seen it last this
long. It didn’t begin to clear until 11:30 or 12, and this definitely
affected some games. We played the Nounnamils, and won pretty handily.
As we played, next to us was the Bravo v ECU game, and I’ve never seen
a more ridiculous double-game-point. It lasted for over 15 minutes,
inclouded 2 time outs, and over 12 turnovers. Included were multiple
overthrown hucks (some just barely), crazy decisions (stall 3 cross-
field blade 20 yds outside of endzone?!), huge D’s, and one layout
point-block on an open-side throw by Danny Karlinsky. By the end,
Revolver was yelling “OOooohh!!” to every single throw/catch. It was
nuts. ECU finally got the disc to Jimmy Chu in the endzone for the
After a bye, we faced Bravo, and this was a physically intense game,
the tone set early on by their D-line. Bravo has some very athletic
guys, and Parker’s throws compliment them well. It was neck and neck
for much of the game, and we were able to get a few late breaks as
momentum got on our side a bit to close it out. Bravo is strong this
year, and shouldn’t be written off in the least.
The finals, us against Revolver, yet again. We have a good rapport
with Revolver at this point as we continue to play them over and over
and we all know our matchups pretty well. Their defense was strong
this go-round, and our O had trouble clicking well, resulting in some
ill-advised hucks that floated and more than a few high-count turns.
Our defense was strong and was able to get the disc multiple times,
but our conversion rate plummeted. I specifically played terribly this
game and had a bunch of bad turnovers that added to this problem. We
got a few breaks late to slightly close the gap, but we needed a lot
more than that to recover and it simply wasn’t in the cards for us.
Solid game by Revolver.
As for the Revolver-DW semifinal, I was pretty surprised at the 15-9
(I think) win by Revolver. Honestly, I thought that that could have
been the game of the tournament with great matchups across the board,
but from Revolver’s recounting, they said that the wind and possibly
fatigue affected Brodie’s throws enough to get them turns and breaks.
I imagine that this game will only fuel DW’s fire leading up to the
Series, and might make them utilize a less Brodie-dependent offense,
but who knows. Watching DW play streetgang, it looked exactly like
Florida’s college offense from this year, with Brodie jacking huge
flicks to one of either K-Rich or Jake, the rest of the team holding a
tight stack in the middle of the field. As of right now, I’d say DW is
the most interesting team of the season.
Overall, it was clear to me that there is no team yet this year who
you could confidently bet on come October, especially from the teams
at labor Day, which had more games come down to dgp than I think I’ve
personally ever seen at one tourney. Ironside is top dog right now,
but even they don’t seem to me to be guaranteed in the finals. They’re
very strong, yes, but so are a number of other teams, and I’m very
curious to see what happens come regionals. In the NW, Rhino, ECU, us,
Revolver, Furious, and even Wolf are all going to be battling in what
I expect will be some very good games. In the South, that Chain/DW
game will be awesome. The midwest will be a toss-up as well I’m
guessing, as there’s so much roster change this year. Definitely a fun
year to be playing open club ultimate.