So the plan for Papal Rage was to have the weekend of January 23/24 be the opening weekend of our Spring Season. We were to compete at Carolina Kickoff in Raleigh, NC with a very good teams list (5 or 6 top 25 teams, i think). Winter Storm Jonas took care of that and got that tournament cancelled. The captains scrambled and got Rage into TTown Throwndown. A tournament that had 20 teams and also added Florida and Auburn(from Carolina Kickoff) to make a pretty strong tournament.
The team left on Friday January 29th for Tuscaloosa, AL. Some arriving at 3am. The first game was 8am. Everyone was just so ready to play some Ultimate against other teams. They had worked hard and we learned a bunch from our film at MLC.
Notre Dame came in seeded 4th overall(out of 20 teams) and the first seed in the D pool. The first game was against Mississippi State. Miss St was the 5 seed in the pool and the 20th overall. Rage warmed up well and looked ready to go! Rage would start off on O and ran a good deep play but could not connect. Miss St would end up getting the first point break. 0-1. We trade with Miss St until 2-3 before they get another break to make it 2-4 and we call a TO. We were a little shaky to start and Miss St, as you will find out later, is not the 20th overall seed you would expect. They were pretty tough. Things were not gelling quite yet for Rage but it was only things that are easily fixed, drops and hucks too far. Offensive movement was looking fine and defense was looking OK. Both things I was happy to see. We get the O point out of the TO with a Djarte to Pat connection. 3-5, then 4-5. It is 5-6 and Rage gets its first break of the season, Sophomore Beetle to Freshman Steven! And another break for half with a nice grab by Danny Fitz who dishes to Steven again to take half up 7-6. We trade out of half and it is 8-8 when Miss St gets a break to make it 8-9. We could not manage to get another break and played to a final score of 10-12. A loss to the 20th seed was kind of hard to swallow.
With the first game getting hard capped we did not have much time til the next game. We immediately had to play Kentucky, a Great Lakes team. Rage did not worry too much about the last game and just played calm. We worked on our offensive flow and defensive positioning. We kept making Kentucky “Do The Hard Things”. It worked and we won the game 13-2. I was super impressed on how we came out after a hard loss and played so well. It was good to see.
Rage then had a bye where the team went to watch some Auburn and Florida games. We got back together 40 mins before game time and had to warm back up. The wind was starting to pick up and it was going to be a crosswind on our field. I used our warm-up time to go over something we haven’t run yet but have talked about. Our 3 man trap zone. Our 3rd game of the day was against Clemson. Rage starts the game off strong going up 2-0. We started using our new 3 man trap zone around this point as well. For having never actually run it before it was ran perfectly by some very young players. I was super impressed. The marks were strong and our wings and middle were covering a lot of ground. I saw a few Clemson handlers just laugh when they got trapped and we were in position. He had no option because his poppers were struggling. He just laughed and launched a hammer as far as he could. Rage would finish this game winning 13-8.
The last game of the day was against the 5th overall seed and the home team, Alabama. Bama had a big sideline and were obviously pumped to play. Rage started the game off strong once again going up 2-0 and then 4-1! The wind picked up and Alabama changed to a zone and started connecting on their hucks. Rage started struggling a bit and Alabama scored 5 straight to go up 4-6. The wind was really picking up and the points started getting longer. The damage was already done and Rage was unable to get some breaks in the tough wind. The final score was 7-10.
That was it for Saturday. A record of 2-2 put us 3rd in the pool and would have us playing an 8am PreQuarter vs. Arkansas. Mississippi State ended up going 4-0 in the pool and getting the 1 seed in pool D.
The team decided to head to dinner at Olive Garden where I brought delirious Hoffman (only TAP players know that guy). The highlight of dinner was last year grad, Swedish, who decided to drive from Atlanta to come watch us and help us out on the sideline all weekend,lost credit card roulette for $140. That makes sense right?!
Sunday morning we warmed up and were going to start on defense vs. Arkansas. We started off slow and Arkansas took momentum quickly going up 0-4. It is 2-6 and they break again to make it 2-7. Arkansas would take half up 2-8. We dug ourselves a big hole and Arkansas, to their credit, came out strong. Rage did not quit, something that always makes me happy. Final score was 7-15. Rage would move on to the 9th place bracket.
First game of the 9th place bracket would be a rematch against Alabama. Rage would come out hype for a rematch against a team they thought they should have beat on Saturday. Rage goes up 4-0 with both offense and defense looking fantastic. Let by defensive stud Danny Fitz, Rage would take half up 8-1. The hucks were finally connecting and the offense was running smooth. Final score Rage wins 15-6. A big difference from a 7-10 loss the day before.
The last game was vs. UAB. Rage came out fast and loud vs UAB. UAB was good and could move the disc well and had some tall deep threats. Rage took half 7-5. I already knew what I wanted to say in the huddle and was super pumped when Jonathan “Fionn” Cernanec had already come up to me and told me what he noticed. I told Jonathan to tell everyone else in the huddle because it was exactly right. We were winning this game because of how loud we were, how relaxed we were. This was the 7th game for both teams on the weekend. Most of our players didn’t even notice the score was so close still. Because of our sideline being so loud, we took UAB completely out of their game. They didn’t even look like they wanted to play, even though the game was close. Rage would end up winning the game 13-9.
Rage ended up 4-3 on the weekend and finished in 9th place (out of 20). Not bad for our first tournament but a couple losses that stung a bit. Here are my big takeaways from this weekend.
* We were missing 5 players. With only playing 18 all weekend it was impressive.
* We played open lines. We brought 3 freshman this weekend and they played a ton of points. All 3 of them impressed me so much. They may not get that much playing time all year but we needed them this weekend and they came through. Can’t wait to watch them progress this year.
* We are a young team and lack experience. We graduated 12 seniors. That means we definitely lost a lot of Ultimate experience. We are working on building our Ultimate IQ as quickly as we can. Can we do it fast enough this year is the question?
* From the 2015 season and our first tournament this year I can’t say enough how happy it makes me to see our record and scores vs. teams we have already played. That speaks volumes to how much the team is listening and learning.
- 2015 – Lost to Minnesota 8-13 at MLC. Beat Minnesota at Huck Finn 11-10
- 2015 – Lost to LSU 12-15 at Tally Classic. Beat LSU at Huck Finn 15-5
- 2015 – Lost to Wash U 12-13 at MLC. Beat Wash U at Huck Finn 13-7
- 2015 – Lost to IU at 10-11 at Sectionals. Beat IU 15-5 in Finals at Sectionals and 15-5 again in pool play of Regionals.
- 2016 – Lost to Alabama 7-10 in Pool Play at TTown. Beat Alabama 15-6 on Sunday at TTown.
That is a 6-0 record in the past 2 years of beating teams the second time we played them. They are not small score changes either. We go from losing by an average of 2.33 points to winning by an average of 8 points. That is awesome! Makes me proud!