I went to Labor Day and hung out with the kids while Mizu played. Her team went 2-4, which was respectable for a team that never really practices and certainly better than I had thought was likely. Hanging with the kids at the tourney was easier than I thought it was going to be, but a lot of that was the function of a tourney format that had Mizu's team done at 1 Saturday and 3 Sunday. It also helped that the Eugene women were relaxed about the whole tournament and didn't really mind (I hope) being tackled, hugged and wet-willied relentlessly. The kids were cooked by 3 Sunday so we left before the Finals and I saw only a smidge of the semis, but here's what I learned.
NW women's division is clear going into Regionals. 1. Fury, 2. Riot, 3. Zeitgeist, 4. Traffic 5. Underground 6T. Slackjaw 6T. Further 6T. Schwa. Fury continues to distinguish herself from the rest of the teams in the country and it is depth that is making the difference. They are able to play 20 deep to a talent level that most teams can play 10 or 12. What that means is that the Fury players can play harder and faster than their counterparts because they are playing far fewer points. I still think they are turning it over more than they need to, but they are winning because their defense (particularly in the lanes) is so darn tough. Zeitgeist is inching closer and closer to the top and further away from the second tier of women's ultimate. I don't think they are going to challenge Fury (too mental) but they will make Nationals and very likely make semis. Traffic and Underground will likely be playing for fourth again at Regionals, while Schwa, Further and Slackjaw are all hoping to beat each other and pull off an upset over one of the higher ranked teams.
Men's division is still wide open...sort of. Revolver and Sockeye have established themselves as the clear 1-2. Rhino, Furious and ECU are too young in too many places to be consistent and anyone of them could beat the other on any day. More generally, youth and turnover is the story in the West this year. With the wholesale collapse of the Jam, widespread retirements from the Fish, the continued rebuilding of the Monkey (Lugs told me it was his last year) and the ongoing attempt to resurrect Rhino you have a West that on the surface looks the same (SF, Seattle, Vancouver) but actually is anything but - all the players are different.
Sockeye: high risk, high reward. In this age of boring ultimate, it is nice to see someone still playing with a little verve. The take chance after chance after chance strategy (on O and D) has worked great for the Fish. Two silvers this year (Worlds! and Labor Day) is much better than anyone (including the Sockeyes) expected going in to the season.
College Gossip. Cal will return everyone but Cree, UW will return everyone but Shannon. Weird to have two teams in the same region lose their best player and no one else in the same year. Still, I'd expect both those teams to be better than last year as everyone gets another year under their belt and younger players begin to fill into the void left by the superstars. UW will be getting its fourth head coach in four years; Cyle will not be coaching again. Carolyn Finney will be back for the Skirts, but I don't know anything about the rest of the team. In typical Clown Tent fashion, Oregon has no idea who is returning - it could be a mere 6 players or it could be 13. This time last year Molly, Tina and Shannon were all going to move on and all three came back...