Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Stanford Invite 2008

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The Hodags, in conjunction with Ultivillage, will be producing a documentary of the full 2007-2008 college season. Win or lose, this will be one for the ages.

Mardi Gras video is up.
Vegas Day 3 is finally up.
Stanford Day 1 is up.
Stanford Day 2, SB2K8, Centex coming eventually.

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Stanford Invite 2008
Wisconsin returned to the Stanford Invite with a two year absence since the 2005 championship. The Hodag veterans arrived a day early to sight see the beautiful San Francisco, but were foiled by significant plane delays. Spainzilla combo Shane and Lokke made the most of the evening and spent 6 hours in Las Vegas before being rerouted to their final destination by early morning. Jim Foster’s childhood neighbor spoiled the early group rotten with an all-star four course breakfast before releasing the Hodags upon the city. On Friday, Matt Rebholz took the extra time to hunt down a Banana Slug, while Skywalker attempted to throw a disc over the Golden Gate Bridge. The Foster’s arrival with Girl Scout cookies and Will Lokke’s family dinner were also spectacular touches to an overall ridiculous weekend. The tournament hotel was stacked as Wisconsin, Colorado, and Carleton all had adjacent rooms.

Saturday morning was beautiful and calm as Wisconsin was happy to arrive later with a first round bye. There were three separate locations for pool play, so the Hodags only saw the A bracket all day. Central Florida and Santa Cruz were battling late into the first round (UCF 13-12) as Wisconsin finally got onto a field to warm up properly. Whitman was not prepared for the relentless tenacity as the Hodags exploded to a 3-0 lead on several perfectly placed hucks by Muffin, causing Whitman to call an early timeout. Wisconsin loves to steal other team’s timeouts and rally the troops, calling for a complete game. As the game tightened to 4-2, it took the Offense 4 efforts to score the disc, as Rebholz was given a stiff hip check on a high O2 pass. The lead stretched to 6-2 Hodags as Feldman and Tom Murray had twice connected for breaks. Whitman scored an easy goal as Bergen’s noob mark burned red hot as a marking assignment was blown 6-3. Master laser tag shooter Matt Rebholz threw his second assist of the half as Wisconsin took a solid 7-3 halftime advantage. The lead stretched to 11-4 in the second half as Riley added 4 assists to Doede and Foster’s combined 4 goals. Whitman eventually folded to Wisconsin’s intensity at 13-6, ending on a brutal Tom Murray sky from a big Hohenstein huck. The Hodags looked nothing short of polished and methodical during their first round game in Palo Alto.

No season would be complete without at least once beating the Central Florida Dogs of War because the youtube video is always such a good watch. Wisconsin’s Offense took the field first and patiently worked until Will Lokke hit Tim Pearce for the 1-0 start. The D line left no questions as they exploded to a 6-0 lead on 5 straight breaks. Defensive cutters left and right were making plays and scoring goals, ending in a Malecek double happiness with a boom headshot to Diablo Donovan. As the Oatbag drew near, the Dogs of War finally scored to make it 6-1 and save some pride. Wisconsin must have mentally checked out because the Central Florida defense got a nasty layout D and scored on their third attempt to make it 6-2. Then UCF managed to do something that hadn’t been accomplished in two years; Central Florida broke the Wisconsin Offense twice in a row to make it 6-3! It was almost a tense moment before the team realized that the game had almost been an Oatbag and that the match was still well in control. The O-face subbed in for Feldman and Rebholz immediately hucked deep to Lokke to take half 7-3. The Dogs of War heroics served as a wakeup call of what complacency can do to a team. The Wisconsin Defense, with the added motivation, broke out of half as Annen hit Tom Murray for the goal 8-3. Wisconsin ran away with the game 13-5 on Muffin’s and Lokke’s +5 and Shane’s +4. Sophomore Andy Holt made a good looking 1 handed stick deep on the final point as Wisconsin scored and entertained the newly arrived spectators of Matt Bruss and Idris Nolan.

Wisconsin took the extra time between rounds to eat in the shade and interview former captain Ryan Carrington about the finer points of taking a punch in the face by Dusty of Georgia. The Santa Cruz Banana Slugs were coming in a little down after a 13-6 beat down to the hands of North Carolina. Wisconsin was more than happy to pound on Santa Cruz and had a memorable pre-game huddle in which Captain Matt Rebholz almost bit the head off his newfound pet Banana Slug. This game was for sure going to be entertaining because the heralded Riley-Danny match-up could only erupt in vicious disagreements. Santa Cruz held on their first point 1-0 and forced Riley and Rebholz to do the same at 1-1, as Bucket went double happiness after a D block. The Defense performed as usual, breaking twice to lead 3-1 as Shane and Muffin hit Feldman for goals. The Hodags stretched the lead to 5-2 after an Animal assist to the Glutin German. Santa Cruz made a last ditch effort to keep it a game and closed to the gap to 5-4. Wisconsin took a timeout and during Shane's pump up speech he might have said, “"F*** these f****** Banana slug f****!" Riley threw his second goal of the game to make it 6-4 and the C Monster scored to take half 7-4. Wisconsin had something to prove to the Banana Slugs and Jim Foster put some emphasis on it with his 4th goal of the game, a sky from Jon Gaynor 8-4. UCSC could not catch a disc in the end zone to save their souls, giving Muffin the opportunity to hit Andy Holt for another sky 9-4. Madison extended the lead to 11-4 on Doede’s second straight assist in two points. In the closing moments of the game, Riley made sure to butt heads in a fight with Danny, calling fouls/travels in response to his foul/travel call. It was silly, but Bucket was determined to be the biggest jerk as the game ended 13-6 on Lokke’s 3rd goal of the game.

The match-up of the afternoon put Wisconsin against National’s qualifier North Carolina in the last round of pool play, the winner earning the first round bye on Sunday. The Darkside has just come off a close game as the Dogs of War managed to blow the game winner, leaving UNC to tear off their shirts on the field as they escape 15-13. A well rested Wisconsin line up started the game on Defense and broke immediately 1-0 as Muffin bombed deep to Feldman, for what seemed to be the 10th deep connection on the day for the pair. The Darkside tried to keep the game competitive early, but it took UNC four tries to put in their O point 1-1. The game remained highly contested as both team’s struggled to assert control, pulling it straight into the S-box. After the 7th turnover by the Darkside, the O-face finally “reorganized” and sent Riley deep, scoring from Rebholz 2-1. The Defense is pissed and even Hector and Ryan in are incomplete shock. The Hodags break once, twice, 5 times to take half 7-1, on the insubordinate UNC hillbillies. Muffin throws or scores the last four breaks to Holt, C Monster, Murda, and Animal earning the NBA JAM announcer call, “He’s On FIRE!” as the corresponding flames followed every disc Muffin threw. UNC actually called a timeout at 4-1 and were overheard saying in the huddle, “Tomorrow’s another day.” The O-face scores as Riley toasts O2 from Rebholz 8-1. The Defense completes the OATBAG as Masler hits Feldman for the 9-1 lead. At this point UNC scores their second point 9-2, and decides that it is definitely appropriate to the spike the disc out the back of the end zone into the woods. Lokke raises his fat arms in wonder and Doede loses all control, screaming taunts and jeers. Little did UNC know that spiking the disc on the Hodags is like starting a forest fire in California – it doesn’t stop! However, the Darkside get a random turnover and convert it for the break to make it 9-3. Doede, who is still in quite a rage, starts screaming, “Spike it!” in a condescending maniacal manner. The UNC player gives the disc a nice looking spike and retorts to Doede, “Hey 25, 25! How does it feel to be the shittiest player on a good team?” This tickles Chris pink who explodes with a full spread of nanny boy name calling and threatening. The D line breaks one more time as Andy Holt pulls down another Muffin huck at 11-3. On the day, Wisconsin tended to get many more deep D’s than under layout blocks. Late in the game, Animal attempts to throw a turnover, but the UNC layout D is macked into the air and layout snagged by John Bergen in the backfield, very reminiscent of when Animal had saved Riley during National Finals 07. UNC isn’t doing themselves any favors as they throw a huge pull into a tree, giving the O-face possession on the UNC 5 yard line. Riley hits Lazer for the goal 12-4 and Bucket then tosses his first hammer of the day to Tim Pearce to win the game 13-5. Wisconsin stretched and relaxed in the perfect weather, reflecting in the disparity of turnovers between lines. In 47 D points, there were 14 turnovers; in 26 O points, there were 22 turns, amounting to nearly a turn or drop per point played.

Wisconsin cars when separate ways for food and the Denny's contingent gorged themselves silly, as Muffin dropped $17 on a wide array of breakfast foods. One of the cars made it to the showcase Bay Battle game of host Stanford vs. California. Bucket Riley was sure to heckle Sherwood silly with inappropriate taunts and annoying cheers. The Titcomb’s continued their streak of dominance, hosting another sweet FIVE ultimate party central, complete with couches and setup. As Wisconsin examined the brackets, the pool format heavily favored the pool winners who earned a bye straight into quarterfinals while the second and third place finishers in the pool were rewarded with a pre-quarters crossover game. The strong Saturday almost allowed Wisconsin into a place of complacency as they believed Sunday was going to be just as easy. It looked pretty easy as the 8 quarterfinals teams were Wisconsin, UNCW, UBC, Las Positas, Texas, Arizona, Stanford, and Claremont. It seemed that Carleton and Ego were obviously absent as both teams were undermanned on the weekend without Stout at times and CURT without their junior world's kids and only 14 players total. With all of these externalities the tournament went to the strongest teams there.

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The Hodags arrived with plenty of time to prepare as Colorado battled UNCW to 13-8 before falling in pre-quarters. It was sunny and warm, making sunglasses a key piece of flair to deny the blinding sun. Madison was confident coming in, remembering taking down the Seamen in quarters of CCC. Wisconsin starts on Defense and breaks after the third turnover, as Muffin hit C Monster for the 1-0 lead. The Defense looks energized and devastating as Shane gets a D. Muffin jacks it deep immediately to Ben, but Feldman drops the 1 handed attempt and Wilmington takes back possession. Aided by the sheer presence of Mike Gerics, the Seamen score and break to lead 1-2. The O-face holds as Foster finds Jon Gaynor for his first goal of the weekend to tie the game 2-2. The Seamen were determined to blow the game open as they converted and broke a second time to lead 2-4. The D line almost lost their minds and began brooding on the sideline, threatening to tear each other limb from limb. Jimmy Foster was carrying the Offense on his back as his threw his second assist, this time to Tim Pearce to close the gap to 3-4. Wisconsin was still losing and even Animal was annoyed as to how the game was transpiring. Old Man Matt Young gets on the field is playing nice with a Seamen cutter after a late pick call. The sideline gets on Young’s case and moments later, Old Man Young is soaring through the air, making a ridiculous two handed layout D near the sideline, and slapping hands on his way back onto the field. Ben Hollywood hits Doede for the finish as Wisconsin fights back to tie it 4-4. UNCW was taking their sweet ass time on the line, but kept scoring to lead 4-5. Fat Bill got into the action on Offense and threw a 50-50 ball to TP, who hauled it in 5-5. The Hodags need a play, they need someone to step up and be a man; insert Tom Murda. Murray gets a nice deep D that the observer rules “no foul,” and then goes double happiness by himself, scoring to Animal to propel the Hodags to 6-5. Mike Gerics casts a nice switching spell and somehow manages to get into the game without the observers noticing. Mike G skied for the goal to tie it 6-6, then he got a layout D on a Riley hammer. Big G then spit in Lazer’s eyeball as he strutted past and then went deep, skying the crap out of Lokke to lead 6-7. Shane and Muffin stopped fighting with each other for a moment to take a collective sigh about how much the O-face was sucking, despite bragging about how good they were at dinner last night. The heckling from the sideline was so obscene that Skywalker stopped taping on several occasions to silence The CURT, Kanner especially, who was taunting quite anti-Hodag. The Hodags eventually scored as Foster nailed Lokke for a goal 7-7. This set up a universe D line for the Hodags, prowling the line to steal half. The fact that it was tied at 7-7, that UNCW was dominating the Hodags at times, and the fact that the Defense had already broken 3 times, were all bad signs for Madison. Air Animal found a big D in the lane and allowed Rebholz to hit Cullen for the break 8-7. UNCW had fought valiantly, but ran out of gas as Wisconsin held out of half and broke twice to take a commanding advantage 11-7. Turtle made a sweet run through D in the lane and Foster grabbed a layout goal, pushing the lead to 13-8. Muffin drops two more breaks on Wilmington, to the C Monster and to Diablo Donovan to win 15-9. The Hodags were relieved that they finally got rolling in the second half and spoke about not becoming complacent.

There was a considerable bye round before semifinals and Wisconsin found itself warming up to its next opponent, British Columbia. Madison had seen UBC at Vegas, the first game on Saturday and had promptly creamed the T-Birds 13-6, after a close start 4-4. It was almost a surprise to see the Thunderbirds in semifinals and Wisconsin was not very excited to play these Canadians. They had thick accents, were very lanky, and mostly goofy looking – nothing appealing to an average Wisconsinite. There were observers for this game, who told both teams to not foul on the mark – for fear a TMF. UBC won the flip and choose to start on offense. It sounded odd at the time, but with a huck happy offense that was literally on fire – UBC played the game of their lives. British Columbia held on Offense and Wisconsin needed 4 opportunities before they could score as Rebholz and Riley weaved for a goal 1-1. After the UNCW first half debacle, the Defense knew they must jump out early as Muffin and Animal weaved for a break 2-1. UBC traded to 2-2 and broke quickly to lead 3-4. The rest of the first half was extremely boring as UBC hucked perfectly in stride to their deep threats. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Offense was very patient about their business, taking 20 throws to score. The CURT was still making their presence felt, almost making Riley drop a pull, by calling Riley “Fat” seconds before he would catch it. The Hodags stacked their D line at 6-6 and 7-7, but were unable to convert any turnovers as UBC scored and took half 7-8. The Defense was starting to get angry beyond belief, shooting blame from player to player, and throwing looks of disgust left and right. For the first time in a long time, negative energy was not working for the Hodags. It was an offensive display for the history books as neither team turned the disc, trading exactly to 13-13. Wisconsin had been stacking their D line since 10-10, but UBC couldn’t miss, throwing perfect hucks to one-on-one matches. The Thunderbirds were giving the Hodags their best shot, but the Hodags eat T-Birds and eventually showed who is at the top of the food chain, a beast that eats the soul of everything. However, the soft cap had blown moments before it was tied 13-13, making it a game to 15, Hodags pulling. The pressure was mounting, both teams could feel the sideline close in on the action, and there was a silent anticipation with the crowd. Then it happened, blood had been spilt. The moment the Lokke pulled in the goal to bring the game to 13-13, several UBC players bent over in exhaustion and the damage had been done. Shane was the first onto the field, “They are tired! They are exhausted! We got to crush, we gotta crush now!” There was no denying it, British Columbia had revealed weakness on the field, and the Hodags had found scent, creating a powerful second wind. Wisconsin had spent more time in the gym, more time on the track, and had more to leave on the field. Without a moment’s thought, captains Rebholz and Foster stacked the D line. It wasn’t exactly universe point yet, but it was close – Animal, Muffin, Rebholz, Shane, Doede, Feldman, and Pearce. UBC went back to the game plan and hucked it deep on Ben. However, Feldman turned on the jets and sped past the receiver for a sky D, but not before the receiver tripped and called a foul. It was a shitty situation, the kid had tripped, but it was incidental contact, could have gone either way. Instead of letting the observers make any decision, Muffin made sure it was just sent back, giving Wisconsin the chance to make a play on the field. Chris Doede rolled his ankle almost immediately in the lane, subbing out for Captain Foster. As play resumed, the sideline was picking up and the tension could be cut with a knife. James is beat under and his man hucks to space, deep down the sideline. Muffin was strutting and flexing to Carrington at the moment of the huck, trailing his man by yards. Rebholz screamed and Foster remembers quite vividly, “I saw Muffin turn on the jets and I was like, ooh yeah, he’s gonna get that.” The moment Muffin realized that the disc had been hucked; Morfin knew what must be done. Surely the power of a third horcrux would increase his power. Morfin pulled his wand and had to act fast – which receptacle to use? In a flash of brilliance, it had to be the cornrows. Morfin closed on his receiver and aimed true, leaping high into the air and D’ing the disc, splitting his soul in a spectacular landing. The sunglasses glowed bright orange, the cleats cackled with pleasure, and dark mark burned hotter than over. Even “Daaan Heymann’s” pudgy forehead seared in pain because knew a fellow DeathEater had done something terrible. Morfin was tossed the disc from a spectator and strutted gangster to the line, flashing rippling abs, and an ice cold stare. Malecek tapped in the disc and pointed deep, waiting impatiently for several seconds. It was the intense feeling of power that was coursing through Morfin’s veins, a feeling of invincibility of game genie powers. It was too strong for Morfin and on the deep release to Shane, there were too many Z’s on the disc, turning it over and causing Hohenstein to come down with the disc just out of bounds. UBC is thankful for another opportunity and jacks a floaty disc deep, allowing Chris Doede to make the second game saving D of the point. Wisconsin is in business and takes an easy under to Shane who hits Feldman. Hollywood blows another big time moment, looking off his first dump and then throwing a shitty pass for a turnover in the Wisconsin red zone. “CRUCIO!” commands Morfin, crippling Feldman where he stood. “This is on you Ben, you need to get that shit back Feldman!” The Thunderbirds, already on the doorstep, have an open receiver for the potential game winning score, but misses wide on an errant throw, clearly from fatigue, letting Tim Pearce make an unnecessary layout D, which actually popped the disc up and gave UBC a small chance of winning it right then and there. TP is feeling iffy and takes an injury sub, bringing in the Rebel Rousa. As Wisconsin waits to tap in the disc, the hard cap sounds and it suddenly becomes universe point. Malecek walks it to the line while downfield the cutters have called for Shane to take the chubby handler deep. Malecek doesn’t like the look of it and decides to march it in easy, taking a dump swing after making clear eye contact with Rebholz. The progress is slow going and the point has dragged on for over 15 minutes. Captain James Foster sees no odds he doesn’t like and as soon as he catches an under in open space, he launches a huge sky ball deep to Fat Bill. The sideline croaks in disbelief, “What the F***? It’s Universe!” But Will Lokke was up to the task as he went up big on a taller defender for the double catch sky to win 14-13, spiking the disc from his comfy behind, sitting lazily on the ground. Wisconsin brought it in a little shocked that the game had ended so suddenly and just how close it had been. Having about 20 minutes before Finals, the Hodags switched fields and wind direction, eating some food and running Seattle before the closing moments.

After such a struggle in semifinals, the Hodags were very excited to have another meaningful game to play. It was against the home crowd, the hosting team, Stanford Bloodthirsty. Wisconsin was pumped up for a finals game and a cooler atmosphere as the sun waned in the sky. The large crowd was going to be in for some disappointment as Wisconsin broke 4 times to start the game. Stanford was running at a different speed and their young team looked terrified to cut at times, leading to easy turns and 2 Animal D’s in the backfield. Muffin, looking to put on a show beyond his usual character, obliged to huck at every opportunity, abusing marks, and throwing 50-50 balls if possible. Tom Murda skied for the first Muffbomb and Doede made a deep cut our of pure heart, gritting his teeth as he limped deep for a sky despite his hurt ankle (rated 7 on pain scale). Stanford finally scored and held once keeping the game within reach at 5-2. Wisconsin kept their foot on the gas and broke twice more to take half 8-2 in a fury of bitchings in the air. Shane Hohenstein made a nasty in-cut layout D on Sherwood, just to add a little spice. The O-face went 5/5 in the finals, scoring easily through the Stanford’s poach-zone, which essentially stopped Texas in semifinals 15-12. The Hodags took a 10-2 lead and opened the lines for a feast. The rookies worked with their legs and scored just as consistently, as Jon Marshall made a nice 2-handed sky late in the game. Muffin was showcasing 95 yard bombs, laser cross field hammers from a reverse pivot, and even dared a lefty scoober chicken wing with plenty of Z’s, for Crazy Frank. It was a shame that there was such a crowd because there was only Wisconsin to heckle and only 4 times to cheer as Wisconsin cruised on the ridiculous play of Muffin to win 15-4. One play to note is that late in the game, Sherwood was exhausted but playing valiantly for Stanford, but was also taking the best shots from fresh Hodags. In a late stretch of the match, Ben Feldman proved that he was already better than Dan Heijmen by making an awesome sky deep with Sherwood right there. Ben Heijmen has the number, the hair, and has gotten the better of Sherwood in the air, something Heijmen never accomplished as Dan’s last moments against Mark came at a double unhappiness, moments before winning the Callahan.

Madison took the tournament title for the 2nd consecutive appearance and celebrated with the remaining faithful alumni of Hector and Carrington, who urged the team to remain positive even when the observers ruled against them. Wisconsin rushed to the IN-N-OUT Burger and feasted, while Hodag rookies were overhead saying, “The reason everybody hates us is because we are the best team in the nation." Wisconsin tallied to the stats and concluded that 22 turnovers on Sunday were still way too many. As it stands, the Hodags are still undefeated and 3-0 in tournament titles, prized to take home the NUCS $5,000 for most points. Spring Break is right around the corner, but with sketchy internet connection – highlight videos might be at a premium. Can the Hodags survive Spring Break? They will be without a workout track and fatalities could come into play.