Monday, May 23, 2011

States 'Press Release'

USA Ultimate Oregon High School Championships (Mixed).
Score Reporter:


South Eugene HS Mixed A
Summit HS Storm Mixed Varsity
Churchill HS Mixed Varsity
Sheldon HS
Crescent Valley HS - Mixed
Grant HS Mixed
Dallas HS Agent Orange Mixed Var

South Eugene was the obvious number one seed coming in. Led by All everything Aaron Honn, the Axepersons have skill, athleticism, experience and depth. They’ve dominated open play in Oregon, and the West, winning open state for several years, and playing at a consistently high level in USAUltimate Westerns for the same span. Their girls are young, but clearly skilled, and they easily had 6 or 7 girls there. South brought relatively fewer guys, including a number of younger players, but had a few of their guns there. This is South’s first coed foray, as in the past they’ve focused on open play.

Summit High was the two seed, based on I guess the fact that they’d played a little better at Westerns, and had a novice girls team competing in westerns. Finished 2nd at Coed last year, behind Churchill. The only team in the state to run Vert stack exclusively, Summit ‘s game is based on strong D, and scoring fast.

Churchill Has dominated Coed play for years, and played well at the regional level in westerns. Like South (and, presumably, much of the Eugene league), they benefit from middle school programs, and a strong Frisbee presence in Eugene. They graduated a lot of players last year, and they are now self coached, but it’s clearly more a reloading year than a rebuilding year as their strong play indicates.

Sheldon, Coached by UO alum Claire Sharman, seems to be on the upswing, in terms of numbers, and gameplay. Like all the valley teams, I’m convinced that their throwing IQ is significantly higher than our teams. It seems like as a measure of just ‘disc skills,’ the valley teams have a huge advantage. It may be basically mild winters, or the large leagues, or who knows.

Crescent Valley HS, coached by USA Rep Andrew Buermeyer, is also on the upswing. The team shut down the doors in 2009, and has rebuilt from the ground up, but, they are clearly a young team.

Grant HS was the wild card. As games went on, they showed they could run and gun with the other teams, but couldn’t clean it up quite enough. But they clearly have a game plan, their coach has them ballin’, and depending on graduation, and recruiting, should be on the rise.

Dallas High School: If most fun wins, it’s these guys. Played better against Sheldon and Churchill, than against Grant, but since I didn’t see the games, I can’t comment. Could be style of play, or fatigue.

Notable games:
I’ll mainly speak to the Summit games.

Game 1) Dallas 13-3
Summit committed plenty of unforced errors, but was able to keep it together. We worked on disc movement laterally across the front of the stack, decision making, and execution.

Game 2) 10-5 Over Crescent Valley.
The team came out clearly overconfident against Crescent Valley. And promptly went down 4-2. At this point, we had a rather pointed conversation about the difference between pride and arrogance, and about the need to respect every opponent, yourself, and the game. A very teachable moment, and we went on an 8-1 run. Still working on breaking mark and dumping and swinging, which improved slightly. Tournaments are where growth happens, and we were working hard to get better each game.

Game 3) 5-10 (L) to South Eugene.
In the first Half we came out tentatively. We stayed with a deep rotation, and were down at half 7-2. We talked about playing with confidence in the face of adversity, executing the game plan, and believing in yourself. I think I told some story about drowning rats jumping ship and swimming or something. It’s available in my coaching seminars. We calmed down, and traded points the rest of the way, while giving everyone some valuable big game competition.

Game 4) 9-6 over Churchill.
Another game of two halves. This time we came out too fired up. The ‘d’ was there, but we were WAY too hurried in transition, looking for hero plays, making jittery miscues. We took a time out, discussed our mindset, recognized that we were not overconfident, we were not scared, we were just too fired up, and needed to calm down. We were down, I think, 6-4, and scored 5 straight , all on D (we pulled to start the second half). Churchill is no longer coached, but the lasting legacy of Luke Johnson continues, as does the benefits of their middleschool feeder programs.
We’re now 2 – MANY against Churchill, having lost, conservatively 8-15 times to them over the past 8 years, often by loads.

Dinner at a local restaurant, crowded in , ate some burgers, and watched the first half of the Mavs-Sonics (sic) game. Went back to camp, and everyone got some much needed sort of rest on the ground.

Game 5) Grant HS 10-3.
Historically, we warm up haphazardly, with various athletes skipping the run, skipping out to go do ‘stuff’, dogging it in the drills. So, I made it clear that the warm ups and drills serve as performance cues, and that team mates who dog it, or skip, interfere with the team’s ability to achieve game level focus. The rule was, miss the workout, you do not play today. Normal warm up of drills, and one possession short field scrimmages vs either man or zone. Our game got cleaner and cleaner, but we were still failing to face the mark, failing to break the mark, etc. But the offense was cleaning up with every passing game, and we were using everyone of our 19 players.

Game 6) Sheldon
9-5. We traded points, and gave Sheldon a lead. Or they took it. Their game was smooth and polished, and they took advantage of our miscues. We tightened the rotation up, the offense cleaned up a little more, and we closed it out.

Game 7) We got permission from the TD and agreement from South and started early. The South Coach served as the official time keeper, announcing soft and hard caps. This was our game of games.

We talked about confidence vs overconfidence, anticipation vs anxiety, and trusting the plan. We knew it would be hard, as South has not lost a State game in as long as I can remember. Beyond that I don’t remember them being challenged in a game. They were loose and confident, but not cocky. Our team was pumped and motivated, and Mario showed some senior leadership taking the team on a pregame jog. In throwing everyone seemed loose. Good sign.

We scored first on a long throw to a wide open Sammi Jones. But South answered back. But tellingly, I think we had a ‘d’ in that point. South scored again to make it 2-1 South. Shades of past debacles were there, but something was different. The ‘d’ was a bit tighter, there was no nervousness, and the miscues were not bad decisions or over reaching types. I put in my all-star line up to even the score…. And after throwing 15 smart passes, they made a dumb error, and South scored in 2 passes. Down 3-1, I left them in, they scored quickly and efficiently, and the game was afoot.

We made no adjustments. We were playing as well as we could. We'd made huge strides just since the beginning of the tournament. Mario and Andy were cautious and active, moving the disc side to side and looking up field. They took very few risks, but were not tentative. A Good mix. Luke, Tanner and Andrew were locking down on 'd', and making big gains on the cutting. The girls were everywhere, catching goals, throwing goals, keeping the drives alive, and making block after block.

Our SIDELINE was ENGAGED, communicative, and supportive, making us seem even larger than our 20 person squad.

Our ‘D’ line converted to make it 3-3, and then, shocker, we took the lead. Against South. In the finals. Things were clicking: Our handlers were getting lateral movement across the midline. Our downfield cutters were active. Our girls were everywhere, getting blocks, making tough grabs. And the relatively low numbers and youthful players South brought might have been showing fatigue. To a great extent, everything possible went our way, and enough went against South to catch them at the wrong time.

We have never executed our offense better.
Kids made clutch grabs with excellent pressure.
We made very few ‘bad decisions’
We had very few physical errors.
We were well rested because of our deep bench.
And, frankly, when it was time to get lucky, we did.

Summit wins. 13-10. I suspect the Axemen will be coming Heavy to single gender. I’ve seen them when they bring the hammer. And likewise, I suspect their talented girls team will be out for blood, er, sap, when they face our girls.

Congrats to all the teams at Mixed States. Thanks to South for a great game. I must say, they have always been gracious in victory, and they were no less gracious in a rare defeat. Says a lot about them.

Game notes: Tanner's downfield cutting kept many a drive alive, making key grabs with #25 on him like a backpack. Likewise, the girls were tough as nails in cutting and throwing. The girls may have had 0 turnovers for the game, while racking up numerous goals and assists. Obviously, our seniors played great all weekend, but the future looks bright with Luc, Tanner, and Andrew racking up big time playing time on offense and defense. Throw in Braedon "The Wolverine" Petrus, and the future looks bright.

I wish I had video of our first outdoor practice for the team to compare your performance. From 6 possession huck and hope points, to throwing 10 passes on the goal line before selecting the best option to score it. Bueno.

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