Competition and sparks flew fast, often and early in Atlanta today at the UPA South Open Regionals. 16 teams from all over the southern United States met today in order to decide which two teams would move on and all but six teams have been removed from the competition.
(We don’t have photos at the moment but hopefully we will soon. If you were out there today and you’d like to have your photos posted on this blog then e-mail us your pictures!)
Chain Lightning (3-0, 15-1, 15-6, 15-4)
Chain Lightning came into this weekend on a tear of a season. With high expectations and desires to win South Regionals for the first time in 3 years, Chain had a lot riding on its first three games today. The home team did not disappoint.
“I was not disappointed at all,” Chain Lightning captain Rob Barrett said after play on Saturday. “I think we took care of business about as well as we could have today. I’m very pleased with our play today.”
Despite having to change locations for its first game on late notice Chain powered through Crude with a 15-1 victory. After a long gap in between games and joining the rest of the field at Atlanta’s Georgia Soccer Park Chain faced off against Birmingham’s Iron Men.
The Iron Men gave Chain Lightning its best game of the day. Although that doesn’t say much, Barrett was happy that Chain exhibited a mentality that was focused throughout its game against The Iron Men and Chain’s other two opponents today.
“When you know you’re going to have an opponent that’s hard for you tomorrow, compared to what we’ve faced today it’s a different animal,” Barrett said. “There’s been lots of years where we’ve had a good team but not been as focused or played not full games but we didn’t do that today.”
Nowhere was that full game mentality exhibited more than when Chain took on Florida. The University of Florida men’s team was the upset special of the day and managed to advance to the semifinals against Chain. While Florida’s run and gun style proved to be too much for other teams, such as Grit and Diablo, Chain handled the young team with ease.
The game began with a huck to Florida’s star player, Brodie Smith and a pretty breakmark score throw from Smith following a timeout. However, that lead would be Florida’s only one as Chain’s experience and depth quickly tookover. Chain would gather two straight breaks before another huck to Smith resulted in a shortfield score but that would be the last time Florida would see the endzone for quite a while.
Chain would see goals thanks to the clear onfield leadership of Josh Ziperstein, who threw or caught four of Chain’s first half goals. Ziperstein was constantly talking to Chain’s lines before the pull to call set plays, defensive assignments and handler sets. Chain broke Florida all the way until 10-2 when a lapse in concentration on Chain’s part gave way to an open huck out of Florida’s endzone and a fast break score.
However, Chain’s offense and defense were in sync for the vast majority of the day, allowing a total of 11 goals all day and turning the disc less than 5 times against Florida.
Barrett was injured but found the silver lining by scouting Doublewide for most of the day. He expects an interesting matchup tomorrow morning for Chain.
“They have some different personnel than they’ve had the last couple of years,” Barrett said. “It’s a matter of changing strengths, they’ve added some players who are tall and athletic and letting those guys get out there and make plays and that’s a change from the strategy of Doublewide in the past.”
Doublewide (3-0, 15-0, 12-8, 15-5)
Doublewide’s day started in a similar fashion to Chain but the No. 2 seed of the weekend would not have quite as easy of a day. Doublewide’s first round game was against a familiar face in Baton Rouge’s Turbodog. According to Doublewide captain Max Cook, Turbodog showed up at 7:55 for a game that started at 8:00, needless to say, Doublewide rolled through the first round with relative ease.
Doublewide’s second matchup, Tampa’s Uproar, would be a different story though.
“They were running hard and we just weren’t in it,” Cook said. “I don’t think that anyone was stressing out (against Uproar), we were just really flat. That’s the perfect word for it. Sometimes you expect the team to just give it to you and they didn’t. They made us work for it.”
The game between Doublewide and Uproar was a game that consisted of plenty of calls and stoppages of play. When the cap came on Doublewide was hanging on to a 10-8 lead. However, Doublewide quickly changed it’s state of mind when Tanasi came calling in the semifinals.
Tanasi opened up on offense and earned its first point of the game to take a one goal lead. Doublewide and Tanasi would trade goals until 2-2 when Doublewide’s red zone defense started to give Tanasi a tough time on the goal line. Some of the new faces on Doublewide would quickly show up big as Matt Randall made several good plays downfield and the boys from Austin would race out to a 9-2 lead.
Tanasi’s Craig Stewart and Nick Spiva continuously attempted to make plays deep for the Tennessee team but it would prove too little, too late as Doublewide would prevail 15-5. Cook was impressed with his team’s play against the No. 3 seed.
“We had our heads on right, we were dialed in,” Cook said.
After the victory Cook said that Doublewide was ready for the Finals tomorrow and looking forward to the challenge of playing its old rival, Chain Lightning. He also pointed out that the team needed to approach that game with a serious attitude.
“(We need to) be mentally ready for that Chain game when we get to the fields,” Cook said. “You don’t have time to work things out, you don’t have a warmup game. You don’t have time to work out your dumps, cuts and that shit. You need to treat it like it’s the Chain game.”
Tanasi, a team resurrected from several seasons ago, made its presence known today in the South Region. Adorned in red, Tanasi depended on contributions from players bred in the many Tennessee Ultimate systems to lead them to a strong performance for the first two-thirds of the day.
The key part being, the first two-thirds of the day. Tanasi came out strong beating Vicious Cycle easily and letting For the Story hang around for the first quarter of the game before Tanasi’s offense really started clicking. In the end, it was clear that Tanasi’s offense was too in sync and it’s defense too stifling for FTS to get anything impressive going. Tanasi captain Ray Davenport was happy with the way his team played through two games.
“The first couple of games we rolled,” Davenport said. “Beating For the Story by a lot was satisfying.”
However, Tanasi’s performance could be described as nothing less than disappointing.
“I would say so,” Davenport said.
Tanasi enters tomorrow slated to play Birmingham’s Iron Men at 9:30 in the second place bracket.
The Gators entered into Regionals with a still bitter taste in their mouth after getting knocked out of AC College Regionals and not making the trip to UPA College Nationals after being ranked No. 1 in the spring.
Florida also got knocked down a bump or two at Club Sectionals losing in the finals to FTS. Needless to say the Gators came with a chip on their shoulders and it showed against GRIT in the first round.
UF matched GRIT’s physical style play for play and emerged victorious by a couple points before beating last year’s cinderella story El Diablo 15-11. The Gators depended on their leader Brodie Smith who, if he wasn’t catching scores or hucks, was throwing most of the scores and hucks for Florida. While many were surprised to see Florida beat the teams it did, Smith was not.
“Coming into it we knew who we were going to play and we liked the matchups,” Smith said. “We’ve got basically our full team and practices have been going well so we felt good going into it. We weren’t too surprised. GRIT gave us a hell of a game and El Diablo just seemed to run out of gas at the end of the game.”
After its two wins, the Gators faced off against Chain and lost by a large margin after benching the top of its roster before the end of the first half.
Smith said that Florida had brought an assortment of new players along with them and is excited about the experience that those players are gaining. Smith also admitted that the Gators have one big goal for the weekend.
“Ideally,” Smith said. “We just want a shot at Doublewide.”
It’ll be a long path for the Gators to get there as Florida has to beat GRIT again and then face the winner of Iron Men and Tanasi before making it to the game to go to Nationals, the soonest opportunity that Florida would have to face the Austin team.
Grit backed into its second place finish at Texas sectionals after an early loss in the championship bracket. This team from Dallas is now making an effort to do the same thing at Regionals after losing its No. 5 seed to Florida in the first round but gaining victories against Cottonmouth and Uproar.
Iron Men (2-1)
This is a team that no one was talking about coming into Regionals but they battled and battled hard, having one of the best days of all teams in Atlanta today. They began their day with an upset, a minor one but nonetheless an upset, gave Chain its best game of the day and then topped last year’s cinderella team, El Diablo, in order to advance to Sunday.
El Diablo (1-2)
For us, it was sad to see Diablo get eliminated today. We have many a friend that plays for the chickens and we think they’re a swell group of guys. That being said, there have to be winners and losers. Diablo had one of the rougher roads to Sunday, losing to an obviously underseeded Florida, scraping by a Cottonmouth team that had about one round of fight in it and finally losing to The Iron Men in Saturday’s final round. Diablo played the most close games of the day and it was clear that the total amount of points the team played was wearing on its already thin roster.
For the Story (1-2)
We were also bummed to see FTS go home empty handed. This is a team full of potential as it is relatively young both in club experience and overall age. The Central Florida Ultimate scene has plenty of fight in it. FTS played a close game against Duel but seemed clearly overmatched when Tanasi was on the other goal line. In the end, GRIT came back from its early loss and beat FTS in Saturday’s final round.
The rest of the results can be found on the score reporter page. We’re sorry we can’t provide more of a recap but it is our birthday and presents await.
Make sure to keep up with us on Twitter and here tomorrow as we’ll be providing point by point updates of the finals and the game to go.