Do you remember Gesundheit? Winter League 2011? It was a team of largely Cal State Long Beach players who seemed to come out of nowhere and finished with a 6-2 record, tied for 2nd place with defending champion Empire. Despite those gaudy achievements, they got no love at all in the poll I put out the week before the tournament. When asked who would win Winter League, the team with the 2nd best record got literally 1 vote. And that was probably Alex Carey who played with them. I wrote an article about them because I was so fascinated that this team was playing so well, but nobody believed in them. That was before they went on to beat Empire in semis and lost to Kong in finals. The following year, a good chunk of the Long Beach players on that team won Lei Out with Sportscenter. And two months later, as Entanglement, they won Winter League with what was probably the greatest finals comeback in LAOUT history. (Down 13-7 to Marshall in a game to 15, they scored 6 straight out of a time-out to tie it. They won 17-15. Most depressing game of my playing career.)
The reason I bring this up is because I see a lot of the same comparisons with Tsukemen and Women. I’m not here to predict them winning Winter League next year. I’m just saying, don’t count them out. Let’s note, this is a team with about a dozen Family Style players, the team that upset 7 Figures last year in Sectionals. They’re young. They’re very talented. And they’re on the rise. And I personally LOVE it. I think it’s awesome to see another high level team joining the fray. Here’s their captain Bustle with the recap of their game against us:
It was a suspiciously wet night at Rancho Cienega tonight as Tsukemen and Women took on Marshall. Tsukemen and Women were there in our usual charcoal and Marshall had their normal navy on. Neither team was super prepared with an alternate white so we started the game charcoal vs. navy. Tsukemen and Women started on defense, but after a couple of points of a junky zone and taking an extra second to determine who was who, Tsukemen and Women scrounged together enough white jerseys to give the game some contrast. Marshall started out the night low on ladies and relatively low on men. Unfortunately for them Connie went down early with an injury and was unable to return. Then Sophie had a couple of layouts that ultimately knocked her out of the game. Their remaining ladies worked the disc up well and were getting open underneath. AJ and Seth were throwing their fair share of breaks. It was a mostly back and forth first half with Tsukemen and Women taking it at 8-5. It’s hard for me to remember the details of what exactly happened in the second half but the final score was 15-12 in favor of Tsukemen and Women. Sarah was throwing a lot of nice breaks. Claw and Wild Card both played sound defense and limited what their cutters were able to do downfield. Hoover and Jenny were getting open often. Joe Bobman threw about the most beautiful backhand that could be thrown on a deep cut to Hoover that placed her right inside the back of the end zone. The game ended on a nice break backhand from PK to Avatar on an impressive grab. There was a ton more cool stuff that happened, but I’m blanking on it so you’ll just have to trust me that it happened. Oh! Like a hammer for a layout score by an unrecalled Marshall lady (sorry I forgot who!)
That was MER. Typical MER two-handed forward thrust layout grab. That’s her calling card. That point where Connie went down was ROUGH. Third point of the game. 1-1. We only had three ladies. Then Connie hurts her ankle and we’re down to 2. They were nice enough to pause for several minutes to see if she’d come back on the field, but she didn’t return the whole game. We played 6 on 7. Lot of turnovers. Then on the SAME point Sophie went down after crashing into Avatar. MER showed up by this point, and she was able to replace Connie. T&W took a mercy time-out to give Sophie a chance to recover. The point kept going. Lots more turnovers. Emma showed up next. So now we had one woman sub. T&W finally scored it, but it was not a short point.
On the fifth point of the game, it was another hell point. (There would be several of those.) Sophie went down again after getting smushed in between two T&W players in the end zone (but she got the D. It was sweet.) She would not return. Lauren showed up next. So now we had one woman sub again. Our guy side was running two subs until Dominic showed up. But I think at that point, Emma, Zazu and PVP were our only players under the age of 30. (I like to make excuses.)
Props to T&W. Particularly Sarah Kibler who was all about high release forehand breaks to space. At 5’4″, she’s one of the shortest players on the field (I looked that up on the Summer League draft, I’m not stalking her). But she gets that high release around everyone. I want to say it was the second to last point of the game, she was on the end zone with a high stall count and put it up right over the shoulder of her marker to a teammate streaking toward the middle of the end zone between two defenders who jumped into the box for the score. It was like watching Kyrie put up an alley oop pass to LeBron.
T&W indeed took the win 15-12. RRI moved them into third place ahead of Ninja Squirtles and Marshall.
Oh, one final addition on this game comes from Chris Walthers of Sky Life, who was there and added this:
I also caught a few points from the Marshall vs Tsukefolk barn-burner. Though the Tsukefolk won, I think Marshall is the better team with a full roster. Maybe we will see them matchup again in the tournament. One funny moment was the aforementioned Mer diving catch in the endzone. From the sideline, someone watching said “I bet this is when AJ just wills Marshall back in to the game”, about 2 seconds before he pulled out that razor sharp hammer pass to Mer. Bummer to see Marshall out there without Alex Carey and I wish him a speedy recovery from his ACL surgery.
|February 10, 2017||12:00 am||Winter League||2017|
|Rancho Cienega Recreation Center|