I was reviewing some old stuff about regionals from some old friends. What comes through more than anything else is how special it is. You've got some happy-to-be-theres, full of college kids. You've got the shoulders full of chips, who scrap and fight regardless of outcome. You have contenders, who look like monoliths from far away, and who close up are full of cracks and flaws. And you have teams on the edge, for whom regionals contains all the potential and worry that you could cram into two days. So what was it like, all these flavors together?
Well, Machine lined up against BroCats from beautiful Athens, OH. Their squad featured several old Madcow and High Five players, challenged Machine from the start, swarming deep throws and setting a difficult 4 person cup on a turn. The good guys persevered, Suzie Q’ing their way to a 13-3 victory.
Next up was the Greater Gary Goblins X squad. This team, composed of mostly college players from Northwestern, University of Chicago, and Notre Dame (in order of descending latitude), featured a lot of young grit, heckles for their college teammates on Machine, and at least three Abby Shure Nemesis jerseys. The GGGs fought hard, but couldn't match Machine's defensive intensity, and, even though Alex Evangelides couldn't get a D point to save his life, the Rowdy Boys prevailed, 13-0. Big ups to the young men on playing for a team that prioritizes player growth and competitiveness. We look forward to seeing them at tryouts next year!
After a significant break, the squad took the field against Mango Tree from Ann Arbor for the last game of pool play and a spot in the semis. Mango Tree exhibited strong dedication to both singing the "Bingo" song about Mango Trees all the way to the end and playing an effective clam defense. The Machine O line was broken for the first time all day, and the D had trouble getting turns as Mango Tree cleaned up the trash on multiple tipped disc. The D ratcheted up the pressure and left the O on the sideline, and the Chicago squad took the game and the pool, 13-6.
Semis. Brickyard. The third place finisher in the region three years in a row, but this time without Machine supercrush Jake Fella, who has been sidelined with a knee injury. Brickyard looked fast and broke first for a 2-3 lead. Machine broke back, and had the rock to take half 8-5, but turned it and got broken on the next point on a popped up under, eventually holding for half 8-7. The theme of the day continue, and increased pressure and team D proved too much for the Indy squad, and Machine earned a spot in the finals, 15-9.
Saturday afternoon featured college football in hotel rooms, eating a lot of suspect pizza with new arrival Sam Kanner, a predictable outcome to the Credit Card Roulette for the dinner bill, and early bedtimes. On Sunday, a team meeting in the morning, watching the start of Nemesis against Rival in Women’s finals (which Nemesis would go on to win!), and then the warmup.
Finals. For the sixth year in a row, Machine faced bi-staters High Five in the regional final, this year after two close losses earlier in the season. This time without AJ to beast anyone. Someone else would have to do the beasting. Again, Machine was broken first, and a fired up High Five defense forced turns on each of the first four O points. The O punched it in on the next turn, and the D tied it after a huge run-down deep from Von. After a pair of holds, Machine broke twice to take half with much difficulty and many turnovers, 8-5. The second half featured more pressure as well as the D line's inability to move the disc efficiently, leading to lots of turns, but no breaks. After holds by both teams, High Five got two short fields and quickly broke twice to tie the game at 9-9. A Machine timeout led to a hold and another break as Nate put his man on skates in the endzone set, and Machine led 11-9 as the soft cap went off, game to 13. Some excitement ensued, but netted out in two holds, and Machine won its third regional championship in a row, 13-11.
Cheers, smiles, and some Mad Dog later, the squad headed back, with two new members set to get their first taste of club nationals. Machine and Nemesis celebrated with an evening of rooftop BBQ’ing, overlooking the city. The faces change, but the flavor doesn't, and we can't wait.The team will head to its annual Sports Day retreat next weekend with a lot to improve on in the lead up to nationals in San Diego.