I’d like to apologize to the Masters Division for destroying whatever credibility we may have had. We won the “Easterns Div II” at the Boston Invite this weekend, which means we were 17th of 32. We came in seeded 11th or 12th and expected to finish about there, with a little luck in the top 8, with some bad luck something like 13th. But then again, when your average age is 40, you don’t practice, and you don’t do much training, it doesn’t really matter how good you used to be.
Well, that’s not really true. If we didn’t used to be really good, we would have finished more like 27th than 17th.
It all started out innocently enough. We were in the second tier of 8, seeded 2nd in our pool of 4, with top two crossing over against the bottom two from the top tier. We won our first game against Tombstone 14-12. We were up 2-3 the whole game. I got off a lefty backhand for the gamewinner (lifetime lefty backhand: something like 6/6, 3 GT). In some ways, this was a preview for Worlds, as they will be representing Canada, but they didn’t have a complete squad (one guy filming, one guy sitting, another guy playing with another team most of the time except for a few illegal points which we certainly would have called them on had it made a difference in our advancement), and I don’t know if they were showing us everything. (We withheld our new O and D formations, the bi-angled stack and the ho-stack clam.)
Then, disaster. 2 hour bye, plus we noticed our next opponents lost to Bodhi, 15-5. No problem, that locked up a top two finish for us, no need to get ready for the next game. And at one time (199x), that was true, we would have gone up 2-0 and traded out for a 15-13 victory. We came out flat, and got flatter, and flattened. There was a timeout late in the first half, followed by another break to lose half 8-5, and further degradation in the second half put us at 15-8. While this did lead to some enjoyment at figuring out all the possible tiebreaking scenarios (Bodhi has to lose by less than 14 to guarantee top two, we have to win by 7 unless Tombstone wins in which case we just have to win but if we lose then we want Tombstone to lose, etc.), it wasn’t enough to make up for the poor performance.
Next game started well with a break, but then more blah, going down 8-2. Near the end of the half, a short hospital pass went up to me, I jumped, my defender got his fingers on it a split-second before I did. I started to rip it out, but then let go while everyone anticipated the strip call and stopped. I waved "no call", and he threw the disc to a teammate for a goal while most players looked on. I stuck with my non-call but then asked for a check, mistakenly thinking that I had made a call before retracting it, thus meriting a check, but I gave that up too without realizing that this was what the rules said, too. Most thought it was a strip, one guy told me he thought it wasn't. The second half was a moral victory as we managed to get 9. This sent us down into a crossover game against some Brown alumni plus Chain guys, drastically underseeded at 23rd coming in (they finished 9th, ahead of two 2007 Nationals qualifiers, giving up no more than 10 in any game). We were tired and old, and we lost a few guys in having to relocate fields, and we got beaten deep repeatedly. The closest we came to being in a position to win was having a pass dropped in the upwind end zone that would have made it 9-6.
A scrawny scrub who hardly played wanted me to blog about how bad it was that they were seeded so low. It was a good question. Clearly, going in they were one of the top 16 teams. Zip, AJ, Joel Wootten were the biggest names, plus several other players who played at Nationals last year. But they were a pickup team without any history, and all of the other teams who were in the top half were real club teams (albeit two of us were Masters teams). Should one of them have been bumped to make way for a group of guys who were better but had no way to prove it beforehand? (They proved it afterward, but they were limited to no better than 9th.) A few years ago, another pickup team (Thermonuke) won this tournament, but they had a little more history and a wider cast of characters. On the other hand, these other teams may have worked hard and earned a spot.
btw, I’m a strong proponent of stratification in tournaments. The Women and Mixed divisions at Boston Invite both had an 8 team round robin with no crossover (but also disappointingly no final game). For Open, there wasn’t as clear of a line, certainly not at the #8 spot, and except for Great Britain and Machine, none of the Elite teams had plane flights. With a full set of Nationals teams, a completely split-off Elite div is probably the best, but with less of a field, this way makes sense.
So we lost and got rewarded with an 8:30 game on Sunday. Not surprisingly, at 8:20 we didn’t have a full squad, and I’m sure our opponents were wondering if they were going to get a forfeit. Got a break early, gave it back, traded until we broke to take half 8-6. Gave it back and proceeded to trade to 11-11, scored, then broke three more times to win.
This set up the semis against Colt .45. Our previous matchup against them at White Mountain Open in 2007 helped to launch a blogging career, but there was to be no repeat of that loss. There was again not a lot of ebb and flow to the game; perhaps we got a three goal run once, but otherwise, just single breaks here and there. (Runs always add to the dramatic tension in a game. The only exception is if there is a long streak of no breaks at all, especially if there are some points with multiple turnovers, and you start to wonder who is going to blink first. As an O player, I always felt more pressure in this situation, as your hopes get up when your D gets a turn, only to have them sink away again on the cluster of an offense they run. Repeat.) One of their guys called travel twice on Arnold on non-egregious violations, probably in line with what others were doing, then after the second one, tapped the disc in a little too enthusiastically and knocked it out of his hands. At some point, Arnold told him he didn’t know how to play the game, so for the rest of the game, whenever this kid did something good, he would repeat the line. And I would repeat the line to my team whenever one of his pulls sailed out of bounds halfway up the field. Eh, no hard feelings, it’s just amusing to me now.
After the game, we tried to find an open field to move up our “final” (there was a bye scheduled) but couldn’t, and our opponents (Tombstone again) weren’t all that interested in waiting around to play us again. Their captain came looking for us and said, “We have 12 guys playing still and 3 of them are going to get hurt if they have to play another game.” So I raised my arms in triumph, and he didn’t argue with my proclamation of our victory, so we are claiming that as a forfeit win. We’ll see them again in a few weeks at Worlds.
I stayed around (my wife was still playing) and watched the end of the Open semis (both one-pointers) and most of the Open finals. GOAT-Pony was a multiple-turnover final point. The final turnover came on a long pass than hit the ground before a diving BVH could catch it, and he lay there after for a few seconds, clutching the disc. His opponent came up and tried to rip it out of his hands, but BVH wouldn’t let go, and the opponent started yelling at him, unaware (I hope) that BVH was mildly injured. But even after understanding this, he was still somewhat belligerent, so I screamed at him, “Why don’t you just piss on him?” as that would seem in character.
The finals were exciting. GOAT is my new role model for Huck n Hope. Boston was also unafraid to put it up occasionally on a whim, but not nearly as often. Kids today.