Saturday, May 26

Saturday at Nationals to Shade (pt 3)

We pulled up to the fields before every player on every team.

I think we got out of the car at ~7:00am, but I can't be sure. I'm basing this on the prequarters starting at 8:30 and having exactly zero representatives from any team at the field site. Of course, that didn't mean that there weren't ultimate-types there. We saw some ladies and a gentleman or two in sleeping bags near the field. That was unexpected.

The first thing we did was get the disc and the wiffle ball/bat out of the trunk and toss/play wiffleball. We had some time and sleep was no longer in the plans. Players and teams slowly began trickling in, each group looking a little less lost than the previous. Finally, The Bus rolled up.

It was always incongruous rolling up to tournaments at places like Susquehanna or Rutgers in a full-on charter bus, but here it seemed completely normal. Many teams had flown to get here while the Violet Femmes had hopped on the bus, courtesy of NYU's club sports budget. I should back up for a second. NYU rolls up in a bus because no one has a car on campus (duh) and the club sports budget reflects this. They are also NYU vans that can be used for a weekend, but with the size of an ultimate team (let alone adding the men and the women together, like for most tournaments) the bus almost always makes more sense.

In any case, we said hello to some of the ladies, not wanting to mess with their game faces (I wanted to link to the Youtube clip of Bob Knight's "game face" routine here, but it has been removed. That sucks because it is one of my all-time favorite flip-outs.) and then asked the coaches, Zac and Ken, where the fields were. They told us and we collected our assorted items and strolled on over with some of us lurching more than others.

Leading up to game time, we kept tossing for a while, ensured proper fire safety of the surrounding area, scouted the opponents (Stanford) and caught up with some of the other alums in attendance. Notably absent was any presence from the NYU men's team. For shame.

Thoughts on this pregame time include the apparent lack of intensity from all teams in attendance. Perhaps this is just because I'm comparing it to club nationals where there is nothing but an "eyes on the prize" mentality early in the morning. Here, while the teams were certainly getting ready to compete, there was more an air of friendly competition. There was more tossing and stretching than drills and active warmups. That's just me though, perhaps I was missing something. Perhaps it was because I was one or two steps removed from the action.

To the game! NYU vs Stanford in the prequarters!

Recollections of this game are fading due to time, but NYU stayed tight in the first half. Mia was (as always) unleashing hucks to wide-open space whenever the opportunity was presented. The throws hung (and stayed in bounds) such that the majority of them were in good position to be caught, but the Stanford players continually made it difficult for the NYU receivers to make the play. The mark seemed to have little effect on Mia, but the quality and depth of the downfield Stanford defenders seemed to hurt NYU as a whole. Stanford took half at 8-7.

The biggest difference makers for Stanford were Christina Contreras and Megan Andrews. Contreras played a number of different roles on O and D, but was seen coming down with the hucks that Stanford would put up and putting on a difficult mark (she's tall!) in their zone D. Megan's difference-making was more subtle as her steady shifty-lefty handling continually kept the Stanford O running. Again, one of her biggest advantages was her height. So goes ultimate.

Coming out of half, it looked pretty grim for NYU as Stanford seemed to make some downfield adjustments while forcing Mia outside of her comfort zone in terms of release points. I think they played more zone here as well, though I could be wrong. Despite NYU never really giving up, this game was in the bag. 15-8 Stanford. Ew. Nobody likes Stanford. Just ask Jamie.

We then checked out the finishes of the Men's prequarters and headed over to watch the NYU team play some consolation against Dartmouth. In the first half, NYU looked dominant. I didn't stay for the full second half, but it looks like Dartmouth made a run later in the game, NYU still won 15-11. Hooray for consolation!

I went over to the other fields and set myself up to watch Wisconsin vs Oregon on my right, Florida vs Carleton on my far right and Colorado vs Georgia on my left. I couldn't see Texas v Stanford save for a couple plays here and there.

Let's start with Hodags/Ego. Well, Wisconsin was straight up better than Oregon. I doubt there was a single question about it for any part of the game. Every time I paid attention to the game it felt like "Hodag block. Pause. Pick up the disc and huck to a completely uncovered receiver. Goal." This game was fun to watch because the 'Sconsin players play fearlessly and for glory. The 'Gon players played well and didn't give in, but you sensed that they knew what they were up against. 15-9.

The CUT/Florida game seemed over early as Florida's deep game was firing on all cylinders. But at some point, there seemed to be a rash of CUT-centric cheering. I stopped to pay attention and the game looked the same except that whenever Florida's deep strikes fell harmlessly to the ground, CUT would work up the field in blatant defiance of the endless stream of 6'2" and up players for Florida. In the words of an unidentified spectator "Florida is the only team that looks like they could play Division 1 anything." They're certainly taller than Pike. Just another sign that players like me are on the way out. As the game got tight, Florida eventually pulled it together for a 16-14 victory.

The Mamabird/Jojah matchup sounded good on paper, but most spectators agreed that the Colorado team was deeper than Georgia. Well, yeah... fair enough, but that Tunnell is a baller. I got to catch glimpses of this game, including a couple of nice rips, but the crowd was in the way because I was sitting down.

I really should have gotten over to see the Bloodthirsty/TUFF game (what with NYC's own Will Chen and Highland Park's own Ezra Schiff at Stanford), but it was far away. Stanford won and some stuff happened. Also, as referenced earlier, no one likes Stanford anyway.

These last two games illustrate why it is so damned difficult to be a spectator of ultimate. There were four meaningful games to watch at one time at the top college tourney of the year and I couldn't watch them all. A gigantic ultimate stadium with room for four fields at once is clearly the only solution.

At this point, I fell asleep in the shade. I was tired and there was about an hour before the next round started...


A. Reader said...

Jamie is a girl's name.

Jamie said...

This may or may not be true. I refuse to lend veracity to such a comment by whole-heartedly refuting the gender specific nature of my nickname.

I demand gender equality for all names. We must no longer cower in our pink and blue shells. And screw my fourth grade teacher for giving me a slimy girl for a Candian penpal because they assumed Jamie was a girls name.