Where was I?

CUT is over and I’m partially recovered.  Wait, I’ll clarify.  I’m recovered from the driving rather than the playing.

My Friday evening started with a drive to Fergus to drop off a few drinks for my friends from Sudbury, Chicago, and Steve from Blockstack.tv.  I also had a chance to hang out for a few moments but a rather rushed visit it was.  Driving away from GB was incredibly hard but the lure of CUT was far too great to ignore.

My GPS indicated that my travel time to Cazenovia would be ~4.5 hours but a GPS shouldn’t always be trusted and the selected route was closer to 6 hours (it would have been longer but I always have paper maps).  Anyhow, enough about me and more about…well the tournament and me.

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View more photos from CUT 2009

Saturday was a beautiful day with a light wind and a few gusts.  Seeing as how I was cut early during GOAT tryouts, I can’t commute to Ottawa for practices, and I didn’t know any of the US teams (other than Ironside and Philly Love) the team I was invited to play with was Too Bad.  My last experience with Too Bad was at TUF where we finished 3rd (I’d also like to mention that it was one of the best Ultimate experiences I’ve ever had) and I was invited to join them again on this journey to the US.

From the outset it was evident that we were not the weak team that we were all expected to be (came in seeded 15th out of 16).  We had powerful handlers, excellent cutters, and above all great intensity.  Here is a rundown of each game we played.

Colt .45 – Win, 13-6
They brought a short roster (11 folks) but they didn’t let up given how early in the day it was.  Where we capitalized was in relation to their inexperience and as such the relative inability to string together a greater number of passes or to be as patient with the disc as we were.  This was essentially a college team.  While we finished the game quickly they had the most exciting match of Saturday by taking Brooklyn (at least 22 to 23 players on their roster) to Universe point.

Medicine Men – Win – 13-10
This game was a personal grudge match for me.  Last year I played with ROY and after coming off of a win over Zebra Mussels we were destroyed by MM.  I personally felt that we could have beaten them had we upped our energy in addition to changing our game plan but an inexperienced team isn’t able to adapt so quickly.  Regardless, it was great to win this game and the close score was due to our messy end zone setup.

Brooklyn – Win – 13-4
BK (as they call themselves, and Burger King as I called them during the lead up to our match) are surprisingly patient with the disc for such a young team.  I talked with one of the handlers who’d just started College and he told me that “he hates to huck it”.  Unfortunately for them we played tightly on the in-cuts and also had more of a break between games than they did.  All in all we finished it off quickly so we could charge up for our crossover game.

Forge – Win – 13-6

Pittsburgh!  Forge started out seeded 5th and had two close losses in pool play (9-13, 9-13) which made this crossover all the more important for them.  Unfortunately we seemed to bring more composure to the proceedings and that’s ultimately what won us the game…ok, maybe not.  Forge is a short team with most of our match-ups being at least 4 or 5 inches taller.  While they’re short they do have quickness but that was mitigated by their impatience leading to many short hucks or easily won air battles for us.  Our deep strikes were more successful as we were able to create more space and get them to bite on our in-cuts on account of inexperience.  Or perhaps we just didn’t know any better and threw it deep whenever the mark letup.  The score also doesn’t tell the full story.  Until 4’s the game was quite close with neither team quite in their flow.  Things changed though when one of our players was punched and we upped our game to close it out as fast as possible.

With our 4-0 record on Saturday we earned our spot in the top 8 and a chance against GOAT in the morning.

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GOAT – Loss – 15-6
We did not play our game in this 0900 start.  We didn’t exhibit the same energy as we did on the days before but we still managed to score a few points against a confident GOAT team.  Not much to say about this game other than we should have played better.

Phoenix – Loss – 15-10
Phoenix is intense!  It was great playing against as quick, fast, and skilled team for our final match.  While we only lost by five the real story is that Phoenix dominated us from beginning to end.  They had amazing D, perfect strikes, and very few errors.  They did have one weakness though and that was that they couldn’t dominate in the air.  Every time they put it up we were able to come down with it.  Their defense also had trouble reading the disc (strange as there was almost no wind on Sunday) and we had quite a few catches that shouldn’t have gotten to us.  Had we cleaned up our end zone plays the score would have been quite a bit closer and PoNY might have played us for 5th rather than Phoenix.

All in all it was an interesting weekend playing with a strong group of guys.

20090606-img_0022Now, about the other teams.  I had a chance to watch GOAT play and although their Saturday scores show close games they actually weren’t.  GOAT is still getting used to their new players and anytime they run up the score a bit they give the young line a chance to play.  GOAT also seems to have a bit of trouble closing out a game.  In the Saturday games they were up by five or six at game point before their opponents would go on a run capitalizing on unforced errors; it’s a mental block that the handlers will need to work through.  The Sunday games were a different story with Mephisto keeping things close throughout and GOAT pushing back at the end to take it 15-13.  Perhaps it’s harder to play the easy games when you know you’ll win.

Forge had an unfortunate weekend without a single legitimate win.  I say legitimate because after dropping into the lower pool their only win was a default over Space Jam (TDs take note, Space Jam defaulted all of their games on day 2).  They also had a tough loss to Pike to end out their tournament weekend with plenty to think about.

20090607-img_0142Onto the finals where, unsurprisingly, Ironside(1) faced GOAT(2).  This game was entirely about who had the better attitude and more confidence.  Both teams are quite closely match physically and it’s mental toughness that prevails at the highest levels.  From the outset it was evident that Ironside were more relaxed, more patient, and more confident with the disc.  In general Ironside was comfortable with their number 1 seeding as made apparent by a player (who shall be named:  Jim) stating:  “The lead up games were a mere formality.”

GOAT, on the other hand, was was very serious with little to no sideline chatter and all the players seemed to be brooding about the game but not actually talking about it.  I’ll chalk it up to them being young with many new players and without the history that Ironside has.  GOAT was also missing Andy O (twisted an ankle last Thursday and is possibly out for World’s while he heals for UPA) and Sam Kennedy (slight injury during the Mephisto game, healing up for Poultry Days) for the finals and their presence on the field was sorely missed.

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GOAT played excellent defense in their game and Ironside complimented them on it on several occasions.  One of the best matchups of the weekend was Mooney defending Jasper (photo on the right).  Both players are quick handlers and no matter the cut that Jasper made Mooney was always with him; this hard D forced dump passes deeper and moved Ironside steadily backwards.  Fortunately for Ironside they had a tall handler that was able to get a backhand or forehand huck off no matter the coverage.  The deep strikes by Ironside were not well covered and all the hard in-cut D by GOAT was for naught.

In the end the superior offense, sideline chatter, and general confidence made it an easy 15-11 win for Ironside.  It’ll be interesting to see how both of these teams improve in the lead up to UPA finals.  Both GOAT and Ironside faced few challenges on the weekend and both are easily the top teams in the NE.  Ironside is still going through tryouts while GOAT is attempting to build team chemistry with a longer season.  Both teams were also missing several of their top players during the finals.

It was a busy weekend with quite a bit of chatter and impromptu question asking so I hope I’ve covered most of the important bits.  Both teams are heading to ECC where they look forward to the country match-ups (Japan, UK, and Columbia last I heard).  GOAT heading to ECC rather than CUC (weekend conflict) as there seems to be relatively little interest in heading to Prague.

So ends a rather scatterbrained post.