Sectionals 2005, Day 2

What a ride!

Mischief finished second in the (full title here) Ultimate Players Association Club Championship Series Northern California Mixed Sectionals (whew!) in Santa Cruz this past weekend.

Second! Whoo!

Here's how Sunday went:

Since we had won our pool on Saturday, we were playing in the semis against Brass Monkey. We've played them four times before this season, always giving them a good game. In "first games of the day," as this one was, we were 2-0 against Brass Monkey. Overall, however, we were 2-2, I believe, for the season. We knew we had a shot in this first game, if we could catch them flat footed, before they woke up.

Kris and I were talking about the game, and we weren't quite sure how we wanted it to go. Of course, we wanted to win. Who wouldn't want to win. But we knew that the team puts high expectations on itself when we do well, which can lead to our downfall. We peaked at Sectionals in 2003, we don't want to peak too early again.

So, maybe, just maybe, it would be better to lose the first game to get us hungry for the next one.


But not like we did.

We came out hard, on fire, intense for the first half of the game. We traded points for a few, then went up big to take half 8-6, then the biggest lead at 10-6.

Did I mention Brass Monkey isn't a first game of the day team?

Yeah, well, they woke up.

And they woke up angry.

In a completely embarrassing, I can't believe I'm about to document this for myself when I read this in 10 years way, we stopped playing. We froze. We crumbled.

And they scored 9. Friggin'. Points. In. A. Row.

In. A. Row.

We lost 10-15.

And were devastated. Sure, we often let teams come back to make a game close when we're up big. But not 9 points in a row to win it. They woke up. They started playing zone. They started running harder. We didn't adjust. Fundamentally we didn't "fucking recognize!" the situation and couldn't stop the hemmorhaging. And lost.

The energy of the team at that point was the lowest we've been all season. Losing is one thing. Losing by a 9 point run by the other team is another.

To their credit, Brass Monkey came over and cheered us. When they first came over, we were thinking, "Come on, leave us alone. Can't you just let it go?" By the end, our spirits had lifted somewhat.

Earlier in the tournament, Feral Cows, the 8th place seed with hopes of going to Regionals, had lost to CTR, the 9th place seed and a former Nationals-level team. Instead of recognizing in 10 games, they'll lose half of them to CTR, but they can still beat the next team in their pool and make Regionals, they crumbled. They lost to the eventual 19th place team (out of 20) in the next round and hand to fight back to the 10th place overall.

We knew of Cows fate, and didn't want it to happen to us. Yes, we knew we were going to Regionals, our Saturday finish insured that, but we wanted more. We didn't want to go in 6th seed. Brass Monkey's cheer helped us out of the loss-funk to get us back in playing form.

We beat the next team, Wagon, in a snippy, physical, double-game point game 15-14. Oh, that was a fun game. Well, the part I was awake for. I slept through the second half of the game as the painkillers I was taking hit me full blast and I couldn't stay awake. Winning the game, which I woke up just in time to witness, put us into the 2-5 place bracket instead of the 4-7 bracket, and gave us our next opponent: Beer Run.

As mentioned every chance we get, it seems we always play Beer Run or Bender. This weekend, we managed both.

We didn't play well in the beginning, and by 5-10, most everyone had given up. Kris decided it was time to put in the second line and give our top line a rest. He started to call in the second string players.

But no one had told them we were done. No one had told them we had given up. No one told them we were looking to the next game.

They scored.

Kris left them in, and they scored again.

And again.

And again.

They kept scoring. They tied the game. Beer Run scored again. We answered with our own.

We played with heart. The heart we seemed to be missing when we were down. The heart that carried us in other close games.

We won on double game point, putting us in the backdoor 2-3 game against Red Fish Blue Fish who had lost in the finals against Brass Monkey.

And Heidi had caught the score to start our run.

Our fourth and final game was against Red Fish Blue Fish. We knew they would play zone on us. We knew that was the weakest part of our game. We knew they had recruited some amazing players this season.

We also knew we had better athleticism. We also knew we wanted this game more than they did.

The highest point of the game for me was cutting in from the back of the stack, shredding the switching defense and catching a bullet swing pass from Kris. Kris had zinged in it hard, and thought, "Yeah, babe!" when I caught it. I turned and swung the disc to Heidi who continued the pass, assisting on the assist for a score. When I left the field, I thought, "Huh. My hands hurt." Kris later explained he threw that pass very, very hard in order to avoid two men poachers in the area. Zing!

The lowest point of the game for me was during the receiving end of a run-through D on zone when I was caught flat-footed. As Kate says, if we had lost that game, that play would be in a continual loop in my head for the next four days.

Fortunately, that wasn't the case, and we won 13-11.

We finished 2nd in a pool of 20 teams. Shirley was an incredible rock star. I think she's our MVP of the weekend. She rocks!

We're heading to Regionals!

(Please let this not be the peak of our season. Please, oh, please!)