Nationals is here once again and day one is in the books. It always astounds me how it can get better every year, but it always does. I’ve played ultimate for over 8 years, but I’ve only managed to go to Nationals the last three – Halifax, Toronto and Calgary – all with Liquid. Our finishes have been 9th, 10th, and 5th in 2008. This year we came in as the #2 seed.
This year has been quite a bit different for me because I moved to Calgary in March. I have been practicing with Invictus, Calgary’s mens team, whenever possible, but I was only able to make it to one tournament with them in Eugene, Oregon. So as Nats was inching closer I had a bit of a decision to make. On one hand I had the #1 ranked open team in Canada (going to the tournament of course) as well as new friendships I was developing and a very good chance of making the finals. On the other hand, a team I hadn’t played with all summer, but had played most of my ultimate career with. Old friendships, and the chance to take the team I had helped develop over the years to a possible championship helped me make my decision. I just couldn’t turn down the chance to play with Matty, Blue, Neenah, Hyatt, Mandy, Andy, and everyone… and my favourite – Higy. Higy and I have developed the ultimate ultimate bond if you will, through many plays, many bad hucks by myself that Higy turned into glory, and many defensive highlights.
So I know this will be my last shot to play with Liquid, and if I stay in Calgary, I’m sure there be much of Invictus in my future.
I’ve seen a lot of people come and go from teams, but it’s been a new experience for me this year. Flying in last night I was getting a bit nervous about playing with all my old pals. Even after only four months, I felt like everything might’ve changed. Heck, they finally took #1 in Ontario, maybe they didn’t need me. I got up early this morning and everyone gave me a loud greeting on the bus and all my anxiety just disappeared. By the end of warm-up it felt just like it did last year.
The start of our first game was not so pretty. Bry called my name right out of the gates, unexpectedly, and Monster worked it up the field quick for a score. A few bad drops by us, and lots of Monster intensity, and a few minutes later we were down 6-1. I could feel the panic begin to rise, but somehow I knew we were going to get back in it. A couple points later, after I made a brutal throw-away, over Higy’s head in the endzone, my man brought it up to the cone, telegraphed a flick huck, and I got a solid hand block. We pounded that in, threw on a great zone for a few points and made it to half only down 8-6. The shift in momentum was already apparent however. We scored a quick one out of the half, kept raising our intensity, and took it to them for a 15-12 win. There was a mutual sigh of relief.
Being down five points is a very big hole, but early in the game, after you’ve come out absolutely flat, it’s a doable task. I don’t think I’ve seen many teams come back from 13-8 or 14-9 and win. Just too much pressure, not enough time, no room for error. Usually the better team is ahead by that point anyway, but not always. We got lucky, or fought hard, or the best team won, whichever way you want to look at it. We could’ve made it easier on ourselves, but I think it possibly gave us some grit going forward.
Our next two games weren’t quite as intense, against Pouletouches and Pandemic. I think the scores may have been 15-4, 15-6. My only concern is that we were too easy on them and didn’t execute nearly enough. A top team should really put them away 15-1 or 15-2. Pandemic was a young and fast team, so I give them credit, but it was nice to have a relatively easy finish to such a hot day. 3-0 and some interesting matchups tomorrow with Mayhem, Psycho, and ONYX.
I had a bit of an issue with both my calves in the third game, just cramping up. I’m all stretched out and I hope they will be 100% tomorrow.
Invictus was also 3-0.