Trouble in Vegas (Day 1) from Brandon Malecek on Vimeo.
Carleton vs. Wisconsin Pictures x 2
The boys from Wisconsin flew into Las Vegas late on Thursday night, arriving past midnight and entirely missing the player registration. Tim Pearce was almost able to negotiate 2 free tickets from Midwest for spending the night and arriving on Friday afternoon. Coming in, there was a lot of talk concerning the difficult schedule and strong possibility of playing Carleton or Florida on Friday. However, the team was particularly focused on Santa Barbara, remembering the universe point victory 7-6 in semifinals 2007. In hindsight, this was the hardest tournament weekend the Hodags have ever played because of the random round times and long layoffs over 3 days and 9 games. It was a shock to the body to warm up 7 different times on the weekend and to consistently play the best competition, in what would be termed “hot” conditions compared to the -4 degrees and piles of snow in Wisconsin. Teams would definitely be taking their best shot at the Hodags each and every round, but Wisconsin had high expectations on the weekend.
With a motto of “Take No Prisoners,” Wisconsin would watch the end of Cal-UCSB in preparation to take on Berkeley. The Hodags came out firing as Animal and Muffin threw backhand hucks to Shane and Doede respectively to pounce out 2-0. Foster zips a nice flick to Pearce to lead 3-1. However, Cal responds after a goal line turnover and cashes in a break to tie it 3-3. Jimmy Foster absolutely rips a laser inside-out backhand to space for TP to run down, giving Wisconsin the 4-3 lead. Shane Hohenstein throws a flick looper to Doede for a break and Muffin scores from Tom Murda as the Defense responds to lead 6-3. Pat Donovan makes a nice layout attempt, but Cal closed the game to 6-4. At this point, Jon Gaynor “sucked” after a brutal turnover, a nice foot block, and then another brutal turnover. It took heroics by Kevin Riley to bring it to half 7-4 as K-Fed bombed deep to a Will Lokke, sprinting like he saw an “IN-N-OUT” Burger. Wisconsin won all 3 flips on the day as Coach James Foster was strategically taken out of the process. The O-face started half as just as they took it, with Bucket Riley delivering the BOOM and the Red Headed Mexican taking down the HEADSHOT 8-4. After a Seth Meyer D, Mahowald tosses a goal to Feldner for the 9-5 lead. Cal brings it to 9-6 and Rebholz hucks deep to Lokke, who throws ‘n goes for the point with Riley for the 10-6 advantage. The game traded until Animal threw an O2 to Turtle for the 13-7 win. Riley’s 4 assists, Lokke’s 3 goals, and Seth’s 3 D’s led the charge for Wisconsin. The post game huddle spoke of “working with our legs” and never becoming complacent with the direction of the game.
Wisconsin prepared thoroughly for Santa Barbara and was charged to start the game. However, the Black Tide scored on their first possession and sent the Hodag Defense into a flurry of accusations about who got beat to the open side. Tensions raised to a boiling point that even lifelong buddy pair of Muffin and Animal, (3 time winners of best buddy look) would be at each other’s necks and threaten lives with throat slicing motions. The O-face took the field and patiently moved the disc around as Rebholz found Lokke for the goal 1-1. Wisconsin stampeded the field and prepared to lay down the hammer with stifling man defense. Soon UCSB began dropping the disc and throwing into a Wisconsin layout D’s, giving Andrew Mahowald 2 straight scores as Wisconsin took control 3-1. Cullen would make a nice D, allowing Muffin and Animal to throw goals to Tom Murda and Skywalker respectively for the 5-1 lead. Even the O line got in on the action as UCSB was forced to punt the disc to no receiver as the defensive pressure was overwhelming, allowing Riley to throw a break to Lokke for his second goal of the game 6-1. The Oats were within reach, but Santa Barbara connected with a deep look and on the scoring pass, 6’7 Diablo Donovan made a full extension layout D to save the goal. Sideline would explode with tumultuous cheering, as Belladonna had again sauntered over to distract as many sideline Hodags as plausible. Muffin, doing his best to ignore the sideline debauchery, hit Jon Gaynor with a looping flick as Wisconsin took half 7-1, with six straights breaks for the OATBAG. Jim Raynor spiked the disc, smeared his eye black and then gave his sweetheart a passionate kiss to celebrate the moment. However, all of the hoopla was just one more distraction that the New England Hodags did not need. The second half became a clear disappointment compared to the first halt riot, as the O line was easily broken. Eventually Riley was able to put damage control on the situation, finding Jimmy Foster for the 8-2 lead. The 4-3 starting Defense takes the field and punishes the Black Tide, exhausting the offense and grinding their options down to nothing. The Hodags flexed hard, but eventually conceded a goal after the 10th turnover of the point 8-3. Lokke is sidelined momentarily with the temptation to eat something (cheesy or chocolaty admits Fatty), and Feldman is forced to play offense. Ben obliges with a turnover, but gets angry and makes a sweet layout D in the backfield, allowing Foster to jack it deep to Tim Pearce 9-3. UCSB would find their rhythm, scoring to make it 9-4. Wisconsin’s O-face was now entirely warmed up, and Kevin threw a super nice break side backhand huck to Gaynor for the 10-4 advantage. The newer Hodags were now making frequent appearances in the competition. The Black Tide hucks to their best player, Asa, with Jon Marshall hot on his heels. The sideline (just Bucket) clamors, “Left! It’s going LEFT!” to Marshall, who turns his head every which way and even veers a little to the right. Asa would trip, stumble, and claw his way to the trailing edge before completely eating it on the dusty fields and Marshall would admit, “I couldn’t see the disc.” Only to have Riley explain in exasperation, “Yeah, that’s why I told you to run left!” Animal was probably the reason for the initial Wisconsin turnover, but once on defense, Tom exploded for a layout comeback D on a head high huck. Tom would flash an armband, or maybe it was his calf sleeve, and motion upwards, as his stock ticker suddenly leaped on the exchange. All of the heroics were of no use as UCSB scored 10-5. The Offense jogged to the line, re-enacting that scene from Star Wars when the Rebel Alliance came to save that day. However the Death Star was patiently waiting, and shot down 2 offensive cutters with a blast resulting in a double injury to skinny kids Foster and Feldman. Wisconsin would bring out the guns and replace those cutters with the 2 scariest physical Jedi on the Brodags; SPAINZILLA! Shane made good use of his time on the O-line to throw a goal to Tim Pearce 11-5. The Hodags would continue to trade to 12-6, scoring off a Kevin Riley fake hammer only to put a looping flick to Tim Pearce in space. Santa Barbara gives on last ditch effort to stay in the game, forcing 3 turnovers from the Wisconsin Offense at 12-7, even enduring an argument with the Bucket to which a sideline player hollered, “It’ll never end with that guy. Just stop talkin’ to him,” as K-Fed argued his defensive positioning point until both teams cried enough! Wisconsin wrapped up the final score 13-8 as Riley hit Rebholz on the open side.
The Hodags post game huddle did not have a sense accomplishment about it. The Offense’s furrowed brows made the Defense quiver in anticipation. The Hodags did not close the game, the sideline disappeared, and we traded in our complacency instead of vanquishing the foe at his first sign of weakness. The Hodags were scolded by their leadership and told to physically and mentally prepare for a rivalry match against Carleton. Madison is always interested in what Carleton has hiding, from their color attire, to their warm-up routines behind scenes. There seemed to a be an air of anticipation for this 5pm showcase game – as Rob was taking an afternoon Jacuzzi before the best stuff. But actually the game was at 3:30pm and Rob was misinformed due to schedule confusion (C’mon Skip!). As Friday in Las Vegas drifted away and the sunlight waned, the Hodags and CUT set to do battle.
To say the first point was in contention could be the understatement of the century. This was a new season, with new expectations, and both teams believed they deserved to win. Wisconsin would win the flip and elect to start on Defense, bringing to firepower to Carleton first. It was the most contested point in college ultimate history as Wisconsin’s fabled Defense, sturdier than the Great Wall of China, was able to completely halt the mongrel CUT hordes wishing to dethrone the succession of Hodag dominators. The disc barely made it to midfield, before the exhausted hordes – realizing they needed more than picks and shovels to make a dent in this defense, were forced to retreat and call a timeout. The set play was one for the ages. Carleton came out in a diagonal 4 person stack as the disc began on the sideline at about midfield. The Carleton stack, with cutoff white t-shirts ripped across the chest, colored black and red – reading phrases like “TMF” and even had streaked war paint covering their face and arms. As the stack motioned, the thrower crapped his pants and threw it deep out the back to no receiver. The Hodag Defense took possession on the Ho Chi Min trail, taking ages to move the disc a mere 50 yards due to the number of stoppages. Carleton did want to give an inch – fouling continuously and ferociously on every count. Those physical marks became ridiculous to overcome, it was like fighting through a lunatic having a seizure, and nearing the Carleton red zone, the hostility increased. It seemed that every time play stopped with a contested foul, every CUT player had re-established position on the hip of every Hodag. But the superior Hodags flexed their hardest and willed a goal, Doede finding Cullen for the break to start the game 1-0. The growing crowd would boo and hiss – giving negative feedback to the ugliest most physical point that ultimate has seen in decades. Carleton would give nothing and score on a deep connection to even the game 1-1. The Hodag Offense took the field determined to play it chilly and be patient with CUT’s aggressive style, evoking Evan Klane to call 3 foul calls in a row and look at the Carleton player with his, “I mean really?” look of disgust. Carleton’s pressure eventually weighed on the Hodag O as two CUT defenders collapsed into Gaynor’s own layout attempt on a poorly chosen under throw. CUT attempted to strike early going deep to their “18 year old legs” of Grant, but Will Lokke made an awkward catch D. Wisconsin realized it was back on Offense and took a deep breathe trying to ignore the nagging inkling that Carleton has resigned to cheating as a standard of play. Captain Matt Rebholz would take control with an O2 and break pass to Tim Pearce – as to which Sam Kanner almost makes a poach play, but then just screams at himself loudly. Carleton just shook their heads in disbelief and played on as Riley prematurely jackulates a flick huck out of the back of the end zone to a streaking Jimmy Foster. Lindsey Grant throws a huck and Gaynor makes up the ground for the D out of bounds to save a break opportunity. Tim Pearce puts on his juke shoes and gets 2 straight unders on Baylis, matching speed against speed. Riley eventually winds up with the disc and thinks about hucking it, only to find his resets blanketed, forcing a stall 9 deep that is picked off in the lane. Carleton goes back to sending it deep and Tony makes a sky catch in between a leaping Gaynor and trailing Rebholz for the break 1-2! Carleton rushes the field and smears eye black and red paint all over each other a little more. The Wisconsin Offense trudged back to the line and insisted on playing again and is able to score quickly as a Riley O2 gives way to a break to Foster and finish to Pearce with a break side flick 2-2. Sam Bob hucks deep OB on Carleton’s next possession, giving Wisconsin the bropportunity to brop some breaks on those CUT bras. Chris Doede makes a catch past a bidding CUT defender and looking undisturbed, hitting Shane on the continue before Animal cashes in a break to Skywalker 3-2. The game went even at 3-3 as Jerome Potter made a sky catch, elbowing Mahowald in the face, which was overturned as no foul by the head observer without the players even consulting him. The Wisconsin O became patient, fighting through the handler pressure, before K-fed throws into a Tony under poach. Carleton would fail to execute a backfield throw and Wisconsin pounced for the goal, Evan to Riley the first time and then Evan to Rebholz the double score right in Carleton’s eyeball with the handler O2 4-3. CUT tied the game 4-4 as Lindsey Grant got loose in space on a pick-up error, and Shane wasn’t able to help soon enough. Wisconsin would miss on a deep throw, but Evan made a layout catch strip in an effort to get the disc back. Carleton floated an under pass and Baylis zipped under it in open space only to fire a laser backhand out the back of the end zone, despite a huge layout greatest attempt by Christian. However, Wisconsin sent Kevin Riley deep for Will Lokke who placed a perfect clap goal using the Sub Zero connection for an exuberant spike 5-4. The Wisconsin Defense earned several turnovers before Malecek ripped a stall 9 backhand deep from the end zone cone. Grant was in position for the D, but Andrew “Golden Hand” Mahowald sprinted down the field and made a spectacular layout grab over the CUT defender for the goal 6-4, which changed the game momentum (1st highlight clip). Kanner sent a laser huck deep to no receiver, but called a foul on the Animal to get it back. Seth got a sick layout D near the end zone line and Muffin launched a ridiculous sonic boom of a backhand to streaking Feldman, skying in stride for the break to half 7-4 and windmill spike! The Wisco O played it chilly and easy until Sausage Fingers made an appearance and dropped a slashing in-cut. Carleton punted the disc and resigned to play more defense.
Matt Rebholz let a low huck fly and Will Lokke made a poster perfect sky over Baylis, allowing a K-Fed hammer to Tim Pearce to make the game 9-4. Carleton would break back to 9-6, (despite a sick nasty Andrew Mahowald layout D) but Wisconsin traded in the last 4 O points as Lokke scored 3 straight goals for the 13-9 win. Riley’s 4 turnovers canceled out his 4 assists as Wisconsin celebrated a 3-0 Friday finish. Wisconsin spoke of their enduring intensity all day and say things like, “I’m proud to wear this jersey!” Rebholz commented that Wisconsin had been in all sorts of circumstances all day but was able to dominate and get the first real taste of ultimate. It had been the best game Wisconsin had played all season and the Hodags were surely not done yet. The Hodags would hustle to the IN-N-OUT Burger allowing Shane to get the quadruple-quadruple sandwich. Wisconsin asked itself to mentally prepare for the tough games looming on Saturday with UBC and Oregon in the sights.
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The Hodags strategically stopped at the local gas station to pick up some last minute red bull, allowing Will Lokke to find some 5 hour energy to replenish his data files. The Wisconsin warm-up on Saturday morning was of quiet determination, until of course, the stretching circle where only the most hilarious stories are shared. Shane was sure to relate one specific adventure in Spain concerning an old woman and crowded street, but Wisconsin was definitely prepared for British Columbia. However, the team’s butted heads immediately, arguing over who was in whose warm up drills. The Hodags certainly weren’t firing on all cylinders yet, but the starting Defense is always capable of domination. UBC missed on a deep pass, allowing Muffin to find familiar target the Golden Hand for the break 1-0. The Wisconsin Offense is also able to convert early as Riley throws a nice floaty midrange huck to Will Lokke for a monster sky 2-1. British Columbia, taking advantage of their polished plays makes a successful deep pass and then converts on the scoring pass 2-2. The Hodag O-face surveys the landscape carefully before Lokke hucks a super swilly forehand that Gaynor is able to box out and lankily 1 handed snatch 3-2. The T-Birds took their free swings, but screw up a backfield throw. Animal rushes to the disc and then gets brutally foot blocked on the low release backhand swing. British Columbia hucks quickly and make a solid layout catch, called back on a pick. The Wisconsin Defense begins changing the force and trying all sorts of trickery to gain a turnover. It came down to old fashioned domination as Andrew “Skywalker” Mahowald D’s a huck out of bounds. Muffin can’t grab the O2 and neither can Cullen as UBC gets a second Animal turnover and scores on the open side as Muffin fails to bid 3-3. The Hodag O scores easily as Lokke hits Gaynor for a second straight connection deep 4-3, as Jon continues to sky 1 handed. To the chant of “Ho-Dags,” UBC hucks it deep and runs it down for the goal 4-4. With the game close, Rebholz makes a perfect throw to Tim Pearce in stride 5-4. The fired up Hodag sideline insists upon cheering “Ho-Dags” and UBC drops it in the backfield, leading to a Muffin to Mahowald conversion 6-4. The Hodag Defense punishes the T-Birds with pressure, giving Wisconsin the disc back. Muffin launches a perfect backhand huck into triple coverage, hitting Shane in the face, but the ManBearPig doinks it, messing up the easy break chance. The Hodags get it back and Doede attempts to huck through a brutal foul. It comes down to the Golden Hand, tossing a nice IO break to Shane flying across the goal line 7-4 halftime. During half, the Hodags ponder the chance of not finishing this game and resolve to bring the intensity. However, Wisconsin started half on Offense, which did not help matters as Riley would turn it in the backfield. Jim Raynor tried a layout bid and snacked on a super nice D. UBC attempted to force middle, but Tim Pearce sent it deep to Lokke for a good looking sky goal, extending the lead to 8-4. British Columbia tried a hammer for the score, but Skywalker made up the difference and sky D’d it out of the end zone. Malecek released a BOOM, hitting the Golden Hand in the eyeball, which caused the disc to inexplicitly bounce off his hands. Those sneaky Canadians hucked deep up into the sun and Doede was skied pretty bad, blaming he didn’t know how to “D the sun.” In a rage, Chris would fire up the sideline with extreme words and anger, even sacrificing the life of a n00b, causing Pat to flee the scene of the crime. Back on Offense, Foster faked for the disc excessively until Jimmy snagged a high flick by Riley and converted to Fat Bill 9-5. UBC continued to miss deep, allowing Shane to make a nice in-cut and send it deep to Seth. Meyer dropped a fast count and a foul, using the entire rulebook to gain a stoppage of play. Seth, who currently was playing through a strained muscle/hernia, was in danger of hurting himself. Bergen and Masler calmly weaved for a goal, showing a new wave of Hodag handler domination 10-5. UBC missed deep again, and Animal would let a flick huck rip to Feldman deep 11-5. Muffin continued to drop bombs on UBC, punishing their every turnover with a deep sky to Mahowald 12-5. British Columbia was coming apart at the seems as they made a layout on the first pass in-cut and then sent it deep into quadruple coverage, but Turtle was the only Hodag brave enough to attempt a play, getting skied for the goal 12-6. Jon Gaynor would keep the O-face tradition alive by turfing it at stall 6, forcing Rebholz to make a D on a high release hand block. The T-Birds were attempting to live on the break side, but forced another deep turnover. UBC was still employing their crafty force middle, before Lazer showed off the spin moves and ridiculously backhand fakes, probably causing Sausage fingers to drop a phantom D. UBC sets a deep huck play after the timeout and hucks deep on Foster, only to have Lokke come from the break side and leap for an impressive D. On the first in-cut, Captain Jimmy Foster hucked deep to Tim Pearce for the run down catch to win 13-6.
The Hodags celebrated their victory and focused their sights on Oregon Ego, the team at 2007 Nationals who scored the most points on Wisconsin. Oregon clearly has superstar potential players and Wisconsin targeted the big names to control early. The Hodags, dressed completely in black, had something to prove. As Hector Valdivia calmly explained, “No Hodag has ever won Vegas.” Therefore, the motivation for the outcome was as juiced as possible and Ego was the next opponent in the way of perfection. Oregon also seemed to be the team to beat, as they had already beaten UBC, Colorado, and had been crushing on Carleton just before our battle. With these factors floating around, the focus was deadly accurate to begin the contest, despite the fact that Wisconsin started with possession. The Offense worked the disc slowly to midfield, as Oregon’s junk and force middle were causing confusion among the beasts from the Northwoods. The onus fell upon Kevin Riley, who decidedly threw a flick huck to the very back edge of the end zone, causing the hefty set Fat Bill to waddle the last steps, and butterfingers the catch twice. However, the O-face is an athletic bunch of dudes, who manage to get the turn back. The Offense goes back to work and Kevin Riley, who has been forcing hammers all weekend, put up a 35 yarder to guess who, Fatty Pants. This time the Sausage Fingers nickname ran true to the bone, as McSchlokke let the disc squirt through his fingers. Evan Klane makes a fancy move up the line, but Riley is on fire, as he throws the pass too far in front of Lazer, who couldn’t come up with the full extension layout snag. The sideline hollers to value the disc and play hard defense, but the Offense is determined to make it interesting, as Dusty Becker hucks deep. Oregon seizes the sky and goal line opportunity with open arms, using their fancy throws and athletic cutters for the second sky to break 0-1. The Wisconsin sideline grumbled and bit their tongues, offering empty words of encouragement. King Dededede was heard muttering, “Just score already” and Shane, for the first time in his life, felt of twinge of pure loathing towards the Offense. Wisconsin moved the disc eagerly as even Tim Pearce was throwing discs before the cutter came out of his route. As the Hodag O neared midfield, Fat Bill lost control and needed to do something greedy, hucking a swilly flick which hung Gaynor out to dry on a Ego D. Jim Foster, prominent starting cutter on the O line, specifically hates when the Defense gives him a hard time when the O struggles. Jimmy was super pissed and on Ego’s first up field pass, James eyelids flickered as he made the most ridiculous angry soaring layout D, which sent shudders of fear down the Oregon sideline. The other Hodag Deatheaters clapped their hands in approval, feeding off the despair of their competitors. Captain Rebholz instinctively got the disc and hit Evan Klane just past the line for the goal 1-1. As the Hodags rushed the field, the desert sky suddenly blanketed and fog over took the Hodag sideline. It was the fabled Hodag Defense taking the field, their gaze concentrated squarely on Ego’s starting 7. Every Hodag was giving their all except the Animal, who let his man touch it every other for the entire offensive possession. Eventually Eli Janin hucks a flick deep, which Seth willingly smack D’s. Muffin brings in the disc and squints in the bright sunlight, hoping for a deep cut. To Morfin’s disgust, Doede is the last option coming in for the bailout reset, because the Animal was acting funny, something about rabies. King Dede throws a floaty backhand making Sophomore Sensation C Monster make a layout grab to save possession. Madison takes several free under cuts, before Dades puts huge pass to space on the break side, allowing Morfin to hit Skywalker for the break 2-1. The Golden Hand was looking to have a better Saturday after only a +4 Friday. Andrew Mahowald pulled out a dagger and sank Oregon single handedly, scoring 4 breaks on his first 5 points careening Wisconsin to a 7-2 advantage, as 3 came from the Morfin-Skywalker connection. The grizzled veterans were the ones landing the blows and looking to make plays. Will Lokke also made an awesome sideline catch coming off a misguided Lazer deep attempt, allowing the defensive “pain train” to continue pillaging and decimating with their oppressive intensity. It was Oregon’s ill suited deep game which caused the Defense to devour and punish – missing deep too often and refusing to play decent defense. It was the first reported sighting of the legendary Wisconsin Defense – getting turnovers and scoring every time. These specific tactics fell apart in the second half as the Hodags were only able to break once more on a sick 65 yard flick from Muffin to Tom Murray. The Hodag Offense finally cleaned up their act, scoring every possession as Bucket and Foster threw 5 goals to win 13-7. The only plays of true merit in the final feasting was the first ever sighting of a Kevin Riley full extension layout for a possession saving play, Doede who was skied deep blaming the stupid sun for not making an attempt on the disc, and a Janin break mark throw on Turtle for a goal which sent King Dededede into the biggest rampage of fury since CCC. Wisconsin took a long bye before the first game of the weekend that actually mattered – pre-quarterfinals. The contenders were playing pre-pre-quarters just to earn the chance to lose, as UCF and Davidson battled to a 10-8 finish. The opponent was the Davidson DUFF – who were in good spirits as the game started. The Wisconsin Defense was on the prowl and amped for an elimination game, as Muffin went deep from Feldman for the first break 2-1. Seth Meyer made a layout D in the lane, allowing Bergen and Masler to weave for a goal 3-1. Davidson took a timeout and the conceited O line thought the day was over. They flirted with Belladonna, took off their cleats, and waited for the Defense to finish the game. The Defense took savage pleasure in showing up the O-face, but was still losing the season series to date 5-6-2. The Hodags took half 7-2, on a commanding series of plays as Animal hit Skywalker and the Old Man tandem connected. At this point, the O-face took the field to make it 8-2 right? However, the play took a turn for the worse as quick errors and shabby defense gave Davidson momentum with their “huck and hope” strategy, which reeled off 3 breaks to bring the game to 9-7. As Hector watched from the sideline at 8-5, Valdivia predicted “no more than 7” for DUFF – leaving Ron Kubalanza to scoff as the game quota was instantly reached. At this point, even Jeremiah got angry (allegedly the first time ever) and Shane fully embraced the feeling for O-face hate. “All of those hard earned breaks and 70 yard sprints for what?” thought the Defense. “For the Offense to give them easily right back, as if handing out Christmas cards?!” However, Hodag fury can only be used for good, as the Defense broke 3 straight to win 13-7. The Hodag D was pretty happy with the performance, 8 breaks in 12 points, but the closing huddle was pretty pissy. Rebholz was beyond words and left the tongue lashing from Foster – who scorched the team, calling “Bullshit” on Riley’s gleeful grin after having his first turnover free game. However, a clear lesson was learned, if the Hodags fuck around and become complacent with how the game is going, the other team will capitalize. Animal was probably a little salty after his +0 performance on Saturday and was sad that his stock was falling exponentially. Most of the team insisted upon leaving for Sahara Buffet immediately, but the slow car, lounged and watched the last of the prequarters games as Hector dropped some knowledge about the current season. Far into a long discussion about the possibility of winning non-stop, the final cap horn sounded. Unaware of the circumstances, Oregon and Whitman were in an exhausted looking 9-9 tie. Whitman road the disc for unders and scored to win 10-9, eliminating Oregon from contention and stealing their seed in quarterfinals. The remaining Hodags were stunned, but soon a louder cheer rang across the complex – Arizona was on universe with Florida! There was no mistaking the field as the entire sideline was packed person to person 3 rows deep. The Sunburn was working the disc easily as Florida was poaching deep. Soon Arizona scored and the complex shook with excitement, but the game was not over? Florida’s coach had water bottles in hand and as the top Florida player’s walked back to the line for another go. Florida scored their point with a surprising amount of contention as Gibson left the ground and unnecessarily flailed his legs on a deep connection from the Brodster and Florida seemed prized to finish the game. At this point, the sideline confirmed it was universe and the anticipation climaxed. Arizona received and worked diligently to move the disc, steadily gaining yards. A murmur of exhilaration was running through the crowd as Florida was set to be deseeded. Sure enough, Arizona man-stud Joseph Kershner made the catch of a lifetime, taking Kurt O2 and making a pretty insane layout catch for the game winner 11-10. However, Gibson shook hands after the score, which artificially boosted his Ethan Albright Madden spirit rating from 2 to 7, as Severus awarded 5 points to Florida House. As Wisconsin texted messages of upsets galore on the way to the car – the bracket showed an unbelievable sight – Colorado, Florida, Oregon, and Illinois all went down in pre-quarters. This meant that one of Cal, Whitman, Arizona, or Harvard would land in the finals of Vegas. Wisconsin scratched their heads and looked at their side of the bracket – UCSC, Hodags, CUT, and UCSB. Sunday would be interesting for sure and early as quarterfinals was set for 8:30am, making the traveling tournament party impossible for the Hodags to check out.
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As Wisconsin arrived early on Sunday morning, it was clear that FIVE Ultimate had been dominating the scene with an array of couches, music, and tons of sweet looking merchandise. The Hodags were unusually early to the fields, because it was Sunday and that is when all the chips are down. Wisconsin worked into the drills slowly, preferring to stretch and run rather than to drill. The Hodags were playing the California – Santa Cruz Banana Slugs in quarterfinals. The captains spoke of jumping out fast, playing smart, and being mentally ready to stomp on these guys from the start. The Defensive Chunnel was definitely turning up the tempo as the starting Wisconsin line took the field; ManSlutBearPig, Golden Hand, Pen 15 Feldman, C Monster, King Dededede, Phenominal, and Morfin. The momentum shifted early as Wisconsin lost the flip for color and was forced back into their sweaty black jerseys for the 7th time of the weekend. There was even a touch of early morning desert dew as Andrew was looking to make plays with his sweatpants on. Santa Cruz wasted no time on the first possession and lets a deep backhand fly to space. Ben Feldman runs it down and sky D’s it OB for the turnover, but twists his ankle on the landing and does not return for the rest of the game. Wisconsin intends to “do it for Hollywood,” but on the first under cut, Doede makes a Turtle claw catch and fumbles the disc, allowing UCSC to score on the IO break lanes 0-1. As Morfin trudged to the sideline, his eyes narrowed beneath his sunglasses. “Those damn cutters keep coming under! Why can’t they grow a pair and make a decent deep cut?” Morfin concealed his thoughts from his prodding teammates and waiting for the Offense to convert. But the Hodags were on their heels as Santa Cruz gets a deep turn from Riley and goes for the big play deep. Fat Lokke is able to stagger deep and leap for the catch D – keeping Wisconsin in the game early. Kevin Riley would attempt two straight hucks, on the first calling a brutal foul and on the second, sending it straight to a defender for the 2nd O-face turnover to begin the day. UCSC continued to bomb flicks deep and this time Gaynor makes a layout D, but pops the disc further into the air for the Banana Slug to run it down and then throw a 1 yard pass for the would be goal, before Riley called him not in. The dude wanted to argue, but said fine, and then pivoted to throw the goal, only to have #38 Riley call, “Travel,” which gained a response, “What the Eff man!?” The bad blood would start right then and there as UCSC would score easily and then rush the field, celebrating a 0-2 lead on the Hodags. Wisconsin was playing lazy and believing that the game would just fall into their laps. It was complacency which was leaking into the minds of the Hodags – a feeling of entitlement that was not yet earned. Soon anger swept the Madison sideline and Hodags in every which direction were prowling, looking for a victim to slaughter. The Wisconsin O Line made their long walk back to the end line and waited for the pull, discussing their strategy to get the zealous Defense back onto the field. Evan Klane made a beautiful sweeping O2 cut for a pass to space, clapping mid cut, and then bombing a backhand deep for Gaynor to come down with 1-2. Tom Murray replaced Feldman on the line and Seth Meyer was forced to watch as his “hernia” injury was too painful to risk playing on. Santa Cruz had a break side throw nicked twice by Animal and a nearby Mabrowald, only to have the disc again pop up and a Banana Slug catch it, who immediately hucked deep, only for Animal to step in the lane for a D. Muffin denied all temptations to huck it deep on his first look, but eventually bombed a stall 8 flick to Andrew Mahowald, who tossed a break to Doede as the Defense responded 2-2. Shane Hohenstein made an incredible bid on a Santa Cruz under cut, but narrowly missed, allowing UCSC to huck it deep and make a trailing edge layout catch, putting Doede past his wits end with rage 2-3. The Wisconsin O-face continued to huck OB, this time to a wide open Tim Pearce, and UCSC hucked deep again, this time for a nasty sky over Gaynor and a timeout on the goal line. UCSC scored easily to make it 2-4 and the Hodag universe seemed to be contracting at light speed. Much of the Wisconsin squad felt powerless to change the current outcome, as the Offense had already been broken twice and the defense was unable to convert early. After the terrible start, the lines tightened considerably, even for a Sunday, keeping new faces waiting eagerly on the sideline as the top 13 battled it out. At this point, the O and D were past talking to each other, because only accusations of fault were hurtled back and forth. On the next O-face possession, Will Lokke threw midrange deep down the line to Jon Gaynor for the payback sky to make it 3-4. The Defense struggled to gain a turnover as UCSC converted again to make it 3-5. Things weren’t going the usual way for Wisconsin and a ridiculous scene developed for the O-face as Lokke tossed low release backhand huck to space for… K-Fed of Bucketland!? Kevin Riley ran down the throw and boxed out deep for the goal 4-5. Wisconsin finally caved in and chose to burn a timeout as urgency overtook anyone on the team who knew better. Madison brought it in and had a “wake up call,” which involved slapping faces, mean mugs, and terribly cruel words. There’s never a good storyline without a little bit of controversy and this is where the drama begins. The main thrower for UCSC receives the disc in the flat, his momentum carrying him towards the sideline. Dude, stops as quickly as possible, and then hop steps into his backhand move after already setting his pivot during a quick forehand fake. That was a no brainer, “Travel,” called Muffin as the dude ripped a backhand deep. Inconsequentially, the Banana Slugs came down with the disc in the end zone, but the score didn’t count. UCSC was incredulous with the call, gesturing and stomping about like the world was an unfair and harsh place. Muffin ignored the rant until a fine point of emphasis was offered, “C’mon Muffin, that’s the kind of bullshit call Florida makes. You aren’t Brodie are you?” There aren’t many lines in ultimate that truly piss Madison off, but comparing a Hodag to a player from Florida was one of them. Morfin knew what must be done – another horcrux needed to be sacrificed, as the fear of Muffin was clearly dwindling in the ultimate community. Who better to be made a sacrifice than an unexpecting Banana Slug? Morfin’s forehead burned with rage, but his face remained clear of emotion. “But did I gain an advantage?” the Banana Slug pressed on. Muffin remained silent thinking, “Duh, of course you gained an advantage you assjack, you traveled!” UCSC grumbled as the disc returned to the thrower, but play resumed quickly. On the first under throw, a miscommunication between the cutter and thrower leads a Gaynor slap down D in the lane. The Wisco Defense works the disc on a must score and Malecek leads Gaynor into the back of the end zone for the double happiness break 5-5. Santa Cruz is still in the game and begin their offensive set the same as the previous point, as dude gets a under catch speeding towards the sideline. For the second time in a row, the West Coaster neglected his first pivot set and hop stepped to gain momentum for a backhand huck. Before the disc leaves his hand the exact same travel is called by Animal, because the Midwest kids play against Carleton extensively, so any violation that can be called usually is. That is the standard of play in the Midwest – traveling is called strictly and there is no room for argument. The backhand huck is brought back despite a nice double Slug sky and on the immediate re-jack, the disc is sandwich knocked out of bounds by a Shane/Drew combo. Muffin finally gets the disc and immediately gets hacked by the mark. Malecek is used to this type of blatant cheating and takes his free 10 count. In a flash of baby blue, Muffin releases a nasty strike deep to the Golden Hand for the sky break! But wait, a travel is called – it was indeed a retaliatory bullshit call due to a grudge from the previous plays (I would hate myself too). Video evidence contradicts the call, but Morfin takes the disc without a word, as the player calls, “You moved your pivot foot just a little bit.” Morfin wasn’t about to whine or moan, because Wisconsin was used to playing against cheaters in their region all the time *cough*Carleton*cough* so Wisconsin regarded the call as a double score opportunity with these Coasties. As the disc came into play, Morfin’s inner conscious was nudging for the inevitable – another horcrux must be sealed soon. Malecek, Riley, and Animal worked the disc easily as Jimmy Foster was taking easy in-cuts, before Tom Annen ripped a backhand huck to Skywalker for the goal 6-5. The Banana Slugs go back to work, but a wide swing pass is turned over. Wisconsin works it very patiently, as half of the O line is already on the field. Eventually, Rebholz and Muffin make the same backfield cut and Matt layout D’s Malecek on the around pass. Wisconsin earned it back and eventually scored the break as Animal hit Rebel Rousa O2 for the 7-5 lead. As the momentum swung back into Wisconsin’s favor, Morfin knew the time was right, as he had been plotting and waiting for the perfect moment to unleash a bit of his soul – further increasing his already unstoppable forehand powers. UCSC hucked deep incomplete and Morfin selected the sunglasses as his article of flare to use as the container. The moment Morfin received a swing from Riley he did not hesitate, focusing on his trigger finger and remembering the comparison to Florida. Will Lokke had already made his deep cut and in a blinding flash of light the disc was gone and the mark had crumbled to the ground. The sunglasses glinted and shone a brilliant orange as Will pulled in the horcrux flick bomb for the break to take half 8-5, finishing a 5-0 Wisconsin run. The deed had been done and Muffin’s dark mark burned red hot in approval – now making 2 horcruxes complete.
The spirit of the Banana Slugs had been broken, but they were still challenging the Wisconsin Offense who struggled with 2 turns on each of their first 2 possessions to begin the half. The lines for Madison opened only at 10-6 as the disc swung the entire field for a textbook Bergen finish to Cullen for a goal 11-6. Santa Cruz insisted upon hucking on offense, as Shane helped out for a sky D, only to land directly on Muffin’s foot. Muffin, thanking his lucky stars for not breaking his foot (as the other half of Spainzilla had done his freshman year), decided to use his pain as a weapon. Wincing to the disc, Malecek screams to Shane and for the second time ever, the ManBearPig miraculously takes off down field. Malecek bombs a flick to Hohenstein and limps to the sideline, waiting for Animal to get the reset before officially calling the injury. Animal eventually shredded his mark to hit Turtle on a slow motion dump cut to O2 for the winning goal 13-7 Wisconsin. Will Lokke went +7 in the game with Gaynor right on his heels at +4. Observers were called to the game late, but made no calls of significance as the tempers had fallen after Captain Foster got involved and accused UCSC of pulling the game into a call fest after the retaliatory issue. In the end there was nothing to argue. However, it should be noted the Slugs were one of the most spirited teams of the weekend, introducing themselves on the field and joking during stoppages. Now if only the Midwest and West Coast could agree on what constitutes as a travel the game would have gone off without a hitch. Other information is interest is the amount of strategy the West Coast teams have already adopted to this point in the season – with complicated force middle sets and specific agendas to stop certain players. The newly devised “Hack-a-Muffin” strategy is in the early stages, but this type of childish cheating and hugging on the mark will eventually lead to a grave conclusion. While there have been no reported deaths yet, further tomfoolery on the mark will inevitably culminate in a muggle death.
Wisconsin’s survival through quarterfinals meant a semifinal re-match with Central rival Carleton CUT, who had outlasted Santa Barbara 15-12. On the other side of the bracket, Harvard was set to do battle against Arizona for the other spot in finals. The Hodags were not looking forward to finals, but instead had their eyes directly on Carleton, who had beaten the Hodags in Vegas 2006 semifinals 5-6. This was a driving point of emphasis for Madison as they warmed up and put on their baby blue for the first time on the weekend. In the closing moments before the game started, the sideline crowd was growing, as was the intensity of the Wisconsin huddle. Captain Matt Rebholz was speaking from his heart, yelling so hard a neck vein threatened to explode. Wisconsin wasn’t done yet, it was time to go nuts and crush on Carleton. It wasn’t a party until Hohenstein brought the D line hate – saying how “We respect our opponents, but not these guys! We bury them from the first point and never quit until it is 15 – something or the game’s over.” Wisconsin was fully charged to go, but had lost the flip and was precariously starting on Offense. It was a highly contested game the entire way, as the crowd enjoyed calling out the number of stoppages each time play halted, ending with 47 stoppages on 52 calls, despite 2 observers on the field. It was a Midwest battle in the desert and both teams were pulled into the S-Box by the lack of flow to the game. The Wisconsin Offense took the field playing patient, taking lots of under side completions before the gluttonous Fat Bill lazers a backhand past Foster for a turnover. Carleton was playing possession ultimate well, holding the disc until Foster grabs a catch D in space going the other way. Several passes later Rebholz finds J-Fo on a short pass for the goal 1-0. Carleton’s offense takes the line and calls their play, and as perfectly as a team of synchronized swimmers, claps as a line to signal to the other team, that they are indeed, huge tools. The C Monster almost layout D’s the first under cut and Doede gets up in Carleton’s main handler’s Eskimo face. Carleton is working diligently to move the disc on the open side, showing off their high release flicks to complete unders. Wisconsin’s starting defense was playing beyond intensely and caused CUT’s usually flowing offense to grind to a complete halt, as no one moved for 6 straight seconds at a time and the first legitimate under cut tripped on his own feet out of exhaustion. If their offense already looked this pitiful, it would only a matter of time before the Hodags grinded them into dust. However, where Carleton failed with their legs, they made up with their fundamentals, as they managed to score on two straight break throws, very Sockeye D linesque 1-1. The fresh Wisconsin O line, which had only played 58 points on the weekend up to this point, took the field full of confidence and struck quickly as a Jimmy Foster flick blade hit Tim Pearce for the goal 2-1. Carleton’s fat and slow offense slogged back onto the field and set up their attack slowly and methodically. Soon the Hodag pressure is stifling and the Alaskan can’t hang with the pressure, forcing a flick way out the back of the end zone. The Hodag D starts at the end zone line and Muffin is instantly enraged as his only options are unders and swings. Morfin’s dark mark burns painfully with every under cut, and disgustedly, Morfin swings to disc with Animal and Mahowald. Madison is pushed far back into their own end zone and is only able to work it 20 yards out, before Tom Annen, who has been clamoring for more touches of the disc all weekend, decides on an ill advised IO throw which pops up into the air in front of Doede and Muffin, giving the disc back to Carleton with a short field and then giving up a high release score 2-2. Morfin walks off the field, both of his horcruxes shaking in rage, as he decided to himself, “I’m gonna get mines!” Morfin intended to start jacking the disc with total disregard to the feelings of his cutters and other handlers. Morfin knew his teammates would become angry, but with the Defense’s break conversion percentages dropping with every turnover, something drastic needed to be done. The Wisconsin O-face happily took the field, knowing that once again, the outcome of the game depended on them. The Hodags intended to make the game entertaining as Jimmy Foster floats a deep looking backhand out to space. Will Lokke, running down the field as if we were going on smash through Shane’s door, had beaten Tony deep. As the Fat Mexican approached, a poach defender appeared out of nowhere, laying out for the disc and forcing a turnover as Billiam wasn’t able to haul it in (big surprise Sausage Fingers). Carleton has the disc, and is overjoyed with an early opportunity to take the lead. Northfield begins to work the disc before Kanner flips out about a travel call, screaming loudly and then taking full responsibility for his actions. “What!? No Riley No! Okay maybe I did travel, send it back.” But it was Sub Zero practice all over again as James Foster swerved into the lane for a poach smack D, causing CUT to revert immediately back to fouling to stop the flow. The Wisconsin Offense quickly slices through the Carleton Defense at a pace unseen in the college ranks, before a Carleton travel call made 9 passes ago takes back all of the progress. It didn’t matter as Lokke was hitting Rebholz for the O2 goal, when Tony blasts into Rebholz on a bid, drawing the first boos and heckles from the underdog rooting crowd on another foul call. It took a full team effort to punch in the goal line possession as a waterfall effect from the breaks started with Rebholz to Riley to Lokke to Gaynor for the go ahead hold 3-2. The Defenses futility to score was beginning to take a toll on Muffin as the weekend lagged on. Muffin’s normally loose trigger finger seemed to have tightened, perhaps from the ruthless fouling, but it was causing the Defense to play patient and conservative, rather than the risky high reward style seen in Baton Rouge. The Hodags began to pump testosterone and attitude on the field, looking to suffocate Carleton with superior athleticism. Muffin even makes a layout attempt – almost getting the D and leaving rookie Hodags jaws on the floor. Masler was playing ridiculously hard handler D in the backfield, leaving only Animal and Doede who were getting beat around and by Sam Bob and CK, as their contain strategy had gaping holes. However, the match up of the game had to be the Animal v Kosednar rivalry on the mark, which was hitting its pinnacle as Tom almost logs a foot block on the around. Soon enough, Sam Bob lets one rip and Ben Feldman is there for the catch D on the sideline. Wisconsin eagerly eats up the field with breaks until Doede hits Shane in the end zone for the 4-2 lead. Carleton calls a timeout to regroup and the Hodags talk about why Carleton took that timeout. “Because they are freaking scared” and because they were probably setting up a play for a quick score, just to get off the field. However, Wisconsin was fully aware that over the top man defense, in your shorts position, was the way to stop any O line. However, Carleton converted for the goal to make it 4-3. To further the dilemma, Wisconsin’s O-face makes a backfield turnover and is then beat to the open side to get broken right back 4-4. The Defense groans and Shane is actually kind of pissed off at the Offense. “Man it was hard to cash in that break; we had to go 70 yards! They had to go 10. We need to eat some more souls!” Will Lokke throws a construction con, err I mean, a goal to Gaynor to make it 5-4 Hodags. It was more leg sleeve v leg sleeve as Animal and Koesdork battled it out on the mark, until the C Monster made a ridiculous looking full extension layout, better looking than Bay Watch. Carleton felt the pressure and put up a deep backhand to Jeromus Potter. Jerome was looking gangsta as he hit stride, but it must have been the mustache which caused the disc to sail out the back. Potter would talk some snap as he strutted back onto the playing field, flexing like he was from LA. The Defense had its top studs on the field and was looking to crush and put the Hodags back up. However, with so many studs on offense, they were all trying to get the disc in the same spot as Shane and Animal almost collided and prevented a throw to space due that they were going to D each other. Muffin coped with wide open looks not hit and finally broke the mark to hit Geppert. Cullen gave Malecek back the dish, but with his eyes downfield, Muffin fumbled the disc. CUT was looking to score immediately and Muffin was in perfect position for the double unhappiness as a late bid on a high pass allowed Carleton to even the game at 5-5, as CUT was sure to gloat, showing the disc and staring down Morfin with a victory lap, trying to break muffnuts. Muffin was pissed that he had royally messed up and momentarily had the urge to go Todd Owens on that guy, but took it back to the sideline, thinking that besides sending that kid home in a body bag, that Wisconsin had actually invented that breaking game. Madison still has several patents pending on that surefire maneuver and Morfin resolved to raise the stakes next meeting. Despite the raging battle between CUT’s O and the Hodag’s D, the Wisconsin O was feeling good and in a groove. Kevin Riley was controlling the pace of the O-face before K-Fed puts up a swilly hammer, which is D’d waist high in the end zone. Jon Gaynor gets the D back almost immediately and Tim Pearce catches a goal from Rebholz in between bidding Carleton defenders 6-5. For Carleton, everything is running through Kosednar, who is throwing lots of quick release laser flicks to move the disc. Carleton, who was playing high risk ultimate, threw a huck OB, giving Wisconsin’s stacked line a key opportunity to break. Wisconsin took great care with this possession, working the unders between Reb and Animal until Muffin calls a timeout about 20 yards out. On the very first pass, Sam Bob rapes his hand across the disc while simultaneously tripping Muffin as his pivots for the break. Malecek delivers the break throw, which was wobbly and not true due to the ruthless foul. As it turns out, Shane who is cutting 130% isn’t able to haul in the pass for the drop turnover. The foul call goes to the observer who rules “no foul” because the throw came after the pivot. I’m gonna call bullshit. If the defender rakes the disc almost entirely out of the throwers hand and causes contact, which affects the delivery of the throw, it should be a foul. I guess it proves that Toad Leber is right and that ultimate needs refs or that cheating with excessive fouls is the right thing to do. Back in possession, CK hucks a floaty backhand deep and the massive presence of Shane causes a misread for a turnover back to the Hodags. The Hodags dominate with handler movement and gashing Doede in cuts all the way to the doorstep of the end zone. Wisconsin is clearly in business, ready to score, and Feldman again sucks it up. Ben ignores a wide open O2 pass for a goal and throws a stall 2 fast looping break mark flick to a flat footed Mahowald, who wasn’t even cutting, quite reminiscent to the iso play at Mardi Gras, proving Hollywood should strictly stick to catching goals for the moment. The point drags on as Doede makes a deep D, Feldman almost catches a deep 50-50 disc, and Drew sticks an under D with legs flying every which direction. Eventually CUT hucks a flick down the sideline and Will Lokke is approaching from the weak side. Fat Bill bids, but is a little late and enthusiastic as the catch is pulled in by CK microseconds before McSchlokke’s impact. The receiver pops up as the observer comes in for a better look on the play and ready to hit Lokke up with an immediate TMF. Carleton, used to hitting crossing routes in the flat, manages to nail the incoming observer dead in the chest for a turnover, similar to hitting a tree branch in summer league, causing outcries of anger and confusion from everybody rooting for an upset. Christmas had come a second time for Wisconsin as the Hodags had lucked out with unusual interference. With all the breaks falling against Carleton, how would CUT respond? WWCD? Cheat best they could. Muffin picks up the disc, ready to finish the marathon point with one throw. But on the first pivot, the contact from the mark knocks Malecek down. Usually Muffin explodes at a defender for obviously intentional fouls. But Muffin was playing it chilly and looked to the third party arbitrator to fix this problem. But the head observer was waiting for the course of events to play out. After the third straight foul – Muffin eyes the arbitrator, hoping for a quick and deadly solution. If it had been a street fight – this kid would have been sonic boomed already, but Morfin continued to call fouls from brutal contact. This process proceeded until the 7th straight foul, when the observer finally came in with a TMF saying, “Okay, that’s enough.” Muffin cheered with a fist pump, signaling some sort of punishment had been laid, but was immediately told off the by the observer as, “That’s not something to cheer about.” Muffin felt quite different about the situation – of course this was something to cheer about – this Luke Powers had been cheating! Blatantly cheating in front of a whole crowd of people and he finally got penalized for it! Hell yeah I want to cheer! Let’s just put this out there one last time – CARLETON CHEATS. So if you are dominant upcoming high schooler, you should attend Carleton, get a great education and learn how to hack with the best of them and then play it off nice… what a great tradition. If not for the observers – things would have gotten much more physical a lot more quickly, but the Hodags were feeling confident and had the disc with the lead. This sequence of events had to be the best of Luke Powers’ timeline, who besides wearing an Amherst jersey nonstop since NUTC, was the same player to be comforted by Jacob Goldstein in order to hold back tears on the field at Eau Claire 2 years prior. After the long delay from intentional fouls, Malecek finally completes a pass up field, but immediately misses Mahowald on a layout attempt to the break side later in the point. Carleton tried to fast break, but Wisconsin was playing hot defense and Tom Animal almost made a shoulder high layout D on Sam Bob’s O2 move. Grant received an under-cut and missile bladed the disc into the end zone for another Wisconsin opportunity. On the first pass, the C Monster makes another full extension layout grab to save possession.
Will Lokke bombed a blade deep to Animal for a nice snag, before breaking to Mahowald for half 8-5. The ravenous Hodags spoke of nothing except finishing the game and leaving nothing on the field. It is time to pressure, punish, outwork your man, and prove that Wisconsin has been working harder. Even Jerome Potter admitted, “It is hard to get open on these guys.” Carleton is on offense and Shane makes a huge layout attempt on a under cut, narrowly missing the block. CUT’s offense grinds to halt for the second time and layout catches become common place just to save possession, until a cross field hammer from Sam Bob scores 8-6. Madison is not able to score as Riley is forced into a desperation hammer on a high stall count, missing Gaynor deep in the end zone. Pat Baylis is able to huck deep for field position and Lindsey Grant finishes the play for the break to tighten the contest to 8-7. CUT is able to break and tighten the game to 8-7. Carleton launches a huge pull and backs up the Wisconsin O-face deep in their end zone. Jon GAYNAH! makes a ridiculous comeback leaping catch to save a timely turnover, eventually giving way to Rebholz hitting a poached Lokke, who hucks a sweet flick deep to Foster for the goal 9-7. Malecek almost anticipates a poach D in the backfield and Carleton is again having trouble moving the disc. Muffin earns an O2 and throws a blade backhand to Doede deep in the corner for the break 10-7. Riley adds a big backhand to Gaynor who singled handedly skies Tony for the goal 11-8. Ben Feldman and Jerome get into an argument about a brutal travel followed by hard foul, after Jerome was tiptoeing with his pivot, ironically, quite Feldmanesque. This quarrel explodes pretty intensely and the observer has to straighten things out. Carleton scores despite a nice layout attempt by Rebholz, but the game was capped and ended 11-9. Wisconsin was getting the feeling that the observers weren’t really thrilled with us, but at least they hit up Carleton with more TMF’s during the heated battle. As the r.s.d. community has noted, “Wisconsin is one of the toughest teams to observe in a close game because they always play a very physical game. The Hodags already have a rap for over-the-top physicality, so only time will tell.” In the end, Carleton felt the heat from Wisconsin’s “untouchable defense” and despite CUT’s ability to score an occasional goal here and there – they were not able to match up on every dominator because Hodags can devoir souls and spread fear to the masses worse than a dementor. This semifinals victory put Wisconsin 2-0 on the weekend against Carleton and definitely an edge early in the season.
Wisconsin would find itself with 20 spare minutes before finals started and several Hodags looked for advice from Hector Valdivia who was a constant on the Hodag sideline late into the weekend. Wisconsin would downright sit and rest on the field, waiting for Arizona to emerge from the other semifinals game against Harvard. In the pre-game huddle, Wisconsin talked about bringing the intensity to Arizona, because the Hodags had probably just played the more intense of the two semifinals games. Shane was pumping up the Offense for playing sick defense and emphasizing that defensive pressure is crucial. Wisconsin wanted to take home its first ever Trouble in Vegas title, but knew that it wouldn’t come easy, but resolved to leave everything on the field because it was the last day to play disc outside for a month. The Hodags needed to punish and live the 2008 motto of “Take No Prisoners!” Wisconsin started the game on Defense with a chunnel and took the field with a sense of urgency. On Wisconsin’s second opportunity with the disc, Tom Animal hit Ben Feldman for the break 1-0. Arizona would work out the kinks and convert deep to tie the game 1-1. The crowd was cheering like crazy and giving Arizona an edge in the energy department. Wisconsin’s O line worked the disc easily until a silly turnover, allowing Arizona to go for the throat immediately, releasing an unconventional double helix scoober over several Wisconsin defenders scrambling to stop the play 1-2. Rebholz and Riley were burning defenders up the line for gainers and Rebholz hit Tim Pearce on the open side to tie the game 2-2. Arizona was still in the lead as Sunburn was very patient on the goal line, scoring to lead 2-3. The Wisconsin O-face takes the field with heckles ringing in their ears, witty remarks like “You guys suck!” and “Go back to Wisconsin!” Despite the distractions, the Offense is focused on converting. Arizona rips a super deep pull and pushes Wisconsin back 10 yards into their end zone. Kevin Riley roasts his defender to space near midfield and throws a flick out the back of the end zone to a wide open Foster. Arizona tries to get the break in a single pass, but Gaynor is playing strong defense and D’s the immediate deep huck. The Wisconsin handler core is dominating on Offense, leaving Fat Bill to clog the lane for 30 seconds at a time with gluttonous cutting. The Bucket eventually drops a goal in traffic, leaving Evan Klane 1v1 on the deep huck, ending in a strong D, but upheld foul. Arizona plays it chilly until a huge 50 yard hammer that drops in the break side – forcing Lokke to layout in between receivers and causing Sunburn to drop the disc. With new life, Foster throws a huge flick to the back corner of the end zone where Jon Gaynor incredibly toes the line for a sensational 1 handed catch and a nasty spike to make it 3-3. The Offense lucked out and tied the score, but the Defense was grumbling about every time there was a deep pull that the Offense got broken or any time they turned it and didn’t play defense, they got skied immediately for a break. Animal was the only member to stick up for the O line knowing that it was hard to score every single time they took the field. Arizona had been doing a great job at keeping Wisconsin guessing on defense and keeping possession of the disc on the in-cuts. However, the Hodags fought through the lag and finally caught up to Sunburn’ deep attack strategy, as a bruising force of Hohenstein and incredible leaping ability of Mahowald combined for a huge air D, giving way to Annen, Muffin, and Doede to weave the Bruss Drill down the field. Animal takes a final O2 move and breaks his mark low release to Tom Murray to give Wisconsin the lead again 4-3. The Hodags were warned for aggressive and improper spiking as Murda’s aggressive scoober was deemed threatening to Arizona’s well being, probably because Doede catch the first spike and spiked it again. Arizona’s bandana hucks a huge flick and the tall dude with a white hat who made a nice sky as Shane closed his space. Arizona’s usual patient and methodical goal line fell to pieces as Animal made a clutch goal line poach D. Feldman grabs the goal on Animal’s ruthless break for the break, but pulls back on the windmill spike to lead 5-3 on Wisconsin’s third defensive conversion in the game. The Hodags were looking to drop the hammer and finish with a good looking fatality, and brought over a couple of O Line studs to finish the task. But spreading resources so thinly was not a wise move as Lokke almost makes a high swing pass D in the backfield, knocking off the Arizona player’s hat in the process. The disc swings to the tall Arizona player with a white hat who flicks a laser huck deep to bandana for an easy goal 5-4 because Doede, “didn’t know he had a flick like Muffin’s!” This was an easy goal for Arizona and stopped the Hodag momentum that was preparing for future Oatbag. Back on Offense, Wisconsin kept dominating the handler sets as Lokke hit Tim Pearce near the goal line that finishes to Foster for the goal 6-4. Arizona is going to their studs on every possession, this time bandana to white hat and huge backhand to space, forcing Shane to help deep and not make up the ground 6-5. Arizona was building back some momentum with those quick strikes deep and the Defense was growing antsy. The O-face is playing like champions, abusing the under-cuts and cross field Bucket hammers before Riley throws a ridiculously brutal low release flick break on a backhand force to Gaynor to the 7-5 lead. The Wisconsin Defense was back in frenzy and organizing to swarm the Arizona offense. Play maker Chris Doede manufactures a layout catch D in the backfield and immediately scores the break from Muffin to take half 8-5 in a whirl of fury and double happiness as the sideline reminded King Dededede. Captain Rebel Rousa spoke of spending everything left in the tank and Foster repeated, “One more half!” The game looked to be in the bag as Wisconsin was starting on Offense and the Arizona D line hadn’t nearly put any pressure to the O-face. However, Sausage Fingers tried to mess everything up by ripping a backhand past Gaynor’s reach and then getting beat under for a huge gainer, only to lay out on the mark and rest on the ground for several seconds, before picking his rather large butt up long enough to get broken around. The rest of the Offense saw this pitiful performance and the Wisconsin defenders made 4 straight layouts, but it was not enough as Arizona eventually got off a break mark flick blade for a goal 8-6. As a side note, there are more pictures of Hodags laying out and not getting the D than almost any other picture, but the effort is there. As Tim Pearce and Foster dominate the cutting lanes for the Hodags, Evan Klane decides to miscommunicate with Lokke/Riley and throw a pass to nobody, forcing Captain Jimmy Foster to make a huge layout save, and then throwing a goal and tromping away as Pearce claps it home for the lead 9-6, as Fat Bill and Bucket hug it out in the end zone. Arizona responds by keeping the disc in the hands of their playmakers as bandana hits white hat, who turns and bombs a flick deep to the streaking red visor, who makes a tremendous grab 9-7 as Drew’s late arrival only leads to entanglements of limps. The Wisconsin O-face marched down the field without trouble, leaving Riley to hit Tim Pearce for the one hand stick now 10-7 Wisconsin and looking good. Malecek bombs his 90th pull of the weekend mid end zone as usual and Arizona is still firing deep. Ben Feldman comes up super clutch with a flying layout D to stop the Sunburn deep pass. Feldner takes an injury on the play and the Hodags are in position to finish the game. Animal rips a stall 9 bomb flick to Matt Young, who is forced to call a timeout at stall 7 with no open finishes. The Old Man rookie got the first reset off, but a call, brought the disc back. Without everyone setting, Arizona tapped the disc in without telling the field, causing Matt to panic on the incoming stall 8 and throw a pass that was easily D’d, ruining Wisconsin’s for sure chance to break. Arizona bombs break side deep for all of the yards and then slowly inches the disc until a nasty layout attempt by Matt Young to get the disc back. Arizona needs to convert and goes to the ridiculous cross field scoober to space for a goal, the second of the game to close the count to 10-8. As the Wisconsin Offense took the field, the sideline clamoring was increasing. Tim Pearce and Jim Foster were exposed as gullible as sheep listening to the sideline hecklers yelling, “Hey, look over here!” Both glanced over to see the loud heckler and instantly turned shades of red, knowing they had been tricked. “Yeah, now I know your listening!” Various hecklers took turns berating the Offense, having the audacity to stand on the line and scream at the players, clever remarks like, “What the heck is a Hodag?” and calling Kevin Riley fat and other obscenities. However, the Hodag Offense quickly dismantled Arizona’s weary defense and worked the disc into the red zone before Tim Pearce finishes to Gaynor 11-8. The Defense took the field ready to twist the dagger and Arizona’s offense would grind until a complete stalemate outside the end zone, as Sunburn could neither move the disc nor advance it. With all options extinguished, #4 deemed a corner end zone hammer necessary and scored it to white hat to make it 11-9. With the time cap approaching and the intensity on the field increasing, Wisconsin needed to lean on the Offense to make plays and carry the team to victory. But the pro-Arizona sideline was giving it everything as a crowd of people screamed at the top of their lungs, preventing the Offense from even calling a play on the line, which reduced the O-face to shrewd pointing and mouthing. More popular heckles rang from the sideline during the point like “Get out the aloe vera Wisconsin!”, “Looking a little red Wisconsin!”, and the Dartmouth favorite, “Throw it to Fat Kevin!” Wisconsin had reached tensions like this many times in inter-team scrimmages and was not phased by the invasive nuisance, instead moving the disc down the field as the disc moved from Riley to Foster to Tim Pearce. Eventually the weak link in the chain showed his colors as Evan messed up a backfield cut for seemingly the 38th time of the weekend for a silly turnover and giving Arizona a chance to strike. Arizona took some 25 passes to score, barely moving the disc at times, and beating Riley under several times, who had been playing video poker all night and had reached his point of exhaustion because he was looking sluggishly overweight. A midrange huck through traffic connected for Arizona as they rushed the field and actually believed they had to shot to win as the score showed 11-10. The Defense was ready to tear the offense limb from limb and assign blame for getting broken so late in the game. For the first time ever, Shane fully embraced some O line hate and was stalking the sidelines impressively. As Wisconsin takes the field again, the heckling increases with “ARI-ZONA” cheers ringing and drunk hecklers giving their best one-liners. Arizona was cheering like they had accomplished so much to score, but the Hodags were quietly confident of the situation. The O-face worked the disc very slowly to start, taking up the line passes as Fatty Bill was clogging the middle lanes still, making the more patient Gaynor and Pearce to wait their turn. Finally, Tim Pearce tried a risky O2 pass to Foster, that results in a overruled foul and turnover, as Foster isn’t able to toe the line and catch the disc, despite moderate contact from the defender. On the very first throw off the line for Arizona, Bucket Riley lands an elbow to the guy’s head and gets an automatic TMF from the observer. Fat Bill was burned under and then almost fell over on the mark, before Gaynor makes a super sweet poach in the in-cut lane for a catch D. Arizona attempts their own poach layout and literally demolishes Tim Pearce’s lower body – which easily could have resulted in a serious knee injury. The observers did not step in, showing their favor for the underdog because Riley’s elbow did not cause half of the crowd gasp and scream as Tim Pearce looked to have torn his ACL. Wisconsin subbed in Andrew Mahowald for Pearce and was moving the disc easily, until Animal throws a turnover in the backfield and gave Arizona the disc on a fast break. Sunburn worked it to the goal line and threw a big hammer to the tie the game. Will Lokke, who had been poaching on the far side, came flying across the field back to his receiver. The Sunburn player was on pause or in terrible lag, which allowed Fat Bill to fly in and smack a game saving D. Despite the raging crowd, Wisconsin looked very tight with the disc in such a high stress moment. Rebholz and Riley would work the O2’s until Wisconsin scored to make it 12-10. Arizona, playing the same studs all game, made several big gainers, leading to a 1v1 match up in the end zone and a looper backhand. Arizona’s bandana made a spectacular catch, sending the crowd into screams of delight. However, the game was hard capped and ended quite lamely to the crowd’s disappointment. Most of the Wisconsin team seemed interested in playing out the game, to appease the crowd, and to actually score the last winning point, but the team’s were already on the field and shaking hands, ending the tournament 12-11. “We earned it,” repeated the captains. The O line was confident that they could have continued to hold if the game was played out, because Arizona was running only fumes of the home crowd, while Wisconsin had legs to spare. The Hodags did not leave until midnight so made sure to get in some last minute gambling. Tim Pearce managed to lose his ID from the security checkpoint to the luggage inspection, only to find it in his pocket. The airport ailes were packed with celebrating Hodags as a dogpile enveloped Shane, Riley, Reholz, Animal, and Muffin.
In the two weeks that have followed Vegas, Wisconsin has increased its training and determination, bringing competition into a game of stubbornness. Every single one of the Hodags is so unyielding, that no one will back down from an impossible task. The seniors are beginning to hit their top strides in the conditioning department and players are developing left and right. The award for hardest work clearly goes to Jake Smart, who ran 7 straight race-speed 200’s before “talking to trashcan.” Stanford and Centex will be around the corner in no time, leaving the Hodags hungry for some time back on the field and off of the track. The Stanford Invite is quickly approaching and the Hodags are excited to try to win their third tournament of the season without any substantial practicing. However, injuries and homework are piling up and the schedule of commitments is filling up. Two notable absences at SI will be Seth Meyer and Andrew Mahowald, leaving space for new players to step up. It should also be relevant that the Hodags have stopped practicing ultimate altogether and will be forming the UW Fitness Club. This will not be a drastic change from the previous strategy of practicing once every other week, but the harsh repercussions of losing all indoor time from the UW Athletics Dept is drastic. Don't worry thought, Barry Alvarez will be getting an email. The Hodags are still ranked #1 in all of ultimateland, narrowly edging out NCST.
Arizona's finals pics
TIV Video #3 was accidentally deleted by Jake and will need to be rendered before posting. The final Animal stock ticker showed -12 in the turnover ratio.