Well, I guess we need to buy shirts, shorts, and numbers.
First, the streaks. 12 Regional titles in a row (and 15 of 16), covering about 50 games (can't be bothered to look it up right now). 16 Nationals appearances in a row (and 18 of 19). 14th in a row with a team called "DoG". 24th straight Regionals appearance, 25th straight UPA series appearance.
The tournament went better than expected. As I mentioned on rsd, no one had bought his ticket to Sarasota prior to the tournament. There were three teams of roughly equal caliber (plus two teams that weren't as competitive) and two spots to Nationals. the format was full round robin on Saturday and modified clipped elimination on Sunday (1 plays 2 for 1st, 3 plays 4 to be eliminated, loser and winner play for 2nd spot to Nationals). It's version 5.1.2.A.chi, I think, in the handbook.
First round is at 8:30. We have 38 names on our mailing list, about 35 on the roster, and somewhere between 25 and 30 who are actually playing. We hadn't had anything close to a full team in our prior five tournaments, and as is typical of a Masters team, introductions were done at the beginning of Regionals. People are still strolling in at 8:30, or 9 for that matter (one player was at the Sox game the night before which didn't end until 1), but we still have plenty. We roll over Mt. Crushmore 15-4.
Next up is Tombstone, the #2 seed. They could easily have been the #1 seed, or the #3 seed. They are purported to be a merger of Tombstone, which won Canadian Nationals a couple months ago, and GLUM, which finished 2nd at CanNats and won the NE Region last year, finishing 5th at Nationals, but word is that they are bringing a small squad because of Canadian Thanksgiving. I develop an immediate dislike on the first point for one of their players who mauls me a couple times (not violently, just hackingly) while playing poor defense, then tapping the disc back in quickly and silently. The game is close through the first half, but we pull away. Mooney convinces Alex to withdraw a foul call, thus leading to a discussion after the game of the many, many, many times that Steve has handed the disc to the other team. (Most notable was in pool play at 1996 Worlds, where a pick call on double game point just prior to a huck was somehow overruled by Moons, and we lost right then and there. I know one player who is still livid about that. But this led directly to another story of a double game point call. At pool play at Nationals in 1998, a Condor caught a scoober very close to the line in the end zone. (Two videotapes from cameras right next to each other provided conclusive but contradictory evidence on whether he was in.) Discussion ensued, I saw Mooney saunter over to hand the game away, and I say to him, "Steve, don't say another word." He backs away, the disc eventually goes back, same pass is thrown and is OB, we move it upwind for the win. With the wind as strong as it was and the disc where it was after it was sent back, I'd have to guess that the Condors would still expect to win in excess of 95% of the time.) We stretch it out to a 5 goal win, which gives us a lot of breathing room in the event of a 3 way tie.
Next up is Above and Beyond, the other team that could have been seeded anywhere from 1-3 (their biggest claim is that they made semis at Nats last year and are the only of the three teams who played in the series last year as the same team). It's our second tough game in a row, but at least one of the three had to play back-to-back (given that none of the tough games were in the first round), and even though we were the top seed and thus in line for the favorable schedule, it wasn't really an earned first seed so we sucked it up. Similar pattern to the first game, close for the first half, then we pulled away, this time winning 15-11. A&B may have realized that point differential wasn't going to come into play if they lost, and even if they won, they would still need to win or keep it close against Tombstone in order to finish top two, so perhaps they conceded at some point. I noticed that Arnold and I were rarely on the field at the same time, which was a surprise since he so often covers me. I've come to really enjoy playing against him because it's always a battle, and though it was easier with others on me, I was disappointed.
We then had a bye, followed by a final game against Not Dead Yet, a team which plays in the local club league. I played one point only and was on the field for only about 15 seconds, which was enough for me to make the Man cut and huck the goal.
I had only two turnovers on the day, a drop on a stupid hammer and a breakmark flick to the middle of the field. (The hammer should have been the fourth straight O point goal for us that came off a hammer or blade to me, only two of them from Alex.) I went up well twice. I was embarrassingly bad at jump balls last year and possibly the year before. In my defense, it always seemed that I had to wait an excruciatingly long time for those and thus had to jump flat-footed against a young defender coming in at full speed. I once again found myself playing almost exclusively O points after playing both ways all year. But it seems like we have a fairly deep (though less star-laden, even if the names are the same) roster this year, and the tournaments are long, so I can deal. I think I will play some D points as needed at Nationals, but generally will stick to O.
So, we were set up for two shots at making Nationals. Finals are at 10:45, though we tell everyone 10:30 (but still people saunter in; having a local tournament is great and was definitely an advantage, but players try to maintain a semblance of normal life and so are more likely to skip out on parts of the weekend). And what a difference for the weather. Saturday was hot, probably in the 80s and with a lot of sun, but it's in the 50s with some wetness and more wind than the day before. We pull to start the game and are up 4-2 with several chances to add another. There is an injury after one of their turnovers, and I am called in for O. I expect to be the first cutter, but someone else goes first, unsuccessfully. I fill but the pass is behind me and it goes through my hands. A few passes later, the mark is broken and my guy catches the continuation for the goal. Well, that was an excellent 30 seconds of ultimate. Next point, I throw an open side pass several yards behind the receiver, and we are broken for the tie. I take myself out. At 7-5, receiving for the half, we become embroiled in a hell point. I have one turnover that point, a pass similar to the potential game-ender that Goat would later have in the Open finals, and another pass that was not caught (I think it was mostly a drop, but it wasn't a perfect throw), but I continue to work hard, cutting deep at least twice, and am about to cut to the end zone a third timebut see Mooney streaking that way, so I do a highly effective stand still and act like I'm about to cut, and the thrower hits Steve for the goal.
Somewhere in the first half, I have one of my trademark triple-bobble catches. The field had a lot of bare spots in the middle, and as I cut for a simple dump, I trip. I get a hand on it to keep it alive, maybe the defender hits it once or twice, but by the third or fourth contact I have in under control even though I am still on the ground, and snag it.
At halftime, especially with us receiving, they apparently decide to open up the bench in order to prep for the backdoor game. They score only twice more and we can begin our (dry, unfortunately) celebration.
It was terrific and even a little bit emotional to win with this crew. We have about a dozen of the old DoG plus several others who have been around the block, but also several players for whom this will be their first trip to Nationals, and I'm happy for them, more than I was happy for my 23 year old teammates in previous years (nothing against them personally, just that 23 year olds generally haven't been around the game long enough to truly appreciate it). And though we didn't win by less than 4, I never had the feeling that playing the games was just a formality, as was so often the case in recent years, where our typical chances of making Nationals were well over 99%.
So, one $450 plane ticket later, I am on my way to Sarasota. At some point, Alex and I realized we have to contact Joe Seidler so he can update his Hall of Records. Yeah, addendum!