Terminus Preview by Grant
March 26, 2011, 2:19 am
Filed under: tournament write-ups

20 teams descend on Atlanta this weekend to do battle in one of the final national tilts of the regular season before the USAU series.  With wildcard bids on the line, everyone will be gunning for their best outing of the year to date.

Pool A:

Tufts leads this pool and they are the defending champions of this event.  If you think that the talent has dropped after Andrew Hollingworth left, you’re quite mistaken as the E-Men are also riding the coattails of a Southerns victory last weekend.  Despite being without the services Adrian Banerji and Jay Clark, they still have plenty of firepower and should be able to hold serve but this is a dangerous pool.  Lurking right behind Tufts is a bevy of fast, tall and talented teams starting with Washington University in St. Louis.  They might not necessarily have gotten the same press as other teams who benefited from big grad student pick ups but adding Joe MacDonald to a largely intact roster from the previous year is huge.  The former Prankster joins Chris James from Indiana as first year grad students playing for a Wash U team that has had its share of players gain valuable experience on the club circuit in the fall.  MacDonald’s former team, Middlebury, is also in this pool.  A rare site occurred last year when the Middlebury Pranksters wore matching uniforms with numbers as per USAU regulations but this is never a team to slack on.  These guys have a lot of fun and play excellent disc while enjoying themselves.  Jake Herman leads the way with a good chunk of the cast from last year’s Nationals squad remains including Joe “Waldo” Cox and sophomore stud Mattias Fitzpatrick.  Behind them is Alabama whose leadership made an appearance at club Nationals this past fall with Tanasi.  The positive vibes from this team though comes from the quickly developing rookies.  The newbies are really adapting to not only the game on the field but the culture of the sport as well according to Bama president Will Drumright.  The Tide have been on the cusp of really shining in the series over the past few years and if they want to carry momentum into the conference, this is the time to bring it.  If you thought that was the end of the talent in the pool, you’re wrong as Kennesaw State brings up the rear but boasts Chain Lightning rookie Taylor “Tree” Goforth as well other standouts from last year’s Regionals team including the O’ Kelley brothers and Jac Clark.  The Owls are a dangerous team and have already chalked up a finals appearance at Music City after a lackluster Saturday and short roster.  They can win at any time if other teams aren’t careful.

Pool B

The top end of this pool starts with a pair of teams double dipping from last week’s Easterns tournament.  Ohio, the champion from the qualifier tournament and UNC-Wilmington, the hosts, carry some heavy hitters.  Ohio has really stepped onto the national scene after winning the qualifier and finishing 11th in Wilmington, beating out the hosts in that final game.  The Bobcats have struggled to finish tournaments in previous years according to Andy Ball but this was redemption for them.  UNC-Wilmington is a traditional powerhouse that finally closed the gap with their regional competitors last year by qualifying for Nationals for the first time since 2002 with steady guidance of Rusty Ingold-Smith.  The Seamen lost him to graduation but retain big men like Tommy Lamar and all around solid player Stephen Bender.  The Seamen also have a tremendous asset in Tully Beauty as a coach as they look to finally put all the pieces together in their last tournament before the series.  The team really deems this tournament a national tournament is the Stanford Cardinal, making the trip from Palo Alto to regain some mojo.  The most dominant program of the 2000’s out of the old Northwest region, they stumbled last year, failing to make Nationals for the first time since 2003, when there was only 1 bid out of the Northwest.  This is a program that won’t be on hard times for very long and has capable players who can lead Bloodthirsty to victory.  Ryan Thompson is the steady handler on O who marches the Cardinal down the field and Stanford will need plenty of scoring this weekend in hopes of earning their new region another bid to Nationals.  Williams, another perennial Nationals contender out of New England returns to Terminus this year, hoping to get out of mixed bag funk as well as blustery New England conditions this time of year.  WUFO showed promise in their first tournament in Tuscaloosa but poor Saturday play in Statesboro meant they were fighting for 25th place after pool play.  With only a week to figure out a game plan, look for Williams to be happy that time spent in the South is better than cracking the books back home right now.  Rounding out the pool is another local squad, Emory who’ve struggled mightily this year.  Juice has produced a bevy of solid players in the past.  Simply look at the elite coed team, Bucket for validation.  The problem is Emory has failed to produce elite teams since a bid to Nationals has largely remained a pipe dream.  The team is taking steps in a positive direction by adding alumni Matt Wetzel as a coach this year.  If Mike Arenson shows up to back up Byron Liu, this team won’t be a pushover.

Pool C

Ohio State has the unfortunate distinction of losing in the finals of every spring tournament they’ve played in so far.  That’s got to hurt.  Getting over that Sunday hump will be the only thing on Lead Belly’s collective minds and they have the players to go deep into the weekend.  The Baumann brothers, Phil Cherosky and Jesse “Spike” Wohl are big playmakers for the Buckeyes and will be key to generating wins throughout the weekend.  Central Florida and Georgia Tech aren’t slouches either and could very well take the pool as well.  UCF hold the keys in order to earn the Southeast a second bid.  Former Dog of War Andrew Roca has coached this team to the tune of only a couple of losses heading into the weekend and the Dogs could very well bump up their ranking into the wildcard zone with a deep tourney run this weekend.  Georgia Tech is also primed for a good showing after making semifinals in this event last year and keeping the roster largely intact.  They won ACC’s earlier this year and have responded well with national champion Nick Lance and Hogan McHugh making impact plays on offense and defense.  Sean Lee is an under the radar defender who racks up D’s on a regular basis.  Tribe suffered heartbreak in the game to go to Nationals last year and don’t want to suffer the same fate again, so Terminus is the launch point for a bid.  George Washington has seen success in the past, but that success is too far gone that the current squad has no first hand knowledge of Nationals experience.  That could change in the coming seasons as Evan Feeney is really impressed with this year’s crop of rookies.  Four freshmen make up the starting O line for the Hippos and with hardly any results to their names so far this season, this team is a wildcard that spoil the hopes of many other teams this weekend.  The 5th seeded team, MIT is has shown flashes of brilliance at times but so far this season has not been able to produce favorable results.  Another of the stable of teams thats staying the week from playing Statesboro last weekend, the Beavers have some seriously tall players and some skilled handlers but lack the depth to make a run at the top.

Pool D

The Illini have become a Nationals staple out of the Great Lakes region but have had trouble making it out of the bottom half of the field the past few years.  Zubair is gone, opting to turn pro and play with Machine, but captain Austin Lien is excited about the new talent that has arrived in Champaign-Urbana.  Nate Gibbons, Dane Jorgensen and the return of Chris Hidaka were unexpected additions to the roster which have contributed towards success so far this year.  Dartmouth on the other hand hasn’t seen the Nationals scene in some years and this year’s senior class would like to make a return trip.  Coached by Brook Martin who has two decades worth of experience to teach the players, the Pain Train had a great Saturday of Centex followed by a series of letdowns on their way to an 8th place finish.  Watch out for Lars Osterberg getting D’s left and right for the Big Green and a general happiness of not having to deal with New Hampshire weather in March.  The other hometown crew, Georgia struggled at Easterns at the tail end of their spring break.  As Charlie Herrig put it, they “were still trying to get the booze out.”  Well, its a new weekend and the team wants to get ready to peak during this time of the year again.  Matt Bailey returns after being out of Wilmington and the Dogs are hungry to get back to their winning ways if they want to extend their consecutive Nationals appearances to 7 years in a row.  North Carolina is another team that wants to get back to their winning ways of years past when they were consistently competing for Nationals bids and producing players such as Zach Washburn and Jared Inselmann.  This will be their first tournament of the spring outside of the state of North Carolina and maybe it will be the kickstart they need to to turn the tables on the competition.  Look out for Thomas Sayre-McCord, Noah Saul and Paul Weeks to keep other teams in check against Darkside.  Oberlin remains a mystery for the most part because they started their season so late.  Just last week in fact.  The Flying Horsecows haven’t been a major player in the college scene for over a decade and will run into some stiff competition this weekend as the talent level of teams rise significantly from Steakfest.

Well, that’s the skinny of what each team brings to the table this weekend but the results will speak for themselves.  See everyone on the field!

Winter Weather Update #1 by Grant
March 9, 2011, 5:45 pm
Filed under: tournament write-ups

The snow is beginning to break, the temperatures aren’t dropping anymore and kids are migrating to grass fields everywhere on the weekends to begin the 2011 college season.  So much has happened in the past few months both on and off the field so here’s a winter season recap…

Fall review

Not more than one week after Club Nationals took place, the college scene was in action in Knoxville, Tennessee.  20 teams made the trek for the Dave Baldwin Memorial Tournament hosted by the University of Tennessee.  One word summed up the whole weekend: COLD.  The temperatures were a stark departure from the mild weather we enjoyed the previous weekend in Sarasota.  Everyone tried to bundle up as much as they cold and rarely did games go to full points.  The closest matchup on Day 1 took place between Mississippi State and Lipscomb.  It seemed the Bulldogs would pull away when they jumped out to a 6-3 lead but Lipscomb stormed back to score four straight and take half 7-6.  Out of the half, the Bison scored two more before Mississippi State got back on the board but then it became a dogfight to the finish.  The Bulldogs brought it within 1 to make it 10-9 then broke twice to regain the lead.  Lipscomb responded but Mississippi St. held serve and broke to get the W, 13-11.

Winter weather fail.

At the end of Saturday during the last round, the pizza arrived to the salivating eyes of hungry college kids.   The four top seeded teams held the byes for this round and with the exception of the UT Alumni, monopolized the pizza within 5 minutes leaving folks to wonder “What happened?”

The Alumni were less than worried because they had other priorities on their mind.  Their plan was to go for the tournament weekend trifecta:

1) Win the party

2) Win the tournament

3) Get laid

The sun started to faid and teams retreated to their prospective housing arrangements for the evening and I returned to my couch to put on some warmer clothing.  The evening’s activities kicked off at Mellow Mushroom on the Strip next to campus and the good folks there rolled out a large container of PBR tall boys on ice for everyone to enjoy.  Some teams arrived looking for the free pizza but were dismayed to find out it ran out at the fields and retreated to go find some food.  The occassional team stuck around but for the most part, the party was dominated by Rocky Toppers.  When the cooler to started to run out, the main crowd splintered off in search of more good times around town.





Insert 4 hours of sleep




UT-Alumni v. Ohio State Leadbelly

One of the important lessons college kids learn during the fall season is be able to play hard on Sunday morning through a hangover and the top seeds were defiinitely the best at this.  The Alumni looked in tip top shape minus the myriad of mild injuries that cause chronic discomfort from years of ultimate activity.  They kicked off their semifinals with a chant of “Dicking over college teams, that’s what alumni do!”  Going head to head with the top seed of the tournament, Ohio State, the alumni held their own during the beginning of the game.  Kevin Baumann for Leadbelly and Peter Jackson for the alumni keep the game level at 2-2.  Phil Cherosky waits for the lane to clear and bursts upline to put OSU back in front and the Buckeyes get another break but the alumni answer back with some crafty veteran moves themselves.  Nick “Notor” Thomas throws a high O/I flick to Michael “Denmark” Friis-Jensen for a UT score (circa 2007) and the alumni use a fortuitous drop to get back to even leaving Lead Belly wondering what’s going on.  Time out called.  Ohio State huddles up while the alumni grab more beers.

Ohio State gets the their two goal cushion back and trade with the alumni to take half 7-5 with more offensive firepower from Cherosky.  He starts off the second half with an on point hammer and OSU stretches the lead even more with an around backhand from Jesse “Spike” Wohl.  9-5 Leadbelly.  The alumni still have some fight and the younger alumni still have lots of athleticism.  Notor is only one week removed from a 14th place finish at Nationals with Tanasi and can still elevate for Nick Stewart hammer, 10-7 OSU.  The younger kids definitely proved that the years of less drinking can mean more long term endurance and continued to wear down the older guys.

The UT B team is clever. I'm excited to see the jerseys.

The alumni get one more with a low mark beater from Denmark to make it 12-8 but Ohio State cruises to a 13-8 satisfying everyone because the alumni would rather heckle the finals anyways.

Ohio v. Tennessee Agent Orange

UT didn’t want to lose at their home tournament and came out Sunday morning dressed to play in their full sublimated jerseys.  Ohio, likewise came out dressed in their previous year’s spring duds but only one of these two teams would get to sport them one more time in the finals.  Well, from the start you would have to believe that team would be Ohio who started the game on serve then back to back breaks to put an early divot in UT’s game plan.  The boys in green 3, the boys in orange, 0.

Tennessee takes one back before Ohio rattles off two more and the Bobcats are frustrating Agent Orange.  Both teams are looking for the big play that’s visually exciting but nothing’s working until Nick Peppers picks a disc out of the sky then hits his man on the breakside to get a break back 5-3, Ohio.  In the passionate moments following a turn both teams try to outrun each other.  The Ohio huck doesn’t work but UT’s does and now UT is almost even with Ohio.

The Bobcats crush Tennessee’s momentum with a decisive finish to the first half.  Kevin Hanzel hits Mike Juratovac for the half in Ohio’s favor, 7-4.  After a goal from Agent Orange, Tennessee zones it up and the defense stalls the Bobcat O and UT converts.  The zone continues to work and Ohio has to change their game plan as Tennessee draws back to even.  The change in tactics?  Both teams start more jibbering and less jabbering.  Stoppages of play pick up as the game gets heated.  Don’t they know it’s only November?  Tennessee has gotten in Ohio’s head and grabs the lead, 9-8.  Chris Mullinix makes not one but two possession saving grabs on the next point including a wild hammer from Matthew Twilley to make it 10-8, Tennessee.

Sometimes there was more of this than playing.

Ohio isn’t backing down and the sequence of Mike Bruce to Mitch Cihon to Mark Hritz results in a goal for Ohio and a spike for everyone to see.  Mullinix is in the zone with Nick Peppers and they continue to connect on the long ball.  Ohio tries to be patient against the UT zone.  Hritiz, Bruce, Cihon, Andy Ball and Danny Olson are generating good disc movement but come up short of the goal line when UT clamps down.  On the turn Nick Wetzel gets a big layout d but it’s not enough to push the disc away from Mullinix.  He bombs it to Trey Williams and just like that a potential Ohio score turns into a goal for Tennesse, 12-9 Vols.  Ohio gets one more on a turnover laden point but Tennessee closes the game up three, 13-10.


Tennesse Agent Orange v. Ohio State Leadbelly

Not wanting to start the last game the same way, UT takes the early lead by holding serve on O and Ohio State returns in kind.  Thomas LaRocco goes deep for UT and gets the goal to maintain the offensive tone of the game as is usually the case at the end of Sundays.  Then, with a surge of power, OSU goes on a run of breaks capped of by a bookend score from spike, 5-2 Leadbelly.

Double Girth D is back.

The tale of tape for the first half is all Buckeyes.  Tennessee earn a few points but OSU commands the momentum and refuses to give up anything easy.  Baumann kills his man with a quick first step and Phil Cheroski rewards him with the goal.  UT is making too many rushed attempts and it costs them.  Cheroski catches a goal to make it 7-4 but the capper for OSU is the following point.  Leadbelly gains 40 hard fought yards complete with near D’s, near injuries and a lot of talking.  A hammer goes up to a pile of people with the tall Kevin Baumann coming out on top against several defenders as well as several teammates to give OSU the half, 8-4.

Tennessee needs a spark to get back in this game and they get when OSU hucks out of bounds.  LaRocco drags his foot for a score, 8-5.  Agent Orange settles in with a zone defense but David “Temp” Bentrovato finds the open holes for the score.   The teams trade but UT gets the next break to delight the hometown crowd.  OSU ups the tempo and speeds past the UT defenders to Juice for a goal, 10-7 and UT responds.  Chris Mullinix fakes flick, his defender bites and goes backhand for a cool 50 yards to Jody Lewis, 10-8 Leadbelly.

Tennessee is making a strong comeback case and they add another notch to their break belt when Cherosky makes an uncharacteristic drop leading to a UT break to bring the game within one.  OSU is hoping to provide enough firepower on offense to see this one out so Kevin Baumann goes to Zach Kaufman to get within 2 of victory.  Tennessee responds by Harbaugh beating his man to the disc and snagging a disc before it goes out the back of the end zone to inch to complete a crucial O point.

The tension of the finals is leading both teams to expand beyond the typical disc conservation seen earlier in the game and as a result, spectacular D opportunities present themselves.  Matthew Twilley makes a chest high layout D which leads to Phil Brock hitting Haden Campbell underneath for the game tying score, 11-11.  Cherosky won’t settle for second place and goes big with a picture perfect huck to Kaufman to smell victory, 12-11 OSU.  UT refuses to turn the disc over though so it’s now a game to 14.  Ohio State makes the first step.  Cherosky’s excellent hammer to Spike once again gives OSU the advantage, 13-12 and they get it when the normally sure handed Mullinix overthrows Harbaugh on the first pass.  Any more distance and UT might have a chance but OSU is automatic in the red zone despite a great bid from Matt Pirkle.  OSU starts the season off right with a tournament win, 14-12.

2010 Dave Baldwin Champions, Ohio State Leadbelly.


From there, the deep freeze of winter set in as club teams retreated to recovery rooms and pubs while the college crowd stuck it out with practices for a few more weeks as class time got thicker and thicker.  A dash of cold weather isn’t so bad and the holiday season really glamorizes the romantic side of it all, but the shorter days and dropping temps meant the majority of us had to do without outdoor disc for a few months and were left to ponder the off the field changes happening in the college scene.

Next up… winter weather update 2!

Club Nationals: The Epilogue by Grant
December 22, 2010, 2:39 pm
Filed under: tournament write-ups

Sunday of Club Nationals. This one singular day is probably one of the most media intensive days in our sport and the pen might be mightier than the sword but not necessarily as mighty as the video or picture cameras. And there are a lot around at the Sarasota Polo Club today all focused on three games. So, I took my pen elsewhere and covered the action missed by everyone else, namely, asking folks one important question:

What has been your favorite tournament party ever?

“Easy. 2003 College Nationals.  This was the last official UPA [college] party.  They bussed people over to this rugby house out in the middle of nowhere.  It was great.  There was trashcan jousting among other things.”

-Byron Hicks, USAU Bigwig

“Kaimana tournament.  You can’t beat a park next to the beach and the fields.  There was food, beer and music every night.  Good scene and good people.  It was the sheer enjoyment of the whole experience that made it the best for me.”

-Angela Lin, Ozone

“I’m not a big tournament partier but Paganello and Kaimana and stick out.  We stayed up till 4 or 5 am every night when we had to play at 8 in the morning.”

-Mike Namkung, Black Tide/Condor/Jam/All around legend

“Fall Ultimax ’07 or ’08.  I can’t remember.  It was at a pool hall in Greenville.  When we were driving, we got a flat tire and stopped at a Wal Mart.  Wee picked up weird clothes and made it to the party where it was half ultimate players, half locals.  There were a few good skirmishes that broke out between the ultimate players and the locals.  I don’t remember too much after that.”

-Rob Sayre-McCord, wHagenwheel

Mike is willing to party till 5am at Kaimana.

“Oooooh.  Kaimana 21, whatever year that was.  The theme was, since it was the 21st one, it was an adult now.  There was an ice luge, chair races and a good band.  It was an out of control experience.”

-Chelsea Dengler, 2003 Callahan Award Winner/Schwa/USAU Announcer

“Paganello ’08.  Red wine and grilled sardines.  Tons of non ultimate players running around.  Party on the beach.  It’s definitely a tournament to go to.”

-Matt Tsang, Fury Coach

“Hellfish Bonanza 2007.  It was held in a barn and the Hellfish folks are the coolest people around.”

-Tyler Conger, Virginia/Axis of C’ville/Tanasi

Future tournament partier

“President’s Day of 2005.  It was a huge dance party with free beer.  It was my first time travelling across the country [for a tournament].  It was early in the season and so many players attended the party.”

-Mike Zargham, AMP


For my own personal favorite tournament, I’m going with the Chico Hops Ultimate Gathering party of 2004.  This was my first college tournament party and it was a blast.  The venue was a house on a big piece of property somewhere in Chico.  I believe it was a pirate them so the Chico team set up a big boat racing platform that resembled a pirate ship so competing teams could be showcased.  There were more than enough kegs and the live band was great.  All the men and women’s teams showed up for the event and it was a great first party to go to.

Well, that concludes the 2010 club story.  Players and fans alike will now retreat to their prospective areas of the continent or in the case of Masahiro Matsuno, other continents, until the gossip of off season moves come to light as the winter thaws.  Until then, rest up, drink up, get excited for 2011 where the champions of each division will represent the US at the 2012 World Ultimate and Guts Championships.

Goodbye Sarasota

Club Nationals: Saturday by Grant
November 11, 2010, 12:45 pm
Filed under: tournament write-ups

I can only hope to be playing at the Sarasota level when I get to be Master’s division eligible. I’m impressed to see guys who are still visibly 100% after 2 days of playing and at the culmination of the season. The good men from Chesepeaked gave me some advice to for maintaining their playing health:

-Lots of ice baths
-Vitamin I (Ibuprofen for the ill informed)
-Compression. They didn’t really elaborate on this but I assume any sort of compression is good then.

Even more fun is to see the cornucopia of historic discs and gear that litter the sidelines of all the masters games. Something you simply don’t see everyday is this jersey:

Double Happiness, San Francisco, 1997 Worlds jersey

I was told this was the original 1997 Patagonia Capilene shirt that was first screen printed for Ultimate and the screenprinters weren’t sure they could even print on the material. I feel like this is one of the those early moments that started a revolution of elite apparel that we have today. Without instances like this, Spin might not be around. Retelling this story to Danny Karlinsky later, he mentioned that his older brother Dennis was one of the guys who was playing on Double Happiness during that year and helped organize the deal. [ED. note: After more concrete investigation, Danny has informed me that his brother did not engineer the deal but rather Billy Layden did, although Dennis was a member of the team.] Again, you just don’t find that out hanging out on the open sidelines all day.

Danny Karlinsky also shared a little bit of information about Ultimate Peace and it’s a wonderful program. I even challenged him to sum up the program in 7 words and he countered with 10. I agreed and after a few minutes came up with the following phrase, “Promoting peace through Ultimate, where kids need it the most.” Well done sir. Check out their upcoming summer camp next year at http://www.ultimatepeace.org

I don't remember these Dwarf names from the movie

By the time I’m done making the rounds over the massive field site, Sockeye and Revolver and locking heads in the semifinals. Everything is top notch including Sockeye’s call and response cheer on the sidelines:

“Hey Sebby!”


“Do you have any 6’s?”

(Entire team) “GO FISH!”

Ironside had jumped out to a comfortable lead early and Sockeye had almost let the game get out of hand before halftime but Joe “BJ” Sefton stops Boston in their tracks with a big layout to validate the zone defense. Sockeye zoomed back the other way and Ben Wiggins makes the swing cut towards the end zone hoping to superman into the goal area with the catch but the observer doesn’t believe him. He resets on the goal line so he dishes to Nate Castine instead, making the game 7-5 Ironside. Boston would take the half 8-5, but even the difference of one goal is significantly better than being down 8-4 at half. Folks are in for a treat the rest of the way.

My favorite moment of the first half included a stoppage of play where a huck is brought back to the original Sockeye thrower just shy of mid field. There is also some side confusion about the possibility of another violation but that point was negated by the previous infraction. Never the less, Reid Koss is unaware of both the thrower violation and where the disc is when it’s sent back. Both teams shout heads so Reid gets down low, almost in a ball… and the disc still hits him. Everybody laughs at Reid! I asked him about it later and he said, “It was rough. I tried to be small.” Sounds like something to work on in the off season.

During the half I also got a chance to get some words from Andrew Fleming as everyone knows, blew up all over ESPN this summer. Well it’s been a sufficient few months since then so I asked him about the changes that clip has brought him in his life. Fleming said he was called by a few sports radio stations in Seattle and D.C. which was fantastic because they were asking a lot of questions about the sport basically had the attitude, “hey, this is sweet. We want to know more about it.” He also said the folks who didn’t know he played Ultimate were sending him the clip, which was always good for a laugh. The best thing he says, was the attention was awesome because it wasn’t the usual misconceptions about the sport that were brought up. There was much more of sense of legitimacy which he found to be very enjoyable.

Will Neff, showing me what kind of food a Callahan winner eats

Continuing to shift my attention away from the game which Ultivillage was covering as well (except their pen and paper was an HD camera), I caught up with Aaron Bell of PoNY, who qualified for Nationals for the first time in two years, surprising both Bodhi and GOAT on their way to Sarasota. Staring at the score reporter can be tough to try and figure out the story behind the games so Bell enlightened about PoNY’s determined run through the backdoor bracket as the 4th seed to take the second and last bid to Nationals out of the Northeast region. PoNY has finally become more of a structured team this year. Before, the team was just a hard running team but now they were able to implement a meaningful strategic plan. Another big hurdle is the traditional lack of consistent practice space in the city. Before they would try and find places in Brooklyn and even New Jersey but spots would change and it was a tough time to figure out a schedule. Fortunately, in the off season, the city bought up Randall’s Island, right in the heart of NYC and made it available to more of the club sport teams in the city. PoNY now has their practice field and it’s accessible by a variety of modes of transportation. As far as being able to conquer their regional foes? “Hard running. GOAT and Bodhi do a great job of that so we tailored our game to handle that,” says Bell.

There are always a group of games I was interested in watching but had never taken the time because of the spectacle that is the semifinals: the 5 through 8 bracket of games. These teams still fall in the top half of the teams at the tournament and still produce a lot of action yet know they are playing for placement and pride. What kind of mindset does a team have going into these games and how do you get psyched up? Tully Beatty, the coach of Phoenix said this, “You can’t be indifferent… The season’s over in a few hours. Just go out and play. Don’t be indifferent.” Sometimes we all need that reminder that it will end soon so enjoy it while it lasts…

5th place game, Women’s Division

Traffic (Vancouver, B.C.) v. Scandal (Washington, D.C.)

As it is the last game of the season for both teams, the two sides agreed upon a mutually beneficial solution that would give them a meaningful game after more than two days of play: game to 11. The game was already in high gear by the time I arrived with Scandal constantly having to battle against Traffic’s zone. In the early going, Scandal has little trouble zooming through the zone and Sandy Jorgensen benefits for the goal. All square at 4-4. Traffic comes right back with a quick efficient offense of their own. As the sun beats down on both teams, Scandal can’t catch up to the swing goal from Eva Cham to Amira Maddison. Traffic’s back on top, 5-4.

One striking feature about this game is the sparse sideline as all the other fields have been cleaned up and abandoned by the players, fans and personnel whose seasons have already finished and are elsewhere watching other games, drinking beer and generally enjoying all the good times at the lovely Sarasota Polo Club. The persistent wind that was present over the previous two days is gone and the sunshine is all that’s left. Water and shade are critical, not only for comfort, but also for health as one Nemesis player has already needed attention just to avoid being in the danger zone.

Since the game is short, this next point could mean half for Traffic. With a Scandal turn, it looks that way. Candice Chan throws up a flick on the liveside that trails away from the defender towards the deadside and right where Janice Lo can’t be D’ed. The Canucks take half, 6-4.

After a respite from the heat for a short time, both sides jump out of the gate with superb highlight worthy defense. Neilu Rishi gets a big layout D for Traffic, but just when you thought they are gaining momentum and might score again, Scandal’s Charlie Mercer gets one of her own and keeps on trucking towards the end zone. Her throwing has the green light to go for and sends a huck Mercer’s way that she tracks down for the goal, 6-5 Traffic. The girls from the north of the border get their insurance point back and but Scandal won’t close the door. 7-6 Traffic. The Washingtonians throw on a four man person cup that makes it hard for the girls north of the border to move the disc. Scandal causes a turn only to give it back. The defense isn’t the problem though and they get another turn and the thrower gauges the huck correctly this time to tie up the game at 7’s.

Only four more points to claim supremacy of the non semifinal qualifiers and Traffic lays it on thick. A bullet of a pass up the gut and then a quick out to Ashlee Davidson wide gives Traffic the advantage again followed by Kira Frew getting a poach D on the next point and then a fast pass to Davidson for the Canadian break, 9-7 Traffic. This team is very sharp and Kira Frew is an absolute spitfire for the team, making plays on offense and defense.

The Beltway gang will not go down easily though. Jenny Fey throws up a pass that Jorgensen pulls down for the goal, climbing over the heads of multiple defenders and receivers. Scandal gets a crucial turn on the next point and Jennie Wellman scoots deep and is the target of the handler. The pass isn’t going her way and looks to fall to the ground but Ashley Daly is there for the recovery and suddenly Scandal is right back even with Traffic, 9-9. Back and forth they go!

Each side spots the other a turn but on Traffic’s second offensive chance, Frew takes a dump pass over the line with a hop to put Traffic in the first chance to win. Scandal tries to get a quick O point but gives up the disc and Traffic is working the red zone. Sanya Pleshakov turns to dump to Betsy Chan. Chan continues over to Frew and as soon as the disc is released, Chan bursts upline and Frew gives it right back for the goal and the game, 11-9 Traffic.

Ironside has fans of all ages.

With another day in the books, only six teams remain vying for a championship. Our merry band of spectators made the ill informed move to try and meet up and party the previous evening with teams in Siesta Key which left us a little gassed for the Saturday night activities. After joining up with a huge Atlanta contingent at the Spin house, the party ballooned to starting including the rest of the nation and folks began to migrate towards the local hotspots. Without proper identification from some folks in our running crew we headed home only to find out the next day, folks were partying till 5am. Rats.

Club Nationals: Friday by Grant
November 5, 2010, 7:28 pm
Filed under: tournament write-ups

Our arrival was early. The earliest in fact. At 5:30 in the morning, it was only us and the good folks guarding the beer truck. On call from 7pm to 7am, they spend as much time at the fields as anyone else yet they are rarely seen by the masses. My hat is off to you gents.

This is what the Polo Club looks like without any sunlight.

At 6:15 the port-o-john guys arrive and we are already jovial about having the entire site to throw around a flashflight disc while it’s still dark out. With our collective adrenaline we formulate a plan of action to get through the day that includes making a trip to Publix as it opens and loading up with the requisite bread, turkey, cheese and mustard to compliment our stocked cooler already filled with ice and beer. Now with the sun rising over the Sarasota Polo fields, it’s time to find out what’s going on.
We park our van for front row seats right in front of where Chain Lightning is beginning to come to life. Last year they could have run the slogan “Welcome to Destroyertown. Population: Chain Lightning” and the early evaluation was these guys look good. When Zip goes past me, I can’t help but think even his jog to the Honey Bucket looks like it helps his game.

With less 15 minutes to game time, I get a chance to catch up with Ring of Fire all around dominant player and good guy, Jared Inselmann to ask him what exactly happened at regionals this year. He responded that full credit goes out to Truck Stop. They were playing well and Ring simply wasn’t at its peak at that time. In previous years, they had the advantage of being comfortable heading into regionals but this time there was a lack of preparation. Jared also said they were only 1 for 7 on break opportunities. Well Nationals is a whole new ball game and early season heartbreak can be erased.

With 5 minutes to go before game time, I found out that Ozone was down to only 9 healthy bodies by the end of Thursday. Rough. And then the moment the teams were waiting for…

Horn sounds.

Mixed Power Pool Round 1

Drag’n Thrust (Minneapolis) v. Polar Bears (East Bay)

Despite the elevated level of play between these two sides, both squads carry a cavalier, whatever happens, happens attitude. Drag’n Thrust never calls subs or lines, instead relying on a alchemic mixture of athleticism and experience. Two of the players are over 30 and they even had a few practices this year. The Polar Bears cut their over 30 player count by 1 and when asked about gunning for a strength bid this year and coming back next year… they shrugged. These guys are just going with the flow. Sure, they had set out a goal of winning the Northwest region, but that’s in the past now.

Drag jumps out to an early lead and through my simple observation it’s quite simple. Drag’n Thurst’s throws aren’t floating while the Polar Bears’ throws are. 2-1 D’n T. Already down a break, the Polar Bear O spreads the field wide in hopes of opening the throwing lanes. They also get throws from both sides of the mark and get one back from Minnesota. Advance and conserve seems to be the name of the game early. Both teams are weary of the seemingly intermittent wind so they wear down the defenses with quick up field strikes, followed by a steady pace of dumps and swings. The offense is potent enough to beat PB’s cup as the Bears look to prevent the big rushes. When push came to shove though, Drag’n thrusted, 4-2 Minnesotans.

The game is far from over but D’n T makes a big statement with a turn and then a huck to Patrick Niles who makes a stellar grab. Thrust jumps to a 5-2 lead. What might be aggravating on the field is actually very enjoyable as a spectator. In a bid to get the next few points, both teams are ramping up the defensive bids and the wind is acting as the third man on the field. The Polar Bears interrupt my enjoyment by calling a timeout before either team can grab a point. I learn that some of the Drag’n Thrusters are operating on 4 hours of sleep after the bad weather in Minneapolis slowed air traffic to a crawl and caused multiple delays and missed connections.

Polar Bears come out of the huddle and get the point they wanted, leaving a gassed line to depart from the field. Thrust proves you don’t need long points to score and march down the field without turning over the disc and then score another crucial break with a bomb with the wind, 7-3 Drag’n Thrust. 808 Liu matches it with a bomb of his own to Lucas Dallmann making it look so easy, but Thrust gets the first laugh, taking half 8-4. As the Polar Bears come over to the sidelines to talk, Clay Miller is upset and directs his anger towards the nearest trashcan but this is how I saw it: Clay thought the garbage can looked a lot like Hitler and let it know how he feels about that with his foot. The uninformed might have seen the same moment differently though.

In the middle of half time I caught up with Greg Connelly, head honcho for the observers here in Sarasota to ask about the method to his madness and this is what he had to offer:

In the college championship tournament, every game is observed in addition to having 4 observers in the semifinals and finals. It would take 60 observers to do the same here at the Club tournament which unfortunately isn’t feasible. All of the observers have their flights, hotel and some meals paid for but there aren’t enough willing to make the trip and to complicate the situation even more, some of the better observers who Greg would like to have are playing in the event. So, it’s not a budget issue, just a personnel issue, but Greg makes due with the qualified staff he has on tap. Each observer goes through a screening process and he tries to pair up rookies with veterans who also give feedback to the newer guys. Even at the quarterfinal level, all of the games can’t be observed because the Masters division semifinal games are taking place at the same time and require observers. Before he takes, he offers one last pivotal piece of information telling me that quality definitely counts over quantity. “A game with poorly trained observers is worse than no observers at all.” I wholeheartedly agree with his philosophy and he is definitely on the ball with this event. Kudos Mr. Connelly.

Back to the game at hand where the teams are converting on the offensive chances. Josh Hemmesch gets a step for first position and D’n T’s 9th point. Natasha Won makes a super layout grab to make it 9-6 Thrust and provoke this exchange on the sidelines between teammates, “Whoa! I didn’t see that coming.” “I did.”

Why do I love ultimate? Seeing teammates laughing and smiling on the sideline even while down at Nationals. Even though the haven’t closed the gap yet, the Polar Bears are still hanging tough, staying an edgy 3-4 points behind at all times. They are close to a game breaker but under a high stall count they have to punt the disc towards the end zone that always ends up as a completed goal (a contested stall would have nullified the goal). You what though, sometimes things just work out for you regardless. Robert Gormley breaks the mark to Ernst Westphal and the Bears have finally gotten a break back, 10-8 Thrust. PB wants two breaks in a row, even forcing a turnover but Drag’n Thrust serves up a handblock and then Robyn Fennig goes crossfield to a wide open Michael Berseth for the score and the momentum 180. 11-8 D’n T.

“Pick. Pick called! Oh, that was a bee. God dammit!” Daniel “Robot” Naruo always vocalizes the important stuff. Things aren’t going well on the field for the Polar Bears either. Drag’n Thrust starts to display that athleticism and experience I’ve been hearing so much about as Niles gets elevation again for a break and then Thrust connects on the outshot again going downfield to make it 13-8. The Polar Bears work the disc with supreme fluidity to slow the Thrust, 13-9. D’n T counters with an O point and then gets it back when PB coughs up the disc in the red zone. They don’t want to waste their own chance after lots of disc advancement so they call timeout on the winning doorstep. 1-2-3-4 throws is all it takes and Fennig takes in the game winner, 15-9 Drag’n Thrust.

After the first of two power pool rounds, it’s time for a well deserved beer and a sandwich. The long hours and little sleep haven’t gotten to me yet and the rest of my traveling posse also look sprite as I encounter them in our sandwiching making van. There’s something about Club Nationals that fills even the spectators with a whole lotta adrenaline.

I have also found out one of the more intriguing storylines for the weekend that has some players wondering if this is the end of an era. The beer garden is no longer free. What will this mean for the future?

Clearly this is an issue.

Power Pool Round 2

Sockeye (Seattle) vs. PoNY (New York City)

My first glimpse of the open scene is the power pool game between Sockeye and PoNY and Seattle looks like Sockeye of 3-4 years ago. They yell, “Blood in the water! Chomp! Chomp! Chomp!” out to a 3-0 lead over PoNY and the dreaded dropped pull strikes the Pones before they get on the board. The game begins at 4-1 Sockeye. The Seattle offense is back after a long rest and Spencer Wallis gets the big throw downfield. He dishes to Mike Caldwell and gets it right back outstretched in the end zone. The Fish can seemingly do no wrong, 5-1. Anything they throw is working, 6-1. The defense is forcing mistakes, 7-1.

Jody Arvigan gives New York something to smile about with a highlight of his own, staving off halftime for at least one more point, 7-2 Sockeye. Seattle finally comes back down to Earth and PoNY gets a break chance but Adam Holt stabs a swing pass out of the sky. A dump here, a swing there and Seattle maneuvers the disc into the end zone, 8-2 Seattle half.

This is how Muffin manages to tweet and play at the same time.

New York starts out the second half the way they wished they had started the first half with Ben Faust connecting with Jack Marsh to make it 8-3 but Seattle matches with a goal to Mr. ESPN, Andrew Fleming. Kevin Terry goes to Aaron Bell on an inside out breakmark flick and now the Pones are starting to string some offensive possessions together and giving more playing time to the D line. A break in the wind and the Pride announce their presence with a hammer for the break in the game, 9-5 Seattle. New York is stepping up on D because if New York ultimate has taught me anything, it’s FCU, it’s ICU. Sockeye is forced to work harder and they step up to the challenge to get the goal, 10-5. PoNY is working harder but they are going to need to get some more breaks in a hurry to make a run at the fish… and then they get one. A O point leads to a D where Marsh throws a trailing flick to the end zone, 10-7 Sockeye. Both squads are fired up so Fleming acts like there are more cameras around and skies 3 Pones to keep pace. Tyler Kinley follows that with an encore breakthrow to Tim Gehret, 12-7 fish. PoNY almost gives up another break but Ignacio Yz has other plans and gets a bookend goal, 12-8.

Even though both teams are incredibly focused in the game, Ben Wiggins doesn’t give up the opportunity for an on field heckle during a stoppage of play. During the stoppage Webster McBride needs to take an injury, BLW responds, “I need you to earn that injury,” with a smile on his face. So one of the Pones on the sideline lobs a bottle at him. The game is never too serious for both teams to share a laugh. After the disc is tapped back into play, each team produces a turn but the fish get the benefit end, 13-8.

Gehret comes up with a big layout D on the next point but has to take an injury. Even more unfortunate, the goal pass is too far and the fish give it up. Another hammer, another near injury so the Fish avoid a possible third incident by scoring this time around, 14-8. PoNY continues to fight, even on their deathbed and eeks out a goal as well as a break from Joe Anderson to Grant Boyd, bringing the tally up to double digits for both teams, 14-10 Sockeye.

Wiggins finishes things with a pass to Dave Bestok for the win but Dan Heijmen looks on the bright side: “Prequarters baby! Prequarters!”

Before the final round of play, I get a chance to ask Andrew Lugdsin about how exactly Matsuhiro Matsuno came play for the monkey. As it turns out, Lugsdin and Matsuno have been communicating over the past few years with the hopes of playing at some point, when Matsuno asked to play with Furious next season. Lugdsin responded that while it sounds great, he wouldn’t be playing next year as this was his last season, so come play with Vancouver for Nationals this year. And the rest they say, is history.

Well, not exactly. Lugsdin also explained to me this is the first time Matsuno has played with Furious and he speaks little English. The Buzz Bullets also run a different system than Furious so figuring out a place for Matsuno is not as easy as it might seem to those aware of his gargantuan stats at Worlds earlier this year. Sometimes he plays O, sometimes he plays D because it’s always tough to integrate someone where everyone else already knows each other.

Regardless, it was quite awesome to see him on the field and while Furious couldn’t pull out a prequarter victory, there were some awesome highlights and the spectators can only wish for more Matsuno vs. Ken Porter matchups in the future. Next up… Saturday play!

Matt Lane and I got into a shootout during Friday. He won.

Atlantic Coast Regionals – Women’s Division by Grant
May 29, 2010, 12:49 pm
Filed under: tournament write-ups

On a hot weekend in May, teams to do battle in Athens, GA for the 2010 edition of Women’s AC Regionals. Two bids to Nationals are on the line and a handful of teams are left after Sunday.


UNC-Wilmington Seaweed v. UNC-Chapel Hill Pleiades

In a rematch of last year’s Regional final, UNC-Wilmington and UNC-Chapel Hill do battle to take a higher seed into Madison and guarantee a berth. A quick talk with Coach Lindsay Hack before the game revealed their strategy for victory:

1. Always converting red zone offense
2. Tight aggressive marks
3. Always make them go 70 yards.

Wilmington really is UCSB-East with their “Yea Black!” cheers. Let’s see if they play like Santa Barbara as well. Chapel Hill put their braintrust in a clever sign for the players that says, “Smoke that weed. Go Pleiades.” At a regional final years ago, that could very well be taken literally.

The Pleiades receive to start the game and immediately go deep but the option can’t hang on. They get the disc back though and Leila Tunnell goes breakside to Lindsay D’Ambrosio for the breakside score, 1-0 Chapel Hill. Leila winds up a big pull and the field can’t contain it. It goes out the back of the end zone on the fly. Starting from the brick, Wilmington starts out on offense for the first time today but it isn’t clicking yet. Pleiades Disc. Ashley Barfield gets it and continues to Whitney Morgan for the early break, 2-0 Pleiades. An up the gut pass has too much wind under it which might lead to a second consecutive Tarheel break but they turn it over for the first time today. Kelly Tidwell catches a long huck and gets help immediately to settle the point, 2-1 Chapel Hill.

The wind is at the back on the southeast side of the field, so both teams are getting big pulls to push the O lines into their own end zones. Chapel Hill tries to get a lot of yardage but the wind pushes the disc past Barfield’s hands. Wilmington has a long way to go with the turnover and they give it back to the Tarheels with a miscue on the dump. Janna Coulter goes liveside all day for the Chapel Hill goal, 3-1. Wilmington finds a rhythm against the Chapel Hill cup and decide to run zone themselves. The four man person cup option gets the job done and Sara Casey goes I/O to Jessica Patrick to get the game back level, 3-3. When the Chapel Hill offense comes out too fast and Wilmington goes on the offensive. The first huck is no good but they cause their own fortune with a big D and Casey goes to Patrick again, 4-3 Wilmington. Chapel Hill calls TO.

The Tarheels are lacking the poise they showed earlier in the game and Wilmington gets another with a huck to Tidwell, 5-3 Wilmington. It takes the Pleiades one more point to calm down, and they chillax in the Wilmington zone so Lindsay Lang has no problem getting the disc to Barfield for the goal, 5-4 Wilmington.

The wind is picking up a little bit to a constant blow. It feels great on the sidelines in otherwise terminal heat, but I’m sure its torture for the players. Wilmington tempts the wind but the huck goes harmlessly out of bounds. A short Chapel Hill turnover gives good yardage to Wilmington. Casey finds Jessica Makowski, 6-4 Wilmington. Back and forth the teams go with Wilmington maintaining a comfortable margin. Both teams convert on O to make it 7-6 Wilmington, so Seaweed can take half on offense. Chapel Hill has some crafty dump marks so Lia English has to punt it, almost converting the goal but baby blue jerseys swallow up the disc. Chapel Hill gets close to tying the game but Michaela Dudley throws towards the shade tent which is out of bounds and not a receiver. Their defense is working for them though and they continue to beat the Seaweed marks underneath. Lang gets it a millimeter from the outstretched arms of a black jersey then cuts back across the field to Barfield, 7-7. Wilmington calls TO this time.

The two teams go back onto the playing field and immediately butt heads with great play from both teams. Heather Zimmerman gets a great D and then so does Claire Chastain. Jockeying back and forth Tidwell gets the disc near the brick and hits Chastain who raises her triumphant fist in the air for the Seaweed, 8-7 Wilmington.

After a short break, both teams start the half with guns blazing. The first half was a feeler for both teams and now they are letting loose. Big throws, big marks and Chapel Hill gets the last laugh on this point. A zipper opens up the seam for Zimmerman, 8-8. Leila Tunnell’s pull skips past the Wilmington back line amping the Pleiades sideline for a potential Callahan… and then it comes. Leila ends the point without any need for offense, 9-8 Tarheels. Wilmington stops the Chapel Hill mini-run with Tidwell gaining excellent position when a disc seemed certain to be a D. She switches from cutter to throw and hits Chastain to tie it, 9-9.

It’s a battle of attrition as both teams are struggling to be the last ones standing. One D leads to another which leads to a turn in the wind and the point drags on, draining all energy on the field. Chapel Hill finally gets close enough to remove a lot of doubt. Morgan gets it to Barfield, letting the gassed players take a deserved breather, 10-9 Chapel Hill. The fresh Tarheels follow this with a break to bring the energy level back up, so Wilmington calls another time out.

Whatever was said in the time out should be bottled up and sold because Seaweed comes out rolling afterwards. Wilmington gets it on O with English taking in a perfectly led pass to the red zone. She quickly follows with a goal to Patrick on the same side, 11-10 Wilmington. Seaweed encores with a break, and then another and they don’t stop! 11-11, then Wilmington takes the lead at 12-11. Makowski steps off the dump and reads the eyes of the Chapel Hill handler to get the D. She picks up and immediately foes for Tidwell to get within two, 13-11. Tidwell also gets in the throwing game and fires a long flat huck to Patrick for a goal, 14-11. Chapel Hill is firing hucks in hopes of getting anything at all, but like most get rich quick schemes, they just end of worse off than when they started. Liz Dressler saves an arrant pass for Wilmington and then sees Tidwell making an S cut at the back of the end zone. Her mind is made up and she puts a disc to the back left corner. Tidwell’s all along as silence falls over the field in anticipation and then eruption from the Seaweed sideline as she secures the disc. UNC-Wilmington wins 15-11.

The Game to Go

UNC-Chapel Hill Pleiades v. Emory Luna

After working hard to break the UNC cup, Emory starts the game with a break themselves 1-0. Leila is terrorizing the deep area for Chapel Hill, eating up multiple Emory hucks. After pressing their luck, Leila gets a D and calls time out. Lindsay finally gets the Tarheels on board looking surprised that scored as if to say, “Is this point really over?”. 1-1. In a tantalizing moment, Chelsea Murphy and Savannah Haas get tangled by the shoe laces and struggle to get free with the sideline giggling. The Callahan momentum has subsided but UNC is not done. Janna Coulter rips a huck that hangs so Morgan uses all of her speed to run down the disc for a goal. Chapel Hill is back on serve, 2-1.

With the Heels back on serve, the game sticks to this with neither side getting far out of line. Leila is doing a lot of the hucking for the Pleiades and Maggie Fisher is doing the same for Emory. At 4 all Chapel Hill turns the disc amongst their handlers. Chelsea Murphy fakes on her cut catching her defender off guard and she’s open upline all day for the break. 5-4 Emory. UNC tries the hucking game to Barfield but Abby Schuster is there for the D. The only thing is, she D’s it back into the air giving Barfield a second chance at the disc. A perfect second chance indeed as it becomes a Chapel Hill goal, 5-5.

Atlee Tyree makes a huge grab to save goal for Emory and stay on top but the Tar Heels answer right back. A huck to Barfield pushes the game to 6-6. Both teams are stepping up the speed of play. Emily Mitchell gets a lucky pass after two other Emory receivers miss. With a flat mark she completes a goal to Dani Kaplan with little room to spare. 7-6 Emory. Luna has a chance to take half when a Pleiades huck is too long. Murphy finds Schuster at the goal line and Golsa Yazdy gets separation from her defender to open in the corner for half. 8-6 Emory

Emory is receiving to start the half but its UNC which is positioned for a break but overthrows Haas. Luna goes back the other way, clearing the disc of any danger and getting a goal to Esta Denton who sacrifices herself to leg cramping in the process. 9-6 Emory. Another Chapel Hill huck falls short leaving Emory to work harder. Fisher completes a masterful crossfield huck to the only available spot on the field. Schuster is waiting patiently to find an open receiver. Murphy in the dump bodies her way up the line and makes the grab 10-6.

Even though Emory is holding the upper ground, their energy level is deteriorating as the same core of players have been working on offense and defense for the past two games as well as this one. Lindsay Lang stops the bleeding going up the middle to Morgan on the deadside of the stack, 10-7. UNC takes over on D but at the expense of several players who take an injury during the point. Leila gets one just inside the goal line, 10-8. The humidity is making cramps more and more likely so pickles and Gatorade are being consumed at a furious rate. Emory and UNC are rushing their offenses to try and get quick scores but nothing is working. Possessions are becoming a dime a dozen. Emory turns it short one too many times and Haas hits Barfield on the live side 10-9. Emory suffers from an unforced drop but the wind doesn’t play favorites, pushing the disc away for UNC as well. The luckier team might be the winner of this point. The Pleiades tie it up with the horn denoting a game to 12.

UNC is on a roll now and it’s just a matter if Emory can hang on for a few more points. The point goes for the Tar Heels though as they get the completed huck they came for to take their first lead of the half, 11-10. Emory can’t stay consistent enough to make the necessary completions. Leila tries to win it with one throw but it’s too long. Maggie goes the length of the pitch pas all defenders to Chelsea Murphy but she hasn’t scored yet. A dump to Emily Mitchell and back to Chelsea is too far. Both teams are generating chances which adds to the tension. The Tar Heels then catch gold by getting an opportunity five yards out of the end zone. Ashley Barfield, one of the big downfield threats all day for UNC works hard enough to get open and score the winner 12-10 UNC.

It is interesting to note that both winners today, UNC-Wilmington and UNC-Chapel Hill both went on unanswered six point runs to win their games and go to Nationals. Best of luck to both teams in Madison.

Atlantic Coast Regionals Day 2 by Grant
May 28, 2010, 7:47 am
Filed under: tournament write-ups

Eight teams remain. 3 from the Georgia/South Carolina section. 2 from North Carolina. 2 from the Blue Ridge, and 1 big powerhouse team from Florida. 3 spots to Nationals are up for grabs today and nothing is guaranteed yet. There’s a lot of good ultimate that separates the best from those who will be staying home on Memorial Day.


Georgia Jojah v. Georgia Tech Tribe

Round 4.

Now this is clean old fashioned hate. These two teams, besides just residing 60+ miles from each other have already faced off several times this year with Tech gaining the upperhand thus far, but none were as big as this match.

The teams butt heads early with Matt Bailey getting a D in the air and Hogan McHugh responding with one of his own on the first point. Tribe goes in the proper direction, Hogan hits Michael Pribble and Tech is fired up about their early 1-0 lead. Jojah has to work hard for their cuts but they pull through capped with a layout score from David Benkeser to equalize. It’s a fancy engineer type of play for Tech. A big around backhand from Hogan ascends over the Georgia D and descends right in to the hands of Andrew Fish, 2-1. Charlie Herrig gets the disc along the left sideline and Peter Dempsey makes it a drag race up the line. He takes the checkered flag and there’s nothing separating these teams early on, 2-2. Even with a break opportunity, the Tech offense turned defense stays perfect and gets the disc back to score.

The wind is pushing the disc down on one side of the field so a break chance for Tech is shut down. Georgia runs the other and Dempsey launches a backhand for Bailey who has nobody to beat, 3-3. Tech’s O line is still perfect and the sideline continues to watch in anticipation of the first break to give early game momentum to the boys from Atlanta or Athens. That moment might be arriving soon. All kinds of confusion arise when the disc flops out of Dempsey’s hands and Tech suddenly has a red zone break chance. The O is not looking sharp and the handlers are being pushed backwards. The dumps switch gears and start motoring upline. Ramu Annamalai cranks up the Tribe excitement with the break goal to give Tech a 5-3 lead. The Tribe zone is more attacking than the Georgia O line as a result of the momentum going for the Jackets and they cause a goal line D. Hogan picks up and Sean Lee spread open his cutting lane to take a breakside backhand over the top. 6-3 Tribe.

UGA stops the bleeding with a huck to Max Leonard and now its up to the D line to do something. A Pass to Andrew Fish is too high but Garrett Braun is there for the rebound. An immediate pass to Spear leads to a disc jacking in Hogan’s direction. 7-4 Tech. The Jojah O line converts and the Dawgs are back at the same point they were two points ago, but now face a Tech team looking to take half. Alex Bui looks for Hogan but doesn’t see Taylor Nilan speeding through for the layout D. A few dumps and Dempsey finds David Hooten to get a break back. The UGA D is fired up and Dempsey gets a phantom D on Garrett. A big break through to Charlie Herrig allows him to toss it to Dustin Graham, squaring the game up once again at 7 a piece. Tech is still able to eek out the first half lead with a big backhand from Nick Lance that’s just enough to get past the Georgia D to Fish, 8-7. As David Berendes says as an unbiased sideline spectator, “Nice shot Nick Lance.”

As the teams discuss 2nd half strategy I take note of the wind. It’s a deceptive breeze that’s light enough to not pay attention to, but the second you don’t it will slap your throws around like toaster that’s stuck on your hand.

The Dawgs take care of business right away and the margin between the two teams is nonexistent once again. Both teams have a few chances to take the lead again but luck is on Jojah’s side this time. A disc is over the receiver’s hands but Hooten is there to save possession right next to the goal. He gets the assist and the Dawgs are up a break, 9-8. Tech is ever so close to a goal but they try and swing it to the deadside which results in disaster. The throw goes too high, giving possession back to UGA. Dempsey gets it about 10 yards out and flicks the rest of the distance to an open Bailey, 10-8 UGA. Both teams feel the late game pressures of what another break might mean and it usually leads to a long point. Nick Lance decides its time for a breather. Time out called.

Tech tries to be cool going the length of the field but Dempsey is there for the layout D. The Dawgs work the tired Tech legs with ease for another break, 11-8. The Jackets step up and work the unders to resemble Tech of the first half, 11-9 UGA. Even in the heat of an intense regional matchup, Taylor Nilan is never one to shy away from being a goofball when he gets the chance. He comes over to the sideline where Tech coach Russell Snow is standing and tries to convince the observer that Snow is on the field (which would warrant a TMF) by physically trying to move him into the field of play when there’s a stoppage near the endzone. Snow spars with Nilan for a little bit and then shift their focus back to the game. The Jojah O line gets one step closer to victory when the horn sounds, giving both teams the notice that this game will be played to 14. Lance has an uncharacteristic drop and Georgia is looking to ice this game. Brian Walter has a man wide open in the endzone. There’s some confusion after the catch and everyone is still stationary. Hogan is barking something but as it turns out, it’s a non call so the goal stands, 13-9.

Tech feels the walls closing around them as they try a few ill advised hucks. Finally a long pass to Ramu works so he can dump it to Spear then cut for the goal. Georgia would prove victorious in this first match of the day as Bailey reaches over his opponent to claim semifinal birth and sectional final vengeance, 14-10.


Georgia Jojah v. Florida Gators
UNC-Wilmington Seamen v. Virginia Night Train

Yes, despite what the scoreline might read, there were in fact two semifinal games played. The problem is, Florida so thoroughly beat Georgia in a short period of time, there isn’t much to discuss. After a couple of breaks, the turning point for the game came on the third point. In a controversial moment, Georgia apparently mishandled the pull and the disc is awarded to Florida on the turnover yet Michael Slade is outraged because he squarely believes that the disc was fielded off the ground. Just the same way Stanford doesn’t recognize California’s win in the 1982 Big Game, UGA reminds me after the game that their highlights include catching all of their pulls and mostly completing at least one pass on every point where they had possession. It would be 11 straight points before Jojah finally gets a point on the board with a huck to Dustin Graham. Leading 13-1 would warrant an easy game strategy for most teams but Florida’s Glenn Lenberger doesn’t quite understand gamesmanship yet. Realizing he doesn’t have a play on a huck that’s going to fall easily in the hands of his teammate, he turns around and finds the nearest red shirt, running into him to prevent him from getting the D. Initially stunned about the events that just happened Justin DeSandre has a maddening puzzled look on his face as the sideline suggests that he can call foul, so he does… repeatedly, with more aggression in his tone each time until play stops. The sideline can only shake its collective head in bewilderment. Florida cruises 15-1 and returns to the College Championships for the first time in 2 years.

In the other semifinal, Wilmington and Virginia fight it out for a spot to Nationals on the line. Virginia is looking for a repeat to attend their second ever Nationals while Wilmington is looking to return for the first time since 2002. The Seamen start in the right direction with their zone cracking the Virginia offense. Rusty goes for David Macurak in the corner for the icebreaker, 1-0 Wilmington. Wilmington almost gets a second break but Virginia stops the opportunity. Night Train goes deep to Conger and he goes to the grass to get the disc. Popping up in excitement with the goal and delight of his teammates, Virginia equalizes 1-1.

Matt King picks off a tipped disc from Andrew Wilkes for a goal instead of a near goal and Virginia jumps into the lead. The Seamen threaten to tie. Rusty looks for Doroski in the endzone, but Alex Dagley bursts in front to layout and stop the goal. The greenshirts move the disc towards their comfort zone and Conger gets antsy. He launches a big hammer that’s simply too much. Wilmington also gives up their endzone chance and neither team is playing 100% offense. Conger decides a timeout is what is needed. The set piece works. A goal to Pennucci gives Virginia a break, 3-1. With Wilmington’s fundamental O point, both teams settle into a rhythm of score first then worry about defense. 4-2 turns into 5-3. Doroski has the disc and his eyes shift back and forth between the dump and downfield. The count gets too high to look for any more options so he sends it to the endzone. Unbeknownst to him , Jarret Bowen is there, timing his jump just right for the Seamen goal, 5-4 Virginia.

With Wilmington on the uptick, Kevin Shea runs down a huck from Rusty earning back the break lost earlier in the game and tying the score at 5 all. The Wilmington D is feeling it feeding the energy to Steve Taylor for a layout D to stop the Night Train drive. Riding high on this momentous play, a huck goes up for Doroski with Bowen there for help and he’s needed. The disc bounces off Doroski’s hands and goes right into the breadbasket of Bowen next to the goal line. Several violations raise tensions so when play finally resumes, Doroski gets it in the corner and spikes the disc emphatically. 6-5 Wilmington.

(Note: To put it in perspective, it is at this point, Florida is just finishing their semifinal against Georgia)

The Seamen are poised for yet another break so Stephen Bender calls time out roughly 10 yards outside of goal. He returns to the spot and throws to the end zone on a 2nd chance pass. Everyone goes up for a shot at coming down with the disc and they all go home empty handed, then Mister Todd Doroski himself goes up and clasps the disc for another break, 7-5 Wilmington. Virginia tries to go back to their small ball game which has worked for them up to this point and carried them to Nationals last year. Matt King is trying to get open in the dump but Tommy poaches off his man and gets a D when the handler doesn’t see in the peripheral. A bomb goes off towards Bowen and he makes the play to take half 8-5 in favor of Wilmington.

Virginia demands action and gets it for the first point of the second half. Wilmington hiccups but Tommy has the presence of mind to see Rusty speeding away towards goal. He gets it keep Virginia at bay, 9-6. The game is teetering on the brink of a thorough foothold in favor of Wilmington. The Seamen do everything they need to lock up of this game and get a break the very next point. A huck goes up to a pile of shirts in the end zone, some white, some green. None of the green shirts end up with the disc but Rusty does. Conger calls foul resulting in a less than riveting argument between the two until the observer is summoned. He declares no foul and the Wilmington sideline is ecstatic. 10-6 Seamen.

Virginia finally works their methodical game for a goal and then gets a very lucky position to score near the Wilmington end zone. They don’t give up the disc and suddenly the score is 10-8 Wilmington. With Wilmington no longer in a comfortable lead, the top Seamen step up to ensure a goal. Doroski holds the disc and looks dump but it’s not an option so he sends it to Tommy who uses all of his athleticism to make the grab and stay in bounds, 11-8 Wilmington. Conger shows off impressive throwing skills for a simple two throw offense to Aaron Mullins to some fire into the Night Train before the horn sounds. The ensuing Wilmington offense results in a wide pass so Virginia gets one last shot to get a break, otherwise its game over. Conger breaks the mark to Jesse Macadangdang and he puts it to Dagley in stride to make it 11-10. In his exuburation, Dagley throws the disc behind him without looking and it just so happens to hit Doroski in the chest. Todd gains this boiling hatred look on his face to match some choice words as the Night Train cheering circle reforms to provide a buffer between him and Dagley. A TMF and cooler heads are the end result but its all a manifestation of the tension on the field. Wilmington is giving it all they’ve got to just get one more point and clinch a berth to Natty’s. A huck goes up to several potential receivers and Doroski comes down with it in traffic. A goal is now a very serious threat. A foul on the mark stops play and resumes so Todd can pitch the disc out to the liveside. Rusty is positioning himself in the dump and he knows exactly where he wants to be. He beats his man upline and gets the disc capping off an emotional game, 12-10 UNC-Wilmington.

Backdoor Semifinals

Georgia Jojah v. Tennessee Agent Orange

Not wasting anytime, Jojah and Agent Orange start racking up points immediately. A Phil Brock to Richey Ward to Adam Tinker sequence for the goal produces a lead for the Vols, 3-2. What some predicted would be a warmup for Georgia since they got a lot of resting time in between their frontdoor semifinal and this game, didn’t arrive on Tennessee ears. Matthew Twilley hits Jonny Fong giving UT a break early. Georgia has athletes though and its a big reason they’ve gotten this far. David Benkeser catches a Tom Ball throw, utilizing his big frame to swat away defenders and stay in bounds, 4-3 UT.

Tennessee is playing inspired ultimate though. An O point is followed by another break when Brock gets it on the goal line and dishes it to Haden Campbell. 6-3 Tennessee. Georgia is still Georgia though. They get their O point and have a chance to get a break of their own. Matt Harbaugh jumps too soon for a disc. Davis Waller finds David Hooten near the back cone to cut the lead to one, 6-5 Vols. With another goal a piece, Georgia gets its second break back by never leaving the sideline. Dempsey to Charlie Herrig for the equalizer, 7-7. Tennessee doesn’t want to let this half get away from them but Phil Brock drops an open huck which would have been a goal proves he is in fact human. Tennessee never the less takes half.

Agent Orange gets a break to start the second half when UGA turns the disc over short. A couple of points later Georgia would get that break back to tie the game at 9 all when a huck goes the distance for Josh Lowell. Now the point trading becomes nerve wracking. Ben Walter has to put a disc to the end zone in a less than desirable decision but the disc hangs in the air, then falls off the proverbial table into Chris Mullinix’s hands 10-9. Dempsey hucks to Bailey giving the Georgia sideline much less of a sweat, 10-10. Tennessee takes a timeout to set up an end zone play. The plan works to Walter, 11-10 UT. This continues to go back and forth with both sides absolutely on pins and needles. 11-11, then 12-11. then 12-12. The only thing is, Georgia is now leading when Fletcher Hartline gets a bookend goal for the break to go up 12-11.

All of the big plays are showing up in this game. Dempsey makes an incredible saving grab and then gets the disc out to Bailey who relays the disc to Leonard. Max climbs up his latter to get the disc and a Georgia lead 13-12. UT responds and then almost gets a break that would have given them the driver’s seat for the game. Instead the touchdown pass is overthrown. Dempsey goes with a big huck of his own to Matt Bailey but Nick “Notor” Thomas is right there. They both come with the disc but the Observer rules it a Georgia goal, 14-13. Georgia is one point away from the game to go.

UT sends in their universe O line and it’s a good one. Chris Mullinix milks the disc for a lot of yards then dumps it off to Notor, just to bust ass upline and get it diving for the score to equalize. 14 all!

This is it now. Both teams are so close they can taste it. A last chance to Dempsey is too far and UT has a chance to win it. Brock gets the disc and goes deep to Notor but its too high for his read. Back to UGA. After some easy underneath passing, Michael Slade catches the disc near the goal line. Robert Herrig is the man Slade is locked into at the front of the stack. He works his defender with a double fake and gets open on the liveside for the win, 15-14 Georgia.

Virginia Night Train v. Georgia Tech Tribe

Two of the one sides after pool play find themselves on the same side of the bracket so one of these teams will not make seed. Neither team is looking to relent. What should be a well executed grudge match starts off as a bit of a game of pinball. Ramu gets a big layout D for Tech but only manages to mac the disc to Virginia. They try to huck to Mullins and he macs the disc to Andrew Dunbeck who macs it to the ground. GT throws an unmac’d huck but it’s too wide. Virginia takes the disc on the cone but the huck is mac’d again by Tech and again by Virginia. Tech finally gets the breakthrough goal and Virginia responds in kind, 1-1.

Tech steps up to the plate again, so the pressure goes back to Virginia. Conger hucks deep but his primary option is triple covered. The disc is D’ed… right into the hands of another Night Train player who throws it right away for the score. “That’s why you eat up swill Virginia!” is the ensuing battle cry. 2-2

Tech and Virginia go back and forth for almost the entire first half until Virginia makes a breakthrough. Aaron Mullins caps off a very patient offensive possession for Virginia that saw a lot of movement both forwards and backwards. Virginia gets a break, 6-5. Tech is far from done and Spear is unphased by the turn of events. He goes with a big hammer to Hogan on the other side of the field, 6-6. Both teams are going for the home run ball but it isn’t always working. A Night Train receiver tracks down a trailer from midfield to get Virginia up one, but Spear shows he can run as well as throw. He hunts down a disc in the end zone to get back even once again, 7-7.

Tech works the disc with efficiency getting a lot of yards of just a few throws, finishing the point on a break to take half 8-7. The game up until this point has never produced a lead of more than one in the favor but Sean Lee changes all that. He gets a humongous layout D on a goal line stand. Spear has the sights set and hits Tyler Plunkett sliding in for the grab to give Tech another break, 9-7. Virginia gets the O point they wanted all along and gets a break chance by stalling Spear near the end zone. Andrew Fish pickpockets the disc from a Virginia throw though and flicks a huck to Hogan, milking the disc all way for a goal, 10-8 Tech.

It seems Tech is reversing their results of the previous right before our eyes as they near the goal for a crucial break chance. EJ Layne is facing down a 4 man cup from Virginia on the right sideline and gets out of the jam with terrific pass that beats the wall out wide. Taylor Rasco retrieves the disc back on the right sideline and while everyone else was thinking either flick or backhand, he goes with the hammer to a wide open Dunbeck, 11-8 Tribe. Virginia needs the spark, something to ignite the team into the heat of the moment and they get it. Nick Lance steps up with a D on Conger but the first throw from goal is a Callahan for Aaron Mullins! 11-9 Tech with a rambunctious Virginia sideline. Night Train gets close to attaining a double digit score including a big saving grab from Wilkes but the subsequent huck bounces off Virginia hands. Going the other way, Georgia Tech proves that tipped discs aren’t immortal as Fish catches then goes to Garrett for the goal, 12-9 Tribe.

Tech is now one point away from the game to go and they have the task of getting a D on Virginia first. They come down zone and Conger sets up in the middle to direct traffic flow. He makes what appears to be a routine pass to the left side but Nick Lance with incredible speed, runs through it without even having to leave his feet. He drops it off for Noah Streib who swings it to Hogan on the left side. Streib wants it right back though as he goes upline and Hogan obliges. Streib jumps up and gets it, keeping his feet in bounds the whole time for his team to come and celebrate with him. Tech wins 13-9.

Backdoor Final

Georgia Jojah v. Georgia Tech Tribe

Round 5

If this really were a best of 5 spring season matchup, the series would be tied at two all. Tech won one at Terminus and took the sectional crown. Georgia won one at Joint Summit and the earlier match in the day. This one is for all the marbles though. Loser stays in Georgia, winner travels to Madison. It would have been nice to move this match to Atlanta as a large showcase event for a lot of local alumni but the match is going ahead as scheduled.

The Dawgs are receiving to the familiar “Goooooooooooooooooooo Dawgs, Sic ’em! Woof Woof Woof!” and both teams act like this is an extension of their previous games. EJ Layne steps up with a goal line D and David Benkeser gets one of his own. Matt Bailey gets separation and is all alone in the end zone in the momentum swing. 1-0 Georgia. Tribe shows off their efficient offense: gaining a lot of yards through a short amount of throws and then working hard to punch the disc in the red zone. Spear hammers to Hogan for the tie, 1-1. Tom Ball enters the action sports arena with a goal, making it all the way to the end zone on a huck, 2-1 UGA. Tech isn’t budging an inch and Bui goes upline from the dump, continuing to Garrett, 2-2. Nothing is giving yet.

Georgia is working against a Tech zone and then a routine dump pass goes wide. Hogan thinks this is a free play so he goes with a flick huck that’s easily D’ed. Just as before Georgia tries the response huck but Dempsey doesn’t have the position. Once each team reaches its turn quota for the point, Andrew Fish calls timeout. It’s Georgia though that finally converts with patient offense to maintain par, 3-2 Dawgs. For Georgia Tech it’s 1… 2… 3 passes, goal to Spear 3-3. For Georgia to score, the disc has to run through Dempsey but it’s tough when he turfs the disc as he does on this point. Tech goes with a hammer and it’s the first break of the game in favor of the Jackets who celebrate with tired fanfare, 4-3. Dempsey and Robert Herrig go to work with their speedy upline cuts for a neatly defined goal sequence, 4-4.

Facing a D point when they should be receiving, Georgia wants the break back. Charlie Herrig makes it happen. He gets a layout D to give UGA a red zone offense then jukes enough to get open on the breakside and makes a grab complete the bookends, 5-4 UGA. Tech tries out the hucking game to see if it works, but it doesn’t. Nilan gets the disc moving back the other way but Fish gets a handblock on Robert Herrig. Tribe causes their own turnover though and Dempsey takes in a huck then hits Robert Herrig upline for another break 6-4. Dustin Graham gets horizontal in front of Spear for a score and UGA is now up another break, 7-4. Things are getting out of hand in a hurry for Tech.

Spear wants something to happen so he hucks it to EJ but he can’t run it down even if it did stay in bounds. The Dawgs go with the hammer to Charlie Herrig and he gets a sneaky up the gut pass to Josh Lowell. In complete reversal of the flow of the game, Georgia rattles off 5 straight points to take half, 8-4. Things don’t stop there though, Bui’s goal pass to start the 2nd half leaves too much doubt and Dempsey is able to layout and get the D. Bailey hucks to Dempsey for the bulk of the point and the goal is credited to Brian Walter, The break pushes Georgia to 9-4.

Georgia Tech finally gets their first point since half, and start to get back into the routine of not getting broken. Down 10-5. Tribe goes down the field by way of Fish to Spear to Lance to Garrett sliding across the ground. Tech tries their zone again and while Jojah is trying to figure out their offense, Tech gets a D. Georgia responds with a D and use the small amount of confusion to beat the zone set up and get the goal 11-6.

Tech doesn’t look as fresh as they were yesterday, most likely because of the number of games and the heat. Never the less the stack is mulling about in the red zone until a blade to Hogan is available, 11-7 UGA. A big dump to Bailey is too far wide so GT gets all the way to the red zone shifting the disc to the left and to the right looking for a 100% option. Rasco looks off what the sideline that was surefire goal option but restrains himself to find an even more open Garrett, 11-8 Georgia.

The new Tribe defense is giving up the underneath cuts to prevent the big throw. Once they’ve run out of available real estate, Alex Bui gets a clean D on the Jojah throw. Lance tries a one shot/one kill throw but it’s not to be. Georgia responds but Lance is there for the D. The disc is worked gently to midfield then Bui goes big to Dunbeck. He’s only got the ground to beat and he gets there just in time raising his arm with the disc while lying in the end zone, 11-9 UGA. Suddenly its become a race to the finish with Tech surging at the moment. The game has been established to 13 at this point so its 2-0, game to 4. With all of the passion and fury of playing between the hedges on a Saturday afternoon in the fall, Georgia shreds through the Tech zone capped with a Herrig to Herrig connection. Thus Georgia has reached game point in their bid to make a 6th straight Nationals appearance.

All of the big guns are in for this point. Spear looks upline to Bui but the pass floats too much. Fittingly, Peter is there for the huck and he’s all alone. There’s nothing to worry about as he makes the grab to send Georgia to Madison, 13-9 over Georgia Tech.

What a fantastic weekend of ultimate. A lot of teams gave it there absolute best, but one team stood above the rest. Florida was so incredibly dominant they are going to be a serious title threat in Madison. Wilmington has got to be ecstatic to be returning to the National stage and Georgia turns it on at the right time once again to be the one constant in this region over the past few years. After watching almost everybody play, here are my picks for All Region:

Brodie Smith – Without a doubt. He plays D, he plays O. He throws 70 yard bombs, he catches them higher than anyone else. He is simply a very dominant player and it shows. Kudos to him.
Peter Dempsey – The heartbeat of the Georgia team. He is always inserting himself into the play to make the difference for his team on offense or defense. A rich concentration of athleticism and playmaking abilities is something we all wish we could have that Peter does have.
Rusty Ingold-Smith – The visible leader for Wilmington, it was very clear he trained hard over the off season to make this team better and it’s very clear that he was incredibly instrumental in making Nationals. His bursts of speed were a problem for all of his opponents and it always gave the Seamen an option.
Cole Sullivan/Chris Gibson – It’s hard to choose between these two guys because they often filled the same roles and both executed on the field very well. The skied their defenders and made big throws so it’s a toss for this All Region pick but they both deserve it.
Taylor “Tree” Goforth – Kennesaw State made Regionals for the first time ever this year and a funny thing happened. They were still in contention for Nationals on Sunday in large part to Tree. It certainly helps to be tall in this game and he’s one of the tallest, standing at a robust 6’7″. He’s not a one dimensional player though as he is comfortable cutting downfield underneath, going deep or even setting up behind the disc. He did it all this year and this year’s effort is the fruit of his labor.
Nick Lance – What absolute freak of nature athlete. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, he shows up with another gear. He’s got speed for days and hucks for miles. His defense was a big reason Tech played in the game to go to Nationals and he was still standing at the end of the day even after a full weekend of running.
Tyler Conger – Night Train’s go to guy was primarily a receiver last year and he was very effective. Well this year, he’s added another utility to his game as one of the main handlers for Virginia. So not only was he a threat to throw goals but catch them as well and it wrecked havoc on opposing teams who tried to match up against him.

Well there you have it. Three teams carry the Atlantic Coast torch in hopes of a Championship but for the rest of the teams, there’s always next year.

Atlantic Coast Regionals Day 1 by Grant
May 28, 2010, 7:46 am
Filed under: tournament write-ups

Tallahassee Files:

I’m pretty sure this is where the show Campus Police is filmed. If there were her today we would put them on the case of finding a trainer for the tournament. Apparently the expected trainer has bailed at the last moment with alternative for today. Bummer.

In other news, the fields are incredible, the atmosphere is consistently breezy and 3 spots are up for grabs with a chunk of teams that could score one.

Round 1 – Pool C

Tennessee Agent Orange v. UNC-Wilmington Seamen

Tennessee kicks of their weekend with a bang by going deep to Jody Lewis right off the bat. Lewis doesn’t disappoint and bids for the goal coming with the lead for orange, 1-0. Wilmington responds with a small ball offense led by Rusty Ingold-Smith. As the team moves down field Rusty sits patiently in the dump waiting for his chance. He makes a shifty double cut and gets big yardage upline to throw for the score right next to the cone, 1 a piece. Tennessee decides to mimic Wilmington’s offense and plays with tremendous upline cutting as well. Matt Mullinix gets the last upline cut for a goal, 2-1 in a turnover free game so far. Wilmington won’t be outdone though. Tommy Lamar takes two defenders on in the end zone and comes down with the disc for the equalizer. Must be the lack of sleeves.

Back and forth the teams with the intensity that has been building up all week. UT goes up one, then Wilmington responds, 3-3, then 4-3, then 4-4. The points start to chew up more time and disc becomes more slippery with the amount of sweat the players are generating now. A Tennessee huck fails so the Vols go zone which works but a second huck also results in a drop. Wilmington has to go upwind but the disc is D’ed. Rather than trying to huck it again, Agent Orange attempts at stack cutting but nothing is doing. Chris Mullinix has had enough so he gets the dump then calls timeout immediately then spikes the disc to the ground in frustration.

Coming out of the time out, everyone is set. Play commences, and… Steve Taylor steps up with a big dump D giving it back to Wilmington out of a jam. The possession is not to be though and UT plays it cool this time. A dump to Matthew Twilley is followed by a pass over the top of the stack to Ben Walter for the goal, 5-4 UT. Wilmington on the other hand proves offense doesn’t have to have lots of turnovers and goes back to work with an easy huck to Tommy, even at 5 all.

Both teams are giving up chances at this point as perfection escapes both squads. Tennessee turns the disc and falls into zone but Rusty grabs a disc over the cup sending him and compadre off to the races with the disc for a good chunk of yardage. The point is capped off with a hammer to Stephen Bender giving Wilmington the first break of the game, 6-5. Tennessee needs to turn the offense up by a notch and they do so. Phil Brock punctures the Wilmington cup with a cross field pass to Chris Mullinix then takes off. Without a mark, Mullinix rips a wide open huck to Brock who’s got nobody to give him trouble. He makes the grab then flicks it to Twilley for the goal, 6-6.

Wilmington goes with the hucking offense again with Rusty launching one to Zach Bauer who makes the grab to make it 7-6. They make a chance for themselves to break for half with a big D near the goal line. Rusty picks up and finds Todd Doroski breaking for the liveside cone. Seamen take half, 8-6.

Starting with the disc in the second half, Wilmington runs into a big orange wall of defense. Possession changes hands and nows its Wilmington playing physical D, bumping the marks like its breathing. The defense is clearly frustrating the UT offense and the Seamen get it back. Seamen goal to Bauer to go up by three, 9-6. Tennessee sticks with it, converting their offensive points but can’t seem to get any breaks. At 11-8, game to 13, UT has to come up with something in a hurry. They execute their hucking game to perfection to the freshman, Jody Lewis to make it 11-9, but Wilmington counters with a goal of their own and a break to seal the game, 13-9 Wilmington.

UGA Jojah v. William and Mary Dogs

Georgia starts their weekend off right with a break against William and Mary and then pounces with a second opportunity, transitioning from D to O with the fluidness of a championship team, 2-0 Jojah. William and Mary gets going with some much-needed offense, hitting Andy McCoy in stride to send the D line out for the first time. UGA’s O line works even faster the D line offense. Robert Herrig makes the grab with a defender on, 3-1 Dawgs. W and M sticks with the hucking game, this time to Acie Craft, but he doesn’t have enough real estate to stay in bounds. The play is infectious and both teams make a few sloppy hucks. W and M chills out and goes with the under cuts. Craft has the disc and tries a crafty breakmark flick up the middle to Aric Mills who makes the grab, 3-2 UGA.

Georgia is still keeping W and M at bay with a 1-2 point cushion but it certainly doesn’t help morale when they turn the disc over backwards near their own goal line. Niji Ohno to Craft to make it 4-3 UGA. The Dawgs are pissed so they take their O line out and march down the field for a score. With William and Mary in possession again, Aric Mills, the big guy that he is, goes deep and the disc ascends into the air. He uses all of his turbo boost to run the disc down but when he looks up, the observer has ruled him out of the back of the end zone. W and M gets it back and must try again. They get close but Fletcher Hartline lays with all his might to stop the goal. Taylor Nilan gets the disc near goal, hits Charlie Herrig who gets elevated on the grab and then goes for Josh Lowell in the end zone to complete the swing sequence, 6-3 Georgia.

Peter Dempsey keeps placing his feet in weird angles and starts to from the ground more gingerly so he calls timeout. The players have the plan in place. Tom Ball gets open on the liveside and Matt Bailey times his cut to the liveside so he simply cuts back deadside for a short pass from Tom Ball to extend the lead, 7-3. William and Mary gets one more before UGA takes half in control, 8-4.

Starting with the disc in the second half, UGA has no sweat about getting an O point so William and Mary is left to respond once again. Craft goes with the early game success and hucks it deep, yet initially looks very displeased about his choice. He’s got no reason to be upset though because his man has the defender beat and he makes the grab without any complications, 9-5 UGA. Georgia says, anything you can do, we can do better. Dempsey hucks to a pile of people in the end zone and Matt Bailey comes down with the disc in traffic to make it 10-5. He follows that up with a push pass goal to Michael Slade and Georgia is closing in on the win 11-5.

William and Mary keeps fighting though. Mills gets another for his total and then throws a goal two points later to McCoy when they play a solid point up to their potential, 12-7 UGA. There is still some fight in this team. The D line steps up with their first break of the day and the entire William and Mary sideline rushes to the goal with the familiar two hands above the hand facing outward to signify bookends. Everyone hold the phones just yet, this game is three spilled pancakes from a topsy turvey brunch with the in-laws.

W and M is fired up and the team responds, getting a goal line D but the offense sputters. Caleb Edwards finds Dempsey for the goal to give GA a 5 point margin with little time left, 13-8. Georgia is primed for another goal but Max Leonard flubs the huck. No matter as the Dawgs get it back and convert as planned, 14-8. They almost finish it on the next point with a liveside pass to Justin DeSandre but it’s too wide. W and M starts on the cone and gets a quarter of the length of the pitch before turning it just so Bobby Corroon can get a layout D. The disc then changes hands many times between GA and W and M. before Andy McCoy gets it to Andrew Fickley to finish the point. 14-9 UGA. Georgia finishes things on offense with a goal to Brian Walter to guarantee a non last place finish at Regionals, 15-9.

Round 2 – Pool D

Virginia Tech Burn v. East Carolina Irates

The sun has come out in full effect by the beginning of round 2. Virginia Tech has brought a skeleton crew to beat their opponents as well as the heat. This weekend falls at the beginning of finals for the guys so not many could make the trip. Even their jerseys stayed home to study.

ECU is receiving and Tech starts with a zone that forces the disc all kinds of directions. The D slows the offense to a crawl, stopping the flow and forcing a turn. The VT offense springs to life and Burn starts with a break, 1-0. The offense turns it around on the next point. Eric Martin gets open on the right sideline and hits Joey Cretella in stride, 1-1. The teams trade back and forth in a relatively pedestrian game without much fanfare from either side. ECU steps it up to regain the lead on a break with Eric Martin getting a layout goal to go up 4-3 and they follow that with an encore layout grab, 5-3. The tall man, Scott “Air Quotes” Forrester proves he’s got throws to match his height and hits Evan “Stupid Fucking Rookie” Klein in stride to get back on the goal scoring track for Burn, 5-4 ECU.

In this game of swings, VT is on the upswing. Tom “Tom Barry” Barry gets a D and a goal on the breakside from Chris “Moneyshot” Bowling for the bookend advantage. Back to even at 5-5. Shane Sisco of ECU keeps the Irate offense on par with a perfect huck to Martin regaining the lead for ECU. SF Rookie goes through the same motions and runs down a huck just beyond the outstretched arms of his defender.

If ECU is going to win, tiring out the VT legs is a good option and ECU chews up a lot of time and expends a lot of energy to get the next goal, but VT also expended a lot of energy not getting the goal. Burn shows an impressive display of offense from Taylor “Tater Monster” Brown and SF Rookie but the pass to Alexander “Tie-Dye” Brown is too short. ECU turns around hucks to Joey Saba on the fly for half, 8-6 Irates.

Virginia Tech closes the gap by one in the second half to 9-8 with an Air Quotes bookend goal during a horn sounding point. Game to 11. Burn is playing tight and staying close but aren’t converting their chances and ECU gets another peg closer to game. Burn gets one more then the Irates finish on 0 with Sisco skying his defender to close up shop, 11-9 ECU.

Georgia Tech Tribe v. James Madison Flying Hellfish

After starting with a long O point, Georgia Tech battles through a long D point that sees an injury and lots of hucks. Nick Lance engages with the disc and hits Taylor Rasco at the back of the end zone, 2-0 Tech. From here on, Tech would play punishing D and consistent O. They jump out to 6-2 on a break. James Madison gets an O point and then almost forces a break themselves. Tech is pinned down playing redzone defense but they stop the flow and motor back in the opposite direction. Andrew Fish runs down a huck and Ethan Edgerton completes the score, 7-3 Tech.

Tribe is poised to take half but Drew Scala lays out in front a disc to get it back for the Hellfish. Andrew “Master Peanut” Ferraro also gets in on the D action when Tech gets a second chance at goal. It’s a Hellfish goal where there’s just enough wind underneath the disc for Drew “G-Dawg” Moorcones. Tech takes half on the next point, 8-4 Tribe.

While the teams cool off on the their respective sidelines, I meander around the field site gathering up other storylines from the the other games. According some of the UCF alums in attendance, the Dogs of War gave Florida a hell of a fight but in the end, used up all of their mental energy or “menergy” to get close, leading to a lackluster effort against Florida State.

In the second half, Tech starts to run away with the game even more, building up a comfortable lead so all they have to do is trade points to finish. With Tech leading 11-6, Michael Spear dumps to Nick Lance, but travel is called. Spear takes the disc back and goes all the way downfield to Hogan McHugh instead. 12-6 GT. Only one more to win and Tech finishes off the Hellfish in the dead of heat. Fish to Spear, 13-8.

Round 3 – Pool B

Virginia Night Train v. NC State Wolfpack

Two of last year’s Nationals qualifiers from the Atlantic Coast do battle in pool play this year for a very intriguing matchup. Tyler Conger is trying to fill every position on the field this year for Virginia, even waterboy as needed. He starts the game on offense though, by flipping the disc over his mark to Matt King on the breakside, kicking off the scoring, 1-0 Virginia. With NC State getting their first crack on offense, Conklin tries to scoober the disc to Ken “KP” Porter, but he uncharacteristically drops it. Chris Reichel puts it to Nathan Schelble giving Virginia the first break of the game, 2-0. Just when it seems Virginia might get a second break in a row, KP elevates to get a D. Jesse Macadangdang gets it back for Virginia with a layout D and almost throws for a goal but King doesn’t have the reach on his bid. Back to square one for the Wolfpack. State buckles down and goes the distance capped off with a Bryan Conklin to Casey Haigh goal, 2-1 Virginia.

With the greenshirts in possession of the disc, Conger goes to work downfield, using the pitch for 10-20 yard mini-sprints. His thrower realizes there is a height mismatch between him and Paul Johnson so he makes Tyler run to the end zone to make a grab. It’s an untalented flick that could look prettier but it gets the job done, 3-1.

KP with the first step deep? Done. 3-2 Virginia.

Virginia is really working the underneath cuts well so Mike Harlan steps up with a handblock that forces the D. Riding this defensive high, the Wolfpack doubles down and sends a huck to an open Jordan Moore but his layout is not enough. Night Train tries a huck of their own, but the wind has other thoughts. The disc is pushed left, left, left, left beyond everyone’s read… except Conger. A followup throw up the line gives Virginia the two point lead, 4-2. The game is still very much in the balance though until Virginia gets a break on the next point. Alex Dagley throws a goal to Tim Pennucci and the Night Train sideline goes wild, 5-2 Wahoos.

KP and Conklin decide to reverse roles with Porter throwing deep to Conklin. State is not giving up yet, not by a long shot, 5-3. Virginia is getting the breaks though and rattle off another after converting on offense. The testosterone is flowing and both teams are starting to talk more than play. NC State almost gives up another break to Virginia but they get the disc back and drive down the field. Stephen Panasci completes the sequence to KP to make it 7-4, Virginia. The Cavs stick right with their gameplan and convert there O point to take half, 8-4.

Meanwhile, on a field not far away…

Florida Gators v. Florida State DUF

The Noles and the Gators are in a real dogfight. UF has the disc 5 yards out of the end zone and are exiting the time out huddle to set up an end zone piece. Brodie takes the disc out wide and then hits Miguel Palavacinni coming underneath, 7-5 Florida. Florida State’s turn: DUF swings the disc back and forth until that no longer is an option for Daniel Petronio. The stall is too high so he punts it towards the nether regions of the field. Unintended on the other end, Elijah Grady is streaking towards the end zone and accepts the punt for a goal, 7-6 Florida.

Florida sticks to their machine of cogs: Brodie, Cole, and Gibson work the disc up field because of their ability to get open at will, but the final pass to Brodie is too long. Alex Smith plays strong dump D and then bombs it to Brodie but again the throw is too long. There is too much action to handle and the disc changes possession once again so Gibson calls time out just whisker from the goal line. The first throw from scrimmage is immediately turf. Huck to Elijah. D from Cole and his tremendous voice makes sure everyone here’s him, “That’s how you play defense!” UF finally gets a sequence that works and Brodie hits Palavacinni in stride for a Gator first half, 8-6.

Back on the Virginia, NC State field, UVA hasn’t relented their lead in the least bit. Night Train cracks open a point after a long skirmish and follows it with a Schelble to Pennucci goal where Pennucci executes his signature “break the disc over the leg” spike, 12-6 Night Train. The heat is pushing both teams to the brink. Virginia gets the upper hand of a long hot point and they have a seemingly insurmountable lead, 13-6. A big pull by Conger puts State in the back of their end zone. Night Train quickly and efficiently gets the D and the score to finish it, 14-6.

1 v 1 Crossovers

Florida Gators vs. UNC-Wilmington Seamen

Tommy Lamar was right. No sleeves are a good choice on a day like today. Despite feeling comfortable in his gear, feeling comfortable against Florida is almost impossible. The Gators start the game not with one break or even two breaks but three breaks to go up 3-0. James Hill finally gets on the score tally for the Seamen grabbing a cross field disc. No matter for Florida because they run a system that caters to their athletes very well. Alex Hill, Brodie and Cole work the 3 handler offense and cap it with a goal to Chribson. Wilmington doesn’t have an answer for that yet.

Florida is on their way to comfortable first half with a Cole to Brodie huck. The early scoring discrepancy leads me to believe that Florida may have punched a ticket to Madison at this point. 6-1 Florida. Wilmington stops the bleeding, if only momentarily when Todd Doroski gets poached so Tommy hits him wide open and then to Stephen Bender upline to double their tally, 6-2 UF. With the Seamen scoring ceased, Florida mops up the first half, 8-2 with a hammer from Brodie to Alton Gaines.

In order to provide a more fan friendly spectacle on the field, several UCF alumni take center stage with a rousing game of jug, but retreat when the players reemerge from the tents to do battle once again. Florida is unphased by the momentary lapse in competition and starts the second half much like the first half, getting a couple of points before Rusty Ingold-Smith provides a small bright spot for Wilmington with an upline layout goal. At this point though, the Seamen are looking towards Sunday with Florida leading 10-3. At this point, Florida is content to trade points with Wilmington to cruise towards a perfect Saturday record. Brodie takes to the sky like its his job pushing Florida to game point at 14-6. The well executed Gator game ends on the next point with a James Thomas to Alan Baird connection. Florida wins 15-6.

Georgia Tech Tribe v. Virginia Night Train

Tribe tries to start the game with a statement play by sending a huck to Andrew Fish but he’s double covered. In fact Tim Pennucci gets one the other way for a majority of the yardage and Alex Dagley finishes it for Virginia, 1-0. Tech responds in quick fashion as intended. With Ramu Annamalai getting a D by virtue of the Night Train receiver jumping too soon, Tech could get their break back but fortune is not on their side. Virginia goes the other way and Conger finishes thing by showing off his workout training, getting separation upline. 2-1, which becomes 3-1 and then 4-1 with Nathan Schelble taking in a cross field pass. Tech has to call timeout.

The timeout earns Tech the patience to get back on track but Night Train looks as fresh as the beginning of the day. Aaron Mullins is left poached in the end zone for a goal, 5-2 Virginia. Nick Lance shoves all his weight behind a huck to Ramu with a defender tight on his heel. What looks to be a 50/50 disc ends up with neither making the grab but Ramu has the heads up to turn around and layout for the second chance goal, 6-3 Virginia. Tech forces the turn and have a chance to get a break back. Lance and Spear battle up the field and reward Andrew Dunbeck for his D, 6-4 Cavs. Tribe isn’t done yet and display an encore break with Hogan shooting for Fish, gaining lots of yardage in the process and another tally in the Tribe column. With only a 1 point margin, Virginia calls timeout, 6-5 Train.

A stoppage is just what the doctor ordered for Virginia and they take the next two for half. Feeling good, especially receiving the disc to start the second half, Train wants an o point to start this half right. Unfortunately the thrower thinks the dump is going one way but hoes another way and Victor Lesniewski lays for a D that’s all grab all day. After a long period of jawing back and forth between the two teams, most likely about who has the bigger Lego collection, Lesniewski takes it on the goal line and hits Garrett Braun on the under cut. Tech gets one back, 8-6. Even though this game is merely for seeding, you couldn’t convince either side that. They both want the W.

Tech stops the Night Train with a stifling cup. Clay Williams gets his hand in front of a pass, but the Jackets are too anxious to maintain to possession and turn it right back. Matt King thinks he’s throwing a flick huck but it turns into a blade immediately. An uncatchable blade to be exact. Tech goes to work against the zone. A hammer to Fish exposes the D and the followup to Garrett and Hogan gives Tribe a score, 9-7 Virginia. Pennucci grabs a big sky from Conger to pump up the Virginia sideline and extend the lead to 3, 10-7. Spear tries to replicate Conger’s throw but his flick is too monstrous for a field of this (normal) size. Tribe gets one more stab at the point before King says no more. He lays out in front of Spear, gets up immediately and throws the goal for a complete reversal of fortune, 11-7 Wahoos. Tech gets one more, but the cap horn sounds during the point cutting the game short to 13. Tribe doesn’t have the gas in the tank to make it a comeback here. Virginia finishes off the Jackets on D, with Andrew Wilkes grabbing the game winner to lock up the 2 seed for the Sunday bracket.

Jersey Pictures by Grant

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Georgia State Long Sleeve Jerseys by Grant
April 21, 2010, 4:35 pm
Filed under: tournament write-ups

During the first two years I played in college, when jerseys were ordered we would always get a long sleeve dark jersey and a short sleeve light jersey which led me to believe that was the standard across for the board for all programs. If the weather was cold you would wear your long sleeve jersey and if both teams wanted to wear the same color you could always wear your short sleeve over the long sleeve. Well, several years later I realize that this trend is mostly a Northwest thing as a lot of other schools get nice weather beginning in the early spring and there is little need for long sleeve jerseys. In my opinion though, long sleeve jerseys are wonderful to wear whether on the field or just lounging about. So at Georgia State we came up with an alternate design and slapped it on the front of a sweet Prime long sleeve jersey from Spin, with inspiration drawn from those Northwest teams