Teams came to play.
I spent my time on the fields watching the Squids whenever they were playing, but whenever they weren’t, I’d be on the sideline (behind the spectator line of course) of a women’s game. The effort level was significantly raised at Nationals compared to the preseason tournaments I’ve been at. Of the games I saw, this was most obvious in the Wisconsin-Oregon game. About five girls had to take injury subs, mostly from collisions on the field because players on both teams were running so hard to the disc, laying out for anything, and basically just leaving it all on the field. Before the tournament, I predicted that these two teams would meet again in the Championship game, and I felt pretty good about my choice as I watched them battle it out. Oregon was the only team that completely dominated us this year. We played them on Sunday at Pres Day in the power pools and I remember that they were an incredibly complete team that had all sorts of players creating plays without any one superstar. I also remember thinking that they were one of the nicest teams I’d played, which is strange for me to think because I usually like teams that we slaughter and not the other way around. Wisconsin was the only team in the top six that we didn’t face this year. I’d only seen them play on the Ultivillage Centex DVD, but the clips on that DVD were too short to get any sort of feel for the team. I’d also seen Georgia Bosscher’s Callahan video and was impressed, but assumed that the clips on it were unusual moments of greatness that were just compiled nicely. As it turns out, she’s a living, breathing highlight reel. In the Oregon game especially, Georgia was fantastic. Nearly every point she played (which was nearly every point), she would make some sort of outrageous play (or two). She would get layout D’s by baiting her player, huge skies on both sides of the disc even when it seemed like she didn’t have position, and throw every other score, mostly on deep hucks. Nevertheless, Wisconsin had a great deal of depth and no apparent weak links. Their deep cutters would beat their defenders in a footrace or jump higher to make the plays downfield as well. Oregon started the game with a 3-2 lead, but then Wisconsin went on a 5-1 run to create a moderate gap. Oregon was able to keep the game close until Wisconsin scored the last four points to take the win.
I found myself turning into a Bella Donna fan that weekend. They were, in my opinion, the most exciting team to watch, so I’d catch their games whenever I could, but somehow I was able to see almost every team play for at least a point or two. Other great games in pool play included Stanford-North Carolina where Stanford won on DGP, and UCLA-Northeastern where UCLA was down 14-15, but was able to score the next three points and win 17-15. The quarterfinal game between Wisconsin and Stanford was another nail biter. I was torn between my newfound affection for Wisconsin and my hometown loyalty for Stanford. I grew up in Palo Alto and was first introduced to Ultimate Frisbee by what must have been the Stanford ultimate teams at a summer camp when I was in elementary school (I finally understand why they had such weird names), but I did choose Wisconsin for the overall win in my predictions. The lead went back and forth, but Stanford was able to build up a bit of a lead at the end, up 14-11. Wisconsin scored the next two points, and made it look like a comeback was possible, but then Stanford took the next point and broke my heart. Alright, I wasn’t impartial at all. That was, without a doubt, the most exciting game I watched over the weekend. Both teams looked like they could have had a shot at the championship and I was a bit surprised that Stanford didn’t take down Washington in the semifinals. I also don’t understand why Georgia didn’t play more in the game. It wasn’t until the last five or so points that she stopped taking subs. A Stanford alumna I talked to afterwards said she thought Georgia must be injured. One of her ankles looked like it was taped, but she didn’t seem to be in any pain from where I stood. Maybe they were just trying to keep her fresh for their anticipated semis game. It was a tough loss, but I imagine winning Callahan that evening softened the blow.
The semifinals and finals were fun to watch as well. The west coast was represented enormously by filling all four spots in the semis, and it was comforting to see the Southwest Region come away with the win, as UCSB was basically unchallenged all weekend. On the open side, I was happy to see Adrian and Fagin win big, and to win myself a burrito in the process.