Due to the tournament being held in Glasgow causing some dropouts, our decent showing at Nationals last year and some exciting seeding decisions we came into the weekend as the 4th seed. That put us as a top seed in our pool along with Glasgow, Purple Cobras and Jeykll & Hyde.
Due to the tournament being held in Glasgow, GB U24 training being on the same weekend and us not being allowed to recruit ‘cup-tied’ players from Regionals until it was too late, we started the long journey up knowing we only had 5 players for the weekend.
Just to add to the task ahead there was (for once) plenty of pitch time compared to the number of teams – which meant we had 24 minute games, on big 3G pitches and a game-on-game-off structure on Saturday morning to deal with.
With the length of the games we knew it would be important to start quickly and make the most of the opportunities we got, and in our first game – a regional rematch of the-game-that-never-was against Purple Cobras – we managed to do just that. We got a lead early and controlled the game from there scoring with multiple blades to the endzone, winning 10-6.
Up next was Jekyll & Hyde from London – one of the few teams to have made the journey up. We didn’t really know much about them coming in and so we again just stuck to the plan of starting fast and getting an early lead. Fortunately for us it worked and again we saw the game out from there putting up the points to make it 13-7 in the end.
Our final pool game was against the second seeded team in the group – Glasgow. Some familiar faces suggested this wasn’t quite the Glasgow team we’d faced at Tour last year, but we were still locked in a physical game with lots of great play from both teams. Once again though we managed to get a quick lead on and keep that momentum going to take it 9-5.
All that put us into a top 8 power pool with a carry-over win. We knew that we only needed one more win to secure a top 4 seeding overnight and avoid the crossovers first thing on Sunday.
First up in the power pool was a team we know well: Danger. Without really talking about it we started well again and took the lead; this really helped as we knew their preferred zone defence isn’t ideal when you are chasing the game. For a while though they resisted playing it and stuck with man, against which we kept the scoreboard ticking over. Eventually we forced them to go zone against us and it allowed us to really slow the game down, as well as for the first time not being rushed between points. The indirect pressure started to tell as we got closer towards the end but we held our nerve in sudden death and took it 9-8.
The final game of the day was against ‘The Lizards of Frizzbizzle Forest’, a team we knew nothing about apart from that they too had gone undefeated so far. Turns out they were pretty handy and for the first time we didn’t manage to take the early lead. Whether it was our legs fading after a long day or the knowledge that this was essentially a seeding game for Sunday, we couldn’t get back into the game and they saw it out 7-10.
That left us as 4th seed overnight with no crossover Sunday morning, guaranteed at least a top 8 finish although we knew we could go higher.
So, Sunday, no messing, straight into the quarter finals! We were up against BDB, a team from Scotland who we were expecting to be higher up than the 5th seeds. This turned into a really good game – lots of goals and lots of big plays (just watch the highlight reel below). Once again we started strong and eked out a lead, but as the longer games started to take a hold on our legs we started misfiring slightly on our long shots and let them creep back into the game. Things were about even before they got a break heading into the cap; they therefore had the disc and just needed to score to take the game. We managed to force a turnover, but they managed to get it back and eventually put it in to take the game 11-13 (and yes, it was only an indoor game).
With that, our shot at top 4 was gone and we were consigned to the 5-8 bracket. Frustrating to say the least, but if we had to lose a game, that wasn’t a bad one to lose.
In the 5v8 semi-final we were once again up against Danger. Once again we took an early lead, only this time we couldn’t hold it. As we went into the cap we were even if not slightly ahead on the scoreboard, but a few tired mistakes against their patient zone meant we gave them the chances they needed to take the game 8-9, an exact reverse of the score on Saturday.
For the final game then we faced Cloud City in the 7v8. A very similar game to the previous one; we took a lead, held it for most of the game, but faded towards the end making some sub-optimal decisions and giving them the chance to bring it back. Which they did, and again we headed to sudden death tied at 8s. Just like Danger had done earlier they took the chance we presented to them and with it the game (8-9) leaving us 8th overall.
If we could have kept up the level we showed on Saturday we maybe could have made it into the top 4. As it was we faded slightly towards the end of each game on Sunday, more mentally than anything. If the games had been 20 minutes instead of 24 things would have been very interesting! Despite the disappointment of not quite finishing where we feel we could have, we had an absolute blast of a weekend and really showed that we can mix it with some top teams despite being short a few players.
Bring on Mixed Nationals!
Open division highlight vid (feat. Brum):