There and Black Again, a Player’s Tale (Part 1)
Six teams to play this Fall,
Three fields to find them,
One league to bring them all
And in the playoffs bind them.
Six teams assembled to do battle for the one championship ring this past season, and what a battle it was! We laughed, we cried, Cameron Paul tricked us into eating honey covered pizza (it’s no Lembas bread, but it’s not bad). It was a great season, let’s take a look back at how it all shook out.
I’ll be honest, I missed quarterfinals and this was like 3 months ago so I'm a little fuzzy on the details...buuuut here we go!
White (Gandalf the White) vs Gold (Smeagoal)
I really thought White had this game in the bag. After beating Gold by as many as 10 points in the regular season, White looked like the heavy favorites in quarters. Gold would forge a different destiny for themselves, however.
Gold only brought 8 people to quarters but the medley of deep shots from Tabitha, Drew Magee, Zach Good and Dan Kahn to a streaking Ben Bazyler would prove deadly. White had no answer to stop Ben’s reign of terror in the endzone and the breaks stacked up.
Gold captain Tabitha was injured by a freak cave troll but was wearing Mithril armor and managed to power through. White captain Boot lost a hand in a similar troll related accident, but that didn’t stop him from leading a valiant resistance for team Gandalf. League newbie Randi Bowman set her own personal record for most goals scored in a single game for White in quarters. Rookie of the year Alex Butler is now “really into ultimate” according to his dad. Boot told me that Alex was going up for discs with two hands this season, so expect twice as many catches in the Spring from this future Callahan award winner.
In the end, Gold’s deep shots to Ben Bazyler couldn’t be stopped. Gold wins 15-9 over White. Smeagoal scurries towards semifinals while Lindsi awakens a balrog and Gandalf falls off another bridge.
Red (Scordor) vs Blue (Oliphants)
I’ll go ahead and address the oliphant in the room. I don’t know much about this game either. The final scores, specific plays, pretty much everything is shrouded in mystery to me. I’ll try to sum up the game through fine art:
What I DO know is that Blue had a very solid handler core. The speedy handler weave between Carlo, Courtney and Chris likely gave Red a tough time and was nearly impossible to stop.
Nevertheless, Red assembled for their last hurrah. Captain Jose and Makenna stood proud as they looked upon the charging Oliphants. More than a few people told me later that Jose and Makenna did a great job captaining their first season, especially with creating a welcoming environment for new players. Well done! I was informed several league rookies including Erin, Emily, Brent, Thomas and Ricardo all made admirable contributions for Scordor. Red witnessed the establishment of Brent as Peter’s prodigy. Scott invented a new type of throw, named in the language of Scordor which I will not utter here.
Despite their best efforts, Scordor could not repel the Oliphant stampede. I’m gonna guess the game ended on universe point like this: Mimmo holding the disc with a chance to score and win the game. Christy is wide open on dump, calling for the sensible swing. Hubris takes hold of Mimmo as he sees a heavily guarded deep look to Makenna. Mimmo succumbs to the power of the one ring and boosts a sketchy flick huck to Makenna, which is immediately struck down by blue defender Emma Kyes. Blue promptly works the disc down the field and scores.
Blue wins 15-14 over Red. Red forgets to lock the Black Gate and the Oliphants simply walk into Scordor en route to the semifinals.
Gold (Smeagoal) vs Black (Nazgoal)
Still riding high from their quarterfinals upset, Smeagoal looked to sneak into finals and reclaim their precious. This would prove to be a tall order for Smeagoal, however, as the Nazgoals awaited their prey in this semifinal matchup.
There’s no debating it, Black was a well oiled machine. You may attribute their skill to Kody’s drafting prowess, or the miraculous healing of Scotty’s ACL, or the combined years of experience and talent between four nationals level players on one team (Plants, Potato, Kody, Scotty). But you’d be wrong. I’ve got two words for you: Acro Yoga.
While the rest of you were busy living your lives, the Nazgoals were hard at work building team chemistry in secret. On more than one occasion they met after league for team dinners at Fermentation Lounge, Gaines Street Pies and The Wilbury to scheme in secret. They invited me along to one such dinner and what I saw was both impressive and terrifying:
I watched in horror as Cameron Paul suspended teammate Daniel Scott in an unnatural backbend position using only his hands and feet. Katelyn Mckey, Hailey Amundson, Lauren Bosche, and Scotty Moore joined in on the Acro Yoga exercises as well, in what I can only assume was a team bonding ritual for Black. The slightest lapse in concentration would surely kill a man, but these teammates had come to trust one another with their lives. The amount of coordination, flexibility and raw intimacy required to accomplish such a feat would undoubtedly wreak havoc on the rest of league.
And wreak havoc they did.
Granted, there are some asterisks to this game. Tabitha was still heroically playing through her injuries from the cave troll. Ben Bazyler and Zach Good both forgot their passports and got held up at the Black Gate TSA, missing semifinals entirely. Drew Magee was feeling a few pounds heavier from his wedding cake tasting. But Smeagoals still tried their best to resist the Nazgoal offensive and fought bravely. Luke Burchell reportedly made significant improvement throughout the season and showed up in a big way for Gold. Tabs mentioned that Gold had more lady subs than dudes for semis, which is unusual yet very very welcome news. In the end it just wasn’t enough and Black piled on a mountain of breaks.
Black wins 15-5 over Gold. Nazgoal throws a ring pop off the side of Mt. Doom and Smeagoal takes the bait and dives after it.
To be continued...