Monday, August 10, 2009

2009 CUC Preview- Coed/Mixed Division


Nation,

Fresh off a trip to Seattle (Ballard area and its Locks, underground city tour, Mariners game and Tulalip outlets are highly recommended), I am working remotely from Vancouver from the week and will be dropping by nationals on Saturday/Sunday. Can't help but notice the excitement on numerous social utilities about nationals. The open crown is up in the air, as is the women's and junior title.

The Mixed division features the returning national and world champions, and a more competitive pool of teams than we possibly have ever seen. It's very easy to predict one of the teams that we will see in the finals, but the other finalist is anyone's guess.

This year's nationals carries two major prizes
-A national title
-A berth at world clubs in 2010 for at least the top three (3) clubs

Pool A
TFP (Vancouver)
2008 CUC result- 1st, Champions

Team Fisher Price (TFP) is the defending national and world mixed champions. Let me elaborate a little further... they have won the mixed national title in 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 and they haven't lost a national title they have competed in since they began. Straight from juniors to national mixed dominance.

What is really amazing is that this is such a young team still, with the majority of their talent still around the 20-25 age. Kira Frew, Brandon Wong, Jordan MacPhee, Scott Hislop, Russell Street, Andrea Cheng, Tiffany Liu and last year's MVP Kevin Cheung are just a few of the many players who have dominated so long at such a young age. Injuries and apathy seem to be their only foes.

Their gameplan appears to be quite simple- Younger than opponents, faster than their opponents, more efficenient offensively and defensively than their opponents, and more experienced winning and winning together than opponents.

Watching Ontario regionals and Quebec teams at mixed up, I would say that they better be able to cut down on the regular turnovers we see in this division, because TFP will make teams pay.

GECKO (Sherbrooke)
2008 CUC Result- 10th

Sherbrooke's A Team had a 2008 of great interest to the ultimate fan. They performed extremely well all summer in several major US and Canadian mixed tournament, and then the wheels simply fell off at nationals. The fact that this team failed to make top eight at nationals last year was shocking.

This year, the team has once again taken on a heavy summer schedule and has many results versus Canadian and American foes that can be looked at in a very positive light. My feeling is either on the cusp of a big nationals breakthrough, or is headed for another disappointment. Opponents have pointed out to me that this team has played well despite tremendous injuries, and if they can get their players back for nationals, they will be a formidable foe.

Rather than focus on particular players, I would have to focus on how great the Sherbrooke league has been in producing coed teams from its cities. It appears as through the sole focus of the city is juniors (three teams) and coed squads. It seems like there are great things coming out of Sherbrooke, and that momentum will keep going regardless of 2009 CUC results.

OUI UC (Calgary)
2008 CUC Result- Did Not Play

Sadly, a team with great leadership and promise (Bronco) is no longer a squad and won't be at CUC 2009. Sad that the leadership of Jeff Sill is missing from CUC this year.

A new team at the national level with a very limited amount of experience available to study. They have played in Hodown, Potlach, and Kelowna tournaments this summer with mixed (so punny) results.

I would not expect this team in the finals, but they may give many east teams a tough time as an unknown and unpredicatable opponent.

Wreckhouse (St John's, Newfoundland)

2008 CUC Result- Did Not Play

That's right folks. The Newfoundland invasion to nationals starts this year.

While a team full of St John's finest would be enough to make an impression on the culture and atmosphere of a nationals event, the team has decided to join forces with one of the greatest co-ed party captains of all time- Ottawa's Gavin "Zone Buster" Thompson.

Aside from any results, having a team from this province is a fantastic step for Canadian Ultimate and hopefully a sign of things to come.

Pool B
Liquid (Waterloo ON) 2008 CUC Result- 5th

Until Dockers of North Bay/Toronto becomes an entrant at nationals, Ontario's best hope for mixed glory practices out of Waterloo.

The more I talk about Andrew Higgins, the more he gets teased by his team. Luckily for him, I've seen more of his team through tournaments and online coverage and he has many teammates of both genders that help make the team the success it is. Craig Hyatt is one of these people.

I really like the fact this team has set a goal for world clubs qualification. All their tournaments (TUF, Regionals, Mixed UP and the open/womens tourneys they have gone to) have been important practice grounds for their end goal.

They lost a two point game to ONYX in the Mixed UP final and that has to be a small concern. However, if you watched the way they involve their women and execute clear clean offensive strategy, you have to be reassured this team will go far.

Pandemic (Vancouver BC) 2008 CUC Result- DNP

Who is this new team from BC you ask and why did they get such a nice seed? Well, these relative unknowns are making their first appearance at nationals this year. The scouting report on the team are that they are very young and fast.

Past results include a 3rd place finish at a Whistler tourney which I had never heard of (Alpenglow?) and a one point lost in the BC mixed regionals to TFP. Word has it that TFP was missing many good players, but a one point loss to TFP puts them in solid standing when it comes to the speculation game.

Monster (Toronto ON) 2008 CUC result- 6th

This team has shown a remarkable commitment to building a solid team through loyalty to a stable core of players for over 4 years. Last year, it seemed like this was THE team to beat out of the east going into nationals and it simply didn't happen.

Results through the summer have been decent but Liquid appears to have taken a step past them. Their website and upa site has stated for years that a 2010 berth to World Clubs was the goal, so it is finally time for the Leung brothers, Jed Henley, Stephanie Hui, and the other Monsters to make good on promise.

Polatouches (Sherbrooke QC)

Before you judge this team because it is a b program to GECKO, just remember that Sherbrooke has no open or women's teams, and thus mixed has access to all local talent. Polatouche grads such as Kevin Bosa have come to Ottawa and played in the new Men's elite league and have played very well.

Pool C
Pyschoplastique (Edmonton AB) 2008 CUC result- 3rd

I think everyone was a little surprised with Pyschoplastique's 3rd place finish last year. However, with the performance of Bostrich in 2007 (4th at CUC 2007) and the lack of a men's team and women's team, you would have to figure Edmonton would have a strong entry in Mixed and they did.

So here's the question, is Pyschoplastique ready to make it to finals this year? Hopefully they have improved and have helped a very untapped ultimate market in this country.

ONYX- (Quebec City QC) 2008 CUC Result- 2nd

Last year, ONYX was built on former open players and some solid females with the hopes of winning national gold. For a first year team, everthing went according to plan until TFP came in the finals. I watched that finals, and it's like TFP and the windy conditions hit this team like a big truck! They were not the team that looked so strong all year long.

Good teams learn from experiences and ONYX is no exception. Their leaders realized they needed to go out and recruit to shore up the team, and as a result added pieces to be ready for the war of attrition that is the summer season and three-four day national tourney. The goal was to have three full lines of men and women. Unfortunelty, ONYX (and Sherbrooke rivals Gecko) have been very seriously hit with major injuries this seasons and their big rosters have been dwindled.

One more year of experience and loaded with talent, ONYX enters CUC 2009 with a strong roster and high hopes. The team was built with a focus on height, speed, defense, handling and intensity. Challengers beware!

Mayhem (Hamilton, ON) 2008 CUC result: 8th

At first I have to admit I was not excited about this team's chances this year. I ddn't hear much from this team all year, and they were absent from both the Montreal and Ottawa mixed events. However, when I did my proverbial homework I found that this team had a very strong Ontario regionals and played very close to the two main Ontario rivals- Monster and Liquid.

Don't be suprised if this team makes a quarters appearance on Saturday. Darkhorse quarters pick!

Discraceful (North Bay, On)
2008 CUC Result: DNP

If you don't know, North Bay is one of the biggest overachieving ultimate frisbee towns in the nation. Kids simply play frisbee in this small city and they simply are "good at ultimate", meaning they show up in other towns and colleges and have the field sense and atheltic savvy you have to teach other people for a long time.

This new team is lead by Norah Larsh and I can honestly say from my experiences at Western the lady has proven she can lead a team of all types. If she is able to get some of the North Bay talent I have heard might be on this team to Winnipeg and on the field, they will be a tough opponent.

Pool D
RIP (Montreal, QC)
2008 CUC Result- 4th


I can't think of anything tougher in sport than finishing fourth at nationals. RIP had to experience that very fate last year.

Montreal seems to have merged some of their coed teams into a more concentrated effort this year. RIP is now clearly the A team in Montreal and they are clearly focused on a better result in 2009.

I've already discussed the strengths (many) and weaknesses (few but clearly apparent as it relates to facing TFP) of this team from the Mixed Up review, and it's simply show time.


Chaos (Winnipeg, MB)
2008 CUC Result- DNP

It's hard to believe that it was 2003 (6 years ago) when I saw this very team from this very town win the right to represent Canada at the 2004. Times have changed, and the home town team will be hard pressed to repeat that magic.

For a team with such a history, we don't know much about them given their small summer schedule of tournaments. Outside of the MUDI tournament and a couple close matches versus UPA finalist Chad Larson Experience, this team has not been seen.

Tundra (Toronto, On) 2008 CUC Result- 12th

To me, it looks like Tundra and fellow Toronto team Monster are at a much more even basis than last year. I feel bad for their seed, but I think the opportunity for day 2 success and seed is is up for grabs. They beat RIP a mere two weeks ago, and Chaos is unknown.

I can't name all of their team, but I saw many good things out of Craig Froats, Connie Lee, Neil Griffith, Faizal Jaffer and Eric Lau.

A real gem that this team has is Erin "Doctor" Dahlke. Dahlke is a left handed strike talent that has many promising things about her game. She's a relative unknown, she can catch almost anything, and if Tundra has done their job in helping her adapt to comp play, she creates a mismatch for her team's offense. If you don't believe me just watch her get open and play aggresively in lane traffic.

Bytown Flatball Club (Ottawa, On) 2008 CUC Result- 13th

Last year, BFC fell from 2nd to 13th at CUC. This happened despite the fact that some very talented players were added late in the season (let's think of them as playoff rentals if you will). Things didn't click, and the performance suffered. It usually does at a high level.

This year, the team took a roster with less big names that was consistent throughout the year. I think this is a better receipe for success both short term and long term. If players are added, they will be more complimentary additions and shouldn't take away much time from the core group.

When people get excited about this team, they focus talk on Damian Kwok, who has been a D line for the majority of the season. Also Thom Fergusson brings intensity and non stop effort on defence that many teams could learn from.

18 comments:

andysiy said...

yaa pannnddeeemiicc!!!

higy said...

H2O

Batch said...

Bostrich was from Vancouver, not Edmonton.

BC said...

Nice Analysis. Yeah Tundra. Going to be a very interesting year. Lot of parity from 2-12. Looking forward to it.

Sill said...

I'll miss you too buddy and thanks for the shout out!

Big Smooth said...

Now imagine the good players on these teams weren't total sacks and played in the Open division. I mean seriously, does anyone actually care what happens in co-ed?

T1000 said...

You do realize that Mixed ultimate is played more often by more people than any other division, right? Considering its popularity, I believe it is safe to say that there are people who care on the outcome.

Ryan said...

Senior citizens play more Cribbage than any other age demographic. Considering its popularity, it is safe to say that no one gives a shit about the Senior Citizen Cribbage Championships.

westwell said...

I'm going to SC3.

Sonia said...

I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that Chaos will make a big run. They keep coming into Nats underranked and teams keep taking them lightly. Depending on who is on the roster, this team could upset a lot of favourites.

T1000 said...

I just saw the Senior Crib Championships on ESPN. The winner looked pretty pumped about it.

Sport Management Steven said...

I only watch SC3 unless it's in HD!!!

There are many issues and characters about mixed at the comp level that we all dislike. But to say it's not valuable or of note to the fan is not true.

When I post a mixed post.. a lot of people visit according to google analytics!

Yaacov said...

Thanks for the preview, Stephen.

I really wish I could play Open instead of Mixed though. That way I'd be in a division where people care so much about the outcome that the two best teams in the country don't even show up.

Also it's Pol*a*touches.

Thanks!

Darren said...

Well said Yaac.

Sport Management Steven said...

Yaacov,

Thanks for the note and the typo point out. I've been a little pressed to enjoy my trip out west, do real work and get the previews out. Typos are the result.

BTW, name is Steven, not Stephen.

redcock said...

so co-ed is a joke right?

Big Smooth said...

Yaacov,
That really is a good point. Furious and GOAT have made Open a bit of a joke division too, but all things being equal, I'm just making sure everyone understands that co-ed teams are filled with the players that got cut from the Open teams. And if you've chosen to play co-ed without even trying for an Open spot, well you've basically just given up on Ultimate altogether. And that's cool and all. Just don't pretend it's something else.

Redcock basically sums it up in 6 words. Well put.

Good luck out there everyone. I hear it's pretty hot in Winnipeg.

Yaacov said...

Steven, apologies for the typo.

Trolls, good luck in your division.