Nationals. Day 1.

If you don’t understand the anticipation and excitement associated with driving up and setting foot on the dewy Sarasota Polo Fields first thing Thursday morning sometime near Halloween, you’ve either never played at the UPA/USAU Club Championships, you only played in the years in the 90s when it was elsewhere, or you don’t appreciate the finer things in life.

October 27, 2011 – Thursday – Day 1 of USAU Club Championships. Ozone (seeded 11) sees Riot, Phoenix, Revolution in that order for pool play (they’re seeds 3, 6, and 14).

Riot: Our plan – Stay loose. Play our game. Run hard. Balance intense with relaxed. Play tight D, focus on scoring b/c Ds are gonna come because we are awesome. Came out on D and got a break, Duffy to Slider. 1-0. yeah. a bit later got another break to go up 4-2. They scored a 1 possession point followed by a break to tie 4-4. Traded to 6-6, then they broke us to go 6-7. We answered by tying at 7s then breaking to take half 8-7. Slider was huge for us by being directly involved in all 3 breaks of the first half (2 goals and 1 assist). Lane had some huge catches. Riot got fired up in halftime; came out and broke us to start the 2nd half. We answered w/ 2 scores in a row to go up 10-8. They answered w/ 2 scores in a row to tie at 10s. Traded to 12s. Then… I think we got nervous and they ramped it up… suddenly it’s 12-14. We scored the next point Duffy to Lane. At 13-14, we get the disc back w/ a D by Duffy, but can’t manage to score. 13-15 final. Good game – gave our team some glimmers of the awesomeness that I know we have in us, and I think/hope everyone saw it.

[whew… point by point recap w/ stat sheets after the fact is kinda killing me. Ok. pushing forward.]

Soph flew in on the redeye after not being able to get out of a Weds afternoon exam and was w/ us from the end of the Riot game onward, which was WAY better than last year’s debacle. =) On one of her first points in during our Riot game, she got a calf cramp while pulling – heehaw.

Phoenix: let’s go overview method w/ some details. They broke us to start the game. a little later we scored 2 in a row followed by them scoring 2 in a row followed by us scoring 2 in a row… 5-4. We traded to half 8-7. They scored their first break opportunity of the 2nd half. We tied at 9s. Then they rattled off a couple points to 9-11. We got all those breaks back by scoring 3 in a row to make it 12-11. Then held serve the rest of the game to win 17-16 in overtime. What a mental toughness win for us. Even though we had some lulls, we fought them and posted an upset W over an athletic, well-coached team. Wootie and Duffy led the team in the assist column w/ 5 and 4, respectively. Diesel scored 3 goals. Walrus, Mira, and LC had 2 goals each.

RevoLOUtion: Everyone kept saying, “This team is good – don’t underestimate them.” They indeed are an athletic and D-centric team who never let up and are ready to pull out a run through or layout catch block at any time to keep their team in it. It was a bit windier conditions than earlier in the day, but not a super strong wind. Cross. They took half 7-8 w/ 2 breaks to our 1. They scored their subsequent offensive point to go up two. We answered w 2 pts in a row 9-9 then another break a bit later to go up 11-10. Then at 11s, wheels came off for both teams, and a hell point commenced. We had at least 8 turns. yikes. They ended up taking it to go up one. They scored the next point to post another break. 11-13. We got it together, scored 3 in a row to go up 14-13. They answered w/ 2 in a row and we were looking tired, overheated, and injury-ridden. They were looking a bit tired, too, but potentially more hungry and more ready to fight it out. We traded to DGP 16-16. They went break side after an unsuccessful poach by Angela; Duffy made a huge layout D attempt after having to make up ground to get to the break side. It was super close but the girl managed to make a big pressure catch in the endzone for the final goal. A heartbreaking 16-17 loss for us.

I saw Phoenix girls cheering (classy), as this put us all at 1-2 records w/ them winning the point diff at +1, us next at 0, Revo last at -1. This sent Phoenix up to the Power Pools and us down to the lower pools as the C3 but w/ a loss – a bad situation to no longer have complete control of your destiny. We were 3 pts removed from winning our pool. Instead… 2 must win Friday games and some luck needed for us to even be able to have a chance to play up. Sheesh. We had lots of moments and togetherness to be proud of for our Thursday. We stayed in our tight games and fought to the end. Our team showed up, but mistakes and losses happen.

Let’s see… other pools. Nemesis got upset by Brute in Pool A and both lost to Fury big (yawn). Scandal upset Molly Brown in a tight one to go 3-0 in the D Pool but both stayed in Power Pools. Showdown held – beat Caps but lost to Traffic – in B Pool.