Tuesday, October 27, 2009

UPA Finals 2009- Open Preview- Pool D


Results will be posted here

Pool D
  • Sockeye
  • Johnny Bravo
  • Madison Club
  • Machine
Sockeye (24-4) was UPA champions as recently as 2007 and represented Team USA at Worlds in 2008. In 2007 I wondered if Sockeye would dominate for 5-10 years based on the quality of their roster and the stars who were hitting their prime. Now we wonder if they can return to their almost invincible status.

As always, Sockeye is very open to provide information and captain Ben Wiggins provides the following review of his squad.

This is the youngest Sockeye team, maybe ever. We retired 5 players, we have 6 rookies, and a large part of our team is built around very young players, so it is going to be fun to see what we can do. We lost Nord and Fleming to season ending injuries, and we lost CK to med school (he's been to one practice this year, but he is a star and we hope he'll be able to gel quickly in Sarasota).

Our expectation is to play our best when it matters most, to bring energy on every point from the sideline, and to play together. Everything else is beyond our control.

We did a lot of intra-team scrimmaging at Sectionals, and none of our games were very tight. Even in our good games against Voodoo and Furious, they didn't have a lot of motivation to expend energy or use strategies that they wanted to keep hidden for Regionals. Regionals was all about making it to the show. Anyone could fall out, even a great team like Furious, so we were focused on getting to the final as our #1 priority. I'm sure Revolver was thinking the same thing; keep the season going and get to Florida. We were a little extra worried because the flu ran through the team in the week leading up to the tournament, but some of our younger and newer players rose up to really excel, especially in the Regional final.

Who do we want to face? Same opponent, every game. Guys in shirts, trying to keep us from outdoing our previous best game. The level of play is so deep, there are legitimately 10-12 teams that could win the whole thing without surprising me, that it is just about getting hot at the right time and overcoming another hot team. Psyched to play Bravo in pool play, we always have great games at Nationals, and then everything else is just gravy.

Key Players to watch on our team?-It's a team mentality, so you'll infrequently see someone on Sockeye throw 4 hucks in one game or score 6+ goals...but watch for guys on our D-team to blow up and have the kind of multi-block games that Skip, Blaine, Nord, etc have had in the past that have pushed us over the top in bracket play. Our new D-guys this year are Tyler Kinley, Spencer Wallis, and Eddie Feeley, all of whom have good Nationals experience with other teams.

Johnny Bravo of Boulder (28-9) has been on the doorstep of a championship for some time. Despite losing several great players to other teams in the off season, Bravo is still an elite team that has beaten some of the very best this season. They will be an interesting team to watch, and difficult to predict how they will finish.

Madison Club is a entry from the great state of Wisconsin. Players from this team used to help feed Minnesota's Sub Zero depth chart, but under the leadership of Hector Valdiva, they are their own club and beat some very good teams to qualify out of the region. (e.g. Sub Zero and Machine of Chicago). In a busy touring season of 46 games, the team went 36-11. Unfortunetly, the team lost the majority of its matches with teams that qualified for Sarasota, and they will face an uphill battle to reverse that trend.

Machine of Chicago is a perpertual UPA finals participant but has not been able to make the jump past quarter final contender. The team compiled a 20-12 record during the season. However, the state of their opponents in this pool (All new or in roster transition) opens the door for Machine to make some noise on day one.

UPA Finals 2009- Open Preview- Pool C


Results will be posted here

Pool C
  • Ironside
  • Doublewide
  • Bodhi
  • Streetgang
Ironside (38-3) from Boston finished 2nd last year and seems poised to improve on that result this year. Boston ultimate had a bit of a let down after DoG bowed out from out after 2006 finals. A tough 2007 lead people to think Boston ultimate was lost. 2008 saw a new name and a return to dominant play. Lead by well known players Jeff Graham and Danny Clark, the team is

Doublewide of Austin Texas (28-4) is described by team captain Max Cook:

The team has trained and prepared for the UPA series with one singular goal, and that is to be playing frisbee on Sunday at Nationals. We have made the final of every tournament we competed in this year. While we have only won one of those tournaments (Sectionals), there is a learning process that teams go through when they lose. Losses either drive you to work harder, of suck you into complacency, and players on this team have been pushing each other to continually train harder with that goal in mind.

Sectionals is/was a mental challenge. When you are beating teams 10-0, its hard to practice doing the right things and being focused. I think DW did a good job of coming out hard in each game, and closing out our opponents quickly. Regionals was a good experience for the team as well in a couple ways. We got challenged in our quarters game against an athletic Florida team that we may have looked past, we were able to pull ourselves together and play a very clean semi's game, we were humbled by our loss to chain in the finals, and finally we came out with fire in the backdoor finals. Some things we took away from the weekend: never underestimate an opponent, you have to win the game, it won't be given to you; coming out with fire and getting up early on opponents can be a backbreaker for them; and hope that if we see Chain in Sarasota, there will be at least some wind to slow down their hucks.

Doublewide is excited about facing both Ironside and Bodhi in Pool C. Both teams are unknowns to DW, so it will be interesting to see how conditions and dynamic in-game strategy play into those games. We would also like to get a shot at Chain one more time. It's always a good game between the two teams, and they are probably the best team in the country right now, so if you want to be the best you have to go through the best.

Key Players to watch on our team? Doublewide prides itself on not having superstars, but rather being able to challenge other teams with our depth.

That doesn't mean we don't have any studs though. Keep your eye out for a few of players: #16 Kiran Thomas, a great downfield cutter that is hard to match-up with; #8 Chase Hudson, a solid handler/cutter that has smooth throws and likes to get up; #17 Jake Anderson, a tall defender that enjoys aerial battles, and usually wins them; and #19 Daniel Poindexter, a defender that has hops and loves to lay out to get D blocks.

Bodhi (34-11) of Amherst has been the most improved team in the Northeast in 2009. Making it to UPA finals in 2008, Bodhi has built on that experience with a strong summer, closing the gap on elite teams like GOAT and Ironside and distancing themselves from pretenders.

Team Captain Micah Flynn summarizes the team as follows:

We've never really set expectations heading into tournaments, at least not as a group. Obviously, we'd like to finish as high as possible and I'd say that we'll be shooting for a birth in the quarters.

To be honest, I think our biggest goal is to do our part in getting the Northeast a strength bid again.

At Regionals we had two pretty decent lapses of focus that caused us to have to come from behind- the first on Sunday morning against Mephisto who took half on us and I think may have been up 11-10, game to 13. Against GOAT in the Semi-Finals we came out pretty flat again, starting down 4-0. After that point, we did a much better job and basically played to our potential for the rest of the weekend. Our second half against GOAT and play in the game to go against PoNY was much more up to our expectations for the team.

So, we had a bit of an up and down time but always played our best when it mattered most, so I think we consider it a success. And, we're headed back to the Club Championships so we've had a good fall so far by any metric.

The only lingering issue is we've had a number of injuries to O-Line players and most (or maybe all) of them won't be back in Sarasota.

We don't have any specific teams we're looking forward to, so the only thing that will be nice is seeing teams we've never played before like Streetgang on day 1.

The team features a number of returners from last year who figure to be impact players. On offense, look for Andrew Hollingworth (#3) and Alex Kapinos (#10), with the defense lead by Brendan Nichols (#7) and Miles Montgomery-Butler (#4).

We also added a number of new young players-

Jonah Herscu (#12), a current senior at Amherst Regional High School who will be playing a lot for the offense.

Sam Kanner (#32), played for Sub Zero last season and will be playing for the defense. He's currently one of the captains for defending national college champion Carleton CUT.

Jon Hirschberger (#43) will play a decent amount of offense and defense and is coming off a monster performance at regionals and is a senior at Cornell.

All three of those new players have been a part of a junior worlds team at one point, bringing our number of Team USA alumni to 10.

Streetgang of San Diego is a product of cooperation. The team (taking it's name from the legendary teams of the merging of Last Call and PBR Streetgang and it has propelled San Diego Ultimate into the Championships for the first time since 2005. Sporting a modest 20-14 record this season, the 2009 finals might be a necessary learning experience for the team the city's ultimate program for future success.

UPA Finals 2009- Open Preview- Pool B


Results will be posted here

Pool B
  • Chain Lightning (GA)
  • JAM (CA)
  • Ring of Fire (NC)
  • MadCow (OH)
This is going to be a tough pool.

Chain Lightning of the A-T-L (Atlanta folks) features Josh Zipperstein (who, until he comes to No Borders in Ottawa, will be referred to Dory Zipperstein's brother) Rob Barrett and a plethora of speed and talent. They are 27-4 this season, and were tied for third at UPAs last year.

Chain should have high expectations this year. Seeing this team in the finals is a very real possibility.

Jam is the defending champion. Their handlers are world class and provide the speed and throws that make it almost impossible to game plan for.

However, it's been a real up and down year for the year and they narrowly qualified for finals out of the Northwest. With a season record of 25-16, they have not looked invincible. Still, opponents often sense that Jam still has the talent, and they have been playing possum this year. They will be exciting to watch.

Ring of Fire (24-8) from Raleigh North Carolina is celebrating its 20th year of elite ultimate. Captain Kris Bass gives the following preview of the team (and he gives a special plug to sponsors at 5 ultimate, who have provided our awesome anniversary Fire Jerseys).

As always, Ring is planning to bring it strong at all times at the tournament. We have had an exciting post-season so far, losing in a classic finals match against Truck Stop on double game point. We followed that by another one point game against a strong NC team, LOS. We are absolutely looking forward to playing any and all the teams at nationals, and interested in taking on whomever we face.

We have had lots of close games this year, and hope to avenge a few earlier losses if we can! It is always a challenge and great experience to test yourself against the best everyone has to offer.

If you are coming down, you will want to catch some of our exciting style of play if you can! Larry 'Dirty' Durgin sets the tone for our D line. Brian Lowther conducts sunday morning service in the endzone. and Thomas 'T-unit' Ward and Ken 'Kapow" Porter patrol the skies for the Ring Air Force.

Madcow (39-10) of Columbus Ohio enters their first UPA finals in their tenth year of existence. It's such an inspiring story it needs an article to itself. Rodger Oakes, team captain... provides this rundown:

is a team built around spirit, depth, and comraderie. We play Ultimate as an outlet to enjoy time with each other. Our expectations for every tournament are to play the best we can...and play our best game during our last game.

This is the first time we've made the Club
Championships...and it has been a long road. The team has been around for 10 years now...and a good amount of players have been there for nearly that entire stretch. Over the last 2 years, we've really added depth from other areas (Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Indiana).

We're hoping to win a game, maybe 2 on Thursday. But, our main goal is to get into the play-in game Friday afternoon. We're a team built for long runs...we've got a few high end players that could play on any time, but our strength is the consistent, strong play from 5-27 on our roster.

Sectionals was a good tournament for us...we were clicking on almost all cylinders, and were able to stay focused through most of the tournament.

We knew Regionals would be our real test. We had the #1 seed going to regionals, but ran into a bad matchup against Chicago's Machine. For one reason or another, we just had a little trouble against there Defense. In Semi-finals, we lost a 1 point thriller. Our main goal for the weekend was to qualify for the Championships...so we were able to get over the loss in okay fashion. Sunday morning of regionals was cold and windy...but we persevered. It was a nice setup for us, because we were able to get past Louisville and had to play a Prairie Fire team that had just come off of an upset victory over Sub-Zero. Prairie Fire virtually eliminated us the previous year in Regionals, so we had a little taste of revenge to help motivate us. We got that victory and hit a buzzsaw against Machine again. But, we were able to pull through...knowing that we had beaten Sub-Zero at CHC, we were confident in our ability to play with them...and got through.

The Central Region has 5 teams all at the same level, and we were pretty happy to get the timely victories to qualify.
We're excited to play a lot of the teams down in Florida. We have seen a few over the past few years...had plenty of run-ins with GOAT over the last 3-4. I think we realize they're all quality teams, and we'd like to see as many different styles of play as possible.

I don't think there is any one team that we're looking forward to...they'll all be great competition for us.

Our top players on offense are: David Vuckovich (Tlake), Kevin Ryan (Willis) at the cutter position, and Jimmy Hughes and Jeff Kula at the handler spots. Tlake and Willis are open all the time, and just never stop running. Jimmy has great throws, and Kula is the glue for the squad...just does all the dirty work to keep the disc alive and moving. Willis is our highlight reel on O.

Defensively, I'd put Craig Poeppelman (BMW) with any player in the world. He covers any position...handler, 1st cutter, or deep cutter. I don't think I've seen him go through a game without getting a D on his man...or he just keeps his man from touching the disc altogether. He is that good...which is tough for me to say since that was my role until a pulled hamstring put me out for most of this season. Timmy Meyers is also on Defense, and is the heart of the team. He has great passion for the game, and usually covers the largest, tallest cutter on the other team. Ryan Sitler is our main puller, and he has changed our defensive dynamic with his ability. He's been disc golfing for awhile, and does things with the pull that are tough to understand. Scott O'Brien and Josh Botti (OB and JB, respectively) are 2 way speedsters that are a constant annoyance to anyone they cover. They also double on the O line as 2nd cutters to keep things moving for us.

UPA Finals 2009- Open Preview- Pool A


Results will be posted here

Pool A
  • Revolver (Bay Area CA)
  • GOAT (Toronto/Ottawa ON)
  • Truck Stop (Washington DC)
  • Pike (Princeton NJ)
Revolver enters the tournament as the #1 seed and enjoys a new status this year as an elite team. This team has been around since 2006 and is based on players from the Stanford University program, but took a big step this year with the addition of Colorado Mammbird legend Beau Kittredge and Mac Taylor. In 41 tournament games, they are an impressive 36-5. By no means is this team a runaway favorite (dropping semi final matchups in tourneys this year against Sockeye and Ring of Fire) but they do serve as strong contender deserving of the hype they have received all season.

GOAT of Toronto comes into the tourney on the heels of a Regionals final loss to rival Ironside. It was less a loss and more of a (slap the taste out of your mouth) defeat. In a very good season where they have won the Boston Invite and have a 39-8 season record, a wake up call so close to finals might be a necessary evil.

There is lots to like about this team outside of their passports. My yankee viewers will recognize John Hassell (yes he's great) but there is many more players to like on this team. Joel Hogberg (Sverige Klub Skogs) and Derek Alexander (Team Canada/Furious/Phoenix) have been added to give the team handler weapons with big game experience. GOAT boasts a glut of home grown talent like Taylor Martin, Adrian Yearwood, Lowell Heppner who are just entering their prime. Mark Lloyd serves the role of Kid wonder who'll steal the show if given the opportunity. Inian Moorthy has been noted by 'insiders' as playing particularly hot this fall.

Here's the paradox for GOAT- They have to talent to try and win now, but they also have the vast majority of the roster on the right side of 30, even 26. There will be no talk of the future this week though.. it's time to hunt.

Truck Stop won their regional tourney with a big one point win over Ring of Fire. Trying to build on that, DC's finest (The area has 3-4 touring open clubs) will be looking to show teams that their disappointing 2008 finals showing was a fluke. 25-11 in 36 games this year, they defeated GOAT 13-9 at Chesapeake in their latest head to head.

Pike of New Jersey played Mid Atlantic regionals (I thought they were a North East team) and were 29-14 during the season. Their team is described by captain Duty Rhodes as follows.

Our team expectations are the same as they are for every tournament:
  • Put the team first
  • Trust the play of your teammates and earn their trust through your play.
  • Work and fight for everything because no one will give it us.
Pike is looking forward to facing every team. Especially since we have not had the opportunity to play any of them in well over a year. They each provide unique challenges for our personnel, strategies and mental/intestinal fortitude. The differentiation of the challenges is one of the best aspects of team sports-- Ultimate is no exception. That a high-level challenge exists every round rather than which challenge exists every round is the glory of The Show.
I mean, wait... this is a Canadian site? We're particularly excited to play GOAT!

On Offense, Nick Malinowski, CJ Kozarski and Art Shull anchor our downfield play while Ian McClellan is a handler with every throw in the book as well as a number that aren't.
Defensively, J Dono (attending his 10th Open Nationals), Jon Fink and Jake "The Jake" Rainwater lead the charge. All three are extraordinarily versatile defenders and devastating offensive players on the turn.

Monday, October 26, 2009

UPA Finals 2009- Masters and Mixed Preview


Due to time constraints, the Masters and Mixed previews will be brief.

Results here.

Canada is represented by GLUM. GLUM is fresh off one of their biggest victories ever- A regional championship with not one but two victories over legendary Death or Glory. Mentally, this might be a huge barrier removed for Ottawa.

In their regionals victory and their National championship, the team has been very quick to attribute their success to their defence and their new cutters, who have provided the speed needed to get open and provide easy looks.

A UPA championship is possible, but GLUM will have many tough games throughout the tournament. A team to watch will be Double Black of Colorado, who was one of the few squads to play in open tournaments through the summer and defeating strong club team Blackfish during the Colorado Cup.


Results here.

As stated, Canadian finally has a UPA finals participant in this division and the team is looking forward to the challenge.

Psychoplastique finds themselves third in their four team pool. They will face the defending champions (Mental Toss Flycoons) on day one and will look to build on the previous head to head matchups with them.

More importantly, they must beat both Barrio (AZ) and BCBC (CA) in order to stay in the power pools and remain alive for quarter finals.

UPA Finals 2009 Preview- Women's


Two teams have dominated this division for this decade- Riot and Fury. Is this the year someone else makes the final? Can Canada get a break through in this division?

Two Canadian Teams enter this week with strong teams and stronger hopes of a UPA championship.

Schedule is here and will also be updated here.

Pool A
  • Riot (Seattle)
  • Showdown (TX)
  • Ozone (ATL)
  • Wildcard (PA)
Riot (Seattle) enters the finals with a season record of 27-4. They have only lost to Fury (twice) Uno (Japan) and Traffic this season and are on a particular hot streak. They have given us reason to think that, despite losing to Fury for several seasons, this is their year. They beat Fury at regionals and at the Emerald City Classic. Can they do it a third time?

Showdown is out of Austin and they represent the growing talent from that city and that state. After a solid season of touring, it appears that while this team is not quite ready for prime time, they will provide finals opponents with a tough match. In 30 games this year, they are 19-11 with big wins over Ozone at regionals and a very good Nemesis team at Chicago Heavyweights.

Ozone of Atlanta has had an intersting season. In compiling an impressive 26-4 record, they have beaten some VERY good teams (Zeitgeist), play Fury and Riot hard, and then lose to Showdown at regionals. Despite the mess up at regionals, they get a chance to face showdown again and get into day two power pools.

Wildcard is the third seed from the Mid Atlantic region. They've had a busy summer and fall, with 39 tournament games and posted a 25-14 record. They had a rough ride at the Chesapeake Open earlier this summer.

Pool B
  • Capitals (Toronto/Ottawa)
  • Zeitgeist (Berkley CA)
  • Nemesis (Chicago IL)
  • Safari (San Diego CA)
Capitals have had a very strong fall season since merging Stella (Ottawa) and Lotus (Toronto) as per fall tradition. The team is 16-0 this year, winning Chesapeake against some tough teams and their sectional/regionals with relative ease. As I look at their pool, I think they will have a tough day one because the teams below them are all very good. However, the Capitals are as good as they have ever been, and they need to beat teams like these to make it to semis and finals.

Here's the makeup of this team. Lotus (roughly 21-1) won the national Canadian championship this year, and won the Boston Invite in addition to losing on universe to Brute Squad at the No Borders final. Stella (roughly 12-7) finished second at CUC 2009, and both teams were able to compete against the best of the east on their own. Combined, they should be a huge threat when deployed properly.

And if they don't make semis, at the very least, I suggest they change their merger system or personnel. I really like how these ladies have stuck to their program and system for several years (others could learn from this), but they must take the next step.

Zeitgeist has always been a team of interest, because they are capable of beating the very best and being surprised by less stellar teams. In their summer season, they played 36 games and had a 23-13 record.

Nemesis of Chicago appears to be a program on the upside. They are led by a fantastic handler in Jessi Witt, and they owe a lot of their success this year to the addition of new athletic players. In 37 tournament games, they sport a 30-7. Yeah.. that's pretty damn impressive for the third seed in a day one pool!

Safari of San Diego is a tough California team that will give all three of their pool B opponents a tough match. 15-10 during the season in tournament play.. and will look to play spoiler during the tournament.

Pool C

Fury is the three time defending champions of this division and aim for the elusive four peat this year. With a 37-3 tournament record this year, they seem to have the same mystic of past years over all opponents except for Riot, who was been responsible for all three losses.

Traffic of Vancouver has been away from CUC since 2007, and as such Canadian teams and cities do not get to see them very much. Focusing on tourneys and opponents from the ultra tough north west US region, Traffic has an 18-12 record this year, and it's been a bumpy ride. They have shown to play Riot and Fury tough, but have also lost to Seattle's B team (Underground).

Lady Condors of Santa Barbara have not won a national championship since their fourth straight title in 1987. They have had a strong touring season, going 15-5 and played well at Chesapeake.

Pop of Minneapolis has had a long touring season and have collected a lot of travel points playing many of the teams that are in this finals tournament. In 35 tournament games this year, Pop sports a respective 22-13

Pool D

Brute Squad of Boston pose as one of the strongest Boston teams to come to UPA Finals in some time. After getting the chance to see them at No Borders, it seems like the team has an advantage of many strong leaders, as well as good coaching. They are also very skilled with throws and will be able to handle the winds of Sarasota. If you want to see a young player who uses angles and savvy to handle, look no further than Dory Zipperstein. In 45 games, they had a strong 34-11 record.

Backhoe from North Carolina is a squad that has long been on my list of teams to see. Lindsey Hack is highly regarded as a leader and a very fit "big" (5'10) with skill. That package causes matchup problems. In 32 games, they sit at 26-6. They appear to be a strong candidate for quarters if not semi final action depending on how things shake down.

Rare Air is Boulder's Best coming out of the Southwest region. After getting some humbling elite team spankings at their home tournament (Colorado Cup), they have gotten stronger during the season and enter finals with a 18-12 record in 30 tourney games this year.

Scandal from DC is an interesting team when you look closely at their season win/loss stats. They went winless at the Boston Invite but played every single team hard, including eventual champ Lotus. They had similar tough losses at Chespeake. Since then, they have pounded some lesser knowns and enter Florida on a high note. In 39 games, they went a respectable 25-14.