Monday, April 27, 2015

Men's South Central Regionals 2015 - Colorado State

Colorado State Hibida entered this year's regionals as a five seed, much to the chagrin of the reddit trolls. Mizzou's upset at the hands of Wash-U at their conference champs knocked them down to a seven seed; with their head-to-head win against us at Huck Finn not giving the Ozark conference enough weight to bump both Mizzou and Wash-U above us in the seedings.

For anyone who would still like to complain, I would like to make it clear that in no way did we lobby for the seed; we wouldn't have cared had we be the seven instead of the five. We employ the "whoever is in front us, is fine by us" mentality.

With the triple-elimination(ish) bracket-format at regionals, the five seed put us on the side of the bracket with both Colorado College and Colorado, which meant a replay of our conference championships if everything went to seed in the first round.

Overall, we didn't expect to play flawless offense going into the weekend given the inexperience of our young but athletic squad. We instead were counting on our stout defense and athletic play-making ability to cover-up some of the fundamental flaws we had on the offensive side of the disc.


Our first game was against Texas Christian High Noon, a team I had zero experience coaching or playing against. We watched some film of the from their conference tournament after seedings were finalized, identified a couple of their main throwers, and went into the game with a solid game-plan: heavy pressure on their resets.

They had a couple of good players and employed some good bump-oriented offense, but they looked jittery in the first half against us, with a lot of unforced errors and loose defense. We came out strong and turned their sloppy play into an easy 7-2 half.

In the second half High Noon lost the jitters and battled back, breaking our offense a couple times and playing significantly cleaner on both sides of the disc. They brought the game back to 9-8, before we put them away, scoring four of the final five goals en route to a 13-9 win capped off with a monster layout catch from all-freshmen candidate Jack Hinchsliff for the game winner.

Our quick game gave us a chance to swap sidelines and watch the end of the Colorado College/Houston game, which was still going on and was surprisingly close. We cheered on our local brethren as they closed out with a couple of breaks to beat a scrappy Houston team 13-11.

We were glad to have another chance to play CC. They had beaten us in the finals of Trouble in Vegas on universe point. They had put together an awesome game at conferences and crushed us 13-8. We were ready for a chance to redeem ourselves.

We had planned some specific disruption D for the first several points I thought would give us some early break opportunities and when we won the flip we quickly chose to pull.

The first point we settled on with a 2-3-1 zone with all-region candidate Cody Spicer playing hard person-defense on specific handlers in the CC backfield as the 7th member.

The first possession, CC looked frustrated and forced a hammer over the top giving first year David Miller, a nice layout D. We reset off the sideline then forced a huck into double coverage giving the disc back to CC near their endzone.

We settled back into our 2-3-1 and CC again struggled to advance the disc, moving further backwards into their endzone. Sten Larson, the 6'4 anchor of our cup, got a tip on a swing pass then layed-out to catch the disc for the callahan.

We continued throwing our zone for a couple more points, with CC getting more patient, clearing the covered handlers out of the back-field and finding holes in our front and mid-lines.

Defensively, they came out in their own zone look: a very solid 3-3-1 force-middle. Our O-line struggled mightily, throwing significant numbers of passes several points in a row, but not being able to punch the disc in effectively. We didn't have the over-the-top throws to break the zone open (there was almost no wind), and every point was a grueling series of 5-7 yard swings.

They ended up getting the break back on an incredible goal-line stand where we swung the disc 7+ times across the field, unable to find a hole in their zone for the last five yards for the score, before finally forcing a throw around the sideline out of bounds.

We traded points for the rest of the half, ending 6-7, back on serve.

The second half was much of the same: we struggled to score our offensive possessions, unable to consistently beat their zone. Our defense got us two more breaks, but the O gave up three more for an 11-9 final.

This dropped us out of the first place bracket into a game against Texas State who had eliminated St. Louis University from contention in their previous game.

Texas State had a small squad and seemed a bit gassed. They had one stand-out player, but his supporting cast couldn't keep up with our legs and athleticism and we cruised to a 7-4 half and a 13-6 victory. This left us awaiting the winner of the Baylor/Arkansas game, which ended capped with Baylor on top 10-7.

We had assumed this would be our last game of the day (as was on the schedule), and given our significant numbers advantage, our pre-game huddle was focused on winning the game with our legs. My exact quote in the huddle was "I don't care if we go down 0-5 as long as we're running them into the ground; we'll win the attrition battle."

Be careful what you wish for, because Baylor came out extremely strong, steamrolling out to a 4-0 lead behind some very athletic defense and nice hucks to complete the breaks. We took a time-out and re-focused. We adjusted our defense, putting Cody on their main handler (#10) and I don't believe he touched the disc the rest of the game. Without a key cog of their offense Baylor struggled and we scored four of the next five to tie the game at 5s, then traded out to half, down 6-7 but back on serve.

In the second half, our defense clamped down further and we didn't allow a Baylor score, finishing the game 10-7 at cap.

Jeff Berget, the TD, had mentioned we may have to tack on an extra round Saturday afternoon to avoid weather Sunday, so I jogged over to tourney central to check, and sure enough we had another game (our fifth in a row!) against Texas on the docket. I brought the news back to the team and much to the guys credit, nobody grumbled a word; we just picked up our stuff and headed across the complex, pumped to play another quality game.

By the point in the afternoon the wind was picking up. It wasn't enough to make the game up-wind/down-wind, but certainly enough to be a factor. We won the flip and chose the upwind endzone. Chase Cunningham deferred their decision to Coach Calvin Lin who curiously chose to receive (I assume he was anticipating that we would be in the same upwind situation out of half).

We came out strong. Texas lived up to their reputation as a big hucking team, but our force-middle defense, coupled with the stout breeze, limited their deep looks and after a quick turn we easily punched in the first break.

We then traded points to 3-3 but on the next offensive point we had a deep turn and Texas broke us on a beautiful break-mark huck from Chase Cunningham, giving them the lead 3-4.

We scored our subsequent O point, then got our break back on a huge sky from big man Andrew Spada (playing in only his third tournament ever!) on a huck from all-freshmen candidate Jake Servaty.

After that point, Jake came out and told me he was feeling stress pains in his leg; a leg he had broken at YCC the year before. After a brief discussion with the trainer we decided it would safest for Jake to take his cleats off to avoid re-injuring the leg.

We traded out points to half, up 7-6 and receiving in the second half. At this point the wind had completely died (sorry Calvin, in Colorado you can't count in the weather to do anything consistent). However, Texas came out clearly emphasizing more defensive pressure on our resets. Cody was forced to put a high-stall huck out to second year Mark Stratford which came up just short on a nice defensive play from #13 on Texas and lead to a Texas break tying the game at 7-7.

We traded to 8s, but then the scouting report must have reached Calvin and Texas did what I had been fearing the entire game:

We finally punched in an O point and got a break after Cody shut Chase down on a handler cut, but the damage had been done. We traded out the rest of the game, forcing a turn at 11-12, but not being able to beat their zone to complete the break, final score: 11-13.

The best subplot of this game was definitely watching the Cody/Chase match-up. It was a battle from start to finish and it was pretty clear by the end that Chase was getting frustrated by the high-pressure defense he was getting on every cut he made.

Big props still have to go out to him for carrying his team to the win: a very clear-cut all-region player and absolute monster thrower.

Despite the loss, we were happy to be one of six teams still playing games Sunday morning, that third nationals bid still on the table.


Sunday morning the rain was already kicking up as we got the fields at 6:55 for warmups. We got a lot of throws in and prepped for what we knew would be a tough game against Wash U Contra.

They came out clean, effortlessly scoring their first O point then setting a 2-3-2 zone on ours. Luckily, that is one zone we're relatively decent against. Unluckily, this was when we decided it was finally time to put something over the top, and Alex Antrum got an amazing layout D on our early hammer, leading to a break.

This was the story of the first half: they made huge play after huge play. I have to give them credit: they had throwers who had absolutely no fear of throwing hammers and blades and their receivers came down with everything, even in heavy rain. Several of them were wearing gloves and our St. Louis native, Luke Doyle, mentioned that this was the kind of weather they were used to all the time out in Missouri.

The first half was gruesome. They looked like they outclassed us. They looked like they were going to stomp to a 13-4 or 13-5 win. We were down three breaks at half and had no wind in our sails.

We had struggled all tournament to score our O points and were receiving to start the second half. I told the O-line that all we needed was to get this first point out of half and get the D on the field.

Upperclassmen Luke Doyle and Scott Wheeler answered the call, taking the reigns of the offense and storming straight down the field for a quick, efficient score, attacking the line ruthlessly from behind the disc.

We got two breaks immediately after that point, slowing the big-play Wash U offense with more disciplined marking, closing the gap and making it 6-7. They scored their next offensive point and again we struggled with ours, giving up another break 6-9. The next point we turned it on a line throw and they immediately put out a 50+ yard line-drive hammer that Antrum made an unbelievable layout catch on: 6-10.

We swapped some personnel and scored the next O point getting our D back on the field.

A big sky from Contra on the subsequent point put us right back where we didn't want to be: receiving the pull (weird, I know). They broke us yet again, shutting down our resets and forcing a floaty huck for the turn. They were uncharacteristically patient on offense and calmly walked down the field for the score 7-12.

Again, I asked for one clean point: punch it in, and get the D back on the field. Again, Scott and Luke took over, attacking the line over and over before Luke hit Scott with a big line throw for the score. We took a timeout with the score 8-12, game to 13. We grouped up, arm in arm, and looked around the huddle. I told the guys to play each point like it was their last (the guys didn't know the score, they never do, but they knew it was close to over).

We set up a line that was six first years and our only graduating senior, Logan Stagg. A huge poach, layout D from David Miller led to a break: 9-12.

We swapped out the other six guys around Logan for the next point and Cody got a big layout D on an under which again led to a break: 10-12.

We swapped out the six guys around Logan a third time. Wash-U had an uncharacteristic drop which we turned into yet another break: 11-12 with the soft-cap horn sounding.

Logan took a sub and we set up another D line, the electricity on the field was palpable. We got a game saving D in the endzone on a Contra break throw followed by a falling-down football-style catch by Sten for the break: 12-12.

We got Logan back on the field and assistant Coach Popp set up another supporting crew for him. As we had been the whole game, we stuck with our force-middle scheme and emphasized marking angles. We had a deep pull and Contra swung it to the backhand sideline with our marker settling on flat. Their lefty-handler wound up for a big backhand and the mark shifted inside to stop the huck; the throw still came off but the mark had done just enough to force it low. Logan layed out and smacked the disc down for the clean turn.

Cody took off deep and the huck went up, but it had a bit of an outside edge and was trailing away from him as he ran. The outside-edge proved too much and his bid was just short.

We ended up getting the disc back on a Contra huck turn, but a miscommunication on a handler cut led to a swing pass thrown out to nobody in our endzone, which Wash-U ran out for the easy callahan and their first point in close to 25 minutes: 12-13.

Hard cap wasn't on yet, so the game was still win by two. We still had a shot, but it was going to have to involve an O point. We received the pull and an uncharacteristic mental lapse from captain Noah Brown led to a stall 9 floater which Contra went up and D'd. They had a short field and went for the win on a blading, lefty forehand which Noah got a hand on. Foul called. No contest.

They walked the disc out to the goal line and their primary defensive handler Evan Karson attacked up the line with Andrew Spada on him. The throw went up and Spada accelerated, smacking the disc out of bounds. Celebrations were cut short: a foul was called on what appeared to be minimal contact. The disc was sent back and after a swing, Karson again attacked up the line for the clean score and win.

Congratulations to Wash U for a well-fought victory. They're always a pleasure to play against and they really brought it all of Sunday, taking Texas to the brink for that third bid.

The loss left us with a 6th place finish overall. We were disappointed in the loss but very proud of our season. We knew our strengths and our weaknesses and the wonderful part about having a young, athletic team is there's plenty of time to figure out the harder parts of ultimate offense.

Great season Hib!

1 comment:

  1. Tim, I want to thank you for all the time, energy, and passion that you invest into CSU Ultimate. As a parent, it is hard to see your kids grow up and move away to college. Especially when that college is a couple states away! After meeting and getting to know you, it made that a little easier for us. This first year as Hibida fans has been a great experience for our family, from meeting all the talented players and watching the team compete to the putting up with us at tourneys. You guys played with a lot of heart and have improved throughout the spring. I am really proud of what Hibida has accomplished in 2015! I can’t wait to see what you guys are able to do next year! The South Central Region better keep an eye out for CSU in 2016! –the Servaty’s