Sectionals 2011

The untold story of Sectionals reads like a who’s who of Seattle ultimate… who weren’t present. Against Furious George in the finals, on game point, Seattle Sockeye had 12 cleated players in sum. But, we’ll get there eventually. First, Saturday.

With only 9 teams at Sectionals, and only two pools, Sockeye would have 3 back to back games and end their day quite early at 2:30pm. All were appreciative of this fact, if for nothing else than to get away from the terrible stench of the nearby dog food factory that pervaded the fields. It was just terrible.

First up, Downpour, another Seattle-based team under the Emerald City Ultimate team. Working the disc amongst their handlers, Sockeye had to really increase its pressure on them to force turns. The skill of this team, one of three (!!) in Seattle, is a testament to Seattle’s ultimate culture and depth. Sockeye take the win, and use some down time to enjoy the day.

Next up is Enemy, a team comprised mostly (if not all) of University of Puget Sound current/former players. Playing loose, relaxed, and taking big deep shots, Enemy sprinted out of the gates against a lackluster and tight Sockeye team who clearly expected an easy road. They wouldn’t get it, and it was a good wake up call. After refocusing and finding some missing energy, Sockeye force some turns, get some breaks, and take the win 15-7. Great fight by the UPS -based Enemy team, who would later provide some fantastic heckling in the finals.

To round out Saturday was Voodoo, another Emerald City Ultimate team. Voodoo and Sockeye know each other in and out, with most players friends across teams, and even having former Sockeye captain Ben Wiggins as Voodoo’s coach. Somehow, Enemy’s wake-up call to Sockeye was not enough. Continuing to sputter on offense with uncharacteristic drops and throwaways and decisions, compounded by a less than pumped-up D-line, Voodoo surged into half, taking it 8-5. It was clear the Fish could not simply expect to win any games from here on out– everything would be earned.

Until now, the sideline voice had been quiet. This is a product of a small roster– with only 15 players (due to a last-minute rescheduling of sectionals that left many out of town, thinking it would be a weekend off, as well as some injuries), the sideline was used more to rest than to create noise. However, at half, Captain Skip Sewell laid into the team, and something clicked. Coming out of half, Sockeye rattled off 3 breaks, and from then on the atmosphere had changed– as well as the sideline energy and voice, now loud and boisterous– with Sockeye stealing back the momentum and winning 15-10. Much respect is due to the V-double O D-double O boys; they played great, clean ultimate, and their 8-5 half would easily challenge many other club teams throughout the nation. It was no fluke that they took half.

A much appreciated afternoon and evening rest followed, complete with icy river baths, amazing football games and a few surprises. This all helped lead into an exciting Sunday.

From the moment cleats were on on Sunday, the Sockeye vibe was different. There was nervous excitement for the big games ahead, and the distaste from such an unenthusiastic start to both the Enemy and Voodoo games only added to the energy of the morning. Blackfish would suffer the backlash from those lackluster starts, seeing a hungry fish D-line from point one. With both man and junk defenses, Sockeye earned multiple runs of breaks to control this game throughout. Sockeye would head to finals.

Against Furious we saw a viable threat in our path, a team that finished strong in the regular season with quality wins over Chain Lightning and Doublewide. Like the Fish, the Monkey was missing many of their key players, mostly on offense. With that being the case, Sockeye fed Furious with a steady diet of junk and zone looks. After taking the first half 8-4, Sockeye shut the door 15-7, taking the 2011 Sectionals title.

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