Saturday morning of Flowerbowl greeted team Black with deceptively sunny skies, as a light wind made the morning cooler than expected. Up first was Beef Shark, a team of mostly young Vancouver players with some notable pickups, most notably Jeremy Norden. Beef Shark’s fresh legs combined with Team Black’s not-so-energetic start to the morning meant it was a close game early. Beef Shark’s hucks were hitting their targets, and while Team Black’s offense was consistently marching it down the field, a 7-6 halftime score was closer than we wanted. Black came out in the second half and set the tone with our 4-man zone. With Alex Nord and Erik Doesburg combining to make an impenetrable cup, and Bren Byerley playing some great handler defense on Norden, Team Black pulled away in the second half.
Game #2 put Black up against Rhino. They had given us tough games throughout the year in 2010, and we knew that this game would be no different. Led by the same strong core of Tad Jensen, Mario O’Brien and Timmy Perston, they ran hard and were able to consistently keep possession with their handlers. Both teams came into this game ready to step up their intensity on defense, and it showed. Each offense was forced to work the disc side-to-side multiple times before an up-field throw opened up, and it was difficult for either team to string together multiple yardage-gaining passes. Long points meant an on serve 7-6 halftime advantage for Black as the soft cap loomed. With the game tied at 8’s, Black received on offense after a Rhino timeout, and was able to march the disc down the field for the game winner as the hard cap went off to end the game.
Meanwhile, Team Red had a first round Bye, and began their day facing 1/2 of Furious George. It was clear both teams were shaking off rust, with many drops, errant passes, and overall sloppy play. While Red made plays, they were unable to capitalize on turnovers and Furious found their groove before Red was able to, earning a solid victory and giving Team Red a strong wake up call.
Subsequently, after byes for both Red and Black, they both entered the stadium for their next pool play games. For Sockeye, this was their first time in the stadium since their 2008 Worlds defeat to Team Canada. Black would have a chance at revenge as they faced up against Furious George’s Offensive split-squad team, led by Nick Menzies, Alex Hughes, and Oscar Pottinger. Black started the game on defense and set the tone early and despite multiple opportunities, Furious couldn’t punch it in on offense and Black was able to break. Going upwind, again the Black D was stifling and they were able to get another break. Furious was able to get on the board next point, but their joy was short-lived, as Black continued to steamroll the monkey with their zone defense, eventually taking half 7-2. Clearly the leadership of Nate and BJ was starting to sink in. The second half went similar to the first, as Black continued to dictate with their defensive intensity to a 11-6 lead at cap, which eventually became a 12-8 victory.
On the next field over, Team Red finally found their groove against Beefshark. Having watched Jeremy Norden bomb huck after huck against Team Black, Red honed in on him, looking to take away the hucks with a flat mark, and prevent upline cuts into any power positions. This, combined with a quick counterattack, led to Red taking, and increasing, a substantial lead throughout the game. Especially notable was the play of many tryouts, including an outstanding grab by Nevin Root over a crowd.
Day 1 ended with a showcase game in front of the fans featuring the combined Sockeye and Furious teams. A quick early break for Furious brought flashbacks to last season’s Flowerbowl final, but Sockeye quickly recovered to take the lead back in strong fashion with great defense and patient offense.
Day 2 was the real showcase for most of Sockeye, as it brought the rematch of Red vs. Black from the previous Monday. Black won the first scrimmage against a short-handed Red in dominating fashion, 13-5, leaving a bitter taste in Red’s mouth that clearly was still there on Sunday. A great catch D by Black’s Todd Sliva on the first point of the game went unconverted, and Red scored first on a huck to MC that Black would look back on as an opportunity missed. Black answered on offense, but another big huck by Nevin Root to MC let Black know that this was a different Red team. From that point on it was all Red. A good poach D by Aly, a jumping in the lane huck D by Ray, and a pointblock by Danny Karlinsky led to a huge run by Red for a 7-2 halftime lead. Black went into halftime frustrated, but not discouraged. They knew that they hadn’t played near their best, and wanted to come out on offense to start the 2nd half strong. Another Red D to start the half and another break took a lot of steam out of their sails though, and while Black was able to rally for a 6-6 2nd half, this only meant a 13-8 win for Red.
With Red on a bye, Black finished up pool play against Blackfish, another mostly young team from Vancouver. It was a rough start for Blackfish, as the Sockeye D forced many early drops and throwaways, leading to Black taking half by a good margin.
At the end of the tournament, Sockeye Red and Black had taken 1st and 2nd place, but decided to combine to play against one of the Furious teams in finals. This game went similarly to the showcase game, as Sockeye set the tone earlier with their defense to run off a string of breaks and build an big 6-1 lead. Furious being who they are though, they came back with 2 breaks to make it a game before Sockeye took half 7-4. Sockeye continued to roll in the second half, winning 13-7.