Zero Looks to Pull Away from the Pack
By Eric Meyer
What do you usually do when you win a tournament? Most teams are tired by this point, and lazily wander around gloating about their tournament victory. They might even have a few beers, sipping them with smug looks on their faces. Sub Zero is not most teams. After securing a 15-13 win over rivals Madison Club to claim the first ever North Central Regional crown, Zero, a team that is sponsored by Surly Brewing Company, did none of those things. They ran sprints.
Captain Tom Murray said the team will be working on energy, decision making, playing offense against a variety of defensive sets, throwing easy passes, and playing intense defense leading up to the Club Championships. The team has struggled with offensive execution this year. Even with talented cutters Kyle Gill, Grant Lindsley and Greg Arenson, the team has given up too many breaks. Murray knows that Sub Zero has the talent but needs to work on its offensive execution. “I think if we don’t beat ourselves, we should be playing on Saturday,” said Murray.
Zero is also working maximizing all of the talent that it has. The team doesn’t want to be in a situation where it becomes too reliant one player. “Last year, we were overly reliant on Eric Johnson,” said Murray. ”when he went down at Nationals, it rocked us. This year, we are prepared to play well with everyone.”
While Sub Zero’s offense has at times struggled with simple execution, on the flip side, their defensive line has been dominant. Johnson’s move to the D line coupled his big throws with even bigger targets as the line consists of tall, athletic cutters like Shane Hohenstein, Jimmy McDonald and Patrick Jensen. According to Murray, Jensen is one of the surprise players this year saying. “He has played excellent defense and is consistently dominating offensively.”
Sub Zero’s members will no longer be novices entering Club Nationals; there are only three players that have not played at the Open Championships before. Zero will mostly field a full roster, missing only two players: former Hodag captain Matt Young due to a separated shoulder and Jamison Beek due to personal reasons. Sub Zero added Carleton big man Nick Stuart after Chris Demet’s injury left him unable to play the USA Ultimate Series.
From a win/ loss perspective this team does not seem as formidable as promised, but the captains know the team has not reached its full potential. Captain Sam O’Brien explains:
“From the outside, it will seem like nothing has been accomplished. From the inside, however, we have a team structure that is building successful team culture this year and for the future. This isn’t a one-shot season – we have excellent young talent that is forming a core for many years of success, both at Nationals this year and for the next several years of elite ultimate in Minneapolis & Minnesota. If Nationals 2012 were a tournament where we started to fall flat, we are confident that we can adjust our sets, lines, and mentality to reach our goals. Last year was the first trip to Nationals for 3/4s of Sub Zero. This year we’ve been able to practice at a high level all season, and we are just scratching the surface of our potential as a unit.”
The team’s ceiling is unknown; with the talent level Sub Zero has, the team could reach the quarterfinals at the least. Its defensive line is physically dominant and can bring them back in close games when the offense struggles. But if those struggles come early and often, Zero could easily fall out of bracket play.
Thanks to Alex Fraser at Ultiphotos for the feature photo!