Of all the teams that are making the trek to Easterns in Wilmington this weekend, the Cal State-Long Beach Stalkers are making one of the longest. Although sectional rivals, San Diego State, will also be in Wilmington, the Stalkers presence has to make one ask questions. When tournaments like Presidents Day, the Santa Barbara Invite and the Stanford Invite are going on a mere days travel or less from the Stalkers’ campus, why fly all the way across the country? If your school is located in Los Angeles, it certainly can’t be for the weather.
Well, turns out there’s a pretty good explanation.
“Easterns provides Long Beach Ultimate with a number of opportunities,” the Stalkers’ captains wrote to us in an e-mail. “Great location, great competition, great out of region games and some time for team building. We will be staying at Wrightsville Beach for a week and will use this time to prepare for the series and enjoy a much needed break from school.”
Hopefully this weekend/week away from Long Beach will provide the Stalkers with a respite from what has been a disappointing season at best so far this season.
“As a team we have not seen the results that we were expecting,” the captains wrote. “Getting dropped from Sean Ryan in the fall, being dropped from the Santa Barbara Invite and having the rain out in Vegas was not a great start to our season.”
For all intents and purposes, the Stalkers had to wait until the Stanford Open to play in their first full tournament of the season. It was a situation that was anything but ideal but, while Saturday’s results showed CSULB’s rust, Sunday showed the team’s resolve.
“Our results (at the Stanford Open) were less than expected but winning out on Sunday proved that we are able to bounce back from a setback and still get results,” the captains wrote.
That resolve and the ability to bounce back from adversity will certainly be tested this weekend as the Stalkers square off against some of the best teams in the nation, including a Friday night match up against Ohio State, a first round game with hosts, UNCW, on Saturday and a third round meeting with Wisconsin. It’s an intimidating schedule to say the least, but CSULB relishes the opportunity it presents.
“Playing teams thatyou are not used to playing is a great way to prepare for the series,” the captains wrote. “Every game is a bit of an unknown. Who are the studs? Will they perform? Zone? Weather? All anyone can go off of is the previous experience. In this case we have none, so every game you take what you are given and you try to take away as much as you can. This weekend will be about recognizing offenses and defenses and adjusting to what is given or taken away.”
One of the players that will be helping the Stalkers adjust to the other teams and prod for weaknesses is senior captain Marcos Perez. Perez picked up a lot of experience with San Diego’s Streetgang during the club season. Perez is the type of player who can function in any offense or defense, anywhere on the field. The team feeds off of that and functions in a similar way.
“We can work the disc up the field or boost deep,” the captains wrote. “We run a vert stack which creates multiple looks all over the field but don’t be surprised if we mix things up with a split stack. Defensively we like to man up. It is your job to stop your player, don’t make it someone else’s chore. Don’t let this fool you, because our zone defense has come a long way and we’re ready to show it off.”
In the end, CSULB is coming into Easterns with an open attitude. The Stalkers are just trying to get the most they possibly can out of the tournament.
“The goal at Easterns is to win as many games as possible,” the captains wrote. “A similar performance as Stanford would be acceptable. To win the bottom bracket at Easterns would be a definite step in the right direction.”