I don’t know how the tournament seedings are working. I talked a little with Dan about it, but he didn’t send me the confirmed final way it’s going. My best guess would be the top four seeds would have first round byes. IF that’s the case, then the battle for the first round bye is hot. Ninja Squirtles is in a close battle with Marshall. And Tsukemen and Women are also close enough to be factored into that. So every win counts big, and Ninja Squirtles definitely needed to get a win over Sky Life last night to stay ahead of the competition.
Here’s Chris Walthers of Sky Life with the recap:
Ninja Squirtles are a team whose reputation precedes them. Much like Marshall, they have been the class of Winter League for a few years running now and have a cast of characters straight off of rosters from Wildfire, 7 Figures, and the Aviators. Sky Life came in to this game knowing it would be a massive challenge to pull off an upset, but hoped to linger like a Cranberries song.
Right away, Squirtles used their athleticism to pull ahead. I think they got up 6 breaks before Sky Life was able to score, but we rallied around a great motivational speech from Basil who pointed out that our bodies were able but our minds were unwilling. He reminded us that tomorrow is Valensky’s Day and we all really love each other, and we all promised to play hard for the team. Recharged, we rallied a bit to make it 8-2 at the half.
Squirtles came out just as strong after the half, and used three particular approaches. First, they worked hard to create some deep looks for their strong lady receivers. Rigby in particular had a few great deep catches amongst tight defenders. Second, their handlers made devastating up-line cuts to keep the plays moving – notably through Lu, Box, and Spike. Lastly they switched the mark every few points and used some smart, poachy and switchy defense to fluster our cutters, who did a great job considering the talent on the other side of the field. Ethan has been cutting so well, and Jim made some long and fast cuts to keep the offense chugging. Banshee, Bubbles, Elmo, and Magma (the USC delegation) all had notable games on the ladies’ side.
One particularly great moment came when Jim from Sky Life caught the disc near the Squirtles front endzone cone on the trap sideline, about 5 feet away from scoring. Lu put on a mark and generously counted the slowest stall count I think any of us have ever heard. Glaciers melt faster than that count. Still, the Squirtles defense did not give up any easy cuts. Finally, Jim was able to sneak a prayer backhand to Claire in the middle of the endzone, who seemed surprised to be thrown at, surprised it wasn’t a stall, surprised to catch it, and surprised to be 18 inches in the endzone. It was great!
On the heels of last week’s discussion about avoiding mention of our own personal mistakes, I dropped a pretty easy would-be goal in the endzone when the game was about 1-0. To make things worse, the briskly paced disc slid right through my hands and popped my lower lip down on to my teeth, gouging out a substantial chunk of those sweet kissers! It was probably the worst drop of my career, given the ensuing blood, but as Claire kindly pointed out at least the worst is now behind me.
Squirtles eventually pulled away at 15-7 I think, but did lose the battle for most hammer goals, so there’s that.
On a side note, I was at the Skeeter/Dumbledore’s Army game last Thursday as a sideline reporter (we are talking some Erin Andrews level talent). At this point I have seen or played against all of the top 5 teams and it seems clear that Skeeter is the team to beat. I know that is stating the obvious given the RRI standings, but they were playing on another level than DA, who I thought pre-season were one of the top 3 along with Squirtles. As it often does in ultimate, the game came down to turnovers, and DA made a couple minor mistakes that gave possession to Skeeter, who rarely lost focus. It helps to have Jane Carlen and Remy Schor on your team. There is clearly a great level of understanding between Eli Friedman and Grant Boyd, two professional handlers by the way, and though DA played smothering defense the two were able to make difficult throws to easily keep the offense moving upfield. For example, when DA locked down on one of the handlers, the other would drop an arcing, cut-back scooper over the defender to lead the other handler towards the breakside, usually resulting in a 10 yard gain and another quick breakside cut. Those were not easy throws, and DA has a list of fantastic defenders who were playing out of their minds, but when you can make excellent defense break apart that easily you make the rest of the game so easy for your cutters (who are also really good to begin with). A few plays of note – Eli sniped a DA swing for a casual Callahan, Mingo and Drum were a fun matchup, Grant had some visionary down-field throws, and Victor “I’m probably the worst player on the team” Smith had a few great defensive plays to go along with a nice down-the-sideline flick huck to Jane or Remy to take half.
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.
I also added these comments to those respective games. For historical reference. You guys don’t even realize it, but part of the reason I like all the recaps is because someone will go back through the website ten years from now to walk down memory lane, and they can remember some of the fun things that happened.
One other thing. I also heard this score as 15-6. And since Chris wrote he “thinks” it was 15-7, and the other person didn’t say they thought it was 15-6, I’ll make that the official score.
|February 14, 2017||12:00 am||Winter League||2017|
|Culver City High School|