15 teams, and the dreaded pool play. The conditions on Saturday were very windy at times (25 mph slightly diagonal upwind/downwind) and cold. The conditions on Sunday were a little less windy until late in the day and also pretty cold. there was frost on the grass during warmups on Sunday. Brrr.
Anyway, my goal for this weekend was to play every game like the finals. To make sure I warm-up to 100%, play every point my hardest, and make sure I and the team respects our opponents by playing as best as we can. My legs felt like lead all weekend because last week was my first week back from unemployment due to relocation. Working in the field for 12 hours a day on your feet is a surefire way to make your legs tired.
The first game of the day, we had Colt .45 for the first game of the day. We gave them different D looks, played very hard D, and were efficient after the turn. It should be noted that it wasn't windy yet. We won 15-2.
We then played Red Circus from Halifax. They drove something like 12 hours to get here. They had a fairly small roster, but played hard. We won 15-6. I think it was starting to get a little windier. On a strategy note: we found out that some of the D setups we have been experimenting with this season worked against teams that didn't know what it was. Always frustrating at practice when the O line knows exactly what you are doing, what the Ds weakness is and what its strengths are.
Replicants from NYC was next. They are a pretty talented team, and by this time it was a strong wind. They have around 3 handlers who play a lot of points, and a bunch of young athletic cutters. Strong enough that pulling upwind became difficult to make it further than a little bit over half field at times. I think we traded the first 4 points and they were very good to start by moving the disc well and hitting open receivers. They blinked first and our stingy D line scored and I think secured the downwinder. then the wheels fell off for them and they began trying crazy high-risk hucks and throws when I really think a simple throw would have been completed. We win 15-5.
Bye Round. Everyone just tries to stay warm, eat some food (because of the wind, there seemed to be little downtime to get real food in between games).
We then play bodhi. I think they are really fired up to play us, and we are really excited to play a team that will push us. We start out, and I think we trade a few points before bodhi gets 2 breaks on us. Their twisted metal-esque 1-3-3 was aggressively tight, and the wind was making it difficult to go over the top well. We had to make adjustments for the wind and swing the disc more than we normally do.
Bodhi was pretty fired up and was playing hard, physical ultimate and it was fun. They have a pretty talented team. After consistent, hard defensive pressure point after point, they start missing on their hucks and dump resets and we start getting the breaks back to take half 8-6 I believe. The wind is slowing down some which makes breaking the mark and hucking to space a lot easier. After half, we come out and I think break a few more times and bodhi's wheels start to fall off with drops and throw aways. I think we win out 15-8.
To wrap-up Saturday: Our O-line was broken 3 times (once by red circus and 2 times by bodhi), and our D line was efficient at scoring considering the wind and some marathon points played when the wind was really, really blowing hard.
From a me perspective: I thought I played well, although my legs were tired coming in from working in the field for the first time since august. That was a rude awakening back from funemployment. I had some nice breaks, some nice scores, good handler D, but I felt slow when people took me downfield. I can run faster, but my sore hips and hamstrings were not letting me turn over quickly. Pretty frustrating experience.
On Sunday: We played light and dark which is Amherst High + plus alumni friends. There were around 4 players on that team that I would have loved to tryout for us, bodhi, or sons. They have a really good zone D which, admittedly, helped them a lot on saturday. but, what i was most impressed with is that they all throw so amazingly well. They might have gotten either one or two breaks on us, one coming from a 90 yard i/o upwind flick bomb if i remember correctly. These kids were a real treat to play.
We then play Pony. Every year Pony gets more and more good players, and every year I think that this is their year to compete with ironside, goat, and bodhi, but they always seem to come up short at regionals. I have no idea if it is a mental hurdle or what. The wind is very strong at this point and the upwind pulls are getting a little half mid-field, and I think we trade a few points, but we are getting at least a turn every time they are on O. We are having some difficulty scoring upwind, and if we turn it over with our Ds O, it normally leads to an easier downwind goal with the shortened field. One of the first chances to break, I make their job really easy by doinking a disc off my thumbs to start a play right in the endzone they are attacking. Trying to do too many things at once instead of making sure.... Nice gift josh.
The wind has made it difficult to run transitions zones and other things because we are working on so short of a field when pulling upwind. After the turn, we try to fast break as much as possible in order to get some crisp throws off to start. This leads to a bunch of handlers cutting downfield, which must look pretty enjoyable from the sidelines, watching a bunch of squirrels making 5 yard jukes from the back of the stack.
It might be either right before or right after half that they drop a pull. After that, they had their heads down and there was no question who was going to win that game. We close out 15-9.
Next up is our regional rival goat. I really like playing them. Their handlers are pretty incredible and fun to cover. Although DJ is playing with the masters team this year, they bolstered their O handler power by adding a super fast swede guy (joel?) and derek alexander. With those 2 and Tolly, their Russian handler, behind the disc, you have to watch out for getting taken to the house. By this point, my legs were trash and knew that this was going to be a challenge. Luckily, I got all my standing on ladders, crawling through ductwork, and squatting for 12 hours a day out of the way from now until nationals, so that shouldn't happen to me again.
Aside: Goat might have too many talented O handlers and should move some to their D line. There is no need for 5 of them, especially if hassel is sometimes behind the disc. I think if they would put tolly or some other O handler with good D on the D line, that would lead to easier d goals for them.
Anyway, we start out and I think we go up 4-1 on them as they can't seem to figure out how to throw backhands in the wind. The normal textbook bombs that they throw are just landing 1 field over. I have never played a game like this where I am on the team that is absolutely just dominated a really good team like that before. (I have been on the opposite side though, and it sucks.... I think Metal got curb stomped 15-3 or something at chesapeake one year by viscious cycle). We wind up closing it out 15-6.
Another interesting thing I found out this weekend is that Goat doesn't normally have weekend practices, but rather they practice on the weekdays. Mindblowing. I think it would be really interesting to figure out a lot of the teams practice schedules.
Anyway, then I watched Quiet Coyote stop beating themselves and earn a trip to nationals. And I watched PoNY have nothing go their way and have no energy against Bodhi. Bodhi is the deeper team than PoNY, and there is no question that Bodhi has bigger huckers in the wind, but I at least thought the game was going to be a slugfest.
That is about it. I think both Goat and Bodhi are going to upset teams in pool play. I think depending on conditions and if they can get handlers clicking with their receivers, Goat could win their pool.