Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Nationals 2009

Schedule and Rules

The winner will be _____.



Friday Shots
Sat Pics

Freeheel Dominates
Andrew Brown's finest Commentary
Today was the last practice of the season and the Hodags were running at Nationals speed. The energy was overwhelming and opponents will struggle to match the intensity as Wisconsin plans to punish with their legs. The Hodags have 13 National champions. No current player or team can claim a single National Title. The weather will be hot and Wisconsin is deeper, more athletic, and more conditioned than any opponent they will face. Game of the tournament: Semifinals Wisconsin vs. Colorado.

The College Championships 2009

The most important weekend of the year is finally upon us. To achieve the final goal and win a National Championship - every point must be played as life and death. Just a single defeat at any point in the tournament all but ruins your chances for the title. You must win your pool. The Hodags know the winning formula well and will attack their warm-up with an energy and urgency that few other teams will be able to match. The championships look to be sunny and hot, 87 degrees at 5:30 pm, and gusty winds. This means every point played will slowly empty the gas tank for the weekend and expect cramps and heat exhaustion to be common sights among the top-heavy teams. Will the studs be able to carry all weekend? An extra day and relatively spread out games should help with this effect. However, one statistic stands out in my mind from Nationals 2008. It was the differential in points played between the quarterfinal opponents Wisconsin vs. Harvard. The Hodags had played around 72 points total while Red Line had played nearly 126 points. Point spread and finishing teams quickly is an absolute must with the upcoming conditions. The Offense must value the disc and score with quick strikes. The Defense must be seething with energy and pressure until the other team crumbles at stall 10 with no options open. Last time I checked, Wisconsin was still the 2-time defending Champion and only team to have current players who have accomplished that goal, 13 players in fact. Carleton has 0, Colorado has 0. The fifth year seniors who will be dominating are Jon Gaynor and Adam Drews on Offense, Tom Annen on Defense, with Tom Murray and Jimmy Foster playing all the time. Seniors Evan Klane and Jonathon Masler will need to hold down the back field while handlers John Bergen and Jake Smart will undoubtedly cause huge swings in momentum. Expect Cullen Geppert and Matt Young to blow up on Defense, guarding the best cutters. Defenders who must step up their game with weekend are Pat Donovan and Alex Simmons. The first year players must fall into a rhythm and play their role - whether it is on the sideline or running your absolute fastest for one point. If Wisconsin acts and walks like a champion in their pool play games - it could culminate into a historic weekend. I'm expecting Wisconsin to come out very hard and fast - setting the tone. Jerry McGinnis is overheard in his most manly voice, "You know, a lot of guys lift to impress girls, I lift to impress weights." It's JerryBomb time!

Before the day starts tomorrow, Wisconsin is even. The Hodags have a clean slate and the opportunity to destroy. The first goal is a game to 3. The intensity needs to pour out of the 7 D line studs. Hodags lean and lean and lean, until the opponent shows weakness and that's when the Hodags stab and twist the dagger. The D line needs to carry the team while the O line displays their speedy dominance. It will be incredibly hot and the Hodags need to use their depth and legs to outlast every other team. The faceless army will replace its D line thugs with another line of beasts waiting to prey on the weak. We come out of the gates fired up. There is no other team that can match our fire, especially not at this tournament, at these fields. The game plan, among many on D, is to apply immediate pressure on the hitch, sending a head hunter to crush all hopes of any easy pass the other team might think they have. We push this strategy until our adrenaline pushes us over edge. The Hodags will also show different looks on D at different times, to keep the opponent guessing and out of their comfort zone....
Masler wrote these thoughts down the night before regional finals. With the anticipation higher for this game more than any other I've played in, I didn't know how to express my thoughts aloud to the rest of the team. Although we unfortunately would lose the game the following day, I think this still applies to how I feel right now. I've never shown this to anyone, as it was a unfinished and raw:
This is our team. Our team. We've built it from scratch this year, more than any other in recent memory, and we're all part of a bigger picture of generations of Hodags before who have taken pride in this program and helped develop it to where it is today. We have all the pieces to the puzzle that we need. Whether on the field or on the sidelines, everyone is dependent on everyone else. We are all equals. We have leaders on this team, those who have taken it upon themselves to speak up and carry the responsibilities of motivating, teaching, and inspiring all of us, but everyone is just as big of a contributor as everyone else. We are brethren. Everyone in their own right who goes through this program realizes what Hodag Love means to them at different points throughout their career as a Hodag. For me, it was after winning nationals last year when it all came together. And now, more than ever, that feeling of Hodag Love is reinforced at this incredible opportunity. Like everyone who has ever played in the program has known, this game (tournament) is bigger than anything we've ever been apart of. Anyone who's worn the baby blue knows how this game (tournament) is what defines one's experience playing for Wisconsin.
All I want to do is kill. Every time I think about this tournament, the first game, the first point, I find it hard to contain myself and have to yell out to my boys, who are going through the exact same thing. You could tell at practice today, that it's business time. It's gonna be all kill mode tomorrow. We just flat out want it more. And it's time to take it.

The only performance enhancing drug that is not illegal is caffeine - and the Hodag coaches are pounding coffee. We are riding on our enemies like Pac on Biggie. It is a toasty 91 degrees and Wisco is about to scout Cal before destruction happens all over their face. Michigan and Minnesota battled tough this morning, as Michigan took an early lead 4-2 before Grey Duck sans Tim Pearce clawed their way back into it. Will Neff was calling timeouts with reckless abandon as the Aaronson brother's called travel after violation. Minnesota was up 13-10 and with the disc - ready to finish, but then choked hard as Michigan pushed the game to OT and with a 6-1 run and murderballed to 16-14. Wisconsin arrived to the fields super early and was antsy from the get-go - seemingly 18 hours of waiting to finally warm-up and get on the field. California was set to play Pittsburgh - giving Wisconsin plenty of time to scout from under tent. Cal hucked OB at least 6 times and played poorly, allowing Pittisburgh to punish and take a huge lead 8-3. It was a blow-out from start to finish as it ended 15-7 Pitt. The Hodags were forced to endure a Colorado beatdown as Cornell missed numerous hucks deep. Wisconsin had their cleats on nearly 1.5 hours until game time but the nerves seemed to be winning the battle. The energy was there, but confused and hesitant rather than dominating. The Hodags lost the flip but began on Defense pulling upwind as Jake turfed it near the brick. California just missed their deep look and the Hodags had a chance. Cal-Berkely was running hard but a Cullen under and forehand boom to Pat Donovan scored the first break 1-0 and Wisconsin rushed the field with vigor and authority. Cal looked unsure, but connected on break side unders to tie the game 1-1. On Offense for the first time, the looks were chilly until Murray missed J-Fo on the goal line. Cal tried a deep shot and T-Murda got up and snacked on a D, allowing Gaynor to rip floaty deep to Drews 2-1. Wisconsin failed to put any pressure on Cal who scored easily 2-2. At this point, the Offense started freaking out and throwing into D's and dropping the disc as Cal broke 3 straight times to lead 2-5 as high release goals from in the red zone were brutal to endure. The Hodags finally start moving the disc quickly and ripping deep shots to get back into the game, as Evan throws 2 assists to close to 4-6. Wisconsin begins to get pissed and steps up the intensity. Cal rips a stall 9 deep and the trailing cutter picks up the trash to lead 4-7. Tom Murda throws a dishy to Bergen for the goal 5-7, taking a timeout to steal back a break. It was a good effort but Cal confidently took half 5-8 and the Hodags took a weary huddle - drinking fluids and dying in the extreme heat.
Wisconsin started the second half on Offense and continued to show an extreme inability to break a cup. It wasn't until Darth Lazer punted a stall 9 MTA to which Jimmy Foster skied, that Wisconsin actually woke up! Gaynor doubled scored the point to John Bergen as Wisconsin tightened the game to 6-8. As the line was called - Muffin threatened Crumb's life and told him to make a play. Ben Feldman snacks on a deep D and then rips a Boom Headshot to Matt Crumbly for the break 7-8 as the Hodags sparked alive. Wisconsin turned the mark and played shut-down D and Cal began to crumble as Crumbly rips a flick to Gaynor 8-8. Jimmy Foster rips a flick to space and Cullen Geppert brings home the 3rd straight break to lead 9-8. Cal ties the game at 9-9 and takes advantage of two Feldman meltdowns to lead 10-11. Wisconsin holds to tie at 11s. The rest of the game will be a contest of who can go on the longest run. Wisco continues to have trouble with Cal's IO high release breaks and allows Cal to score almost whenever they turn it. The points are hard fought and although Cal scores to make it 14-11 on some Hodag miscues, Wisconsin does not give in. The Hodags begin to start tightening the lines, stacking their D lines to near universe levels. The Offense holds to bring the Hodags to 12-14, looking confident again. Wisco now needs 3 breaks to win, and 2 pretty quickly in order to avoid the hard cap ending the game. A Foster sky, Feldman deep run, and Murray scorch deep for the win on universe ends the most impressive Hodag comeback nationals victory in recent memory. Tom Annen flexes his fist in revelation knowing his rap-roaring backhand ripper was far more impressive than Lebron James sickest eva boom headshot in the eyeball on command. Wisconsin Zerg rushes the field and contends that "all your base are belong to them." Wisconsin congratulates Clay for a good showing and has only 5 minutes to move to the next field and prepare to play Williams.

Texas takes down Wisconsin on universe point first thing Saturday morning in a ridiculously exciting game.
Wisconsin takes down Pittsburgh on universe after being down late. Ben Feldman ripping a perfect flick to Jimmy Foster for the win.
Luther sent 4 seniors home and played with 13 kids. The score shows 9-8, but the game was never in question as Wisconsin rolled through pre-quarters.

It is Sunday - the season will be over in less than 24 hours. The team will be history. Quick Team meeting before Stanford and all eyes are on CUT. This is right where we thought we would be - we are the favorite and the better team. It should be 83, sunny, and probably a slight wind. The Hodags are still the defending Champs and Stanford is still Stanford at Nationals.

Wisconsin started strong - scoring the first point and breaking to take a 2-0 lead. The energy was there but the heat was going to be ridiculous. The game traded quite nicely to 6-5 as the Hodags were bidding often and scoring quickly on Offense. However, a new Zone look caused a drop in the red zone, giving an easy break back 6-7. Tom Annen ripped a huge backhand down the line to a wide open Adam Drews, but the far side poach made up all the ground and layout D'd over the shoulder and Stanford's Callahan made an under cut and ripped a backhand to take half 6-8. Wisconsin was now on their heels and starting half on Defense. Stanford jacked a deep bomb and scored to lead 6-9. With the game starting to slip, Wisconsin needed to score. Ben Feldman ripped a flick down the line to a wide open JImmy Foster, but the laser shot is too far and Stanford breaks again on a backhand huck 6-10. Wisconsin called a timeout and Seniors Annen and Foster ripped into the team for execution errors and intensity. It was now a huge deficit and unlike the pool play games - Wisconsin looked like they let this one slip away. With the team shocked, each point needed to be played one at a time. Tom Murray ripped a backhand to Gaynor and Wisconsin had life at 7-10. The universe D line put the pressure on Stanford and defensively bid on 4 straight unders before Bloodthirsty punched in 7-11. The Offense just needed to convert and give the Wisconsin D another chance. However, the stupid turn and break caught Wisconsin full fledge in the face, now down 7-12. That would all be wrap up the game and Wisconsin's season was over. Brutal.
On a similar note, Belladonna finished their season with clear disappointment.. I watched the first half and saw Belladonna's superior speed and veteran presence in Bosscher and Brute Squad. Belladonna looked dominant, but Stanford was calling everything. The last sequence I saw, Stanford threw a 20 yard backhand into the end zone landing 7 yards OB out the side. During the throw the cutter tangled feet with the Belladonna defender, nearly 6 yards from the end zone line. The foul is called as both players trip, but the throw, which was laser-ed forward, out-of-bounds and clearly uncatchable. Somehow, the call goes to the Observer, who inexplicably rules foul and the disc on the line. That was shady. At best it was a feet tangle; foul - contest. But on this specific play, the disc was clearly way OB and there would be no play on the disc whatsoever. Neither call was within 10 yards of where the disc landed! Hector commented that he saw 2 foul calls upheld that he thought were without a doubt - not a foul. He was so sure - he encouraged the call to go to the observer. The statistician noted that Stanford made a possession saving call on 13 of their 15 goals. When the game finished, the observer who had been ruling against Belladonna all game went over, hugged and kissed the Stanford coach and then began hugging and chatting with Stanford players. If that was my final season - I would want some answers. A note on observing over the weekend - extremely inconsistent. There were a couple of upheld fouls and up/down calls that were bullshit - and when really assessing who is "ruling" on these situations - it is clear that high level ultimate is played with a different level of physicality than hippie-loving free speech to whine. After Jacob Goldstein Observed the Hodag's second game - Wisconsin was ready to implement a rule that required the observers to run a sub 8 second 40 before the game. I will say Mike G was by far the best observer - consistently ruling no foul on immediate referral situations - way more professional and direct with his opinion.
Carleton and Stanford in one semi-final; Colorado and Texas in the other. The wind picked up significantly as rain clouds threatened, but the #1-2 seeds were too much for the contenders. Mamabird was running everything through Mac Taylor while CUT was moving the disc quickly against Stanford. Carleton and Colorado were both up several breaks late and finished with huge cheers. Next was the Callahan presentation with the women first. It is always fun to hear the description of the player because it is easy to guess who it is. When the second place description involved the wording "chilly decision making" - I knew that Georgia Bosscher had won the Callahan award! Sure enough, the Wisconsin women took home the award in almost back-to-back-to-back years in Holly Gruenke, Courtney Kiesow, and now Georgia Bosscher. On the men's side, Jimmy Foster placed 4th place, behind Pressley, Taylor, and Neff.

The Team USA vs. Regional All-Stars was interesting for a moment as Skywalker almost gets Jolian in the air, before doinking it. Team USA rattles points off at their leisure taking a huge lead, before All-Stars score - someone getting Bort in the air 5-1. Mahowald dominates for a moment later in the game, getting a poach layout D, working for an under and ripping a backhand for the score 9-2. During halftime, TBA Mike wins the longest hammer with a 70 yard bomb. The day ends and the crowd disperses to celebrate the end of the college season - all but 2 teams. Wisconsin was not happy and in no mood for shenanagians. National Finals began with an OATBAG was Carleton broke 7 straight times to lead 7-0 - complete with a dropped pull and end zone conversions. Colorado finally discovered the end zone and half went 8-2 CUT. The game turned in the second half as the score closed to 13-10, but CUT closed the door 15-11. Congratulations Carleton for keeping the title in the Central.