Strange Blue Tournament Report

University Mixed Outdoor Nationals

14.Apr.2007 - Newcastle

This weekend just gone, the students sent forth a team of 11 hardy adventurers north to Newcastle for Uni Mixed Outdoor Nationals, this year hosted by Too Many Pies (resident in, of course, Newcastle). Representing the blokes were Pedro, Martin, Mike, Rob S, Tom C and Danny; going for the girls were Kelly, Dani, Lucy, Alex and Wei, with the man from Portugal as captain extraordinaire. Unfortunately, Cambridge is rather inconveniently placed in respect to Newcastle, so we all had to get up for a 5.30am start on Saturday (!), which was at least slightly alleviated from the original 4.30 proposed as Tom and Wei could go to the Captain's Meeting for us.

The journey up was relatively uneventful, with Pedro not making any wrong turns despite making the 4 hour trip on a grand total of 2 hours' sleep. We arrived at the playing fields (stacked full of nice, luscious, soft turf) around half 10 for our first pool match against Boogie Knights from Liverpool (4th in our group - we were 3rd). The matches were 40 minutes long throughout the weekend, with a cap at 9 - so it was important not to let the games run away from you in the first half!

Anyway, the first game against Boogie Knights was perhaps not SB at its best, with the effects of 4 hours sitting on our bums in the bus showing in our play. However, we pulled away at the right time and ran out winners...
SB 9 - 6 Boogie Knights

With the win against Boogie Knights safely tucked under our collective belt, we then had our first big pool match, against Leeds Jedi (2nd in the group). If we could win this we'd have a great chance of getting into the top 8 - what followed was an extremely tight game with neither side giving any quarter. The 40 minute hooter came with the score at SB 5 - Leeds 6; but some amazing hucks from Pedro and great cuts put us firstly level and then clinched it! Wooooo!
SB 7 - 6 Leeds

Brimming full of confidence now, we looked forward to our next pool match against Positive Mojo from Aberdeen. top seeds in our group. Watching from the sideline during their match early on, they didn't seem too threatening - however it seemed that the tense game against Leeds had put us slightly to sleep, and a combination of their solid long game and our not playing anywhere near as well as we should have meant that Mojo won a game that we quite possibly could have taken.
SB 4 - 9 +ve Mojo

Following a long break we had our final pool match versus Essex Disc Devils, a new team that had only started up last September. Furthermore, they only had 2 girls (having had 2 pull out on Friday!), and so were playing short for the entire weekend; looking to show them what we really could do, especially after the disappointing loss to Aberdeen, SB came out with a vengeance. Assisted by some lucky gusts of wind at first and then solid play later on, we kept them scoreless and came out with a healthy victory. However, during the match we sustained two injuries - Danny went down on his knee, and was unable to play for the rest of Saturday; I managed to sprain my ankle, and (perhaps foolishly) played on for the rest of the day.
SB 9 - 0 Essex

Thereafter there was an anxious wait as the big game in the group - Mojo v Leeds - was played out on the pitch next to us. If Mojo won, we would be second and go through to the crossovers in the 5v12 game; if Leeds won, we'd all be tied on wins but the other two sides' much better points difference would relegate us to third. What followed was yet another extremely tense match which went right down to the wire - Mojo coming from behind after the hooter to secure the sudden death point (which went on for 15 minutes and included several drops from their long runner, prompting agonised screams from the sideline).

This meant we went into the crossover as 5th seeds, playing Blaze from Stirling who'd ended up as 12th; in what was a really good performance (especially without Danny on the field, and myself only fitfully), we put together awesome cuts and some sweet hucks from Pedro to comfortably win 9-4. It turned out they'd played 5 games already that day, which perhaps explained their lack of enthusiasm at times!
SB 9 - 4 Blaze

With the top 8 placing firmly in place, SB retired to our host's house and thence to Wagamama for dinner (yay 2 for 1s!). Thereafter, the old people went home to sleep (boo, hiss) while us young'uns went to the party at the Newcastle student union. While the party theme was Disney, none of us had made any particular effort - except Lucy, who put together a costume that had Pedro confused almost immediately (Pocahontas? No, Jack Sparrow, Pedro, sheesh - the people at the party got it!). The party was actually quite fun, with a balloonist and facepainting and an amazing bubble machine, but the onset of drunken karaoke at about 11 inspired even us to head back for some sleep. (It must be said there were some good costumes there, however - LSE came as dwarfs in matching stripey hats and singlets, one team came dressed as Toy Story characters, and there was one absolute legend who was an Etch-a-Sketch. Yep.)

Anyway! Sunday dawned bright and early, on paint-smudged faces and the news that I would be hobbling around for the day - although Danny thankfully was back to full fitness. We headed back to the fields for our 4v5 match against Trinity College Dublin, a very athletic looking team - especially at 10 in the morning. What followed was a lopsided affair as their committed side took advantage of our seeming sleepiness to outrun and outjump us; they raced out to a 5-1 halftime lead and while we pulled a few back, it wasn't enough.
SB 4 - 9 Trinity College Dublin

The next match - 5v8 - proved to be against who else, but Leeds! They'd played a mammoth crossover on Saturday against Haze, which ran for a full 40 minutes over time and included yet another fist- clenchingly tense final point which this time they DID get. As Pedro said afterwards, this was their chance to get back at us for the close match the previous day - but what followed was some sweet, sweet ultimate, as SB raced out to a 5 - zip lead at the half based on some great cuts, awesome long play and an amazing zone that absolutely shut down their options (they made it to halfway at the most, then tried to put it long - but Pedro was there to take those down). They switched to 4 handlers in the second half and there were some worrying moments for us on the sideline as they came back to within 3 points, but SB completed a fine effort by securing the win.
SB 10 - 6 Leeds

Finally, there was perhaps the toughest match of them all... the 5v6. If we won this we would have moved up a full 4 seedings. And who was it against but the mighty but recently laid low first seeds - Ro Sham Bo! They hadn't been very happy at their relegation from the top 4, and mutterings were heard from them pre-match that "this would take about 5 minutes". However, what followed was an absolutely amazing game - even better than the previous one, as SB showed the Scots exactly what we could do. They went in confident but we had sweet chilly O against their zone, outrageous long hucking and cutting, and pressure D which made them make mistakes (especially Dani's 2v1 hammer D!), there was trading points and then a final amazing moment when Tom cut to the line, put a backhand into the corner... and Rob caught it in the 'zone, capping off an absolutely terrific game and easily the best performance of the entire weekend.
SB 10 - 9 Ro Sham Bo

So, SB came as 9th; and returned as 5th seeds. As it turned out, Trinity College Dublin went on to win the entire shebang, gunning down Flatball from St Andrews in a tight final that had more than its fair share of moments - so there was some pride gained from losing to the eventual winners!

Speaking as an unwilling spectator for the Sunday, though, it really was some absolutely awesome ultimate from the guys - sweet cuts and continuations up the field, some good chilly handling against the zone, really committed D chock full o' intercepts, and Pedro at the back sending long - and it was entirely fair that in the end the MVP went to everyone for what was really a "team effort" in every sense of the phrase. I may have only played one day, but I'd like to say it really was an honour to be there.

Finally, a special thanks once again to Pedro, who drove us up on Saturday morning on 2 hours' sleep, played a full day of handling that was instrumental in getting us through to the top 8, and then stepped it up for what was one of the most amazing Sunday's play I've seen... and drove us home afterwards as well! We really couldn't have done it all without him. (Awww.)

- Mike