I was a pup of 30, fresh off my first Nationals title, and the world was my oyster. In the semis, our team had finally gutted out a victory over a NY team, overcoming several deficits and an absolutely gut-wrenching final point (I could not even stand up watching it, especially as they moved the disc up to within 20 yards of the goal and then back behind midfield; even as I type this, I am choking up). Double never stood a chance in the final (ok, they went up 1-0 after their only break and only upwinder of the game, but after that, forget it). We went in 1995 trying to duplicate the fun cockiness and carefree attitude that characterized the whole 1994 year.
It didn't work that well. As you can see here, we lost more big games than we won. We lost in the finals at Worlds in our only close contest of the tournament. Indifference continued through the fall, culminating in a 17-6 drubbing to Cojones (NY) in the rain and wind at Regionals. This, surely, would be a wakup call. Not really. Practices continued to be uninspired. Only Jordan Haskell was confident in us, predicting that we'd win "going away." I thought that a pool play exit was well within the realm of possibilities.
Something happened to us in three days. Maybe it was the flight delays (we got to the hotel at about 3:30, although in those days Nationals was still only 12 teams and 2 games on Day 1 and ours started at 10:30), maybe it was Billy more or less calling us a bunch of heartless quitters at the last practice, or maybe we were right all along that we could just turn it on. Day 1 brought Chain Lightning, which was on its longest Nationals winning streak in 5 years (ok, it was only 1 game, but still). We came out on fire, committing very few turnovers, and pasted them 19-11 (the Ultimate history book might be incorrect on this game, as Leonardo may have erroneously called it "close", but he's not so good on facts sometimes). I knew after the first point that we were back, and had as good a chance as anyone. Next was the game against Double Happiness. Both teams were assessed a point because Double kept huddling after the starting horn and we just kinda watched them instead of assessing points ourselves. It was a close game, but we had only 8 turnovers and won 18-15.
Day 2 was uneventful, with wins over the lower seeds, meaning we had clinched first place and a probable matchup with NY, which had lost to Sockeye but beat the Port City Slickers badly. Sockeye and PCS matched up Saturday morning, with PCS needing to win by 4 or 5 to make it. They lost by 1. Meanwhile, we played San Diego, and had some troubles along the way, but buoyed by a three point "no pass zone" D (three straight first pass turnovers and breaks to start the second half), we pulled away. I had wanted to take it easy this game and rest up a bit for the semis, but we had only 19 and needed everyone (plus I was one of the young guys then). I remember ripping my shirt off in anger and walking off the field after one swilly pass I made.
This swilliness on my part continued at the beginning of the semis, but then stopped. Reminiscent of the previous year's semis, this game was back and forth through the first half. But magic was on our side, and we completed something like 9 our of 10 hucks that game, as our throwers made throws and our receivers made catches that mattered. Mooney went out with a concussion, then came back in at 20-17 after Coop faked an injury after a turnover. I threw a breakmark pass over Kenny D's mark for the goal (he immediately said "nice throw" or "nice game", even before it was caught). Again, I could hardly speak afterwards. The infamous Mike G, whom I had defended on rsd and who had been a source of controversy at the tournament, tried to introduce himself and talk, but I couldn't complete a sentence because I was still overwhelmed with emotion. Yay us. Meanwhile, Sockeye and Double had what might have been considered one of the great games of all time if it hadn't been opposite ours (and who knows, maybe it actually was a better game), and so Sockeye would be our opponent.
To be steamrollered. We started on O. As would happen all day, I was the Man, the evil Josh Faust was covering me, and I got open by 10 with the force. I zipped a scoober over his head (I'm really not sure what I was thinking throwing a pass like that on my first pass of the finals, but I was so keyed in and I knew it that I just felt that every decision I could make that day was going to be the right one), we moved it down for the goal, and the rout was on. Their last chance was at 6-3, but then turned it unforced, we got another break, and from then on it was just a matter of time. The final tally: 21-10, 3 turnovers (although none of us had any idea that we were that efficient until one of the UPA staff with access to the stats pointed it out to us at the party). For me, this is the tournament and the game that I would like to have my whole career judged by (with an asterisk for the 1997 semis against Ring). Everything just felt so right, and I felt it even during the warmup. I felt that way again on Saturday at 2002 Nationals, when we knocked off the Condors in the quarters then had that epic semis against Furious (3 turns for us, 2 for them). There is nothing to compare to that feeling.
Maybe I got one of those games left.