Mischief was woot-erific this weekend, going undefeated at Cal States and increasing our tourney championship record to 2-0! No one was really sure what things were going to look like since it was a tryout tournament, but we had the legs and the heart to come out on top even when things got rocky. To recap...
The mixed division was split into 2 pools of 5: Pool A was Mischief (1), CTR (4), Night Train (5), Kill My Landlord (8), and A.I.R. (9); Pool B was Brass Monkey (2), LA Metro (3), Feral Cows (6), Blammo (7), and Joy Huck Club (10). Mischief had a first round bye and warmed up for our first game against Night Train with overcast skies. Night Train's many seasons together worked to their advantage against a Mischief team where many players were playing together for the first time - they moved the disc very quickly offense and we struggled to string together consecutive scores. Eventually, we were able to play more effective D and calmed down a bit on O to pull it out 15-12. Highlight of the game was one of the tryouts making a ridiculous catch over a Night Train defender and then yelling "F*CK!" before spiking the disc to the ground in anger. From the sidelines, we wondered, "Did his defender call a foul?? What happened?" Suddenly a bunch of players on the field dropped to the ground on all fours combing the grass. "Oh... he lost a contact lens...??" "No - it's his tooth!" "Holy crap, he lost a tooth!?" The defender lifted his elbow for confirmation, where there was a spot of blood from what must have been elbow to tooth contact. But, actually, it was a chip off his tooth that he'd chipped 4 times already. *Whew* Ok then. Game on. But that didn't stop Adam L from dubbing him "Snaggletooth", a nickname that stuck immediately...
So after game 1 we had another bye, after which we played A.I.R., put together by our friend Tim Tuttle. A bunch of familiar faces on that team, which led to a fun game that gave Mischief another scare in the first half as we again struggled to establish some consistency against the throws of A.I.R.'s wily handlers. We managed to win this one 15-11 but had yet to hit our groove.
The first real glimmers of greatness came in our last game of day against CTR. We'd been looking towards this game all day (perhaps part of why we came out flat against the other two teams) and had most of our tryouts with us, which made for big sidelines and fresh legs. CTR seemed to be tired and simply couldn't match up against our personnel. I think it was around 8-5 at half and the final score was 15-8. A nice way to end the first day but I think we learned a good lesson from the first two games.
On Sunday we won our last pool play game against Kill My Landlord to earn a bye into semis. Brass Monkey had lost to LA Metro the previous day and so was playing in quarters against CTR, who had also lost to Night Train. Monkey had a lot of difficulty containing CTR's star receiver and apparently this was a significant factor in their quarters exit. So our semifinal game turned out to be against CTR. (Incidentally, Night Train also made it to semis, making 3 of the 4 teams in semis from Pool A.)
Despite the long break between games, Mischief got fired up from the first point in the game. We received to start, and it was a no-turn O point with 2 or 3 quick passes culminating in a long flick to Lyndsay streaking deep to make a spectacular grab with tight coverage from her defender. The sidelines stormed the field and the energy was palpable as we rattled off a couple more scores (helped along by some great D plays by Kyle and others) before a CTR time out. CTR managed to punch a few in but Mischief quickly took half 8-2. The second half was more of the same - it was clearly Mischief's game and CTR simply couldn't answer as the gap widened. The final score was 15-4. The only question was who we would see in Finals.
Over on the next field, the other semi was turning into a battle. When we finished, Night Train was up on LA Metro 9-7. Metro was able to tie it up at 9's and then the two teams started to trade. At this point we had to pack up and head to the lower fields to get ready for finals, but it was not at all clear who would be showing up to play us. They fought to the hard cap, and LA Metro managed to eke out the win 14-13, making for a DUI rematch that was sure to be an exciting game.
For a while, though, it looked like we were going to blow out LA Metro. Maybe they were exhausted from their previous game, or maybe Mischief was just getting better and better. The energy was high and people were connecting and getting Ds. We cruised to half, 8-3. However, LA Metro had already shown that they could fight back, and fight back they did, with a clever switch to zone defense that stymied us for a good 8 points. Although we were able to slice effortlessly through their zone on a couple points, their zone ended up being quite effective and allowed them to go on a 6-2 run in the second half. Mischief's energy started to ebb as they punched in score after score. Things started looking bleak for us as the LA Metro took their first lead of the day at 10-9. Their big guy, Keegan, proved to be a daunting mark in the cup and a huge target for them deep on offense, generating multiple turns and pulling down most of what was put up to him. But another break through their zone and we started trading points. Then all of sudden we were mounting another run and it was 14-12. When our opportunity came on game point, Ryan put up a big throw to Andy isolated in the end zone for a big layout grab to win us the game.
The final game was particularly fitting given Mischief's history, both in past years and at this tournament. We can be prone to getting down on ourselves and often dig ourselves into big holes, but we usually claw our way back out of them with tremendous heart. With our shaky start to Saturday followed by dominating play against CTR, it was good for us to fight through another team rising up to our challenge. In doing so, we showed that we are not immune to the problems that have dogged us in the past, but we have the skill and athleticism to produce convincing victories and the heart and determination to battle it out when things get tough.
All around, we couldn't have asked for a much better Cal States. That definitely calls for more fist pumping.