Emerald City Classic 2011 Recap

The Emerald City Classic promised some amazing Ultimate, and it delivered. The Fish had their first true test as a team, facing Urutau from Colombia, Boston’s Ironside, DC’s Truck Stop, and finally the legendary Buzz Bullets on Saturday, and battling Streetgang first thing Sunday morning before elimination brackets. Below is a recap of how it all went down.

Urutau is a team comprised of speedy, skilled throwers and receivers from Colombia. Their game is one of quick disc pace and break throws and mid-range hucks that don’t allow receivers much room to catch up and make a play. Sockeye knew we’d need to bring early intensity and force longer away shots to gett he blocks we’d need. Early on, the intensity was there, but the positioning wasn’t, and although Sockeye was gifted with a few turns on miscues from the boys from the south, they were still turnstyling downfield defenders late in points and taking advantage of lost positioning on defense to gain crucial yardage. The Fish came out on top, but were still disappointed with the defensive positioning as our goal for the game and were left with a continued drive to get better.

Next up was Boston. The history is long with the Ship, each team having one or more strong, memorable wins over the other to fuel the competitive fire. Sockeye’s D, combined with an uncharacteristically poor early game performance from Boston, put Sockeye up 5-1. However, neither team would prove capable of a clean offense this game, and Ironside clawed its way back to a 5-5 tied ball game. For a more in-depth analysis of the game, see (insert link to that dude’s video blog writeup). Needless to say, Boston’s game provedd less bad than Sockeye’s and the Fish enter EC with a 1-1 record going into round 3.

Truck Stop. A year ago, they took down Sockeye after rallying a late game comeback into a universe point wni. This did not go unnoticed by Sockeye, and the game was filled with athletic bids from both sides and heated competition. Truck Stop proved itself a highly athletic team, often bidding on any throw regardless of their ability to make a play, adding pressure to the offense and creating an exciting game atmosphere. They push their game on other teams effectively. However, Sockeye’s O began clicking better after the Ironside loss, and Truck was unable to repeat their 2010 ECC performance, this time succumbing to a stronger Sockeye squad.

Then, the Buzz. Many Sockeye players knew of the history between Sockeye and Buzz Bullets, but only a handful participated in those games, and this would be the first encounter between the two teams for a sizable chunk of Sockeye’s young roster. Everyone was stoked, and this energy would be the difference with Sockeye outlasting the battle-weary BB team (who had played not only a full Saturday schedule but also a full Friday schedule, including an evening showcase game against Revolver the night previous). Sockeye’s patient offense found the holes in the Buzz poachy D and cruised to win by a sizable margin.

After a great salmon dinner and showcase game featuring some hot girl on girl action, The Fish hit they hay, looking forward to a big Sunday.

Streetgang felt the wrath of a frustrated and angry Sockeye in 2010, and this year’s game felt oddly similar, with the Fish taking an early lead and continuing to apply pressure throughout. Sometimes it just happens that teams are well-suited against others, and this certainly felt the case in this Streetgang, where the margin of victory far-exceeded expectations from a team we know is capable of big things. Fish win handily.

Then, Ring. The Ring game. By now it is known that Ring won this one, and I will tell you this — not one Fish has forgotten. Ring proved very strong in the handling core, with Noah Saul and Brett Matzuka providing resets far too easily and moving the disc to powerful positions, and their foce-middle D stifled the offensive flow of Sockeye’s own handlers, as well as creating poach block opportunities in short-field throws. Unable to force turns, Ring simply played the better game, and earned a strong quarterfinals win on their way to a respectable finals berth.

To conclude, Sockeye faced Machine. Machine has undergone some sizable changes, not the least of which is installing Dane Cook into the handler set on O. He gives Machine a reliable reset in powerful positions, as well as a confident and dangerous deep hucking game. Combined with a few hyper-athletes in their down field and a savvy and creative mid-game from guys like Mike Shiel, Machine battled the Fish well to a 9-9 tie. However, something clicked for Sockeye’s D, and quickly it became apparent that the Fish would edge out the boys from Chicago after a few breaks in a row broke their spirit. Sockeye wins on breaks.

So what to make of an ECC that saw Sockeye both crush teams and drop major early leads? Hard to say. ECC was a tester tourney for some strategic options, some O/D technologies, and certain roles for players, so the results are skewed slightly, but it is no surprise that the frustrations on the field from losses like the Ironside and Ring games have found their way into the minds of every Fish player in the weight room, on the track, and at every practice. Look for it in our beady little eyes come Labor Day.

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