Menís Ultimate Controls Santa Barbara, Lands on National Map
Tuesday, February 25, 2014
The Santa Barbara 2014 Invitational Tournament is advertised as the "New Year's first Premier West Coast tournament", being host to many National College Championship Tournament-bound teams. Featuring a showcase game of the #14th ranked team, Arizona Sunburn, against hosts UCSB Black Tide, it kicked off the start to the college ultimate season, and in a fantastic manner for the UCSD Air Squids.
With a lucky first round bye, the Squids were able to sleep in until 7:45 before their first game against University of British Columbia, who had come down from Vancouver to test their mettle and experience some of that famous SoCal weather. And as the sun and the temperature rose, the Air Squids came out with complete mental and physical game which culminated in several breaks and a margin of 13-8 for the win. Psyched after a solid start, UCSD braced themselves for a tough second game, against #21 Stanford (whom they had beaten in the finals of Sean Ryan in November). However, the Squids came out fast and furious, going up 3-0 in the first ten minutes, and then keeping the pedal down for a halftime score of 7-3. After a couple full field hucks from Jesse 'Hardy' Cohen and Cody 'Nofsky' Kirkland to receivers Nikhar 'Manji' Abbas and Captain Trevor 'Quod' Purdy and layout D's from his counter-part Captain Nick 'Alamo' Smith and 5th year Tyler 'Morrow' Gates, the Squids finish the game 13-9, a radically different game than both previous (9-12 and 9-8). Next up was a Regionals rematch against the team that knocked the Squids out of a run for nationals, the UCSC Banana Slugs. UCSC was returning a couple key players who currently play for the professional American Disc Ultimate League team, the San Jose Spiders, and were burgeoning to show it. The Squids came out faster than the Slugs however, and took half 7-4. While UCSC's deep threats were near impossible to defend without the usage of an NFL safety, UCSD continued to plow through defenses and with some great defense plays (Captain Quod with a layout D) and finished the game 13-9. The last game of the day was a crossover with the 2nd place team of another pool, against Cal's UGMO. Returning nearly every player, Cal showed improvement in offensive threats, however this still was not enough to stop the rolling momentum of UCSD Air Squids as they surprised the nation by going 4-0 against most of the Southwest's best teams.
The Squids Saturday performance granted them another first round bye starting the quarter finals berth. However, their 4-0 record on Saturday and good seeding would mean nothing if they couldn't keep up under the pressure for Sunday. After U of Washington conquered the neighboring SDSU, the Sundodgers would face UCSD in the quarter finals. However, UCSD's fire had not been extinguished, as they took 3 fast breaks for half at 7-3. UW would not relent however, throwing full field hucks to their tall receivers and putting up a great defensive effort through means of a zone that almost tripped up the Squid offense. This would not slow down the Squids for long as they took the game 13-8 with too little too late from UW. Now facing Arizona State in the semifinals, the Squids were facing a strong team that had dominated when UCSD hosted SoCal warmup, a team that would prove to be the hardest challenge yet. The first point was decided in a rare and rather embarrassing (for ASU) fashion. A former captain, Aaron 'Cable' Lee got a Callahan, which requires catching an opponentís pass in their endzone. However, this defensive break was the only difference between UCSD and ASU until half, ending 7-5. After half, ASU turned on the pressure and tied up the game, and then took the lead for 8-7. After a couple trading of points through tough zone offense and offensive drops, the game was 10-11 ASU when they get a defensive break. Since the game was to 13, this 10-12 scoreboard showed the Squids that it was life or death now. With the time running out the Squids quickly race up the field past the ASU zone and, quickly hustle with the same line for defense. However the ASU offense moves it down to the end zone line, ready to take the finals berth away from UCSD. However, thanks to some great defense and probably a breath of wind that moved the disc a centimeter away from the flying ASU receiver, the Squids got the turnover and scored to make the game 12-12, universe point. More heroic defense and smart disc movement gave UCSD the point and a place in the finals against UBC, a repeat of Saturday morning.
The energy from the nail-biter ending of the ASU game gave the Squids momentum to roll through the UBC offense to a blazing 4-0 start. However, with some marathon long points, tough calls, and bad decisions, UBC crawled back to make it 7-4 for half. Then, after a mass hysteria point which involved several false injury calls, a six person bid for a huck, high stalls and an out of bounds play, UBC keep the pressure on and closes the gap to 10-9. However, the Squids don't let the T Birds back in the game and close out with final score of 13-11, finishing with a James 'Tulio' Lai huck to Captain Quod for the trophy. Well, there aren't trophies in ultimate, but the metaphorical trophy nonetheless.
The victory earned the Squids a berth in the premier tournament in the country Stanford Invite and a 16th in the nation ranking by primary ultimate blog Ultiworld. The UCSD Air Squids drove home for Santa Barbara knowing that they had successfully put themselves on the map for national ultimate. Next tournament is Presidentís Day Invite where UCSD will host 19 other schools for another high level tournament, where the Squids look to build on their early success.
Nov 16 - Air Squids Prove Their Worth at the Sean Ryan Tournament