05/05/2011, 3:44pm CDT
By Zach Alter
Hodags win regionals on home turf
Regionals baby! The biggest tournament of the year began anticlimactically with the team sitting at home waiting to hear where/if they’d be playing for the weekend because of the anticipated poor weather. The hodags got word that Mr. Ben Feldman had begun his efforts to make the tournament happen that weekend. From that moment forward, there was no longer doubt about a potential rescheduling of the tournament. Rumors swirled that talks were not in his favor, so he decided to get serious. It wasn’t until he offered free rides on his brand spankin’ new 27-foot, 160CS, 40HP Yamaha 575 fishing boat to the TD and USAU board that they “jumped on board.” Not only was Regionals now that weekend, but when he threw in buy one, get one Chipotle coupons for all, he got it moved to Madison. BOOM!
With 4 games scheduled for the day, Wisco arrived at the fields and were quickly greeted with 30+mph winds. Matched first against Iowa St., the Hodags started on D and came out hot with 2 quick breaks from Simmons and Dayu on short throws to Bergen and Freshie Nicky Z. ISUC battled back and capitalized on upwind struggles by the O line to break back and tie it at 4’s. The Hodags then began to open up their deep game and succeeded in breaking ISUC several times on hucks by Wiseman and Bergen upwind to Coolidge and TUUUUUNA take the an 11-6 lead. Iowa St. battled back to bring it to 11-9, but hardcap came on as Colin threw to EA for a 12-9 lead. GAME. SET. MATCH.
Next up was Nebraska, the 4th seed in the pool. With a new strategy of Brains upwind and Brawns downwind, some wondered if an upwind score would ever be scored. But, proving haters wrong, the hodags acclimated to an even stronger wind and began punching in breaks on booms by Rainy, Wiseman, Kelsen and Dayu. Brian Hart and the fellow noobz showed how much they’ve improved on the season, pulling in many contested and wind-blown passes for goals in the game. Nebraska had much more trouble working it upwind, and the hodags rolled downwind to cruise to a 15-7 victory.
The next game was against GOP, who almost beat UW at regionals last season behind the play of some fast skinny freshman kid named Reeces and Senior Eric Alexander. Once EA gave word to his GOPpers that he intended to play for the Hodags this season, GOP disowned him and deemed him the biggest back-stabber in team history. Determined to prove his worth and earn some respect back, he watched Remember the Titans twice the night before. EA claimed that watching his idol, "Sunshine", gave him mental strength and the inspiration needed to carry a team on his shoulders. Well, it worked. EA battled the heckles of the creative liberal-arts students and led the Hodags to take an 8-4 lead at halftime. Aside from EA’s perseverance in battling the heckles, highlights included big D’s by Coolidge, two assists and a goal from Bjergies, and multiple goals by Scotto Divetta. The Hodags then rolled in the second half highlighted by a big deep D and a huge flick upwind by EA and some slick Simmons assists. Final score: EA 1, GOP 0. Or, 14-9 Wisco.
Most Valuable Players of Pool Play:
Simmons’ consistent hands and defense
Wiseman’s upwind hucks and upwind skies
Bergen’s zone offense, upwind and downwind
The 3-0 record through pool play gave the Hodags a spot in semifinals against Minnesota, who beat the Hodags twice last year at regionals. But, having beat Grey Duck twice at Huck Finn in St. Louis just weeks before, confidence was high. The wind died down a bit, but was still a stiff upwind-downwind. Colin started the game off with a goal from Bergen. Colin dominated the MN defense in St. Louis with 7 goals in finals, and had no intention of stopping in this game. Only a sophomore, Colin is quickly establishing himself as one of the most complete cutters in the nation. On D going upwind, the Hodags got turnovers but failed to cash them in for breaks. This would be the story for both teams for almost the entire game. Trading all half and failing to convert multiple times near the upwind goal, frustration mounted as they took half 8-7. In the first half, Slimmons and Bergen each threw 2 goals, and many different cutters caught downwind goals. In the second half, tension and frustration grew with each downwind hold. The hodags got a scary huge layout D by Brian at shoulder height and quickly worked it up to the goal line, but were again unsuccessful at punching it in for a break. WI and MN traded for 6 more long points that included several turns by both teams. The strategy on both sides had become less conservative and both teams began to play the field-position game, punting downwind and taking chances upwind. At 11’s, Bergen scored from Colin, the softcap went on, and the team stacked the next D line to try and end the game on defense. After a deep turn by Grey Duck, the Hodags worked it upwind behind the great play of J. Bergen and called a timeout with the disc 10 yards out of the goal line in the hands of Dave Wiseman. Bergen called a play that worked, but not exactly to plan. Bergen cut 02 break side and Wiseman stepped around the mark and threw a sweet backhand break to Bergen that began to tail out of bounds on the goal line. Instead of trying to toe the line, Bergen leaped up, caught the disc at no less than 11 feet, and flipped it backwards to a perfectly-positioned Cullen who caught the greatest for the win. Holy huck! One of the best endings to a game in hodag history. The hodags moved on to play CUT in finals Sunday at 1pm.
The Hodags arrived Sunday morning to a sunny but blustery Ubay. After a focused hour-long warmup, the defense chunneled up and pulled upwind to CUT's o-line. After a deep turnover, the Hodags worked it up and JerryBomb hauled in the first score and break of Regional finals. The defense struck again as another Carleton turnover was converted into a Scooter layout scoop and another break. However, the Hodags were unable to convert a third straight time as CUT held, and then broke back upwind to even the score at 2's. The first Hodag offensive point featured several turnovers but ended in a beautiful EA backhand down the line to a streaking and wide open Feldman. The Hodags began to feel the energy and managed to utilize a beautiful Wiseman pull, with Feldman finding The Rainman for yet another break. Carleton was noticeably rattled at this point with an unforced turn on the ensuing possession, which Feldman cranked upwind to Wookie stomp ™ over a pack of defenders. 5-2 Wisconsin. The defense was seizing full control of the final, as Simmons then found Feldman for a downwind score, The Hodag's fifth break and Feldman's fifth point of the game to that point. CUT then made a crucial mistake, turning it over on their own goal-line with a floaty swing pass that was caught by Dayu, who, after a stoppage, quickly threw to Cullen for the score. The first half ended in the same fashion, with the defense swarming to the disc and forcing another turnover, and quick conversion, 8-2. The squad briefly celebrated a great first half, but they were not content, as anyone who had ever played Carleton knew that they would not go down without a fight, and would take advantage if the Hodags lost focus for even a second. The second half started with a CUT upwind break, but the Hodag o-line quickly answered with a Wiseman upwind throw to EA, bringing the score to 9-3. The visiting team then held upwind and then broke back downwind, using to full advantage their break throws and sure hands. After a Feldman flick goal was brought back because of a pick call, another Feldman flick was caught amongst a host of defenders by Simmons for the hold. The two Central Region rivals traded points until 13-6, with Bergen, Feldman, and Scotto continuing to leave their imprint on the scoreboard. Then, it seemed as if the Hodags lost their grip on the game, giving up five straight points and four breaks to a streaking Carleton team. Finally, at 13-11, with hard cap on and after what seemed like fifty turnovers, the Hodags finally punched it in with a laser Feldman forehand to Keith for the score and win. All in all, Feldman had nine assists out of the fourteen goals and caught another two himself. Many of the Hodags had never won a regional tournament before, and took the day and night to celebrate the momentous victory.
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