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Washington Sectionals

Recaps, Tournaments

UltiPhotos: Sunday Preview - Washington &emdash; _DSC6803
Getting Back on Track

Lately, it has felt as though we spend so much time competing that we hardly have time to practice. Competition is valuable in the lessons you learn about yourselves; practice is where you apply those lessons and train desirable new habits. Even when you can discern areas in need of improvement, it is extremely difficult to improve as a team when you’re starved for time to practice something new. With many obligations on the go, since the Labor Day Championships, we have still only found time for 3 team practices. We have needed everyone on the team to learn how to become better, faster.

Thus, our pending Sectionals rematch against Sockeye represented an important test for us. Since the end of July, we have been playing catch-up against the rest of the field, and what little time we had has quickly run out.

UltiPhotos: Saturday Preview - Washington Sectionals &emdash; _DSC4945

The Schedule
In recent years, Sectionals have made an awkward chore for us. The format historically prescribes pool play on Saturday and a double-elimination playoff format on Sunday. Typically, with Sockeye, Furious, Voodoo and Blackfish often filling in the top four slots every year, it leads to a maddeningly repetitive schedule, especially since all four teams invariably advance to Regionals. It doesn’t even feel like autumn without playing Voodoo. In any given year, we could expect to meet them at least twice at Sectionals, alternating games between the two Seattle squads. I know all their Halloweenish team cheers by heart.

This year, with 9 teams and 5 advancing to the regional qualifier, the schedule laid out an eerily comfortable road for us. The field was divided between two pools, and the winners of those brackets advanced to a single championship game on Sunday. It felt positively luxurious. I know that our fellow Vancouverites (particularly Traffic and Zephyr) will gnash their teeth over our 5-game weekend, but after watching them walk away with a one-day sectional championship for years, I feel entitled to this one rare treat.

UltiPhotos: Saturday Preview - Washington Sectionals &emdash; _DSC5045

Meet Complacent George
The Monkey glided through Saturday relatively unscathed, which is usually a cause for concern. As a team objective, we want to dominate as much as possible, of course. We want to finish games quickly and efficiently, conserving our energy. But we want to dominate on our own merits, and through our own consistent application of focus. We want to dominate by design, as opposed to accident. The latter tends to breed the bad habits and lassitude that have been our Achilles Heel of late.

Anyone who has been following our scores in the last two months knows that we have seen two different Monkeys on the field: Furious George, and Complacent George. Complacent George is Furious’ lazy twin. He gets lulled into a false sense of content expectation. He doesn’t think terribly clearly, and he looks genuinely bewildered when things go wrong. He talks a big game, but you would not trust him to babysit your family dog. I detest Complacent George. Lately, we have seen too much of that Monkey. So when we began our Saturday with an easy streak of wins, I was genuinely concerned we might relapse into that frustrating lassitude.

UltiPhotos: Saturday Preview - Washington Sectionals &emdash; _DSC6131

To a limited extent, that’s what we saw. Our game against Blackfish (13-5) played out more turbulently than the score might otherwise suggest. There were several inelegant marathon points in that game that we somehow contrived to win, but which were nevertheless groan-worthy to behold. Facing us, Blackfish is a team full of stubborn desire. They played willful defense, and they never gave up. They even earned a break at the very end of the game. Ending the day on this note was a therapeutically stern reminder to wake up and to value possession. It was the reminder we needed to play Sockeye the following morning, for which I am grateful.

UltiPhotos: Saturday Preview - Washington Sectionals &emdash; DSC_9761

The Monkey & The Fish
Our Sunday final against Sockeye was a tightly contested grudge match, even though relatively little sat at stake. Our offensive line played far better than they have in the last two months, investing the requisite effort into their cuts, playing off of each other well, making relaxed, intelligent choices, and winning one-on-one battles when necessary. And our defensive line did a good job of applying pressure, forcing the Fish to labor for their points. Our conversion rate on turnovers was suboptimal (sitting somewhere near 25%), but this was still somewhat forgivable, due to execution error as opposed to decision error or effort. At the end of the game, Sockeye took the crown with two breaks to our one (15-13).

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Now, I am never content with a loss, least of all to Sockeye. However, I can live with a loss when we play well, meet our expectations of ourselves, and the other team happens to play better. These are the losses we learn from — that make us better. It is nice to see the Monkey play a full game in good form so that we can turn our collective attention back to the adjustments and subtleties that transform a tight defeat into a tight victory. These are things we can practice.

Next up: Northwest Regionals.

UltiPhotos: Sunday Preview - Washington &emdash; DSC_0009

PS — Seraglia said he was proud of the team.  Also, Hell froze over.

Alex Davis

One Response to “Washington Sectionals”

  1. Mortakai Says:

    Clearly that Seraglia quote was taken out of context.