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Wisconsin came into Centex with the best season start in school history. Sitting at 24-0 with 3 tournament titles in 3 shots, the Hodags were the clear favorite to 3-peat at Centex. The ultimate community was holding their breath, waiting to see if the perfect season could be a reality. Each team the Hodags played was ready to give their best shot at cracking the streak, which was sitting near 73 straight and 130-4 since 2006. The hype machine was chugging along and the Cinderella storylines were splicing together. And then the worst enemy of Wisconsin emerged – Spring Break coupled with complacency and entitlement. Hard nights of workouts were replaced with slip-n-slide races, lying on the beach, and water balloon launching. The injuries piled up as the team bonded and gelled, making way for younger players to step into new roles. Wisconsin also approached the tournament with a wary feeling, knowing that Saturday of Centex was the hardest single day of college ultimate. The loss of field space had also affected the team, but not as much as the loss of Andrew Mahowald, nursing a broken knee. The Hodags made it to Austin on Friday and had one last team meeting before falling asleep to NCAA tournament action.
Saturday morning was dewy, chilly, and dark; everything Hodags love. Upsets raged during the March Madness Sweet 16 weekend in basketball and ultimate alike as top seeds Stanford, Carleton, UBC, and Arizona lost in the first round. The Foster’s and Geppert’s arrived early to cheer on Wisconsin who was set to play California Berkeley. As the day started, there was a suspicious feeling about the team. It was as if the team was still mentally on Spring Break and not totally committed to difficult task at hand – that being the most exhausting day of college ultimate. Wisconsin started on Defense and took their sweet time getting into the thick of things; gaining possession only on silly Cal forced turnovers near the goal line. Cullen tossed a nice flick to space for Shane to run onto as Wisconsin scored first 1-0. Muffin got a D in the backfield and then ripped a full field flick to Feldman, who hit Bergen for the finish 2-0. Shane made a sick sky D from the weak side and Cullen followed it up with a layout D, pushing Wisconsin to a 3-0 lead as Masler hucked a perfect leading flick to an open Seth Meyer. The Wisconsin Defense had swept the first game to 3 and kept the shaky Offense off the field. However, the next point turns ugly as Animal is screwed by an array of crappy passes to/near/around him as the Hodags turn it 3 straight times in a row, leading to a Cal score 3-1. Tim Pearce is cutting so viciously that he jukes his defender into falling down, but soon gets cleated and has to sub out for Simba Heijmen. Rebholz sends a Boom Headshot to Fat Bill who pulls down a spectacular grab with a lot of contact for the goal 4-1 Hodags. Muffin sends his second straight hammer and Seth hauls it in with a nice slider, and then takes out the rulebook on another unassuming defender. Shane finishes the point to Andy Holt who taps it in for a goal and then unceremoniously spikes it for the 5-1 lead. Simba makes a deep cut and tries to read the disc, instead of just running hard, he comes up short, forcing Pat Donovan to get his back on a super huge weak side help D. Kevin Riley gets in on the action with a D point, getting the Goat from Feldman and jacking a flick deep to Doede for the goal 6-1. At this point, the Hodags had taken command of the game and California had folded early, allowing the Hodags to roll to a 7-1 halftime lead as Morfin fakes the fast break and then converts it anyway to the Glutin German. It should be noted that the Animal was left stranded by the Squirtle Squad several times. The second half started just as strong as Riley made a nasty spin-move in the lane before tossing a break side backhand to Lokke 8-1. The Hodags continue to make plays left and right as Teacher Taco Matt Young makes a sweet poach D, as the game traded to 9-3. The Offense has their first turnover of the day, but earn it back and manage several sliders before Lokke sends it deep to the Bucket, but it comes back on a weak sauce foul call. Jimmy Foster throws a perfect O2 pass to Rebholz for the jump goal 10-3. Jeremiah puts on a fierce mark, knocking the thrower over in route to forcing several Cal turnovers. Muffin tries consecutive hammers to the end zone, but a misread and ding drop causes the Hodag sideline to explode in anger. UGMO eventually punches in the goal to make it 10-4, after a lefty backhand opens up the break side. The Offense holds easily and Cullen makes a huge layout D on the ensuing D point, leading to a sky high Animal scoober that Marshall and Shane simultaneously catch to lead 11-4. Straight Squirtle Squad tries to turn the screws on Cal as Masler gets a D in the lane and then bombs a big huck to Feldman, who blows the goal for a turnover and then acts like a handler, pointing continuously before almost throwing into a hand block. The point drags with turnover after sloppy turnover as the usual sharp focus, propensity to consume, and urgency to destroy was replaced with nonchalant contentment and an unsteady attitude. The lead was insurmountable, but the careless turnovers (15+ in the game) were the undoing of Wisconsin’s confidence. Old Man Young gets a ruthless foot block, kicking the disc out of mid-air, very old school style. UGMO eventually turned the game around and took advantage of the Hodags shoddy play, converting to make it 11-4 and then breaking twice to make it 11-6. Kevin Riley bombed a perfect flick huck to Tim Pearce and Shane hits Jeremiah deep before tossing a high release double helix backhand to Muffin for the game winner 13-6. It was a solid win, but a terrible performance. The ultimate was sloppy, the intensity lax, and the full commitment to the mission was clearly lacking. Wisconsin cheered Brodag Love and waited for Oregon, who was battling NCST late into the round, eventually losing 13-8.
As Madison prepped for its second round game, the sun appeared and brought a slight wind with it. From the very first possession, it was going to be a struggle. Oregon manufactured a turn and almost converted, dropping the pass for a break. Ego recommitted to physical play, as Dusty Becker fouled Kevin Riley 4 times consecutively before play was able to resume. Bucket hucked a perfect backhand strike deep to Gaynor, who dished to Lokke before snatching Fat Bill’s partially hand blocked throw for a goal 1-0. Oregon wasn’t making it easy for the Hodags, unlike Cal had, and this is when overconfidence and complacency started to work against Wisconsin. There was still no sense of urgency, no intensity, a lack of focus; an unnerving compliance with any outcome of the game. Mental resolve aside, the Hodags were playing poor ultimate and Oregon capitalized, scoring deep easily to tie the game 1-1. With the Wisconsin Offense struggling to convert, the match-up of the game was clearly going to be Dusty Becker vs. Kevin Riley in a contest of who could be the bigger asshole. Dusty was fouling incessantly and Lil’ Rilers wasn’t helping matters be egging Becker on. However, there seemed to be something odd about the struggle on the field. It was almost as if Becker wasn’t himself, like he was being controlled. Skywalker was patrolling the sidelines, looking for an explanation when he noticed Cycle of Florida casting unforgivable spells left and right on his field, trying to control cup defenders to double team, foul, and cheat in any way possible. One imperius spell ricocheted off Cole Sullivan’s troll exterior and nailed Dusty right in the back. The usually spirited Oregon team was unaware that one of their leaders, Becker, was now fully under the power of the dark arts, his mind no longer his. Dusty was being forced to foul Kevin Riley now, 7 times in a row before an errant swing was incomplete. The after turnover defense was poor and lax, leading to a quick strike and ruthless break 1-2. Animal came in on Offense only to attempt a deep pass to Riley, who misread his second deep attempt on the day for another turn. Oregon took a shot deep into double coverage, but Ego was able to come down with it after a mack doink and finish to Stout to take a 1-3 lead, partially due to Wisconsin defenders giving up on the play. To stop the bleeding, Wisconsin brought in Muffin and Shane to play Offense. The Wisconsin sideline was becoming agitated with the ridiculous physical play and the Bucket was becoming angrier with each deliberate hack. Finally, Riley confronted Dusty on his physical play yelling, “Hey man, that’s egregious!” Kevin noticed Dusty’s blank stare, as if he wasn’t listening, perhaps it was because Eli was attempting to explain to Dusty the meaning of the word egregious. Several moments later, Dusty fouled Muffin for the fourth consecutive time, causing an irrational eruption from Morfin. “You better quit the snap!” screamed Morfin, but the glazed stare, dumbfounded look, and stupefied expression, gave Morfin the notion that something awfully terrible was happening – the ultimate community had been infiltrated. However, Morfin was also familiar with the dark arts and with horcrux powers never before known in the ultimate contingency, Morfin was determined to land a final flow, hitting Hohenstein for a goal to get the Hodags back on track, now 2-3. But Oregon had already stolen the momentum and now had their full team energy behind them. Oregon’s offense was hitting stride as Eli Janin hucked deep leading to a dishy to Stout, who spiked the disc over the fence into the parking lot, thumping his chest in pride like a common hippogriff. Wisconsin was no longer impressed with the ego of Ego, as the O-face jammed it up the sideline before the goal came back on a call. Wisconsin promptly turned it on the double score, forcing Foster and Lokke to combine on a deep D. The Offense decided this would be a great time to screw around and turn it again; giving Dusty an open backhand huck to a streaking Stout, but Gaynor beats him to the spot to get back the possession. K-Fed tries a 40 yard hammer that bounces of Tim Pearce’s single handed attempt, but Foster gets a catch D in the lane and hits Lokke on a chip shot to finally score 3-4. The Defense finally gets a possession after Oregon overthrows a deep attempt, but Cullen layout drops a swing pass to Animal, giving Ego back the disc near the goal line and an easy conversion and a double spike to make it 3-5. The Hodag Offense plays it patient, taking 30 passes before Rebholz breaks the mark to hit Jon Gaynor 4-5. Eli tosses a midrange shot to a wide open receiver to stretch the lead to 4-6. Riley continues to pace the offense, throwing an extreme invert to Lokke to make it 5-6. At this point, Wisconsin starts to stack the D line, trying to earn back a break to even the game. It takes a swill pass, a catch through a Gaynor layout bid, and a blade to the end zone for Ego to convert, but half is taken nonetheless 5-7. Wisconsin was not happy about anything and Muffin was especially upset. Hadn’t it been Muffin who had ran with his mouth about an undefeated season? Didn’t he make claims about being the best player in history, way better than Bonds and Rodman combined? It was true that Morfin’s powers had been growing with every tournament, but the constant tearing of his soul was sure to eventually take its toll and the dark powers would overwhelm him. Muffin was buying into the dark side and challenged his teammates, “We don’t even look like we give a shit, like we don’t even want to be out here? Do you want to win? Do you want to lose to Ego?” Wisconsin definitely had their backs against the wall and relying on Oregon to just give up the disc was not the attitude needed. Wisconsin started the second half on Defense and stacked the line, but failed to break as the lead stretched to 5-8 as Eli jacked another backhand deep for Oregon. Things were looking bad for the Hodags. However, the game was moving very slowly, due to the outrageous number of stoppages, due to the incessant Oregon slashing on the mark. The lines for Wisconsin became increasingly tight as Riley went O2 for Foster and finished to Klane for a goal 6-8. The Hodags needed a break desperately and stacked the line as the cap was within 20 minutes. Shane made a defensive play that was called a foul, and then Shane called the foul on an offensive push-off. Both contests sent the disc back, but the sideline intensity was increasing as was the tempo on the field. Hodags were bidding, putting on aggressive marks, and looking to make plays. It was Hohenstein who made the deep D and now it was Wisconsin who was running Oregon into the ground. Ego was dying on the field, so they resorted to Florida tactics of fouling to slow down the play. Dusty was again bumping knees on resets and banging on the mark. Play slowed to a crawl as stoppages were called every 4 seconds. Dusty was hacking egregiously as this point and Stout was even pulled down into the S-Box, calling Muffin a freaking “pussy.” Animal finally stuffed in the goal to cut the lead to 7-8, but Madison was still behind in the count and the anxiety on the sideline was increasing. The lead jumped back to 7-9 as Oregon abused the break side and then the open side to score. Ego’s junk was no longer effective as Stout is switched onto Lazer, only to abandon Evan to help downfield, leaving Klane lots of open space to score from Riley to make it 8-9. Wisconsin is bidding on every other attempt and Oregon sends it deep to the goal line, only to call a timeout, clearly stalling, clinging to their small lead now 8-10. The soft cap sounds and it was now a game to 12. A crowd was gathering as word spread that the Hodags were down to Ego late in the game and a common whisper swept the crowd, “Does Muffin have one glove on? How much flair does he need?” Back on Offense, Wisconsin turns it on a bad huck attempt, but Dusty gives it right back on another backhand overthrow deep to Stout. The O-face is chilly and works it down the field until Foster throws a perfect strike to Gaynor to make it 9-10, giving Jon a solid blimp on Oregon’s radar. Oregon and Wisconsin trade possessions and then Ego jacks it deep and Matt Crumb gets elbowed/knocked into with the disc in the air, which results in a huge argument. Muffin and Dusty try to get involved, but tempers and accusations are flying as the Teacher Taco doesn’t want to hear anything from Becker. The disc goes back and even Dusty and Animal get into a fight about an offensive foul. Eventually, when all of the hacking stops, Matt Crumb gets a layout under D, with his tongue out and a wide grin across his face the moment he took inside position and the disc had been thrown. Riley demands to pick up the disc and Wisconsin is in business until Shane tosses a looping high release backhand to Muffin, who gets clobbered in the air by the poach. The foul call is boo-ed from the crowd, who has seen more stoppages than a restaurant line in the South. Muffin holds his ground, asserting that he was nailed in the side, only to have Oregon argue, “It’s a contact sport.” Cycle and his fellow hill trolls were causing mayhem from the sideline booing and hissing. Even Brodie “Grawp” Smith got into the action, heckling at Morfin, “That was a Brodie call!” Florida continues to heckle as Shane hits Foster with an IO break for the goal to tie the game 10-10. At this point, there are two ways to look at it; the Hodags won the game or Ego lost it. Wisconsin has finally stole back the momentum and Muffin pulls the disc out the back he is so amped. Dusty takes the disc at the brick and puts up a 500 ball, which 3 Hodag sweeping defenders crash over the stationary receiver, causing the audience to gasp with delight. So with the game tied 10-10, Muffin picks up the disc and decides that Oregon needs to be punished for their excessive hacking and fouling game plan. Could Morfin commit another act so despicable, so evil, that it would rip his soul for the 4th time? Morfin toyed with the idea for only a moment, before deciding that it would be well worth it. Three is a very powerful magical number, but four is well on the way to seven – the most powerful magical number. As Lokke made his in-cut fake, Morfin had made up his mind – the glove was a perfect receptacle for the most supreme act of evil. In a flash of blinding light, the mark crumpled and the glove pulsated, vibrating viciously. The Red Headed Mexican made the curse all the more satisfying as Will’s huge layout catch finished the act, putting the Hodags back into the lead 11-10. Oregon looked defeated and without either of their best two handlers in the game (Eli going down an ankle injury and Dusty being cursed into oblivion) the substitute handlers choked quickly. The third swing pass hits Morfin in the chest near the goal line setting up the finishing act, a quick pass to Feldman for the win 12-10. After the game ended, as Oregon shook hands after a disheartening defeat, Stout refused to shake hands with Morfin, surely due to Kurt’s imperius curse, as THE KURT was attempting to disparage Stout’s reputation as a spirited player. But it appeared that Florida had had its hand’s full against Illinois, who had taken a big lead 6-2, partly due to Gibson being hit by a pull before he could jump into the air, thrash his legs to the side, and land on his back. However, UF came back to win on universe point, stealing the game from Illinois 13-12. Stanford had also stumbled early on Saturday, losing to Bay Sectional opponent UC-Santa Cruz 10-13. Arizona had dropped their first round game to SW Regional powerhouse Colorado 9-13, as the original seed upsets continued. Even Carleton struggled, losing to Georgia on universe point 12-13. With Wisconsin almost going down to Oregon, the parity in college ultimate revealed itself to be squarely hinged on momentum swings.
Despite the victory, the Wisconsin post game huddle was fairly distressed. Playing in a lull and taking a team for granted was not acceptable. Every team out there is giving Madison their best shot and when the Hodags fail to bring it, the other team will. Muffin seemed to be the only player to take this message to heart urging the team, “We’re not unbeatable. We could lose this next game if we don’t try!” The next game was against Michigan – the team to originally call out the Hodags pre-MLC in the fall about taking them down. The Michigan Magnum Mohawks looked pretty sweet, but their yellow JAM-resembling jerseys did not. Michigan came in with a solid game plan – move the disc quickly, utilizing the break side, and scoring efficiently on offense. They removed the deep poach with deliberate timed cuts and exposed the Wisconsin Defense as Ricky pulled the strings behind the scenes. These are games when Wisconsin could really use a coach – someone to game plan for the team in all situations and whose sole objective is to make sure the team is ready to perform each and every game. Many times it is not fair to the captains – whose play can suffer from dealing with the problems of the team – rather than just focusing on their own play. Wisconsin started on Defense and played strong to start as Seth, Murray, and Shane all make under layout D attempts on the first possession, but Magnum was playing very chilly and carefully, working it in for the hold 0-1. Michigan is playing solid Offense, allowing the game to trade to 2-3. For Wisconsin, the handlers were dominating the disc movement before a Tim Pearce turnover, causing the young Wisconsin sideline to ask each other, “Do you even recognize that guy? Who is that?” However, the Offense pulls together and plays decent defense, getting the disc back and allowing Riley to mack the disc, then snatch it, and finally launch a hammer to Tim Peace to make it 3-3. The Wisconsin Defense is looking for some separation as Michigan turns the disc. In semi-transition, Muffin puts a medium range backhand right around the defender, who can’t even find the disc until it lands perfectly in Matt Crumb’s hands for the break, 4-3 Hodags. A hospital pass through the cup rises into the air, creating a dog pile that macks the disc into the air, and allowing Will “Percy” Neff to pull it down and huck it down the hill out-of-bounds. Percy Neff had been most uptight all game, issuing stringent demands to his teammates and pointing his noise in the air after Hodag every score. However, Michigan converts on a layout catch off a huge huck to make it 4-4. Michigan is playing some sort of man-zone that slows down the Hodag Offense enough until Feldman catches a 2 yard pass out-of-bounds, probably because Feldman is a moron, and the Hodags get promptly broken to fall behind 4-5. It was another momentum change and the Hodags were trying to coast through an entire game. The captains call a timeout, as Shane verbally thrashes the Defense for not bringing any fire. The Offense is moving the disc well, getting swings and swirling cuts mostly before Riley blasts a laser to Gaynor deep in the end zone, through the sloping ditch, for the tie 5-5. The Defense vows on the line not to get beaten under and Michigan sends a deep shot too far for the turnover. Cullen makes a deep cut and play stops on a pick call.
The Michigan defender lets Cullen have his space and Muffin immediately lets go of a ridiculous backhand huck, which Geppert impossibly misreads by stopping running, narrowly missing the break score. The Hodag sideline lamented how much they missed Andrew Mahowald at times like these and Magnum bombs a huge flick, which Animal lets go contested now 5-6 Michigan. The Offense holds easily as Lokke throws a beautiful low release break to tie the game 6-6. Wisconsin kept the lines open and didn’t attempt to steal half with a stacked line, leaving Michigan a wide open huck to take half 6-7 after a missed layout attempt. Wisconsin started on Offense in the second half and held the disc uncharacteristically long near their goal line before resetting. Evan "Lazer" Klane for one is playing hard-nose defense, blanketing his man and bidding all over him, but is one of the few O-face players to have a kill switch mid point. With the stall count somewhere near 17, Bucket hit Simba with a low hammer that was dropped and Percy Neff fired a hammer immediately back for the 1 pass break 6-8. Andrew Mahowald let out a groan of despair, upon seeing K-Fed attempt to carry the team solely by his Bucket handle. Skywalker comments to Jake, “I wish he would just play his role and not turn the disc.” Wisconsin is losing badly for the second time on the day, but there was no sense of urgency. The Hodags finally break Michigan’s cup with a cross-field hammer going downwind and fast breaked for the hold 7-8, with Rebholz leading the charge. The Defense was hungry as Chris Deode made an aggressive bid in the lane and Seth bid on the deep ball, but Michigan held 7-9. It was getting late in the game and the lead was cause for concern, but the O-face looked good as Simba let’s a backhand loose down the sideline that Gaynor cleans up 8-9. The Wisconsin Defense is smothering, but Magnum gets lucky on some high release swill that eats up half the field, before firing a left hammer for the hold 8-10. It was the exact same situation as the last game, down late, and time cap looming. How would the Hodags respond with their backs against the wall? The Offense needed to convert and then the Defense would break and Wisconsin would overtake Magnum in a fury of layout D’s and deep shots. However, something unthinkable happened – Kevin Riley refused to throw a swing to lose yards, urging Rebholz into the cup only to throw a dishy directly into the defender – giving Magnum the disc, down 2 breaks late, and with Michigan only 3 goals away from victory. Michigan works with the around backhand breaks until Ben Feldman gets a layout D, called foul late, saving possession for the Mohawks who double score on the break side to lead 8-11. Wisconsin foolishly played the same Offense, not yet going to universe status, but letting the O-face “try it again.” The proposition of a comeback was definitely within the realm of possibility, but the Defense needed to get on the field to break 4 times. On the third throw, Kevin Riley attempted a 40 yard up/cross wind hammer to Gaynor who couldn’t make the catch over his head. Michigan didn’t have far to go and after only 1 under cut and reset, a stall 9 anvert punt was pulled down in the end zone for the break, but was called back on a stall. A scoober for the reset and several breaks later, Michigan punched in another break to lead 8-12. A four point advantage at this point in the game was insurmountable even for the best defenses. It takes four handlers to break the zone, but Wisconsin finally scores to make it 9-12, as Riley hits Animal at the cone. Michigan brings down a huck and rushes the field, arms in the air, winning 9-13.
Wisconsin lined up to shake hands in a silent shock, waiting for the celebrating Magnum players to say “great game.” Moments later Wisconsin was left to refocus and wonder what happened. The lack of actually playing ultimate had finally caught up with the Hodags who had forgotten or abandoned their sets and were playing individualistically. The Defense lacked intensity for parts of games and fell into a slump, a ridiculous 4 hour lull to which no Hodag could see a way out. Wisconsin needed a sparkplug, but couldn’t find as much as a match. The saying goes – the offense loses games while the D line wins them. During this game – the Defense did not deliver the previously promised breaks and the O was helpless after an array of stupid turnovers. In the end, this game was truly significant because it halted any chance of the undefeated season. While the achievement of a perfect season was denied, the reason for the loss rested solely upon the lack of defensive possessions, as Michigan had only 6 turns in the contest. Other factors could have been a couple of K-Fed hammer turnovers or simply that the Offense couldn’t score consistently when the team needed it. The Wisconsin leadership also let the lines stay open too long, not feeling pressured by the situation, and then there was that Tim Pearce hadn’t even been playing. As Wisconsin took refuge under the tent and replenished with large amounts of goodies the Foster’s supplied; Hodags took a moment to themselves and several wandering players overheard unimpressed spectators who had never witnessed the destruction of the Hodags saying, “That team looks like any other. What makes those guys so special?” That team must have relaxed, forgetting their grand hopes for the season and becoming overconfident. Muffin took the loss better than most however, letting go of the outcome and accepting the loss, while looking forward to finishing the pool. As Wisconsin hung their heads, Muffin spoke to the team, “It’s not the end of the world. The season is not over.” Malecek was right, but the team wasn’t working and peaking as it had done last year. It was as if the team was mentally still on spring break – and it was uneasy for the leadership to let the team far so far from the trodden path. Whatever the excuses, the Hodags were clearly not 100% focused on Centex coming in and the pretournament visualization overlooked. Had Spring Break 2k8 taken such a toll on the Hodags, that they had no energy left for the last NCUS major tournament? Had Wisconsin’s general fitness and disc skills declined that much in just one week? Overall, it was a depressing effort and put Wisconsin at 2-1 with two games left to play. However, the Brodags found a better attitude and decided to bounce back and have fun.
Wisconsin was now playing the San Diego Air Squids as the Offense scored quickly with Lokke’s layout catch near the cone, letting Fat Bill hit Rebholz for the goal 2-1 and subsequent grenade spike. The Air Squids miss on 3 straight deep attempts and gave Wisconsin the disc freely, allowing Wisconsin to jam it up the sideline, Doede finishing to Tom Annen, 3-1 Hodags. The Hodags began to rain devastation upon San Diego, as Seth Meyer made a focused layout grab before Animal scored his second straight goal to make it 4-1 Hodags. Zach Ehler makes a layout under bid and the Air Squids huck a big backhand out-of-bounds to continue their sloppy play. Chris Doede catches the swing pass and fires a backhand deep to Jon Marshall, who lets Feldman finish to Tom Murray for the goal 5-1. The Air Squids finally converted when they took Smandy Smolt deep for a mack completion to bring the score to 5-2. Tim Pearce re-enters the tournament after sitting the majority of the Michigan game, and sends a backhand deep that Foster can’t bring down. Gaynor almost makes a layout D, but San Diego is moving the disc confidently and breaks to make it 5-3 on a well placed huck. The Offense goes back to basics and jacks it deep to Fat Bill, who is just short of the goal, but finishes lazily to Pearce for the 6-3 lead. The Hodags get the turn and Muffin sends a flick deep to Doede, who tosses some serious swill, that Masler comes down with to take half 7-3. This game was very different than the last and showed the clear distinction between teams who turn the disc and teams who play possession. To begin the second half, Shane gets a monster over the top D, but Wisconsin can’t convert as a 15 yard straight backwards dump pass wasn’t caught by a bidding Muffin, allowing San Diego to score 7-4. The O-face has uncovered newfound swagger as the pressure is off allowing K-Fed to huck a perfect backhand to James Foster for the hold 8-4. However, Wisconsin loses focus for a moment, allowing San Diego to put together a score to bring the game to 8-5 on a lucky hammer. Shane had a great sky catch D down the stretch and Muffin almost caught a Callahan before finishing to Animal now 10-5. Pat Donovan made a solid phantom D deep before the receiver catches it for the goal 10-6. At this point the Bucket of K-Federation sloshes and spills, as K-Fed’s defender accidentally runs into K-Fed, only to be savagely bench pressed in the other direction. The drama continues as the defender lays out into K-Fed’s back, before K-Fed takes off down field for a wide open give-and-go before karma catching up with Riley and making his Lil’ Smokey’s brutally drop the disc. The situation magnifies as Kevin’s 2 drop turnovers near the end zone lament comment from Doede, who calls out Riley, saying he better do something sick to make up for his sub-par play. Immediately, Kevin throws into a foul and the low disc is dropped, saving his third turnover. However, Riley’s next swing pass is also low and is dropped by Rebholz, making #7 an integral part of the Offense who tries to make the Defense angry by giving back breaks. Both teams are completely exhausted, but several speed bursts later, San Diego puts in the break to make the score look more respectable, now 10-7. The O-face needs subs to continue, putting in the Best Buddy Look Tandem to break the 3-2-2 zone, as Malecek hits Foster for the lead 11-7. Tom Murray gets a sweet poach D in the lane and Doede scores easily to lead 12-7. The game ends 13-8 Wisconsin on a Jimmy Foster Callahan as Wisconsin moved to 3-1 on the day.
The next game was against the #2 seed in the pool, North Carolina State. It was the 5th and final game of the day and the Hodags resolved to play to win point differential, knowing they didn’t have complete control of their fate. NCST has also been playing well, already winning the Queen City Tune-up and hadn’t played Wisconsin since 2006 Terminus quarterfinals. Therefore, the Wolf Pack wasn’t as intimidated as some teams and was going to give an honest effort to move on into quarterfinals. NCST scored first, but the Wisconsin Offense responded as Kevin Riley rockets a deep flick, hitting Jon Gaynor in stride 1-1. The Defense is rocking as Chris Doede gets a hand block on the around pass, causing a turnover in their end zone and the sideline to explode. Malecek isn’t able to reset the disc anywhere up field, and is forced to throw a stall 8 hammer to Feldman for the goal 2-1. The wind was picking up and the Wisconsin zone was giving NCST fits. However, the Wolf Pack puts up an anvert flick, which Seth tries to take down at 12 feet, giving State a chance. After several swings, the game tightens as NCST rifles a hammer for a finish 3-2. The Offense looks the best of the day, breaking the zone and moving the disc effortlessly until 2 straight drops by K-Fed and Jimmy, only to be redeemed by a gigantic Will Lokke ruthless sky from a curving Riley backhand to make it 4-2. Malecek pulls a laser flick out the side of the end zone, putting NCST on the cone and forcing a huck out of bounds that Shane eats up. Hohenstein then takes up handling duties with Muffin and Animal before ManBearPig serves a flick up for an Old Man Meyer sky 5-2. The Wisconsin zone remains tough to break as Tom Murda flew in for a swat D, which landed in Animal’s hands. The Hodags could now smell the blood in the water as Muffin puts up a nasty flick, making Shane brutally sky Doede for the goal 6-2. NCST dropped a short hammer and Hohenstein hit Rebholz for the break, spike, and half 7-2. Wisconsin had finally found its usual intensity and was starting the second half on O-face. It took almost a hundred passes but Tim Pearce finally hit Gaynor for a 1 yard goal and score 8-2.
NCST scored to make it 8-3 before Jon Gaynor tried to injure Tim Pearce with a stall 9 lefty blade flick, causing TP to bid and land hard. Wisconsin took the disc back at midfield and Evan Klane hit a hard running Tim Pearce for the goal 9-4. The Wolf Pack is now attacking the break side and scores on a lucky low huck, which Zach Ehler determined was not suitable for a layout D snack as the game extended to 9-5. Kevin Riley bombs a break mark flick down the sideline to a cutting Simba for the easy score 10-5. NCST continues to score as both Young and Marshall permit their receivers to fight over who pulls down the deep goal 10-6. On Offense, Will Lokke bombs a bladely looking backhand, which is poorly thrown because Fat Bill was too lazy to step out and throw it properly. Jimmy Foster snacks on a floaty pass, giving Riley and Lokke both chances to catch the goal, but both just macking the disc. Wisconsin fights on through the S-Box conditions as Riley hits Foster for the goal now 11-6. The Defense mercifully scores to give the Offense a chance to relax as Shane D’s the big hammer and then runs deep for a Morfin flick bomb now 12-6. Tall Pat gets taken deep before Rebholz hits a streaking Lokke O2 for the finisher 13-7.
As the Hodags stretched and prepared for barbeque showcase game, it was sure that the news of the upset in pool A had spread quickly – reminiscent to when Wisconsin lost to Washington in the first round of 2005 Centex. Friends from other teams would ask, “So how did you guys do?” Like they didn’t hear, the Hodags had finally lost! The showcase game between UNC and UBC only had implications for Texas, who was going to be eliminated from quarterfinals despite only losing to Pittsburgh by 2 points. UNC began asserting this will in the showcase game and the women’s dance off began making waves with the spectators. The girl’s teams had choreographed dance moves to an array of music, which made several Belladonna ladies, Kari especially, disgusted and ashamed because of the connotation involved with women’s ultimate. It was fun to watch, but Wisconsin made their weary way back to the hotels to sleep and prepare for Sunday. The Hodag’s 4-1 record on the day was only good enough for A2 and a first round match against Florida in quarterfinals, who took the B pool undefeated.
Wisconsin arrived at the fields about an hour before game time and weren’t running drills until about 20 minutes prior to game time. The Hodags still joked while stretching in the pre-game huddle as there was a steady familiarity with what was about to ensue. When Florida burst onto the scene in 2005, they were like any other ill-tempered southern team, but over the past 3 seasons, they have tragically transformed into the class delinquent. Hard fouls and travel calls aside, they were just lame to play against. Mostly lazy and cheap, they didn’t even look like they cared, or like they had any inclination to actually run hard. Despite all of these circumstances and past history with UF; the Hodags were focused on finding their range in the stiff upwind/downwind conditions, hitting bombs in Super Striker. The opening flip was pretty funny as Chris Gibson squared off with Andrew Mahowald in a sudden death FPS match of rock, paper, scissors to see who gets to call the flip. It was a deadlock for 3 rounds before Chris’s scissors snapped Mabrowald’s paper for the headshot and subsequent spike. UF won the flip and took wind. As the teams put in there last second preparations, an ever increasing intensity was taking over the Wisconsin sideline. It was an unexplainable building of desire and energy – there was a sense of anticipation in the air and emotions were definitely elevated. Jimmy Foster spoke strongly to the team calling it an opportunity to put Wisconsin domination on display. Wisconsin had been playing Frisbee since forever and it was time to bring intensity 26 deep. It was the Hodags first chance to play Florida in over a year, missing the match-up all of 2007. Despite the team records, it would be the match-up of the century pitting Kurt Gibson’s Florida Flick to Muffin’s B-Button SonicBoom. Only in the nastiest conditions do the biggest throws start to matter and upwind pulls were at a premium. Wisconsin started the game on Defense, pulling upwind to what looked like a pack of slender bobcats. The orange and purple camouflage worn by the Gators were as blinding as they were… blinding. Approaching the game, Muffin was open to the idea that the Gators had changed their stripes and was actually a decent minded ultimate team, since it had been a full year since playing them. But from the very moment the game commenced, Muffin remembered exactly what irks him about Florida. Florida is the only team Muffin has ever encountered who purposely and maliciously cheats. It’s like they train the new faces how to foul – egregiously, dangerously, downright spiteful, mauling hacks. They double team regularly; they intentionally foul, consistently to stop the flow. They will attempt to block you when bringing the disc to the line, just to reset their quadruple team cup. They make ridiculously nit picky travel calls and Cyle regularly saves his travel call (for the pivot not being on the end line) just until after the thrower moves the disc. Cole Sullivan is the newest player who has picked up on these blatant actions, kicking and fouling like any common hill troll. It really comes down to respect and playing with a mutual regard to showcase the best that ultimate can be. But when playing UF, it is closer to its worst. Wisconsin started on Defense and immediately brought out its studs in the wind, knowing every point was going to count. The opening pull rolls out the side as The Kurt picks up the disc OB near the sideline; steps back inbounds, pivots out, and tosses a light backhand to 4 Florida cutters going deep on 2 defenders. Shane went up too early and Broderick caught the uncontested pass, finishing for the 0-1 lead. The Riley travel call was overruled, as the observer stated that bringing his foot off the line when walking in bounds is actually a line violation, instead of a travel, so that call is overruled. As it stood, UF led 1-0 and now Wisconsin was going downwind on Offense and moving the disc laterally against the cup as Cycle called 3 straight travels. Rebholz crashed the cup and threw a big bladey hammer to Tim Pearce, who tries a one handed attempt. CVA drops a low swing pass, but a Wisconsin pass through the cup is deflected. The turnovers are coming quick and dirty, just the way Van Auken likes it. Gibson hucks a low flick that Foster D’s and Matt Rebholz sends a second perfect hammer to TP, who catches it this time. But nope, coming back, Cycle said there was call with travel at stall 8, because Matt’s back cleat was no longer on the white line. Yeah, CVA saved that last travel call for about 6 seconds, just to cheat a couple more seconds of double team action. Those certain bullshit calls, could be to say, taking away from the Spirit of the Game for all those Frank no spam fans. But its not just the travel calls, as Cycle fouls the crap out of Kevin Riley on a hammer throw, swiping at K-Fed’s arm as he follows through over his shoulder, and then contests and sends it to the observer saying, “That’s what they’re here for.” An observer shouldn’t need to baby sit reckless and blatant fouls, but Florida was literally attempting to cheat at every opportunity. An upwind flick is macked before being clapped by one of Florida’s four receivers, who then turns it over and tries to get it back, saying the earlier foul call on the reception nullifies his subsequent turnover. The two observers on the field, need some reassurance, and soon the head observer is then brought onto the field to settle the argument, ruling against Wisconsin, stating that play stops regardless, on a foul reception, despite any non-recognized continuation chatter. It ends up not mattering as Brodie drops a layout attempt and Feldman is fouled deep by The Kurt. Simba is able to talk The Kurt into the foul, as he sang sweet hymns, confusing Gibson and taking the disc. However, Feldman, trying to play hero once again, and beyond all reason, throws a hammer turnover on the goal line!? Gloves bombs a hammer to Brodie, whose subsequent huck comes up short as Lokke D’s it. At this point, there are so many turnovers that Jake gave up counting. However, Wisconsin swings the disc instead of punting it downwind and Foster triple mack drops the disc, giving Florida an instant transition break upwind 0-2. A sloppy start combined with a strong wind that the Hodags hadn’t experienced all year, wasn’t a great rallying point. But Madison competes in the Central Region, and knows all about upwind zone offense, having put their entire Nationals berth on the line in 2006. None of Wisconsin’s elite players were nervous; on the other hand, there was a sense of resolve that was noticeable from the very way the handlers walked to the line. However, the flick blade pull downwind isn’t smart to touch, so Wisconsin opts to start the disc on the goal line, already brutally trapped by the Florida 4 man cup. The wind was only about 15-20mph, but the Hodags weren’t moving the disc as quickly as they could, as Fat Bill held the disc gluttonously long in his Sausage Fingers for minutes at a time, before throwing a 1 yard pass flick turnover to K-Fed. Shane almost phantom D’s the hammer to Broderick, before Smith actually cradle drops the pass deep in the corner, allowing Wisconsin to escape a 0-3 deficit. As Rebholz tries to run the disc to the line, a nearby Cole Sullivan throws his shoulder out to clip Matt, as he picked up the disc. What sort of team condones their teammates to take cheap shots like that? What sort of leadership encourages or says that kind of behavior is acceptable? Don’t they have a coach or any class at all? The game continues, as Rebholz, Annen, and Muffin begin to take control of the disc. However, Morfin has never been one to accept Florida’s cheating ways, calling 19 double teams on Smith, 11 disc spaces on Cycle, overcoming 6 more violation/travel calls from Cycle, several on completed hammers, before the observer steps in for a real decisive, “Hey, settle down, relax, or we’re issuing some TMF’s.” Rebholz eventually tries a big upwind huck and Florida hucks right back into an Air Animal D. Muffin throws a cross field hammer to Shane, who flicks it through the cup and has the Hodags pushing to the upwind goal line. Malecek finally takes things into his own hands, dropping an easy hammer to the Animal for the first upwind hold by Wisconsin 1-2. The Gloves tries a flick upwind to his brother, but Shane is there for the sky D. Four throws later, Shane is ripping a huge inside-out flick to Foster for the downwind break 2-2 and Wisconsin is storming the field. The Gators center to Gloves who fires a deep backhand, again to 4 cutters who pull down the reception and score quickly, thinking it was 2-3. However, Riley calls the travel on the big step-out only to have Kurt respond with the ultimate Grant Zukowski comeback to travel calls, “No, man, I’m 6’2.” The observer says travel and Kurt instantly summons the disc. It must have been when Kevin turned to the observer that The Kurt pulled his wand and landed an imperius curse upon an unsuspecting K-Fed. It was at this moment that Skywalker realized that the video camera lens sneakoscope sensor was going haywire. Like pulling thoughts out of the Pensieve, Andrew Mahowald was sucked into an awful memory. It was in the desert of the City of Sin, Las Vegas, and Florida was battling Arizona late into the day. Andrew Mahowald had been cheering from the sidelines, watching the end of the game as he noticed something strange about The Kurt. It could have been the look, or the relatively new gloves, but Mahowald needed to know. Pulling his wand, he landed a perfectly placed legilimens spell on Gibson, during a true moment of weakness and penetrated deep into his mind. It was so carefully construed, all of the planning, the torture and pain, the quadruple cup, it was all there. Skywalker shuddered at his immediate realization; Gibson had indeed been tampering in dark magic and those horrific images were hastily cast aside by Andrew, burying the accusation. If he would have notified the ultimate wizarding community then, it surely would have created an outrage. The Golden Hand was finally jerked back into the present by the buzzing of the sneakoscope lens – detecting dark magic. As Mabrowald turned, Gibson has instructed K-Fed to put the disc immediately back into play and fires a huge downwind hammer to the unsuspecting players, who hadn’t known the disc was in. The double helix hammer is macked by Brodie, only to deflect off Cullen and somehow land in Smith’s lap for the blade spike and lead 2-3. Wisconsin raised eyebrows to such a forceful spike and jabbering, for such a weak sauce play. Wisconsin is back on Offense and only moving the disc laterally through the 3-2-2 Florida clog as Bucket wasn’t dealing with the pressure well, screaming at Foster, “Look at me!” as he popped/cut across the field. Things look bad from the sideline as Riley is yelling instructions now at the handlers, about where and when they need to be in open space. Eventually K-Fed just tosses a high hammer that Lokke has to slider to catch safely. Fatty then slips twice as he tries to get up, causing skinny people all around to snicker at the chubby red-head. However, Lokke gets the last laugh as he pulls in a looping backhand from Riley for the 3-3 tie. Florida is going downwind again, but chooses to punt on offense, as Florida decided they would rather cheat on defense than actually convert sets on offense – something Carleton would surely scoff at, probably contributing to CUT taking down the Gators in Centex quarterfinals 2007. Wisconsin has the disc and Rebholz rips a huge cross field hammer to Shane, who loops a flick deep to Doede. Wisconsin smells blood and stuffs in the goal as Murray hits Rebholz for the 4-3 lead. Wisconsin is pumped up and pulls out the HO-DAGS cheer for the downwinder, as Muffin rockets a flick pull. Kurt and Cycle try to play catch, but CVA drops the pancake catch on the goal line. Tom calls a time-out and Florida resets a literal 4 man square around Tom, who is called for a push-off foul, taking away a short Foster swing turnover. Shane pops the cup at stall 8 and Animal feeds the ManBearPig a break 5-3. Florida continues to punt and give up the disc as Riley and Muffin tear apart the cup for gashes at a time. Eventually Muffin fires a 20 yard upwind hammer to wide-open Tom Murray, for the upwind break to make it 6-3 as Wisconsin went absolutely nuts in the upwind end zone, screaming and making a general raucous. Wisconsin was generally rolling, as the most experienced Hodags were making plays. Muffin ripped another huge flick blade and Gibson dropped a short pass near his goal line and Wisconsin was poised to finish. However, a Muffin flick was too high for a stationary Foster, narrowly missing the downwind break. Florida bobbles the disc twice and calls a foul on a Chris Doede hammer mark and a Tom Murray layout D to save possession in both instances. Chris Doede’s intensity gets the run through dump D and Wisconsin was eating field left and right before an Animal scoober over the cup to Morfin was off target. Gloves immediately jacks a flick in transition and Broderick comes down with the catch before a stall 5 timeout. Lokke is broken on the goal line and the Florida between the legs spike makes it 6-4 and stops the hemorrhaging. Wisconsin walks to the line, knowing they let an opportunity to close the game, slip through their fingers. Muffin and Riley pop the disc through and around the cup as Lokke is now even making crisp passes. Animal is eventually trapped on the line before firing a 37 yard cross field hammer to Shane and the Hodags are in business, but eventually another travel call, on a 2 yard pass, stops the momentum, allows the cup to reset, and sticks Shane on the sideline, who can’t reset for a turnover. Florida is able to convert quickly downwind and tightens the score to 6-5. Wisconsin hucks and sets their zone, but a solid swings and a big hammer past Lokke gives Florida a crucial upwind break 6-6. Madison is back to moving the disc slowly as Cycle is now calling offensive fouls on pivoting and a Florida player injures himself on a bid into the Bucket, trying for a Callahan. Riley then proceeds to provide treatment to the UF player’s injured shoulder, adjusting it, rubbing it out, and repositioning it before Florida finally realizes a teammate is down. After the substitution, Rebholz tries a huge upwind hammer down the sideline, but the wind eats it up and turns it over OB. Florida is now transitioning downwind with Gloves getting every other as the Hodags foolishly allow immediate resets back to the thrower. The Kurt works it to the goal line and hits Broderick for a 1 yard goal to re-take the lead 6-7. The fouls continue to rack up before Matt Rebholz rips a perfect hammer down the line to Tim Pearce, who is now fouled three times consecutively on the goal line, for the Florida defense to recover. Muffin eventually crashes the cup to save Pearce and calls double team to make the cup reset. “Double team… double team!” shouts Muffin, pushing the cup back to at least 8 feet before letting the stall count resume. Malecek is still pivoting in the cup, looking for an open option as Brodie calls, “Violation” on defense. Muffin, who had no inclination whatsoever to say the V-word, calls bullshit, and throws a hammer for the goal. Florida tries to argue that Muffin said violation first to stop play, but that wasn’t even plausible, as Morfin was still pivoting to score. Eventually the observer is able to see through Florida’s attempts to stop play, this time making phantom calls for the offense, and rules that he only heard the V-word uttered once, and since Muffin wasn’t the one who uttered it, play didn’t stop and the subsequent hammer score counts 7-7. Wisconsin decides it is time to guard Kurt with two defenders, because half the players on Florida have the intelligence of hill trolls, and wouldn’t know what to do with the disc if it hit them in the face. However, the wind helps as UF scores to take half 7-8. The Hodags start the second half on Offense going downwind and get a chance to lament all of the missed opportunities in the first half. It seems that all the drama continues to revolve around Muffin, who is still attempting to get the Gator cup to play by the rules specified. CVA tends to disagree, and thinks cheating or adjusting morals for personal gain is tolerable, as stall counts suddenly stop dropping on the called infraction of double team. First it is an offensive foul on a full field hammer, and then it is a stall count on a scoober over the shoulder. In the end, it was the observers who kept the game moving forward as a perfect Animal scoober to Malecek pulled in the deep, allowing Foster to fly free. But it was Florida and the aggressive deep went for the bear hug strategy, hoping to stop play and let his other defenders recover. With no penalty for this type of cheating despite an appeal to the moral high ground, Muffin dropped a high hammer in his eyeball, giving Foster the satisfaction of spiking the disc in the wake of Florida’s continued bullshit now 8-8. The Hodags need an upwind break to take the lead and Doede almost supplies the turnover, causing a Gibson drop, but getting tacked with a very close elbow graze foul. The Gators hold onto to the disc long enough to abuse the break side to score downwind 8-9. Wisconsin comes right back stretching the field as Foster makes a spectacular sliding deep catch off a huge looping flick from K-Fed, tying the game 9-9. The Hodags continue to bring the pressure, as the Broderick break side in-cut is shoulder high layout D’d by Shane Hodagstein, giving Wisconsin the disc near midfield. As soon as the cup is broken to the middle, Rebholz rips a huge backhand, but there was no receiver and Florida was going the other way. A swilly Chris Gibson flick huck is again D’d by Shane, but somehow ricocheted of Tom Murray again into Brodie’s lap, as he showed the disc and then spiked it brutally, on another weak sauce play 9-10. Tensions rose as Brodie got all up in Shane’s face as they exchanged words and email addresses. Wisconsin took advantage of a short pull, as Animal hit Foster with a hammer strike 10-10. Muffin ripped a nice bladey pull and The Kurt quickly put up a deep backhand. Lokke had an inside track, leaping but only macking the disc slightly, causing, guess who, Brodie to mack the disc further and then chase it down with a layout catch for the hold 10-11. The Brodie then spikes the disc as hard as possible, showboating his third Hodag assisted goal. Wisconsin was back going downwind and Florida was now playing straight man defense. However, the marks were physical and hard fouls were common place, as Sullivan grunt slammed Morfin, causing play to lag for almost a minute. Will Lokke tosses a short backhand to a full speed Foster, who bids and sticks the disc near the goal line. Wisconsin is so close to scoring, but can’t stick it in as Morfin grabs a reset, only to have hill troll Sullivan kick Morfin’s arm waist high as he pivoted to throw backhand. The stream of obscenities to leave Morfin’s mouth would have made a pastor’s heart explode. Mike Gerics spirited reincarnated was the anger spewing forth, because one can only believe the fouls are accidental to such an extent. If only Kyle Weisbrod had been there, a TMF would have been issued faster than Ben Wiggins could sprint the field. However, play continued as K-Fed made the O2 move to score, but dropped the low downwind flick, giving the disc back to the Gators. The Gloves shouted instructions to his teammates against the Wisconsin zone, but a double helix hammer was double teamed by cascading sky mack D’s of Jimmy Foster and Lokke. Florida is forced into man defense and Muffin quickly floats a flick out for a diving Will Lokke score 11-11. The Gators move the disc slowly downwind, until Kurt puts up a floaty backhand to which Sullivan promptly drops. Rebholz grabs the disc and tries to run to the line, before the quadruple team can set, but Gator Sullivan rolls in his way, slowly jogging in his path, impeding Rebholz’s progress. However, Florida’s tactics could not deny the Hodags, who had found that chip on their shoulder. The Hodags earned every yard with patience, before Animal launched the finishing hammer to take back the lead 12-11. Wisconsin was determined to score and after noticing that Kurt was only trying to get the disc immediately back every time, employs the box-and-1 system to deny Gloves the disc. Every stoppage now takes minutes to resolve as Kurt calls “foul” after a disc space and fast count call. However, as Carleton certainly knows, 2 disc violations mean clearly the “V-word” and not a foul. Gibson is eventually forced to throw an inside-out backhand, but Shane and Doede combine for the double mack D. Muffin sends it deep, but it is too far and Florida returns the favor with a dropped cross field hammer. Morfin is at the center of attention, fighting high stalls in the cup with mini scoobers to Animal, until Tom puts up a deep hammer for Doede to pull down in the back corner, putting Wisconsin up 13-11. With the cap in effect, it was a game to 14 and Wisconsin held all of the cards. The face guarding of Gibson must have worked, because Gloves resigned himself to downfield for a moment. Florida struggled to move the disc, but it finally broke to Cyle, who immediately hucks a backhand to a stationary Kurt. The disc sails out the back as Shane ensures the matter, but not before the Brodson takes down a water cooler, kicking it in disgust, because one upwind break sealed the deal now. However, first the observer had to walk off 10 feet, and then Foster had to convince Florida that he had actually clapped the low disc, causing more delays. However, the Wisconsin zone O was improving with every point, now confident to move the disc in the wind. Shane lets a deep flick rip, which Foster comes down with on the goal line, before getting knocked to the ground. Simba is screaming for Jimmy to see Bucket as the disc is tapped in and Kevin gets the dump, on the verge of victory. Bucket goes to the most insatiable desire, to finish in Florida’s eyeball, as he rifles a flick through traffic and past a bidding defender for the goal to win 14-11. Wisconsin rushes the field in excitement and Riley pumps his fist, putting the finishing touch and getting retribution against Florida. The Gator complex had been removed and Wisconsin was headed to semifinals against Mamabird. The game was a quick blowout and the Hodags crushed UNC in the finals as they 3-peated at Centex and won all 3 NCUS events, cashing $5,000 from the cu1timate fund. As Wisconsin congratulated themselves on the first perfect pre-season in school history, Muffin inexplicitly wasn’t happy. It was all too perfect; the best team in history; the undefeated season; the most dominate starting line in all of the ultimate archives? No, something wasn’t right. And then the smoky fog lifted and Morfin came to a terrible realization. His memory had been modified, but he wasn’t sure how much time had been lost. Racking his brain Morfin saw the defender still on the ground, the disc not in the receiver’s hands, but also on the ground. It was difficult to tell what reality was and what was fantasyland as the memory charm Obliviate was most powerful. Suddenly, the volume was turned back up and Wisconsin was scattered, and looking for defense. A Brodie huck sails out the back of the end zone and Florida sets their cup. Muffin tosses a soft scoober to the backfield, but Rebholz can’t handle it as a defender crashes, giving Florida an easy downwind score, now 13-12. But Wisconsin was still on O going downwind for the fatality, surely the Hodags had it locked down. Wisconsin looked good, moving the disc to midfield, before Riley and Rebholz became stalled on the sideline. Riley loaded up a hammer, but gave away his target as Lokke couldn’t sky the high and hard hammer, completely over his head, giving Brodie an easy D. The force is changed at least once and Lokke is now marking Kurt, who fires a hammer before calling a late foul. Fat Bill and Gloves both hit the ground a silly number of times within several passes and play lags in the hilarity of collapsing knees. Florida is now just feet from an upwind break and finally stuffs it in to tie the game at 13-13. With 2 chances to score, Wisconsin squandered both and was now on universe point going upwind on O. Muffin cracked the cup twice and Wisconsin was past midfield, in prime position before Will dumps the disc foolishly back to the sideline. The cup reforms on Riley who gives a short pass to a crashing Morfin, but leading to a Brodie layout into Muffin’s back. As Broderick is rolling up Muffin’s legs, a 1 yard pass to Riley is dropped. Muffin calls the foul as soon as the disc turns; because he is being knocked into as he threw it. The observer rules that the foul call wasn’t on the throw, but just before, and so it was a live disc regardless. Muffin argued that the contact clearly affected the throw, causing K-Fed to fumble the disc, but proximate cause was overruled again. Florida set up very deliberately; The Kurt even paused to the stretch out both quads, before picking up the disc. “Come on,” moaned the sideline, “not even Beau does that!” With the stakes at their highest, Cyle rolls the dice, hucking deep, but it is just OB, giving the disc back to Wisconsin. The handlers look good, moving the disc quickly and breaking through the cup, but not before a stray pass is deflected on the way to Shane, giving Florida the disc mere yards from the end zone. In the transition, Shane almost layout D’s Kurt, but it only takes 3 more passes before Florida stuffs in the goal off a give-n-go to the break side, to actually win and steal the game 14-13. Wisconsin was left with no choice, but to line up and shake hands, still in desolate shock. Soon after, Wisconsin formed a circle and contemplated wallowing in misery. Indeed, Hodags were falling to the ground left and right, sitting and waiting. Silence replaced silence before Rebholz addressed the team, but his post game talk was a blur of seemingly empty words forced determination. “This next game will make us better,” but no one believed it. As two time Hodag Captain Matt Rebholz finished speaking, Muffin stepped up to talk, which was a surprise because Muffin rarely ever needed to talk in team huddles. On surface Muffin appeared to be the only Hodag truly unfazed by the failure and explained to the team that there was still an opportunity to play meaningful games and keep seed for Nationals. It wasn’t a coincidence that both speakers were 5th year Hodags, but their words of endorsement fell on deaf ears, as the team lost all will to live. However, Madison was faced with a difficult challenge – firing up for another game almost immediately after a huge mental and emotional letdown. It’s not like flipping a switch and Wisconsin could only say “Hodag Love.” In the precious few moments before the next round started, Muffin quickly saw the trainer, attempting to clear his head. Malecek had played on the Hodags all the way back in 2004 and knew how it felt to lose in quarterfinals. He had seen the team struggle at Centex 2005, after losing studs Tripoli and Zukowski to injury, and how the Hodags lacked the drive to compete. The Hodags looked generally sad as the game was about to start – like ultimate wasn’t fun to play if it was only for 5th place. The despondency ran through the team like a virus – pushing spirits down and taking the will with it – the determination of heart. Muffin arrived back at the fields just in time for the Offense to drop a disc in our red zone, giving Pittsburgh a two pass upwind break to start the game 0-1. At this point in the day, Morfin decided to make the difference and strutted onto the field to play some upwind zone offense. Malecek realized on the walk to the trainer, that this was his last College Centex ever, and Muffin was sure to leave everything on the field. True to his word, Malecek was able to hit Evan with a nice break for the upwind tie 1-1. Muffin and Matt Rebholz were doing their best to keep the team focused and fired up. The lines opened up immediately and fresh legs were inserted as the Hodags momentarily let a tidal wave of devastation upon Pittsburgh, powering to a 4-1 lead on Animal’s and Muffin’s consistency around the disc and Seth scoring 2 goals. Matt Young even made an awesome layout D with his tongue out and full smile across his face – moments before impact with the disc. Wisconsin was relying on new players to fill positions as Feldman was now starting for Will Lokke, who had dropped out of the rotation and was busying devouring as many discs as he could get his Sausage Fingers on.
Wisconsin wasn’t bringing the full fire yet, but was still leading 5-2 as Kevin Riley hit Gaynor for a goal. The Pittsburgh coach made a great effort to tell the Hodags not to “double guard” the mark if the original defender bids and was lying on the ground, while another defender momentarily puts on a force. Despite the silly arguments, Pittsburgh was able to respond to the initial Hodag surge of energy and scored to make it 5-3 after an Air Animal greatest attempt missed and then broke to make it 5-4 after Feldman turnover. This break was like a punch to the stomach as Wisconsin walked to the line solemnly and brought in Muffin anticipating Zone Offense. Wisconsin finally scored on good pair cuts and open spacing as Foster hit Gaynor for a midrange score 6-4. Wisconsin was in control, but the disappointment from losing in quarterfinals was beginning to shine through. The team was still in shock and the usual omnipotent confidence was missing from almost every Hodag step. It was a difficult truth to face, that not practicing or doing any sort of disc skills was such a detriment that it would cause Madison to lose games. The team was young and when fundamentals were overlooked as Wisconsin waited for the snow to melt, the Hodags might have overlooked how much work needed to be done before the final weeks of the season. Furthermore, the loss to Michigan should have been an insult enough and cause every Hodag to play with something to prove. At this point in the tournament, the Hodags were not playing with anything to prove and Pittsburgh, with everything in the world to gain, connected with their downwind deep shots and broke to make it 6-6. Slowly the Hodag fire extinguished and the sideline fell mute. There was no cheering, no intensity on the field, no desire to murder and punish. It was replaced by apathy and self-pity, leaving a bitter taste with Muffin. Wisconsin was eventually able to pull it together and trade to half 8-7 as Matt Rebholz hit future Grey Duck Tim Pearce for the lead. This far into the contest, it seemed that only 5th years Rebholz and Malecek cared about the outcome. The Hodags were trading with a generally terrible Pitt team, lacking grit and intensity and sliding into a lull. It wasn’t helping the Simba Feldman who was doing his very best to showcase his offensive throws, adding his 6 turnovers to Riley, Rebholz, and Annen’s combined 10 more. As the second half started and Muffin got back into the game, it was evident that nobody really cared about this contest. The lack of effort upset Morfin, much more than the loss to Florida. How were the Hodags not playing hard? Wasn’t this season about a commitment to every game? It made Morfin sick to contemplate, so he began changing the momentum with his actions. Being positive, yelling on the sideline, and encouraging his teammates; Muffin gave 100% to every point. But his teammates could not escape the pain, as injured players fell out of the rotation and the team energy dropped to an all time low. Even as these events transpired, Muffin and Rebholz were fighting a losing battle. Doing everything in their powers, Matt and Morfin tried to fire up the Hodags, but it was no use. As the game progressed, Muffin did his all to keep pumping up the team, shouting words of encouragement, challenges on the line, and incessant talk to the Offense when on the sidline. None of it mattered, no effort made a difference as the Metro East Squibs of Pittsburgh were scoring the old-fashioned way, one shitty throw after the next, proving any anything can happen when one team doesn’t even want to play. The second half continued to trade 9-9, 10-10 and 11-10 Wisconsin as Matt Rebholz converted goals to Foster and Riley. There was just no fight in the Hodags and the game traded wearily. However, Pittsburgh made a last minute run and gathered enough steam to tie the game at 11, before breaking twice to lead 11-13, probably off 2 of Wisconsin’s 27 turnovers. Malecek scored from Tim Pearce to make it 12-13, but Pittsburgh hucked and scored on a stacked line to take a huge 12-14 lead. It was late in the game and Wisconsin needed players with legs to win as key individuals were still dropping out the rotation. Wisconsin was able to score to bring to the game to 13-14 and essentially universe point with Wisconsin pulling. Malecek matched up every player, attempting to neutralize their offense for some last minute heroics. However, Animal lunged to the open side and was beat on a break-side huck, hanging a helpless Doede out to dry as Pittsburgh won 13-15 and cheered, as the Hodags waited to shake hands for the second time in a row. It was as if the court had been rushed after the final buzzer beater and the crowd was screaming all around. This was the lowest point of Hodag ultimate in 3 years, since 2005. That score cemented the worst finish at Centex since 2004 and it was a tragic feeling, losing to an inferior competitor. There was less to say than usual and Morfin took the loss the hardest. Morfin had given his all for the team, for the Deatheaters. His reputation, his energy; all of his feelings were worn on his sleeve for all to see. There was no denying it; the fourth horcrux was becoming too powerful, too taxing, too much. It left his soul weak, fractured, and vulnerable. Morfin had no choice; it would be perilous, potentially fatal. A horcrux had never been magically restored because it was obviously too risky and complex. But before he could change his mind his heart broke to pieces as the deepest remorse overtook his body. Morfin trembled from head to foot, and a felt a pain so intense, he thought he was dying. Only the deepest feeling of repentance could possibly undo the creation of the most despicable act – splitting the soul. This supreme act of evil, believing Wisconsin ultimate was immortal, was a difficult fact to face and only the excruciating pain of this realization was able to communicate with the glove horcrux. The black glove began to seize up, twisting, and flexing. The soul was attempting to escape, but the glove was resisting. Morfin collapsed to the ground and a true feeling of responsibility overtook him, his actions indelible, Morfin felt an immaculate wave of energy and life flow escape from the glove, trickling in transformation as the wispy ghost absorbed into Morfin’s Dark Mark. Everything went black and Muffin awoke on the field shaken, but refreshed. The worst possible scenario had just occurred, losing on Sunday not once, but twice. The Hodags had just put on the most lackluster performance in memory, lulled into self-pity and not able to find the energy to respond to two late breaks. Several Hodag parents must have been in shock, as the Foster’s, Scallet’s, Geppert’s, and Riley’s had to also endure two straight losses.
Matt Rebholz finally collected the Hodag elite and questioned the morals of playing another round. Should Wisconsin play their rookies; should the lines remain open and give way to any outcome? The Hodags were set for a Vegas Finals rematch against the Arizona Sunburn, but barely 19-20 Hodags were in the rotation for the 7th place game at Centex. Wisconsin finally agreed with itself to play the lines open and hope that the team could improve as a whole. Madison won the flip and started on Defense, only to fall behind 0-1. Kevin Riley hit the C Monster for a goal as the sophomore implemented offense scored to tie 1-1. However, things turned bad for Wisconsin as Arizona scored easily and then broke to lead 1-3. It was more than Malecek could bear, as Muffin demanded to play Offense. Malecek hated to lose more than anything and knew he could make the difference when Wisconsin needed it. The Hodags turned the disc and as Arizona took under cuts to the middle of the field, Muffin accelerated past the cutter for an in-cut layout D and double happiness to make the score 2-3. Muffin amped up the younger players, who were still susceptible to outside influences, making a scene and yelling to the team, “If you want to play defense, get on the line!” Muffin threw line calling to the side and went to pure emotion, asking for the players who wanted to get that layout D. Needless to say that line broke to tie the game 3-3 and really started to put the pressure on Arizona. Soon Jon Masler and Matt Young made back to back layout D’s, followed by an Andy Doss sky goal and Marshall 2 handed sky to make it 6-4. Wisconsin’s Offense was able to hold for half 7-5 and then hold again out of half to lead 8-5 on Rebholz’s solid play. Muffin continued to dominate around the disc, hucking upwind to break to 10-6 and causing Wisconsin to use a timeout. Shane Hohenstein stormed the circle, offering up a 24oz energy drink for a Team Detonator. Wisconsin thrived on the energy, slamming the can against forehead after forehead until Muffin punctured the can, and Rebel Rousa finished the deal, exploding the can into 2 perfect halves as it splits on his forehead.
The intensity and explosion of sound made every Sunburn player look, knowing that any mounting Hodag intensity is never a good outcome. As play begins, Tom Murray makes a sick layout D and Muffin finishes to Marshall for the lead 11-6. Wisconsin traded to a 13-8 win, adding another Matt Crumb layout D with a full grin on his face. Jon Marshall made a Double Happiness play, catching the goal like a football wide receiver.
In the end, Wisconsin took 7th place at Centex – the worst finish ever in last 3 years of Centex. This tournament also ended the year long win streak and was the first time the Hodags didn’t make it to at least semifinals in any tournament since Nationals 2005. As Wisconsin wandered over to the main complex, the Minister of Magic Skip Sewell awarded Wisconsin 5,000 Galleons for becoming the first Tri-NCUS Tournament Champion. Amid the setbacks of losing games, the documentary took a small hit as the Hodags were too depressed to take good footage after the quarterfinals loss or even the energy drink detonator. This Sunday could be summed up nicely by Cullen Geppert’s walk back to the car. The C Monster trudged very slowly across the barren fields, heavy bag over his shoulder, head drooped, the look of deepest disappointment across his face, yet still carrying a large vanity check for $5,000. Other notable post Centex events included breaking the Suburban key in half in the wrong lock, Pat jumping over bulky obstacles, including Cullen with his Razer Red Scooter, and driving back to Wisconsin to begin school, totally exhausted. Overall, the Hodags were not pleased with the weekend and will be taking out their rage on the state of Wisconsin at Sectionals. But the weekend provided several more lessons for the Hodags and that the season needed to be refocused to the task at hand, Regional finals. Looking forward, Carleton remains a semis caliber team in Wisconsin’s eyes and Colorado has shown resilience over the season. However, spring showers and record snowfall have left Wisconsin under inches of snow all year – making another weird obstacle that the Hodags must overcome. As Tom Murda arrived back in Madison he could only utter, “I want to play Frisbee so bad! This weekend was not satisfying.” Wisconsin lost their focus. The undefeated season is over. Perhaps it was the 7 straight days on the beach, the plethora of injuries, or the limited practice time in Wisconsin. Whatever the reason, the Hodags faltered for the first time all season and lost as many games in one tournament as Madison had lost in the last two seasons. Defeat and shock were evident, but the mental failure to respond is what unnerved the veteran Hodags most. To say that this weekend was a disappointment would be a tremendous understatement. Perhaps the pain from workouts and unwavering commitment just wasn’t the same as 2007. What else could be undone? No more comparisons between the top Hodag squads of ‘06 v ‘07 v ‘08. Losing is a motivator. It encourages you to work harder, to test your limits, and to put in more time. Besides confidence being shaken, the reoccurring mental weakness was the worst part. Certain individuals have been slacking either physically or mentally, and it has hurt the performance of the team. In these times when focus is lost and when you want to quit, I look for an answer through motivation. My favorite quote is from the Arnold Schwarzenegger documentary Pumping Iron. Lou Ferrigno was training to attempt to knock off Arnold in the Mr. Olympia bodybuilding competition. It was Arnold’s last year, but just Louie’s second, so he was training very hard (yelling Arnold’s name for every excruciating rep) and was extremely motivated to try to take down Arnold, especially after coming in second place on his first attempt. Lou Ferrigno is sitting down to dinner and his dad is rambling about the competition and visualizing for Louie. This quote still sends tingles down my spine. “Don’t ever feel sorry for yourself, Louie. Remember, if you’re training hard, he may be training twice was hard. You just gotta keep coming back stronger. All the way, Louie, you’ll never get this chance again. All the way.” This quote quickly reminds me of a couple things real quick – to never feel sorry for yourself, to train harder than your opponents, and to realize that you will never get this chance again.
It has continued to rain, snow, and sleet for weeks at a time and in a final twist of fate – Sectionals has been canceled due to the inches of standing water, pushing it off a week and making for back-to-back weekends of Sectionals and Regionals. Having Sectionals a week later also denies Wisconsin the chance to play the Blue-Black Spring Scrimmage and Hodag Alumni game as feature events at Memorial HS’s Mudbath HS tournament. However, as it stands, Wisconsin is still the scariest team in college ultimate and will be reasserting itself in Wisconsin soon. Courtney for Callahan!