Coming into Nationals if you had told me that we would be playing Ring in our second game on Saturday I would have been pretty pleased. I certainly wouldn’t have expected it to be the 13/14 game – more on that game in a bit.
I’m an obsessive weather.com checker the week of a tournament. I always like seeing how much wind is predicted. Usually I find myself hoping for just a little wind, but going into nationals I was praying for BIG wind. We had lost two of our main offensive cutters in the weeks prior to nationals – leaving us with a lot of handlers with no one to throw to. This isn’t exactly the ideal situation when your plan is to go BIG. In retrospect, it’s fairly obvious that we should have adjusted our game plan much earlier than we did.
Our first game was against Furious and it started off pretty well. We scored our first 4 offensive goals without a turnover. The Junkyard Dogs had generated two turnovers but were unable to convert. The offense got broken on the next point, and then they broke us again to take half 8-6. They scored their offensive point to make it 9-6, and we really weren’t able to get it going after that.
We put the FG loss behind us pretty quickly. I think everyone understood that DoG was the team we really needed to beat. The craziness over in C pool meant that the loser of our game against DoG would likely have the Condors in the lower bracket while the winner would have Twisted Metal in the upper bracket. The Junkyard Dogs came out on fire and we went up 4-1. We actually got the block with a chance to go up 5-1, but gave it up and they scored to make it 4-2. DoG battled back to 4-4 as we decided to hang it to our handlers with Colin (6’7ish) on them. I know Jim and Al always say that you shouldn’t be throwing to match-ups when you throw deep, but I don’t think this is exactly what they had in mind. We trade out and we take half 8-7 on serve. We continue to trade until 10-10 and then they break us 3 of the next 4 points and finish us off 15-12. Ziperstein was really outstanding in this game. He had three blocks against us, including getting one on me going deep. I think he tweaked his hamstring on Friday and wasn’t able to play many points on Saturday against Sockeye. Clearly he would have been a big help.
We squeaked by PBR in our final round of pool play to set up a match-up against Condors first thing on Friday morning.
Again, we started the day playing pretty well. We trade with Condors to 5-5 before breaking them. We trade to 7-6 and then they break us back to back times to take half 8-7 on serve. We trade to 9-9 and then have our third second half collapse of the weekend and get broken 5 times in a row. They close us out 15-10. Occasionally, you’re going to get broken and that’s ok. But it’s imperative that you don’t get broken multiple times in a row. All weekend long we really struggled to stop the bleeding. It’s easy to say “well we would have been fine if we had Dylan or make some similar excuse” but the truth is in all three games we lost we had really good opportunities to put our opponents in tough spots and we let them out too easily. That’s not to say that we should have won those games – I just mean we could have really forced our opponents to play as well as they were capable of playing if they wanted to win and we didn’t make teams do that.
After our loss to the condors we needed to beat Doublewide by 9 points in order to advance to pre-quarters. If we beat DW by less than 9 Condors would advance, if we lost to DW then DW would advance. Once Doublewide got to 7 we were officially eliminated, and they basically ran away with it.
If you’ve ever been to Tune-Up, you know that the farther you move away from the main tent, the worse the weekend has been. That’s kind of how I felt on Saturday morning as I started at the pavilion and walked past team after team warming up for progressively less meaningful games until I arrived at the LAST field in the complex, the home of the 13-16 bracket. The walk of shame – perhaps deserved, but definitely depressing. We had Vicious Cycle. Highlights from this game include me catching my first and most likely only Callahan goal at Natties. That’s really about all I remember.
All season long we’ve attempted to perfect the art of lulling our opponents to sleep. We have become fairly confident in our abilities believing that it would be impossible to lull us. After all you can’t really expect to lull a luller. In the end perhaps our hubris caught up with us as Ring undoubtedly lulled us in the battle for 13th place. While we were cheering on the Ozone ladies in their quarterfinals match-up, a Ring player came up to us and asked if we’d like to boat race for the coveted 13th spot. Like fools we immediately accepted. We should have known that no one would be crazy enough to challenge a team led by the Kid to a boat race for anything meaningful. Needless to say, when we returned to our field to retrieve our stuff, Ring was on the line assessing – the scoreboard read Ring 5 Chain 0.