Sunday, May 13, 2007
Central Regionals 2007
All year the Hodags had planned to peak at two points in the season – it was built right into the schedule. The first of those weekends, Central Regionals would come quickly due to a late spring break. It would be difficult with only one week after the alumni game to recover and prepare. Everyone on the team was aware of the repercussions from failing to bring it at Regionals. It would mean losing control of our region and sacrificing seed for nationals.
As the Hodags took the field against Marquette, the 5th years reminded the team that it was all elimination games from that point on. Dan Miller harped, “This game against Marquette is more important than Centex finals.” Wisconsin had 11 games left in the season to play and should treat each as an opportunity to prove that the Hodags are the best team. The team might have missed that message the first time around as Marquette was playing well. The fields were looking awesome, the wind was getting ridiculous, but with only 90 discs printed, they were gone by the second game. There were several surprises on the sideline as parents and friends arrived for pool play. Gifts of food, support, and love would help the Hodags keep their intensity and poise as Saturday pressed on. “Even though it looks like it, this is no longer Sectionals,” reminded Cullen as he was psyching himself up to make some plays on the weekend. As Jesse adjusted his shades and prepared to rush the field, Marquette scored first on a deep shot 0-1. The D was stunned to have not scored, but the O was dedicated to perfection as Jimmy Foster hit Dan Heijmen deep 1-1. Again Marquette scored easily and the O was snickering at the D for not playing well. It was Matt Rebholz breaking his mark to find Foster for the 2-2 tie. Even after an Animal footblock and 3 cutters who look like thugs with Shane, Seth and Lokke on the field, Marquette was unfazed by their presence and punched it in 2-3. The Hodag O was looking to convert quickly, but a Feldman deep misread had the sideline snickering as he was quickly reminded of his freshman n00b status. It just gave Foster one more opportunity to go deep from Kevin Riley as the game evened out 3-3.
Wisconsin called a time-out because the captains were pissed. If anyone has ever heard the Colorado coaches yell at their players, it was kind of like that, only worse. Heijmen immediately went into a tirade about game time intensity, playing like a bunch of pussies, and accusations of not playing Hodag ultimate. When Dan was done – the Hodags were pumped up and ready to turn up the game speed. With all the commotion, the Black Animal had seen more than enough, as he manufactured a score all by himself, getting the last oven pass from Rebholz for the break 4-3. When breaks come, they come in waves as Scallet found Gaynor on the iso set for the 5-3 lead. Will Lokke would get a D, but Marquette would convert and stop the bleeding 5-4. Combining the Hodag O with a lead is a recipe for dominance as Feldman redeemed himself, timing a perfect deep cut from Heijmen, scoring in three passes for the 6-4 hold. Dan Miller would get a sick deep poach D over the shoulder sky, but the Defense would not be able to punch it in 6-5. It would give Foster one more chance to score as he went deep from Heijmen 7-5. Shane Hohenstein would get a D on the next point but the Defense was having trouble converting again 7-6. Dan Heijmen would finally hear the roar of the crowd as the NBA Jam announcer proclaims, “He’s on Fire!” as Dan converted his 3rd straight goal for the Hodags, going deep from J-Fo 8-6 half. Wisconsin started on O out of half and Jim Foster was, “heating up” as he jets immediately for the end zone, just flying past his defender as Rebholz bombs it deep for the 1 stop shopping goal 9-6. With the defense on the field immediately, Chris Doede would dominate, getting 2 downfield layout D’s, but the Defense could not cash in with three chances to score, only 9-7. Rebholz was determined to not be upstaged as he went directly back to J-Fo for the 10-7 lead. Matt Scallet would get the D and throw the goal to Seth for the 11-7 advantage. Marquette would finally hold on O and respond with a break on Wisconsin to bring the game to 11-9. The score made the game look close, but in reality, Marquette did not have any defender who could guard the O cutters. Riley would find Heijmen for the 12-9 lead and the D would break twice, as Animal found Foster with a midrange down the line flick and Bobby scoring from Miller on the end zone line for the 14-9 lead. Tim Pearce would finish the game scoring deep from Rebholz 15-10.
The Hodags had enough time to meander over to watch the end of the LUFDA vs. CUT game. The sideline was packed with Luther fans and Carleton was getting the worst of the heckling as the wind was stronger in the middle of the complex. Wisconsin tried not to cheer as they flirted with Carleton graduates in Rupp and Hahn. CUT would come out on top in a moderately close, but highly contested game. The Pimpdags had won their first game of the day and were looking to make a splash on the regional scene come Sunday.
Wisconsin was not happy about how the first game went and was looking to take out that aggression on someone else. That someone else turned out to be Grinell, as Madison was running a super intense Seattle drill before the start. It was never close as Scallet broke to Doede on the very first point. Muffin would hit Shane deep for the second break 2-0 and it would landslide into a beat down. Cullen Geppert had a coming out experience as he got 3 D’s, 2 of which were sick layout D’s. Cullen was so pumped that his mom fainted out of amazement that her son could put his body horizontal at 3 feet off the ground. Jeremiah threw 2 straight assists to his freshman cohorts Cullen and Ben, and Dan Miller scored almost every time he walked on the field. Tom Annen threw 3 straight goals on his last 3 possessions to catch fire and even got a D. Evan Klane threw 2 straights breaks, one of them to Tim Pearce on defense?! Evan, Shane and Lokke would both get sick D’s down the stretch as it ended 15-1 in a quick game. Madison would have an hour and a half to nap before playing St. Olaf in the last pool play game.
St. Olaf had pretty good disc skills as a team, but did not have the dominant athletes to match up with Wisconsin. Bucket went deep to the unguardable Foster for the 1-0 Hodag lead. The defense immediately broke after a quick turn and transition mid-range shot from Muffin finds Lokke in the end zone 2-0. Dan Miller would get the D and score the goal from Doede as Wisconsin leads 3-0. Wisconsin would jump to a 5-1 advantage with Kevin Riley continuing to dominate for the Offense and Seth Meyer dominating for the Defense, catching a goal from Miller. After a Heijmen bomb to J-Fo again, Muffin would go deep to Doede for the break and 7-2 lead. The team energy would be unstoppable as Heijmen caught the goal for half on a break from Rebholz 8-3. The D would break immediately out of half as Muffin hit Doede deep for the 9-3 lead. Evan Klane would throw 2 straight goals for breaks as the D line was calling for the oats 11-3 Despite 2 Shane D’s and a sick Bobby Lau break, the Defense failed to convert and the oatbag opportunity was lost at 11-4. Riley would find Feldman deep for the 12-4 lead as the Offense was having a great time. Gaynor would get into the action by getting 2 sick D’s and Muffin was still looking deep as he hit Lokke for the break 13-4.
At this point the game degenerated into hilarity. Big brother Seth Meyer, a grad student in his 5th year of college, was matched-up against his younger brother from St. Olaf. First, Seth gets a layout D on his brother and the Hodags went iso stack Seth. Seth put on two nasty moves and juked his brother so bad; he had him running in the opposite direction as Seth pwned for the open in-cut. The Hodags would turn it on the goal line and St. Olaf jacked it deep. Cullen Geppert made up the last 10 yards to his man and just as St. Olaf was going for the catch, Cullen lays out like 5 feet in the air for the layout D! The sideline erupts and Seth gets the chance to do his little bro one more time as he iso stack jukes him again and went deep for the Animal huck 14-4. The game wasn’t over as the crowd cheered for round 2 of the brother battle. Little bro needed some revenge as Meyer on Meyer violence ensued. First little bro got a D on Seth in the air, then Seth got a D on his bro with a second layout D. The rivalry would heat up as the Hodags refused to throw a goal to anyone but Seth who was still being guarded by his brother. Miller finally punched it in as Seth caught the game winner 15-5 and promptly spiked it on his bro. It was an extremely hilarious and super sweet ending to the game as the Meyer family worked out its differences on the field. It was all in good fun as they hugged it out and took a family photo as Madison won the pool 3-0 and would be set to play Whitewater in semifinals to finish Saturday.
Wisconsin would hit game speed in every single warm up drill. The focus and intensity was there immediately as the team took this as a serious game, not like Sectionals. Madison wanted to destroy Whitewater and prove to them that they could not stay in a game with the Hodags and that 15-10 was not something to expect. The Hodag O would come out strong, as Heijmen went deep to Feldman for the 1-0 lead. The Defense went into dominate mode as a quick drop by Whitewater allowed Shane to hit Scallet for the O2 goal and break 2-0. As the D quickly pulled, Andrew Mahowald gets a D in the lane and then catches the double happiness goal from Shane for the 3-0 lead. Wisconsin would punch in one more break as Seth finds Cullen for the 4-0 lead. Whitewater finally calls a timeout and is utterly dismayed with the start of the game. They could only hope to contain the momentum of the Hodags, as UW-WW finally scored 4-1. Kevin Riley would get right back to work, hitting Ben Feldman deep for the 5-1 Wisconsin lead. Skywalker Mahowald would get a goal line D and again take the double happiness as Muffin brutalized the mark for the ESP break side throw to Drew for 6-1. Jon Gaynor would grab a D as Lokke hit Jeremiah for the break to go up 7-1. Half was taken as Heijmen tosses a backhand to Pearce for the 8-2 halftime lead.
That kind of intensity completely rocked Whitewater as they struggled to refocus on the game. Whitewater would resort to the high release backhand to cash in an O point and a break, as Richgels was setting the tone with hard cuts to bring it to 8-4. Heijmen got the O back on track as he found Kevin Riley on the break side for the 9-4 hold. Q-Tip was rocking kids left and right as he got a sick in the air D and then went deep from Muffin for the 10-4 break goal. Whitewater would bounce back, scoring 3 in a row as Ari, Strohm, and Sarge abused the O2 cuts 10-7. The struggling Hodag O looked to Pop Tarts to sober Wisconsin up, as Schmit rocked a huge backhand deep to Pearce for the 11-7 hold. Heijmen would score the last 3 Hodag O goals and Tom Annen jacked a break goal to Shane as Wisconsin finished strong 15-10. Despite the big lead and total control of the game, the final score was the same as Sectionals.
It was Mifflin Street weekend in Madison, which led to many dedicated fans to postpone the trip to Decorah due to some serious block partying. However, a car consisting of Frederick, Keenan, Brown, and Richter got to the fields so late; they ended up in the woods in sleeping bags. Now that is dedication to Hodag Love. The Pimpdags were excited too, because they would have a chance to compete on Sunday of Regionals. Bella was also excited because nobody could score on them as they only allowed 10 points on the weekend with some stingy defense. The Hodag parents were getting organized and arranged for a pasta dinner that evening, which was awesome. There would be no dinner with the enemy this year.
Central Regional Finals 2007
At 9:30 Saturday night, all 24 Hodags packed into Dan‘s hotel room. When Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was finally turned off, the team was ready for the last night of preparation. But instead of the deathly serious attitude, Jon Gaynor held up a children’s book – The Horrible Hodag. The story was read out loud cover to cover before the Hodags would get down to business. Dan Heijmen began to speak of a rivalry, an intense battle, and a true test of grit. To the point, it was life or death for our season and our dreams. Every game from this point on was more important than any game all season. The 5th year players expressed the possibility of it being their last tournament ever. The challenge was issued and Dan’s confidence in our team was contagious as every single Hodag expected to win the following morning. A cheer of “Hodag Love” rang out late that night, hopefully letting the whole hotel know who to fear.
Sleeping in Sunday morning was wonderful as the team rolled in for a late morning breakfast. Wisconsin was sure to get to the fields early in anticipation for a dogfight of a game. With the extra half hour, the Hodags took a leisurely approach to warming up and had plenty of time to warm up all the throws that would be needed for zone offense. As the game time neared, the wind became steadfast and the clouds turned dark. It seemed that Mother Nature could just sense when Regional Finals were about to begin as the weather took a turn for the worse, as expected by every Hodag on the 2005 team. The last minute zone possessions turned ugly with many turnovers and during the Seattle drill, the rain poured down. As Carleton ran possessions on their half of the field, both teams struggling in the rain, the mental battle began as CUT suited up in blue to flip for color. There would be no mind tampering today as the Hodags came in with an unshakable attitude of confidence. As the game began, the pregame huddle was one of excitement and energy. With so much focus and importance on this single game, Wisconsin was extremely pumped to play. The D Line was pulling upwind to start the game and shit hit the fan almost instantly. A battle of physical play, layout D’s, and upwind hucks ensued as a 10-15 minute war took place. When Tom Animal finally found Andrew Mahowald in the upwind end zone for the first break, the planet Earth stopped rotating. The entire Wisconsin sideline sprinted onto the field in a frenzy of cheers and roaring excitement. The disc was immediately spiked as hard as possible as the Wisconsin team approached the pinnacle of game time excitement.
As Wisconsin pulled downwind and set the Zone, the wind picked up and moving the disc became an issue. Shane Hohenstein got a layout D near the end zone but Madison could not convert. After several Carleton punts, Animal rips a huge backhand huck down the sideline, finding Doede toeing the sideline for the break and 2-0 lead. The Hodags again rushed the field mad crazy style and looked to intimidate Carleton in any way possible. Again, the disc was spiked so hard that a new game disc came into play. CUT was feeling shaky, the Hodags were freaking out. However, Carleton was sure to respond. Chris Doede got a layout D near the upwind end zone on Jacob Goldstein that was overruled as “no foul” by the observer, but Madison could not punch it in as CUT scored downwind to bring the game to 2-1. With the Hodag O-face finally making an appearance, Carleton had some sneaky defense in place as the offside handler D was poaching into the throwing lane. Veteran Jacob Goldstein was clearly poaching off of Dan “Crazy Eyes” Schmit. For the first time in his life, Bonkers actually got angry and the moment he received the swing break from Rebholz and found no mark anywhere, Schmittles n’ Bits went for the home run, finding Heijmen deep in the back of the downwind end zone for the goal 3-1. As soon as Heijmen spiked the disc, Schmit begins to scream, “That’s right! THAT’S RIGHT! If you fucking poach on me, I’m gonna score every fucking time!” As soon as Schmit swore, twice consecutively, that was all the D line needed – another reason to get crazier on the field.
As the D line pulled, the HO-DAGS cheer was already gaining steam as even Richter was cheering for Wisconsin. This point would be all Q-Tip’s as Mista Milly put on a show to remember. As Carleton tried to go deep again and again, Dan Miller was always there to D it, catch D it, or make sure it hit the ground. However, Madison was struggling against the stiff winds with several turnovers. However, Miller eventually got the deep D and the double happiness, catching the upwind break from Tom Annen, 4-1 Madison. The Defense was playing outstanding and the Offense was merely watching the destruction ensue. As Muffin ripped another huge pull downwind, Carleton was determined to score this time. The disc was worked all the way to the goal line as Madison had to transition out of their broken zone, but CUT could not punch in the goal as Dan Miller was cleaning up everything going mid range upwind as well. On Gaynor’s first point of finals, Jon got a layout D as he recalled, “On the first point I played, I couldn’t feel my legs as I ran down on the pull. After my first layout D, I couldn’t feel my body!” With pure adrenaline and red bull pumping through the Hodag veins, Madison could sense the Carleton fear and intimidation. As Animal, Muffin and Bucket worked the disc calmly downfield, an errant under throw in the upwind third of the field made for a pivotal play. Instead of giving CUT the disc near the end zone with a chance to bring the game to 4-2, Andrew Mahowald made a filthy springy layout snatch catch over waist high to ensure possession. At the moment it was a game changing grab and got everyone fired up. The sense of urgency to destroy was overwhelming as Tom Annen had the game of his life, finding Mahowaldy in the downwind end zone for the break and lead 5-1.
The Hodag cutter defenders were in kill mode and were making the most exciting and ridiculous plays ever. However, the final blow was about to be taken. Carleton was still unable to put the disc in the downwind end zone due to the explosive nature of the defense and a goal saving layout D by Matt Rebholz. Wisconsin had finally earned a turnover and was looking to move the disc around quickly to transition the defense into man. This time, CUT made a major mistake; they forgot to put on a hard force on the turn. As Muffin received the disc in the middle of the field, an honest mark was what Malecek had been waiting for. Before Goldstein realized what was happening a 55 yard upwind flick was unleashed put perfectly on a platter. Will Lokke raced to the back of the end zone and box out skied for the break, 6-1 Wisconsin. With 5 breaks in start the game, the Wisconsin Hodags had reached a level a new level of achievement. The focus of the team and excitement from the crowd could be heard on the whole complex as the confidence of the Hodags was shining. The Defense was playing out of their minds!
At this point, Carleton called a timeout as the Hodags screamed for more. But this time, Carleton showed some resiliency and fight as they held on O to score upwind 6-2. Carleton was able to break back downwind and bring the game to a 6-3 margin with Goldstein and Baylis were giving their team some life. With a huge lead and ridiculously windy conditions, protecting the upwind end zone became a must. And thus, the Kevin Riley turnover extravaganza began. Bucket would walk to where the pull landed and throw it as high and as far as he could. The first deep backhand launch was way out in front of Jim Foster. Jimmy made up a lot of ground and bid in the back of the end zone, sticking the catch with an incredible snatch, but losing possession with the hard ground contact. It was no matter as Madison quickly grabbed the turn and K-Fed found Heijmen for the 7-3 advantage. With the D line going back upwind, the consensus was to throw deep balls to the superior Wisconsin cutters. Evan Klane ripped a huge upwind pull, but another punt from Carleton gave Madison the disc on the goal line. An awesome backfield juke puts Evan in O2 power position and he immediately hucks his backhand as far as he can. As Shane and Andrew attempt to read the huge throw, Mahowald makes his move first, jumping and macking the disc between a sandwich of CUT defenders, but Skywalker’s touch mack, allowed Shane to swoop in a snatch up the trash for the break upwind to take half 8-3! The halftime talk was short and sweet; finish, punish, punt, and destroy.
However, as the 2nd half began with the Wisconsin O going downwind, the momentum would change. CUT would break out some sticky handler defensive pressure as Kevin Riley dropped a goal line swing and Carleton immediately converted for the upwind break 8-4. As the sun made an entrance, and the clouds burned off, the wind stiffened. With a 3-3-1 Trap Zone, Carleton was killing the Wisconsin popping and quickly shoved the disc in for another break 8-5. No one on the Wisconsin sideline flinched because we all believed we would win. On the third attempt out of half, the O-face finally scored as Miller found Marsh for the goal 9-5. Seth Meyer got in the game and saved a goal with a D for the moment, but the Defensive O could no longer score upwind easily as CUT brought the game to 9-6. Rebholz would fire a disc deep down the line to Tim Pearce, but a sick bid by Sam Bob did not find the mark because of a huge gust and Pearce would not touch the disc either as Jack Marsh read the wind for the downwind goal as Madison extended its lead to 10-6.
At this point, the D line began to watch the O line get to work. Jack Marsh scored or threw 5 straight goals in the second half as he found Heijmen for the 11-7 lead. After the 3rd straight bomb huck for a goal, a cut player yells, “We know your strategy Madison!” Miller, standing behind the CUT player, says, “What? Win.” With that kind of mentality, it would be “easy as pie” as CUT would attempt a zone, only to be scored upon in 2 throws; a down the line hammer from Matt Rebholz to Marsh who hit Heijmen with a cross field backhand for the 12-8 lead. Madison was still punting downwind as Heijmen skied Goldstein, Fat Sam, and Jim Foster for the 13-9 lead on a 500 floaty ball. With the game coming down to the wire, the D line wanted back into the action. Dan Miller was doing his best with Muffin and Animal to work the zone and finally found Shane with a crossfield floaty backhand. As the deep-deep crashed, Shane skied, received a nuts shot, and still jacked his flick all the way to Doede on the end zone line. Carleton was getting desperate and #8 called a travel from 30 yards away, claiming some shuffling of feet after the contact. Muffin responded to #8, “That is a terrible call” with the response coming “Muffin, you are horrible at ultimate.” It did not matter as the observer overruled the call and Muffin grabbed the dump and found a wide open Will Lokke for the upwind break 14-9. With game point on the line, Madison stacked the line. The game ended most fittingly, with Captain Matt Rebholz breaking the mark on the goal line to Captain Dan Heijmen for the 15-9 Central Region Championship. The Hodags rushed the field out of relief and the alumni hugged it out. Brian Frederick and Nate Hurst had now seen everything, a second straight Hodag Regional crown. Wisconsin had beaten Carleton in Regionals for the second straight year and had clinched a Nationals birth.
The Hodags graciously thanked the sideline full of fans and parents and even ran through a Bella chunnel. The tradition of Bushmills continued and everyone had their moment to speak to the team. Wisconsin had reached its first goal of the season, to win Regionals. At 49-1 and 6 tournament victories this spring, the Hodags should be a consensus #1 seed for the College Championship Series. Thank you to all of the parents who traveled to Luther to support the team, it was incredible. Wisconsin will be looking for the clean sweep, as Belladonna captured a Regional title as well, 14-5 and most likely the #2 seed at Nationals.