Monday, September 08, 2008
I'm always ready to eat crow when the eatin's good. I said we shouldn't have gone to Heavyweights because we needed some disciplined and focused practicing this weekend rather than a bunch of games against flyweight opponents on granite surfaces.
So I was wrong. I admit it.
Thank heaven, first of all, for Gustav, all but forgotten now in Ike's wake. The residual rains left over from the gulf's tropical storm apparently soaked the Naperville Polo club all week, rendering the stubborn surface pliable against cleat and cut. I layed out several times during the course of the weekend and this morning awoke without evidence of any of them. Perfect. After Chesapeake, it was a bit awkward apologizing to the freshman girl sitting next to me for bleeding on her half of the desk.
Sub Zero went into this tourney as the 1 seed, and we knew that our nationals seeding (and our own thinning patience with ourselves) depended on defending our top-dog status. With cheers and chants pulled directly from the Republican National Convention delegates ("Drill, baby, drill!") we opened up on the teams in our pool. After a shaky start in our first game, we came out hot against natties hopeful Madcow and sent them to the abattoir. We held court at field 10 all weekend, and the nearby trees and clubhouse proved to be a huge advantage, shading us all weekend long and providing our field with a measure of protection from the cross-winds that plagued the rest of the polo grounds.
After our disappointing performance at Labor Day, we shook up our lines and rotations and I moved to the D line. The first game was a major paradigm shift for me, and it took a bit to find my legs, but by the time we got to Madcow my body remembered the feel of pulling and running down, and I fell into my role as seamlessly as sex with an ex. Having lost Muffin and his giant (but oftentimes out-of-bounds) pulls, I was happy to be able to place most of mine within the opposite endzone.
After Los took half on us in quarterfinals, we pulled out some caffeinated gum that tasted bad but did us good, and we rolled on them in the second half, allowing only one point, at 14-8, before finishing them. A wily but inexperienced Bodhi hung on due to a series of unforced errors from the offense, but the D line fire was lit all weekend and got the breaks necessary to put us in finals against a Machine team that had dispatched Madison Club on the adjacent field.
With the sidelines full, we set to work on Machine in a game that never lost its intensity despite our commanding the pace. My pulls clicked right when I needed them to, and despite throwing two out of bounds I was able to let the rest hang with enough time so that I was still the first or second Zebro down on each one.
I had fun. Fuck it, I had a blast playing this game. Despite the fact that my hamstrings were beginning to mutter a bit under the breath of my footwork I was running and playing like the kid I used to be, the one lost in the joy of play. And because of it, I played great, throwing 4ish goals and scoring two, including a season-rejuvinating layout grab to put us comfortably in control that even I was surprised ended in my hand. Naturally, I acted naturally, and we pushed hard on Machine in front of their friends and family.
In the end, our offense was disappointingly broken once before we finished the game 15-10, but we couldn't be too upset. We righted the ship, got our job done, and were rewarded with a championship title belt that ranks amongst the coolest tourney trophies I've seen, and a full set of championship jerseys courtesy of 5ive Ultimate.
Sectionals and a hungry Madison Club await in Maple Plains in two weeks, and next weekend should be exactly what we need to tune our sets and defenses before the series begin. Drill, baby, drill!