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SCRUW's Sean Ryan


This morning, I drove to Santa Clara, picked up three of the women I'm coaching on the women's ultimate team, and drove to Santa Cruz with them for the 2007 Sean Ryan Memorial Tournament. Kate and I seem to be consistent in our time availability with the team: every day I'm not available, she is, and any day she's not available, I am. As a result, I was coaching this one on my own.

And Kate's the one with the calm demeanor and beaucoup experience, not me.

The team had 13 women today. That's a lot for the team, even if it was about half of what the other teams brought to the tournament. What they lacked in numbers, they made up for in heart.

The first game was against Berkeley X. Berkeley had a large number of players tryout this year, so they split the team into two teams: X and Y. We played X, which had 3-4 players who could catch, throw and defend well, and another 20 who couldn't. So, the game was really, really close as both Berkeley and SCRUW, the Santa Clara women's team name, worked the disc down the field and scored sometimes, turned it over sometimes. The score went something like 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 5-3, 5-5, 6-6, 8-7 (yay, we took half!), 9-7, 10-8, 10-10, 12-10, 12-11. Here's where the heart breaker is. If, on the score where they scored that 11th point had happened 20 seconds later, as in, a second after the hard cap went on instead of 19 seconds after they scored, the game would have been over, and Santa Clara would have won the game. As it was, the hard cap went on as the team was walking down the field to start the next point. Berkeley scored the next point, tying the game, and the following point to win the game. The game finished 15 minutes after the next game was supposed to start, so the team immediately ran over to the next field over to start the next game.

I forgot to suggest they eat something between the rushed games.

The second game was against UCLA BLU X. This team was in much the same boat as the Berkeley team: a few good players (as in, really good players), and a whole bunch of not so good players. The problem was, however, that they had three or four of these good players, compared to Berkeley's two or three. BLU was able to play three of these women pretty much in all the points and move the disc very effectively.

After a number of points of SCRUW moving the disc down the field, only to turn it over within yards of the endzone, and watching the three BLU moving score on three throws, I suggested a change in defense. We'd still force the team one direction in general, but the three women on the line who could play we'd play straight up. With a quick tutorial on how to force straight-up, and the calls incoming defense should make (left and right, brilliant, eh?), the team received the next pull, turned it over, forced straight-up on the good players, caused a turn over close to the endzone, and scored. Molly came up to me after a few points of playing straight up on BLU's top player and excitedly said, "Wow, that's totally working. She's throwing it away, and struggling!" I was so excited to hear my advice was so well received.

The final score of the second game was 4-12, so we missed our goal of 5 points by one. If we could count the "within 10 yards of the endzone" as a half point, though, the score would have been more like 10-12.

The last game was against UC Santa Cruz. Having watched the team earlier, I really thought SCRUW had a chance to win this game. I told them as much before the start of the game. However, they played more of their top line, and, well, pretty much crushed SCRUW. The team had run out of steam, run out of legs, and, well, it showed. I think they were done when the score was 1-6.

All in all, it was a great day. We need to work on initiating a stall count (rather than letting the opponent stand over the disc directing traffic, actually get that stall count going!), keeping on our opponent (no turnstile defense), and throw, throw, throwing!