Thursday, November 06, 2008

Sub Zero came into the toughest tournament of the year with high hopes and a feeling of peaking at the right time. It had been a season on the brink, never finishing against the top teams, but consistently beating everyone else who sucked. A solid Regionals was rewarded with a mid-tier seed of #7, while Ring, the most unproven team in the field, grabbed the #4 seed. However, #10 seed Chain Lightning, for the second straight year, stumbled in Regionals against Doublewide despite loads of talent, experience, and solid wins.

Following veteran advice, the Madison contingent of Sub Zero took flights on Tuesday, ensuring practice at the fields on Wednesday and some extra relaxation time in beautiful Siesta Key. It would valuable advice, as the practice in the looming crosswinds was necessary.

As we approached the grocery store to get breakfast and dinner for the following nights, Ben Feldman was warned. "When we get in there and see players from other teams - you act like a stud and walk hard." As soon as Feldner enters the Publix, he begins to act silly and downright weird, throwing cereal boxes at Riley and Foster as Jolian Dahl and Mangry turn the corner. It is all smiles but both teams know they would be playing a pool play game for the top spot in pool B. Thursday was right around the corner and the swimming pool could only distract the first timers for so long, before losing sleep realizing the importance of these games.

Thursday morning came all too quickly and not even eggs, bacon, and coffee could undo Muffin's grumpy demeanor, as Malecek threatened Jimmy Foster's life for the 7th time, before Chris Rupp casually intervened to save his life. Heijmen was destined to rush to the fields as his excitement was overwhelming. Halfway to the fields, Dan looked over, surmising whom to have Feldman moon before staring eye-to-eye with Mr. Slam! "Oh shit!" Feldner screamed, quickly pulling his pants back on. It took only seconds for the aggro-fest to begin as Mr. Slam and Heijmen swerved into traffic, vying for the front position to beat the other to the fields. Callahan Heijmen took the lead, but not before Mr. Stout pulled an early move into the outer lane, seizing the lead and flexing his guns as he zoomed by. Heijmen would tolerate no such lip and thinking fast, pulls over two dividers to grab a hidden power-up and short cut to the back of the fields. Jack Marsh could only smirk and imagine his glory days at Harvard before congratulating Dan on his genius move.

When Sub Zero arrived at the fields super early on Thursday morning, it was clear a cold front was moving in as the wind was building and the air was chilly. The fields were wet with dew, but still harder than usual for the pristine Sarasota Polo Fields. The morning warm-up was crisp, fun and huck happy - but still not at the level of focus and intensity needed for Club Nationals. It became apparent for the second straight year that Sub Zero seemed awkwardly unprepared for the task at hand as PoNY jumped out to a commanding lead, just as Chain had done the previous year. Sub was 28 players deep at Nationals, all hungry to perform, but it was the Offense who was holding them back. PoNY broke first as Zero missed several hucks on the first point, and it wasn't until Heijmen found Brown for the O2 goal that Sub tied the game 1-1. Zebro's Defense was ready to murder, as both Pat C and Mike Arenson made sick layout D's, only to have soft fouls bring the disc back. Maintaing the disc, PoNY scored and broke to lead 1-4, capitalizing on a Lokke drop in the zone (the first of far too many). Jack Marsh skied for a D and pulled down a Kyle Gill forehand to keep Zero in the game 2-4. Sub Zero was not connecting on their deep game, down 3-6 before Todd Owens hucks deep to Andrew Brown 5-7. BVH goes deep and takes it to half, 5-8 PoNY and with momentum to spare.

For the second straight year, there were more questions than answers for Zero's beginning of Club Nationals. Maybe it was first game jitters, or maybe it was sheer inexperience as the average age of a Zebro is relatively youthful. However, with youth also comes rage, and a sudden change of attitude brought on by a Shane xXxplosion was more than enough to get the team fired up. Kyle Gill continues to dominate in the cross-wind, bombing deep to Grant Lindsley, tightening the game to 6-8. Grey Duck sensation Michael Arenson hadn't seen elite ultimate like this, but was relatively unimpressed by the athletic abilities of the old men surrounding him. Taking things upon his shoulders, Mike proceeds to impress his grandparents by scoring a deep forehand by Shane to make it 7-8, and then catching a snatch layout from Kanner to tie the game 8-8. Mike was so on fire, he caught a D in the lane and set up a Riley huck backhand to a galloping Dan Miller to seize the lead 9-8. Sub Zero can only press the pedal to the floor as Jack hits Jimmy Foster down the line 10-8 and for Q-Tip Miller to put a mid-range flick to Arenson now 11-8. Sam Kanner continues to make an impact, going O2 for a goal from Mark Schmelzle to give Zero a 12-8 lead on 6 straight goals. Riley is able to add one more deep huck to a backpedaling Mike Arenson 13-8 and then pull downwind. The huge blade comes in hard, and dashes just past a PoNY's outstretched hands, leading Sub Zero to holler "He touched it!" The arguing became fierce, especially with one short prick of a New Yorker, but it was expected to come across at least one Dobyns wannabe from NY. PoNY put together a run to 13-9 and then toss their own huge blade pull downwind, this one ricocheting off Rupp's hands and going out the back, prompting PoNY to holler, "He touched it!" And so it began, Sub Zero would be touching teams for the rest of the weekend. However, the score would tighten to 13-11 and a tough cup was giving Sub Zero's patient Offense some issues. Eventually a quick swing to the sideline allowed Kanner to rip a huge backhand down the line to an unsuspecting Jack Marsh, who had to sky BVH before throwing the would be goal. A travel brought the play back, but Kanner loaded up and threw the exact same throw, forcing Jack to sky BVH for the second straight time, this time with less odds to make it 14-11. PatC ends the game in style, taking down a huge bomb and spiking it something ruthless to make it 15-11 Sub.

On the field next door, Bravo was giving Chain Lightning the business - taking a huge lead and dominating to a 15-7 win. Chain was without Dylan Tunnell for the first game and their deep game was not clicking. Sub Zero wasn't exactly happy with the circumstances since Dylan had just shown up, Chain would be relatively fresh from such a brutal beat-down, and now they would be ripe to respond. Chain insisted upon keeping their red jerseys and Ziperstein insisted that Sub Zero remain white. Zero started on Offense, going downwind, and working the disc cautiously until Zip exploded for a ridiculous poach under layout D. Will Lokke's jaw dropped open so large - you would think he was trying to eat a triple-stacker, no doubt what Fat Bill was really thinking about. Sub gets the disc back and Jack Marsh flicks a perfect throw to Grant Lindsley, beating Chain deep and spiking the disc with a finger wag and tongue out 1-0. Chain got pissed and rips a backhand right through the Zone cup, deciding to bomb deep no matter what the circumstances and scoring 1-1. Sam Kanner strutted onto the field and thought, "Anything Chain can do, Sam Kanner does better," ripping it to Heijmen for a score 2-1. The wind was certainly affecting the throws and Chain went as Shane explained, "Knicky-Knack bullshit" all the way down the line before a Dylan high release scores it 2-2. Heijmen continues to keep the Frosty Offense on serve, scoring goals 3 and 4 and making Foster suck on his Kimbo Slice style beard before he would leave the field. Zero is determined to serve it to Chain and Foster, fresh off his beard sucking, gets a layout D, allowing Aaronson to toss a floaty backhand deep upwind to Muffin. Muffnuts skys some fat Chain guy and serves it up to Lokke, before he throws it out-of-bounds about 3 years to a wide open Pat C. Chain picks it up on the cone and while Fatty was hanging his head, Lightning rips it full field for a wide open goal 4-4. Back on Offense, it was Carleton-Connection of Kanner bombing to Grant, allowing Rupp to finish to Jack Marsh 5-4. Frosty was getting angry with all this trading and brought in the blizzard, giving way as Miller made sick layout D after sick layout D. Muffin snapped the mark and Miller double happiness-ed all over Chain's face, freezing the disc before spiking it 6-4. The FROSTD was determined to get revenge and broke again, Schmelzle going O2 from Mike Aaronson 7-4 Sub. Chain again went all knicky-knack down the line, closing it to 7-5. Heijmen takes a shot a little too deep forcing both Jimmy Foster and Chris Rupp to sky for D's. And then Dylan Tunnell started coughing. It was a deep soulful type of chest heaving that would make any woman weak in the knees. His eyes turned blood red and then an inexplicable sort of fire flares shot out his nose. The FrostD sideline began feeling a warming sensation and all of the Zebro momentum began to melt. Soon Dylan was jacking his flick, right down the sideline perfectly placed into the open hands of not fat Hammond 7-6. Dylan turns and stares Heijmen in the eyes and then reaches out and touches his Dark Mark, uttering the words, "That's right! I spit HOT FIRE!" With that statement, Heijmen immediately called timeout to chill the red hot Dylan. As Scrub Zero huddled back into the chilly cross-wind, Dylan was burning villages and pacing on the line - scowling in every direction. Zero was able to punch a goal as Brown hit Geo for a goal 8-6 halftime, but the towering snowman on the near sideline were beginning to show singe marks across their face. However, Chain was holding Tunnell back as Frito makes a terrible deep foul call, exposing Chain's offense to be fatter and slower then previously expected. Chain hucks again as the Bucket was caught with his pants down in the lane (wearing his halloween costume early) and brught the score to 8-7. However, Todd Owens had something to say about the heat-wave and calmly bombed a deep backhand to Grant Lindsley, once again proving to Zip that he has lost a step, 9-7. Then, the Tunnell opened up and let out his rage, bombing right down the middle of the whole field, again perfectly placed 9-8. At this point, Greg Swanson, jealous of all the Georgia attention going to "The Tunnell" decides he needs to make a difference and starts crying on the field. No one is impressed, and Dylan looks downright embarrassed as Frito screams, "Be a man Swanson!" Jack Marsh only smirks and hits Geo for the hold 10-8. Dylan sprints to line and begins doing squat thrusts on the line, foaming at the mouth for the arrival of the disc. As soon as he sky's for the hitch, he bombs a third straight full field perfectly placed bomb for a goal 10-9, only to announce in his most gloating beer pong voice, "Who's on Fiiiiiiirrrrrrrre? That's right, Dylan is on FIRE, because I spit hot fire!" If you know the rules to NBA Jam, there is little to do to stop a man on fire, save foul him. But helpless to stop a fresh Dylan, "The Tunnell" throws his fourth straight bomb upwind, only for Wooten to sky big time 10-10. But seriously, Dylan hucks again to make it 11-11. Then Sub Zero drops a swing pass and suddenly has shit their pants and dropped the lead 11-12. Heijmen can finally stop the bleeding by tossing a cold glass of haterade all over Dyan, before throwing a goal to Kanner to tie the game 12-12. Chain responds by throwing 7 consecutive high release backhands before Dylan finishes to Hammond 12-13. However, the FrostD is now pissed. Foster scored to Kyle Gill 13-13, and Miller sent deep and punched in a break upwind to lead 14-13. The game went 14-14 and Sub Zero was going upwind. The hitch was layout D'd to make it 14-15. Grant Lindsley bombed it deep to Jack Marsh to keep it 15-15, win by 2, game to 21. Chain generates a D with super pressure defense and Dylan lets one rip deep, only for the 3rd trailing Chain player to pick up the trash 15-16. Zero tries a deep huck and Chain rips it deep upwind. As experience shows, the same 3rd Chain trailing player picked up the huge Dylan huck for the game winner 15-17. Zero was devastated, with the lead late and plenty of opportunities to close the game, they choked. It was tough to pick up the pieces, but Sub Zero just needed another blizzard to blow in.