Solstice 2011 Preview

The Fish swim south this weekend for Round 2 against Rhino, Furious George, and other upper-Northwest contenders, and a first against Voodoo, another Emerald City Ultimate team.

However, this is a first for Sockeye’s finalized 2011 roster, and boy are we excited. This year’s roster additions are all polished players, but vary widely in their age, size, and birthplace.

First is the return of a man once known to utterly dominate the sport — Alex Nord. After suffering multiple injuries, seeing the birth of his wonderful baby daughter, and entering new stages of life and work, he once again has time for sport, and he’s committed.

Next comes Danny Karlinsky, another in the line of famous UCSC Slugs to come to Sockeye (Cram, CK, etc), bringing a penchant for handblocks and a wide array of short and long throws.

With him is Chris Kosednar, providing a superbly balanced game on both offense and defense, capable in the air and offering both creative and patient throws. Chris moved to Seattle fresh off a national championship with his alma mater CUT, and following in his footsteps are Simon Montague and Julian Childs-Walker.

Arriving to Seattle late in the tryout process, we gave them a pass, since they were busy winning their own national championship. Simon somehow blends size and quickness to harass handlers and extend their release points, while extending the field with his deep shots and break mark throws. Julian has been dubbed a “mini-CK,” blending speed, quickness, and a relentless engine in the cutting lanes to keep the offense flowing, as well as a strong throwing arsenal.

Finally, The Kraken, Erik Doesburg. Catching Sockeye’s eye in Prague at WUC 2010, and earning the nickname The Kraken with his size and layouts, he came to Seattle for frisbee and has made his presence felt ever since as one of the most versatile players on the field, able to handle, cut, mark, or sit deep.

Going into Solstice, the Fish are without Eddie Feeley (work conflict), Dave Bestock (injury), Alex Nord (work conflict), Phil Murray (conflict), and Spencer Wallis (injury).

This will be a first for this new roster, but will be the second time this season Sockeye faces Rhino & Furious, easily the most anticipated games. In addition are California’s Boost Mobile and Voodoo, another Seattle-based ECU team.

First up is Voodoo. This team has been founded under the new Emerald City Ultimate model, and sees the rebirth of an old team name. Further, the team consists of some players who have played on the Voodoo of old, including Vehro and Xtehn Titcomb as well as others. Captaining this squad are Vehro, Wes Simons, and Nevin Root. Sockeye can’t look past this team, and will need to apply pressure defensively early to prevent any momentum from building. This looks to be an interesting game, as it is the first for both teams under the new Emerald City umbrella, and Voodoo will surely come in looking to prove themselves.

Next is Rhino. Both Sockeye splits squads squeaked past Rhino at Flowerbowl, but both were given a run for their money. Rhino’s man defense is very strong — they are an athletic team capable of making big plays on underneath cuts and in the air. Defensively, Sockeye’s pressure slowly chipped away at Rhino and was able to earn certain key turns to earn their previous wins. However, those games also included notable, uncharacteristic drops by Rhino players, and without those, the game is very different. A less-rusty Rhino squad with a tourney and some more chemistry and touches on the disc under its belt should be an interesting matchup for this second round of play.

Given a third round Bye, Sockeye will find shade, eat, and rest up in order to enter its fourth round Boost Mobile matchup sharp. This team was known for their potent deep game last year at Regionals, so look for the Fish to force them underneath and utilize multiple zones and poach defenses to break up set plays and strings.

Finally, yet again, Furious George. The history is long. Those who know, understand that an early season loss — or win, for that matter — mean nothing in the Furious/Sockeye games. In 2006, Sockeye had Furious’ number all year, until Regionals rolled around, and Furious finally brought out their A-game when it mattered and turned the tables. Sockeye knows this, and Furious knows this. Further, the Flowerbowl finals misrepresented Furious as they were playing as a split squad, and with numerous additions to round out their numbers. This Furious squad will undoubtedly raise the bar in terms of size, skill, chemistry, and physicality (in a legit way). The Flowerbowl showcase and finals featured numerous roster add-ons that will not be present, and I’ve heard this game will also see the return of John Norris. Should be an exciting game.

The true beginning to Sockeye’s season with its full, finalized roster — we’re coming for you, Solstice.

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