Friday, March 14, 2014

Trouble In Vegas - 2014

Trouble in Vegas is a tournament that started in 2006. In its early years, it was easily the biggest and most competitive college tournament of the spring season, and Colorado State attended every year from 2006-2011. After a couple of big rain outs and some internal issues within the organization that put the tournament together, it came to end. It was quickly resurrected as a much smaller, far less competitive tournament that went under the radar for a lot of schools (We didn't even know it was still going on for a couple of years).

Anyway, given the turbulent weather in the Midwest, we decided to make our triumphant return to Vegas after a three year hiatus. We rolled in around 8pm on Friday night and after picking up a couple stragglers from the airport, settled in to our hotel to get some sleep for the 8:30 start time Saturday morning. 

For anyone who hasn't been to Vegas, the field complex is enormous, but the fields tend to be dry, hard and dusty. This year, a rainstorm the day before had softened the fields up nicely. The only issue we ran into was a broken bottle on our field, which I spent the first 30 minutes cleaning up, then placed a broken down cardboard box over. Not the best solution, but better than nothing. 

We were the one seed in our pool, which included George Washington as the two, Santa Clara as the three and Arizona-B as the four. The top two seeds from each pool would advance to championship pre-quarters, while the bottom seeds would battle it out in placement brackets. 

Our first game of the tournament pitted us against Santa Clara. They won the flip and elected to take defense. Our offense came storming out of the game with a crisp, flawless point that concluded with an easy score to Hollywood. Our starting D-line for this tournament consisted of fourth year lefty handler Oliver Feind, second year Easton Archibald and five freshmen. Despite the lack of experience, they played stifling defense, forcing turns on every single offensive point for Santa Clara. However, that lack of experience made completing the break difficult, and while we did force a lot of turns, we only were able to secure two breaks by half, leaving us with only a 7-4 lead. 

In the second half, our offense, which didn't have a turn in the first half, got a little bit sloppier and a couple of miscommunications on deep looks and a drop led to a Santa Clara break. The defense continued to force turns on practically every point, but continued to struggle offensively. We finished the game out 13-11. Despite the close final, I never felt pressured to sub O players in on D, rather electing to allow the young guys to work out their offensive issues.

The second game of the day was against a young, small Arizona-B squad. Their A-team had trounced us pretty badly at the Santa Barbara Invite several weeks before, so we had motivation to come out with a lot of intensity even against their younger guys. The game itself wasn't very exciting. We were able to practice our 3-3-1 contain zone a bit, as well as shore up the man defense and work on completing the breaks. The highlights of the game were Hollywood taking half with a Callahan and Wheels finishing the game with a Callahan. The final was 13-3. 

Our final game of pool play was against George Washington. Both teams entered the game 2-0. I can't confirm completely, but GW had one stud who I guessed to be Chris Kocher from NexGen. However, I don't know faces well enough, and I had thought he'd graduated. The game was contested early on with a quick break from us to open things up, but a break back from GW before half would put everyone back on serve with us leading 7-6. The downfield defense on our end was stifling and GW often had to reset the disc 3-4 times before getting a breakmark look downfield. But behind Kocher's (?) extremely patient play, they were eventually able to find open men and punch in scores.

The second half their defense ramped up and our defense struggled offensively as we had against Santa Clara. They broke our offense three times, and we weren't able to break them in the second half, allowing them to run away with the game 13-10.

This was a disheartening loss, but still left us in the championship bracket. After a bye round we traveled across the field complex to play Cal State - Fullerton with a quarter-finals berth on the line. They ran an H-stack with a lot of people very close to the disc. This allowed our tight man defense to smother them most of the first half, but the offensive struggles continued for the D-line and we only took half 7-4.

In the second half, their spacing improved and they managed to break our O-line a couple of times to make it a better game. But we closed the game out with some experienced D lines to score the final three after being down 11-12; winning 14-12.

Saturday night I battled horrible tech support people for the hotel wifi (100% useless for half the team), and Sunday morning we got the fields for our quarterfinals game against Claremont. We opened the game with a break, and took the early lead, but our offense sputtered and we gave the break back midway through the half. Senior handler Oliver Feind went out with a bad ankle sprain midway through the first half as well and 5th year captain Matt Marrapode had knee locking issues from the previous day. We ended up finishing the half on serve, 7-6. In the second half their defense really started ramping up, and coupling that with our tendency to stare downfield and ignore our resets (especially in the red-zone) they took the game 10-13.

This bumped us down in to the 5th place bracket game against Occidental, who had been eliminated by San Diego State in their quarterfinals matchup. They were a very huck-oriented team, with good disc movement and bumps. Their one big athlete downfield scored 4-5 of their first six goals deep fairly easily before our defense clamped down on him. Offensively we struggled a bit as our handler depth had dipped due to the previous injuries and fatigue from the weekend left our remaining throwers making a lot of poor decisions.

We were down at half 5-7 and we had lost our top defender when Scott Wheeler went down with a hamstring strain on a big defensive bid. We shook off the mistakes and injuries in our half-time huddle and rallied around high energy play from our first and second years and a commitment to our resets from the older players. Our defense clamped down on their hucking game (first year Noah Budd absolutely shut down their main deep threat), and we did much better in the second half, taking the game 14-13 at hard cap.

The game for 5th place was against a well-rested Utah State team who had gotten to the game via a forfeit from an exhausted, injured Montana squad. Utah State had some big-play guys down field, but our first years stepped up to the challenge and the game was hotly contested game from the start. I was proud of the guys for not losing any intensity after the close win against Occidental, and we ended the first half on serve 6-7. However, we lost both Jordan Trepp to a left shoulder injury and Noah Brown to a knee issue after a big collision on a poach D. This left us with senior Stephen Gross (callahan nominee) as our only significantly experienced thrower.

Despite that, the young guys played absolutely fantastic throughout the entire game battling hard with Utah State. The game ended up with USU on top 13-12 in a hard fought, spirited game. A loss was tough to stomach, but I was very proud of our young players, especially the guys that stepped up into a handler role, never having done so in a tournament setting.

This left us with a final 6th place finish out of 33 open teams there. We did our tournament wrap up and props circle and hurried into the vans to stay ahead of the weather, which we miraculously did. Next tournament: The Rocky Mountain Invitational March 29th and 30th.


  1. You got that Callahan nom in before the deadline, right?