We came into this tournament confident of our goals. With tournament victories here the last two years, we wanted to win Mardi Gras. We wanted to set the tone for the season plus make teams respect and fear us, especially after placing 3rd in Vegas.
Saturday morning the fields were already waterlogged and it was forecasted to rain all day. The storm turned the sky dark and it consistently poured all day. The driving winds came and went but when the temperatures dipped, playing ultimate and staying warm became quite difficult.
Game 1 vs. Vanderbilt. Our first round game turned out to be the closest of the weekend. We got plenty of turns early, especially for the 10-minute point where the driving rain and torrential monsoon soaked everybody at the fields for the rest of the day. Wisconsin put in 2 quick goals and maintained a solid lead all game, but the conditions made for an upwind-downwind type of game and Vandy managed to stick around, putting in 8 goals. Our defensive offense was still struggling and taking too many risks with the disc. Muffin had one of the funnier sequences on Saturday, attempting to throw 2 forehand hucks upwind during a specific downpour and both were so buttery slick that the disc “Bongarded” straight into the ground twice on the same point. It wasn’t until 2 D points later until he found his groove, actually completing a forehand bomb upwind. Final score was 13-8 Hodags.
Game 2 vs. Washington University (St. Louis). The weather conditions forced most teams into playing zone because the disc was so hard to move consistently. WashU began to punt the disc downwind to the deep D who would continually get the turnover. On one occasion, Shane randomly head-D’s a disc in between 2 defenders! Our offensive unit looked smooth and under control, with Tom Annen and Matt Rebholz burning kids O2 and holding down the backfield swings. The 13-4 final score was followed by the bye round where many of the Hodags could be seen huddled together on 2 picnic benches trying to shovel in as much warm jambalaya as possible.
Game 3 vs. North Texas. This was one of our statement games of the weekend. UNT is a cocky group of players who think they are God’s gift to ultimate. They play with a chip on their shoulder and have those awful popped collars. We come out with the attitude that this is another step to winning the tournament and we want to prove to UNT that this tournament belongs to us, that they cannot play at our level, and that they are certainly not a top tier team. We did this to perfection, jumping out to a 3-0 lead. Early in the game UNT begins to punt the disc downwind, making the defensive offense work the disc the whole field to score breaks. After one said punt and during another moment of driving rain, Muffin puts the disc into play at his own goal line and proceeds to jack a flick to Gigo about half field, Gigo catches the disc without any defense and immediately bombs a backhand the rest of the field to Shaner as he scores on their best and cockiest player in 2 throws! At this point North Texas is discouraged and begins to screw off, throwing thumber punts and silly throws, just giving the turnovers away. They essentially gave up and conceded, 13-4 Hodags. So 3-0 in pool play and time for the crossover game. But Iowa was late getting to the fields so we resolved to scrimmage ourselves in the rain to stay warm. We had one of the best zone points of the day, 50+ throws upwind combined with the confusing fact that everyone was wearing blue, pretty impressive.
Game 4 (crossover) vs. Iowa. The fact that we scrimmaged ourselves was probably the worst thing ever for Iowa. Both units were so competitive that our intensity spiked and by game time we were really pumped to just finish the day and win a central region match-up. We started the game on defense and it never left the field, even managing to pull in the second half, 13-0. I think Iowa only gave a pure effort for the first couple of points before losing all hope of victory. On one possession Iowa worked it with a couple of hammers and then put a deep throw on Shane. Mr. Hohenstein made up the distance and right when Iowa is about to score, Shane launched his body into the air, smashed the frisbee, and then proceed to demolish the player he just blocked. Halftime was dedicated to Tim Pearce, who was almost freezing to death, so we correctly nicknamed him hypo-thermia. This was a double OATBAG in one game, but we were happier to just leave the wet fields.
Festivities – We didn’t quite make it to New Orleans as planned, but we hit up the hotel happy hour and the tournament party, which boasted large amounts of crawfish, due to the season opening. Hodag alum Tyson Park made $5 for biting off and eating a pig’s snout, wow. Many hodags learned the art of eating crawfish, while others tried to get dry clothes for Sunday, while Mike Lang disappeared, something to do with a pickup truck and arriving home very late without his wallet…
Sunday: Game 5 (prequarters) vs. Tennessee. The weather was the exact opposite of Saturday; warm, dry, sunny and very soft fields. However, it was much windier so we stayed with the zone. Tennessee struggled with several Ottum pulls that rolled out the back of the end zone and Lokke caught one mack-ricocheted disc for a Callahan. Dan Miller had several nice nonchalant D’s and we took at 7-0 lead at half with Tennessee playing for pride, trying to score at least one point. A funny moment occurred when all of sudden Tenn. gets off a big huck downwind and the deep Foster is forced to hustle over 40 yards to make a play on the disc while the entire team holds their breath. At this point, we made it 26 straight points and were struggling with creating a new phrase to replace the inadequate OATBAG. Something like, “HODAG LOVE ALL IN YOUR EYEBALLS.” Tennessee was very spirited, even cheering for us, and one player who picked up the disc at the back of his end zone while being trapped said, “I probably won’t even complete a throw here, but it’s okay. You guys are going to win anyway.” We were confident, striking fear into our opponent’s hearts, and getting teams to roll over for us.
Game 6 (quarters) vs. Texas A&M. Our warm-up for this game was sliding box drill. We were pretty relaxed to start the game and quickly fell down 2-4. Our offense held upwind and it was on our defense to get us back in the game, after being down the first time all weekend. We responded very well for our first test of the weekend with actually the #1 play of the weekend. Drew Mahowald pulled downwind from the left side of the field and threw it cross field and about 15 yards out of bounds. As the D line trotted down the field expecting the pull to be out, it somehow caught an edge and fell just inside the front cone. Nate Hurst had been hustling down and intercepted the hitch with a superman layout clap Callahan break. It was so ridiculous that Dan Heijman screamed so loudly that he instantly lost his voice for the rest of the tournament. We were so pumped up by this play that we proceeded to break A&M 5 more times in a row to bring the score to 9-4. James Scott had a super nice cannon of a flick upwind that hit Chris Doede in stride to help another break in en route to a 13-7 victory.
Game 7 (semis) vs. Kansas. This was undoubtedly the most satisfying victory of the weekend, yes even better than back-to-back shutouts. Why? Because we love beating Kansas! We had tons of sweet plays in this game starting with Heijman’s silky smooth forehand hucks to Will Lokke repeatedly. Kevin Riley’s goal line break throw going upwind was pretty sick too and Rodrigo had a huge sky D on the crazy looking guy from Kansas that would have been an upwind break. Shane continued to smash frisbees and defenders as he racked up the monster D’s and instilled the fear of God into opponents with his audacity for laying out. Mike Lang was even called into the game, while Tripoli was too busy looking cool on the sidelines to get called in. Frederick started catching hammer D’s despite a pulled groin and then there was Drew on Sunday. Shane threw a pretty comedic backhand huck upwind to Gigo but didn’t put much on it and it became a 2-catch disc. It gave Kansas enough time to get their entire junior varsity squad over there, but also gave Drew enough time to completely posterize the big crowd. Reminiscent to Shane, Mahowald came in with such bold fearlessness, he knew he was going to sky for that disc, confidence like that is hard to teach. The final score was 13-3 Hodags. I will say Kansas was beating themselves by dropping discs, but Wisconsin played really well.
Game 8 (finals) vs. Texas. A rematch of last year’s finals, but Texas had their last two games taken to universe point. Wisconsin came into this game super excited because we wanted that money, especially after learning that Bella Donna had already cashed in with a tournament victory. We jumped out to a 2-0 lead and starting cruising. Dan Schmit launched an upwind backhand that almost left the atmosphere before Drew skies it for another break. Another Drew sky was late in the game when Muffin caught on O2 and unleashed a huge flick upwind, which 4 Hodag receivers converged on it before Mahowald skies Gigo, Freddy, and Drews and no one from Texas. Rebholz was consistently getting hacked on his backhand hucks, Muffin got a couple nice layout D’s, and our offensive unit was clicking nicely, only getting broken once upwind all weekend. We finished off Texas 13-6 on our way to winning a third straight MG and $2,000. We collected our free discs and devoured the delicious king cake.
One week until Spring Break and Terminus down in Georgia.