Once again Mark Lloyd has provided a recap of his experience at CUUC 2010 in Ottawa.
Leaving the fields on the Sunday of Eastern’s I think it was safe to say that we at Western had a lot of questions we needed to ask about ourselves as individuals and more importantly as a team. These questions were continually asked in the weeks between Eastern’s and Nationals; are we talented enough to win, do we have the right mix of consistent players as well as playmakers to challenge the top teams.
Only one way to find out.
Day 1: We went into Nationals seeded 5th which was a place we were happy with going into the tournament, but knew it was not a seed we would be happy with leaving. Being in Pool D meant we had 5 games played to 11 on Day 1. Our First game saw us play against McGill B. The wet and windy conditions would make games tough for any B team that day due to the fact that all of their stronger wind throwers would be on their respective A teams. At Easterns we played McGill B and saw that they were a talented team but we knew what we needed to stop against them in order to get through this game as quick as possible. We ended up taking this game 11-1. Our second game of the day was against U de Montreal. They were unknown to us so we had no pre-game strategies to employ, just go out and work hard. Once again our strong throwers took control of the game working the disc upwind and our defense was able to contain any upwind advances UdeM made. We were able to come out of this game with an 11-3 victory. Our third game of the day was against McMaster. Mac had upset the first seed in our pool, Concordia, to start of the day so they were the only other undefeated team left in our pool. Mac has a few strong handlers that could slice a defense if we did not play them tight. My first point of the tournament happened in this game and maybe some divine power was suggesting I not play since my first point resulted in me getting a bloody nose. Myles Sinclair and Andy Siy worked our upwind zone really well and our deep D was also strong in knocking down the Mac deep shots. In hat was our closest game of the tourney thus far we came out on top 10-5. During our lunch bye I checked in on our girls, who deserve incredible praise after their bronze medal performance (more about that later). After lunch we had a match-up with Carleton B. These guys were warriors, they had 8 players, but ran and played hard every single point. My hats off to them for showing serious heart. After another 11-1 victory we went into our last game of the day against the top see in our Pool Concordia. At this point in the day it was 8 hours after we had played our first point. Fatigue was sure to set in but it was the team that could keep mental focus that would ultimately come out on top. The game started with teams trading downwind scores, and an early Concordia break served as a wake-up call for the Sharks. On the upwind we would start loading up our big up-wind throwers on the line. Upon swinging the disc to an open thrower the disc would be hucked upwind where we had a size miss-match at the deep position. With one hand this was the only way I could be effective (as anyone who saw me try to throw would attest to). After we connected on a few deep looks upwind we started to roll. Concordia made a late push but we were able to close out the game with a Callahan then an upwind score. Western 11 Concordia 7. The work Spencer Gilley has done with the Concordia is very impressive and I hope that they can get a few more numbers out in years to come to maintain the program. Day 1 went smoothly, we finished top of our pool at 5-0 and had made it through the day unscathed.
Day 2: Power pools always bring a little more intensity to the fields as where you finish in your power pool can give you an easier quarters match-up (this would maybe not be the case this year). Our first power pool game was against Ottawa, another team we played at Easterns. There roster was short one player who had torched us deep in Kingston so we knew that we manly had to shut down their throwers. Them missing their big deep threat was huge in the change of the game as we could focus on taking away the unders as a collective unit and challenging the resets. Our zone was also very effective in knocking down any floaty passes that got caught in the wind. Despite many long points that were hard fought Western cruised to a lopsided victory 11-3 (score not indicative of the game). Our next game of the day was against Waterloo. Waterloo was one of the deepest teams at the handler position and they showed this early on by the way they handled our zone and scored up winders. Where they were strong in handling they were maybe a little weaker in up field options so once we switched to man and forced them to hit their cutters more turns were had and more points were scored for Western. Once again the score did not do Waterloo justice in how well the game was played with Western winning 12-3. Our last game of the day was a grudge match against McGill. After an extremely weird Universe point loss at easterns we had a score to settle. I also feel like we have a good relationship with them though, we bicker from time to time. But like brothers bicker, when all is said and done we have a strong relationship. Western came out ready for this game, but so did McGill. We were trading points early until about 4’s I believe when Western got the first break of the game. Western ended up taking half 7-5 . When the score was 8-6 the game was to 9. McGill turned it up another notch. They scored two quick points to make it 8’s. Western receiving, hard cap horn blows, Universe point. The play calls for a one pass then huck. Unfortunately we never made it to huck as the first pass wasn’t completed. After patient offense, and unfortunately a contested play which knocked all-start Tim Tsang out of the tournament for McGill, McGill punched it in and won 9-8. Putting them a top of Power pool B, with Western coming second. Winning your power pool usually means an easier quarter, unfortunately for McGill the other power pool was on crazy pills. Dal Beat Carleton, Carleton beat U of T, U of T beat Guelph and Guelph beat Dal. The last games of the day would determine how these four teams would finish. U of T beats Dal 8-6, and Guelph beats Carleton on Universe. This has U of T finish a top power pool A and Carleton finish fourth. Western will face Dal.
Day 3: Still windy, but nice out, so its bearable. Western starts this day an a sour note as main handler Andy Siy is out for the rest of the tourney due to a hamstring injury. Joe “air alert” Norat is also shaken up with a quad strain and calf strain. Dal was also banged up as GOAT handler Jackson Byrne was out with a dislocated shoulder. Western starts going downwind and scores, we then break upwind right away. The game has a few calls here and there and things get a little chirpy from both sides, but was calmed down after the captains have a discussion. Western ran with their run and gun style of play, and then tight d when that failed. This style got us to take half 8-5 game to 10. But Dal was not defeated, they came out hard in the second half rattling off two straight breaks to bring the game to 8-7. The next point was a marathon and Dal had the disc and an open receiver streaking upwind, as the disc is let go Mark Lloyd lays out across the play and gets a piece of the disc which floats it into the air, right to the area where the previously mentioned Norat was. He makes the sky D which is now routine for us to see, dishes the disc to Scotty Hislop who bombs it to the endzone where Lloyd beats the Dal player to the disc and makes the grab 9-7. Now 9-8 for Western, but Dal once again his the disc and is moving upfield, but they were stopped when Lucas Stevens-Hall makes a crazy layout D and once again a deep shot goes up and is caught by a western receiver sending the Sharks to the semis after a very hard fought game. The Semis would see us play TULA, probably the most successful program in the last 7 years or so. This team was talented and I knew that they would beat seed (8th) coming into the tournament. We scored our first downwind point and TULA answered back when Geoff Powell made a jaw dropping layout grab. We knew to beat TULA we would have to contain Adrian Yearwood. I would say stop him, but you cant stop him you can only limit what he is allowed to do. Our strategy was to push him backfield and stop his Inside Out breaks, this would be hard as his shoulder shimmy is gaining world wide recognition. However this strategy seemed be getting turns for Western has the fast outside breaks being thrown were getting caught in the wind and missing their receivers downfield. Everyone stepped up big in this game for Western as plays were being made on all ends. At 11-9 for Western the hard-cap sounded signifying we were once again returning to the finals, but our players weren’t done as our D line worked one last disc upfield to score for good measure 12-9 final.
I’m going to apologize right now for not doing a finals write-up. It probably makes this whole post ridiculous. But I am hoping someone who wasn’t involved in the game will write something. What I will say is our offense was really hurting without Andy Siy, and our deep shots were not as effective. Guelph plays a really good game and they have great chemistry on-field.
The one word that I used all season to describe my team was heart, you may not like us or the stupid thing we do when shaking our own teams hands, but I believe that the one thing you cant deny about the 2010 Western Sharks is that we were a team with heart that was going to give you our best effort at all times. It was honor to share the field with each and every one of you