Monday, May 11, 2009

WEEKEND ROUNDUP: Spring league finals, Pt. 1

"One more point."

If you didn't know this was the championship of Duff's spring league, that it was being played by the league's premiere -- only -- contenders, that the hype machine had been running for a week, replete with obligatory chaff and bunkum, that the opposing forces were named, believe it or not, Team Evil and Team All That is Good in the World, well -- you could've been forgiven to think Evil, which had overrun all its prior opponents, was competing against just another overmatched squad of high schoolers from the International School of Beijing.

As Evil's Alicia floated towards the corner to reel in yet another perfectly placed forehand, Good was caught doing what it had done all day: watching. Another point, another step closer to mercy. Evil led 12-5 in a game to 13, which meant one more point and everyone could line up, slap hands, say their Good games and prepare for an hour and a half of Big Brother practice. Spring league, we hardly knew ye, gone without a bang -- unless you meant Beijing Bang, a team that just an hour prior, on this very field, lost to High School Red 10-3.

This, though -- this was a bona fide trouncing. At least Bang could say they were missing their captain, Ken Su, along with Yin, Guy and Helen. What was Team Good's excuse? For 17 points, they decided catching and defending were optional, that Frisbee was a recreation to be enjoyed, like jogging. Or maybe Joe's groin was the culprit: that which was sacrificed in the first half -- Joe laying out in an (failed) attempt to point-block Jim's whip of a backhand; Jim's fist punching Joe's gonads in just the place to cause him to groan in the least manly way possible -- and all for what? Just another point lost...

On catching, all of Good was infested with the curious case of the dropsies, a deadly virus-like contagion that's stripped more than one Ultimate team of its poise, resolve and general sense of dignity. The illustrative case: on the line with the score 11-5, Tao made a point about drops being the primary reason this team loses, in response to something about drops being "okay" because we were "just practicing."

That very point, Good dropped a would-be easy score in the end zone.

As for Good's defense, the blame -- or credit -- goes to one Andrew Shen, who Evil relied upon more than usual. His vertical cuts had been shredding Good's defense all day, and until Good's defenders -- specifically Tao, who was on the wrong end of several of Shen's mad dashes to the end zone -- adjusted their downfield positioning, Shen had his way like a player possessed.

But then, be it Evil fatigue or complacency, Good scored. (This may have been the infamous "Fudgesicles" play, in which Kevin screamed "Fudgesicles" on a dead disc and waited as Tao, anticipating a cut anyway, sprinted from the force side handler position straight towards the end zone. Kevin threw a screwdriver of a hammer that S-curved over Jim's head and into the hands of... Lauren.) Then, with co-captains Joe and Tao barking at each other on defense, Good scored again -- an up-line cut from the home side of the field like a ray of light finally illuminating what was dark.


Fired up, Perkin backhand hucked to Justin for another upwinder -- 12-8.

And because it beat the heck out of losing, Good locked down on D, forced a turn and almost scored again three seconds later. Alas, Tao's long backhand to Justin was caught out-of-bounds... barely. Evil could not capitalize though, and back came Good, Joe racing down the sideline with Jim at his heels, snatching the disc in the end zone and flipping it into the back of his defender's head. Balls? Who needs painless balls?

Now it was a game. Not that Evil was ready to acknowledge it. "We just kept saying, 'One more point,'" Brian Marterer said aftewards. "Just one more point."

But how would they get it?

12-9. Pull corralled by Jim, followed by a throw to Doc across the field that is... dropped. Slipped through his hand like a floundering fish. Good seized upon it, playing patient end zone O until Pnut found Missy making a two-step move from the force-side line towards the middle of the field. Forehand toss for the score.

12-10. Good going downwind after a turn in Evil's end zone... a hammer that landed a foot short of Alicia. Tao hucked to Kevin but the disc was brought back on a (correct) traveling call. A few throws later, Tao made sure he wouldn't make the same mistake, as he pumped once, twice, before uncorking a laser of a forehand to Perkin, who leapt across the goal line.

12-11. Doc held the disc and held it, then held it some more. At about stall seven or eight, Tao, guarding the strong side handler, made a break, even before Doc peered over for a desperation dump. Tao intercepted the throw standing up and soaked in the crowd's gasps as he waited for the cavalry.

Eventually the disc ended up in Kevin's hands, who threw a backhand towards the front corner of the end zone on the away side of the field, where Tao was cutting. Shen, however, anticipated this maneuver, or reacted very fast to Tao's break. He squeezed himself between his defender and the disc and managed to disrupt things just enough for the plastic to fall harmlessly to the ground.

The momentum, however, was on the side of Good. And so it was that Good's Joel, playing aggressive dump D, turned his head to find Evil's Brian, trapped on the sideline, looking straight at him. Weird, Joel thought. My man is shut down. Brian threw it anyway, and Joel responded by slapping the thow 15 yards out of bounds.

The disc got swung to the force side, where Tao bent low and completed a forehand to Lauren, cutting in. (Shen got a piece for a near-hand-block.) Lauren, trapped on the side, dumped back to Tao, who squatted to the ground, rocked back and uncorked a forehand in Justin's general direction. It was a blind pass, a pass to a teammate who had barely begun to make his move against Patrick Li -- a pass he absolutely knew he'd complete.

In a game where Evil scored the first five, led 6-1 and took half at 7-2 -- was in fact one point away from winning on seven different occassions -- the score was now knotted up at 12. Finally, in the game's second hour, things were getting interesting.

To be continued...

UPDATE, 8/4: At 12-12, Joe had a throw point-blocked, allowing Evil to regain the advantage at 13-12. Next point, Jim called a foul on Tao in the end zone, but then turned it. Team All That Is Good In the World scored to tie it at 13. Something else happened, and something else. It got to 14-14.

Evil, driving, saw Jim put a perfect pass to Alicia that was dropped -- perfectly dropped -- in the end zone. Good, however, clamped down on defense, with Brian swatting away a pass before midfield. Evil threw a few swing passes before Jim attempted the exact same throw to Alicia, who, in almost the same fashion... caught it. Evil wins 15-14.

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