Ring of Fire:
2012 Regular Season Record: 6-3 (2-3 Sanctioned), beat NexGen 15-12
Current USAU Ranking (Regional Ranking): #10, (SE2)
Raleigh’s Ring of Fire is Chesapeake’s only #1 seed to not attend two tournaments so far this season. Ring tied for 3rd at the US Open earlier in July and was the only team to play Bravo close besides Chain Lightning. Raleigh dropped off the map for a month after Boulder, only resurfacing to stop NexGen’s winning streak in a game that was more one-sided than the 15-12 score suggests.
One of the main discussions I’ve been having with my team is how to structure your defensive line. Assuming you have 14 guys on D, do you have two defensive lines of varying strength? Do you make them even and try to mask your weak points? Raleigh has a very intriguing structure where they separate their D lines by style of play. The unit consists of two defensive lines, where the “Ring” line looks to grind off of a turn and the “Fire” line works the deep shot. Virginia Night Train lefties Ian Toner and Matt King are both members of this year’s squad, appearing on the Ring and Fire lines, respectively. More rookies include Justin Allen and Micah Hood, both formerly of North Carolina’s Cash Crop. Adding these talents to existing stars like Taylor Pope, Thomas Ward and Roy Matthews can make any opponent think twice about every move and decision they make.
Noah Saul has been out thus far, which has led to the appearance of new faces on the offensive line like Matt Bode. Ring will have more ammo this weekend regardless of if Saul cleats up as Tommy Lamar is returning after a long stint with the NexGen Tour Bus. Lamar was an workhorse last year for Raleigh and his height and throws will add to the already powerful offensive line that features cutters like Bryan Conklin, Brian Casey, Christian Johnson and Ken Porter. Handling for Ring of Fire’s offensive line are Paul Weeks and the incredibly hard to mark or guard Brett Matzuka, who not only has the green light to be creative with his decisions but can get open deep when necessary. Ring sits atop of Pool C that shouldn’t be a breeze but don’t expect any surprises. Crossing over with a two seed from a weak Pool D will provide Raleigh with an easier Saturday than some of the other top seeds, which could make the difference in bracket play.
2012 Regular Season Record: 8-13 (1-6 Sanctioned) lost 10-15 to NexGen
Current USAU Ranking (Regional Ranking): #16, (NE3)
This summer, GOAT has pieced together one of its worst seasons in recent history. However, choosing to not sanction their results at the US Open, which was a choice offered to every team, has helped them stay in the conversation. One may look at Toronto’s record and suggest that this is clearly because of the departure of big names like John Hassell. While the man lovingly dubbed “The Aladdin of Ultimate Frisbee” by Seattle Sockeye’s Twitter account certainly deserves a ton of respect, GOAT performed so poorly in Boulder because a majority of their roster was helping Team Canada Open and Mixed earn Bronze and Gold, respectively. Coming back from Japan, Toronto is definitely out of sync having to reinsert Anatoly Vasilyev, Scott Nichols, Adrian Yearwood, Patrick Mooney, Cam Harris, Mark Lloyd, Jeff Lindquist, Thomson McKnight and Geoff Powell back into the mix. Despite a lack of chemistry in comparison to the top teams in the division, GOAT played tight against their opponents at the Emerald City Classic with 3 of their 6 losses coming on double-game-point to Rhino, Sockeye and rival Furious George.
Over the past few years, the story has been the changing of the guard for Toronto where the newer regime has a style of play more akin to Boston’s. Currently ranked #16 in the Nation, GOAT sits on a second strength bid for the Northeast, which would provide an easy road to Sarasota. However GOAT can not rest on their laurels with so many quality teams sitting just below the Top 16 cutoff. Taking second in Pool B should be very doable for Toronto which would give them the chance to do well against Ring of Fire and Sub Zero in the crossover round. I have them going out in quarterfinals against Chain Lightning, but even a close result there would do wonders for GOAT’s ranking.
Below is Ultiword’s recap of GOAT’s loss to Furious George in the “Canadian Classic” at ECC:
2012 Regular Season Record: 6-5 (5-5 Sanctioned), did not play NexGen
Current USAU Ranking (Regional Ranking): #17, (SW4)
Making the trip to Poolesville, Maryland for the first time is San Diego’s Streetgang. After failing to qualify for Nationals in 2011, the Gang is ready to brawl through the east coast competition in the hopes of earning the Southwest a coveted strength bid that it so desperately needs. So far San Diego has had a rough season including falling to lower tiered out-of-region opponents Inception and Prairie Fire. There are positives however, as Streetgang was able to play regional rivals Boost Mobile and Condors tight while besting Madison Club 15-10. These results are keeping San Diego’s heads above water and could be their saving grace if Madison can piece together a powerful weekend at Chicago Heavyweights.
I caught up with former San Diego State and 2011 Southwest First Team All-Region player Tim Gilligan to ask him about the Streetgang’s season to date, their mindset for Chesapeake and the quest for a strength bid to Nationals:
“Well, as a team we’ve been going through a lot of changes this year. Not only a significant amount of roster turnover, but some tweaks in our team philosophies, especially offensively. During our first two tournaments, we were trying things out to see what works, what doesn’t, and how to establish our identity. I think Chesapeake is a great opportunity to build on that. As far as what it means for us, well we are excited to play teams in meaningful games out of region to work towards earning our region some more bids. But at the base, we just want to improve on everything we’ve worked on. Now that we’ve had a few months to implement and establish our ideology, we need to “test it out” so to speak against top 16-caliber teams.”
San Diego’s heavy hitters on offense are Andy Curtis, Allen Lai, Ross Lenta and Dom Leggio, who also hails from SDSU’s Federalis. On defense, Gilligan is joined by Will Griffin, Stephen “Pumba” Hubbard and a slew of young and athletic defenders. Classically we’ve seen Streetgang looking for the deep shot, but as Gilligan points to a new offensive philosophy, we may see a more conservative approach to the game. With the a cross country trip to make and high humidity predicted for the weekend, San Diego needs to be mentally tough in order to do well at Chesapeake. Furthermore, they are going to be without at least five of their members, including 2011 Southwest 1st Team All Region player Travis Ladd. Hard work off the field and dedication to a team ideology can do wonders to prepare the mind, so don’t be surprised if a short-handed San Diego squad takes care of business this weekend. Holding seed in Pool C sets up Streetgang on a date with Florida United, which is a much easier road to prequarters than through regional rival Boost Mobile.
2012 Regular Season Record: 5-5 (3-0 Sanctioned),did not play NexGen
Current USAU Ranking (Regional Ranking): N/A, (MA)
Note: The above sanctioned record does not count the forfeit against Madcow because it won’t factor into the rankings. According to PoNY’s website the Hators went 2-4 at the NY Invite.
Things have gotten off to a slower start this year as the Hators have only participating in three sanctioned games. Their first competitive tournament was the NY Invite, where Oakland under-performed, going 1-3 in pool play including a loss to Amherst’s Dark or Light. Thankfully the tournament was unsanctioned as a 15-7 quarters loss to PoNY is a very bad result in the hunt for a strength bid in the Mid-Atlantic. Things improved last Saturday as Oakland went undefeated at their home round robin tournament (with a some associated drama) including a two point win over Madcow. As Chesapeake is the final tournament for the Hators before the series, they need to make sure that they do well enough to guarantee 7 games on the weekend. Should they not make it to pre-quarters, Oakland will only play six games this weekend and will fall just short of the ten sanctioned game limit.
The Hators return a majority of their roster but lose a big piece in Alex Thorne, who will be abroad for the rest of the summer. The taller half of the dynamic duo for Pittsburgh, Tyler Degirolamo and his famous gloves will be in Chesapeake after finishing up the NexGen tour tonight night against Furious George. Degirolamo, who is also one of the founders of Oakland, has been absolutely tearing it up on the tour and could be the extra piece to the puzzle that the Hators need to start dominating. Former Truck Stop offensive standout Rob Dulabon has also donned the black and yellow to join forces with former En Sabah Nur teammates Chris Brenenborg and Pat Hammonds. I caught up with Ari Weitzman, one of the captains of this year’s Hators squad to ask him if there were any issues integrating older players like Dulabon with current Pittsburgh stars:
“One of the benefits of the Oakland philosophy is that we have all played either with each other or within the same system, so the glossary of plays and systems, the warmups, team mentality, trust… that’s all there already. Rob’s fit in and become a huge cog in our machine immediately, due in large part to the Pitt program, and I don’t think anyone on Oakland expected otherwise.”
Freshman phenom Joe Bender joins teammates Pat Earles and Max Thorne who are already in their second year with Oakland. With a year of club (Bender played for Dire Wolf last season) and college gold around their necks, these young athletes are standout players, even against the most experienced and talented of competition.
Without Alex Thorne, it will be interesting to see how Oakland runs their sets. When coming out in spread or side stack looks, we typically have seen either Thorne or Brenenborg in isolation as both are talented as receivers and deadly with the disc in their hands. However they look, the Hators find themselves seeded last in a Pool C that provides ample room to move up. Ring is looking very strong, especially in their dominating win over the college all-stars. With so much chemistry, taking down a GOAT team that hasn’t quite figured themselves out yet as well as a young and possibly jet lagged Streetgang is not out of the question.
Predictions: 1. Ring of Fire 2. GOAT 3. Streetgang 4. Oakland