GOAT takes Pro Flight Finale 2013
This past weekend GOAT went down to Davis California for the inaugural Pro Flight Finale. After a strong (6-1 record) yet strangely disappointing (5th place finish) tournament a couple weekends ago, GOAT was heading in with its favourite mindset: Confident with a touch of the underdog chip on the shoulder.
GOAT likes to consider itself the 'Faceless Army', a name that came out during the "John Hassell + everyone else" years. Nowadays with a number of players playing in various World events and the Toronto Rush, it's not nameless the same as it used to be, but we like to keep that going anyway. Especially at a tournament like this, where we sent a roster of 17 players - 5 of which were rookies, and none of which were named Cam Harris, Adrian Yearwood, or Isaiah-Masek Kelly - some of our more recognized players. It would have been easy to go into the tournament already writing ourselves off thinking how we will give it a shot when our team comes together - but when you are the Faceless Army you don't think about that - it doesn't matter which 17 players, or which 7 players are on the field at any given time.
So our tournament starts off against Revolver. Team USA gold medalist. Number 1 seed and fairly heavy favourite. Home of the Big Reset (a name I am giving to Beau, for the frustration of getting a team to stall 8 or 9 and again having him wide open for an easy count reset again and again). However once we start playing we realize we are not playing Revolver at all. Instead we just happen to be playing Team One. Team One is not so scary. Team One is just out on a sunny Californian day enjoying playing some ultimate. That sounds good to us. Ultimate is fun. Next thing we know we are up a couple breaks. And what do you know, it no longer looked like the Facelesss Army was playing Team One. It looked like they were playing a Revolver team deep in thought. Are we losing to them? Will we actually lose this game? We're at home.. we are Team USA - what will people say if we lose? I don't mean this as any sort of insult to a great team, only a recognition of the different states of mind as the game came to a close. 15-12 it ends. On to Team Two.
Against Team Two we continued our momentum, we threw the disc to open players hoping to have one of them eventually ending up in the endzone; while we capitalized on the mistakes of Team Two. We take half 8-4 feeling good. At some point already Karl - perhaps leading scorer of our O line - went out with an injury that kept him out the game (he returned for the next). Still feeling good. A couple mistakes later we find it 8-6. Then 10-10 with the disc. Then a huck to Mark Lloyd makes him run further than necessary, and his hand hit the disc but then the disc hits the ground - and so does he. Neither the disc nor Mark gets up for a while. We keep playing, but you can tell we are no longer the Faceless Army playing Team Two. We are a shortened GOAT roster that was already missing key players that just lost Mark Lloyd for the rest of the weekend. We trade points to end the game with a 15-14 universe loss.
Next up Team Three is no where to be found. Only Ring of Fire. A semi's caliber physical team that is out to prove it. GOAT can't match up at all. They have more legs we say, we just lost Lloyd. We're not saying it with our mouths but with our eyes and our body. 15-12 for Ring seems a lot closer than it felt. A win that game would have put us 1st in the pool, but the loss dropped us to 4th.
Scheduled was a game for rankings but one that we were very happy to not have to discuss internally whether we go for the win or let the game go to save our legs for Sunday. Either decision would have been regrettable, and we were quite happy that other teams felt the same way and we were able to go rest.
A few beers at the pool and an evening later we find ourselves back on the fields happy to be in a tournament format where you can come last the day before and still be in the quarters. Same story as Saturday with an insurmountable foe. Here they are- Ironside. A team it sometimes seem likes we have lost more games to than we've even played. But why do they keep putting on their members from Team Four instead? We trade breaks and trade points and we are sitting pulling at 7-7, next point for half. We call a timeout. Now given, the reason for the timeout was to rest a couple O players to play this next critical D point. But it didn't seem that way when we come in to a circle and look to the coach for strategy and inspiration.. when he pauses and says "Break for half.". But he doesn't just say it, he sings it, then he adds a second part "Break break for half" Then a few others join in, "Break for half, break break for half". Jon Martin - our defensive captain - starts go-go dancing to the beat and the whole Army is singing it. At some point the observer reminds us that the game continues in 2 minutes, so we send out 7 players. 3 Ds are exchanged and the Army is up 8-7 receiving coming out of half. Next thing we know Team Four looked like Revolver the day before, wondering how they are down on a team they are used to beating. We felt especially good about the 15-9 win because Muffin did not tweet any hate towards us.
Team Five from Seattle was next. One of the offensively cleaner games I have been a part of. They seemed to throw before even taking a step (with the contrast of another player never throwing unless taking 3 or 4 full strides... ). Their defense started out the first half by covering 6 players and letting one score (Props to Aaron Neal for stepping in to our O line and scoring a bunch of points in the absence of Lloyd). They were very good at getting us out of our sets and make Derek Alexander use some creativity, but once we got into flow which prevented the junky D from maintenance its effect - our speed, height and endurance seemed to pay off. A tight game with only 2 breaks against and clean slate for the O line let us hold on to the 15-12 win. Of note was a game winning play with the thought process being "Let's run X play because they play Furious all the time and they run Y play - which is of note because Y play was invented due to Sockeye previously knowing play X so well they had to invent Y. So meta. (or, just a really good huck from Andy O..)
Next up was Team Six. I believe that game you can watch for yourself (Spoiler: we won) on Ultiworld in a few days. You might be able to hear our coach keep singing "Break (mumble mumble)" because he really liked the tune but the words "break for half" only can apply once per game. We took half on an O point.
Next up, Tournament Four. The schedule isn't up but the rumour is we start with a rematch against Team One there.