The score was 12-11 in a rematch of the two top teams from our pool. Instead of playing for bracket positioning, the tournament was now on the line. It was a situation that was familiar to only a handful of our players. The field was soaked and unforgiving by the time the last point was scored. The outcome: 13-11, UC San Diego over UBC. As students or as athletes, it’s easy to become preoccupied with outcomes. Whether it be obtaining a certain grade, lifting a certain weight at the gym, or placing well at a tournament. When you get caught up in the inviting thought of focusing on results, the process in order to achieve your goal gets tossed to the wayside. All weekend, captain Keane Knapp had said “focus on the process, not the outcome”; the result was the best tournament performance UBC has had in 3 years. Here’s how we ended up in the finals.
Saturday morning’s first challenge in pool play was against the UC Santa Cruz Slugs. Despite a sluggish (pardon the pun) and uninspired start, we ended up taking half and never looked back: 13-8 UBC. After a quick break, we were back on the field against a significantly better team in UC San Diego in what would be a preview of the finals. After getting broken 2 times in the beginning of the game, we battled back with a few motivational words from coach Marc Seraglia. Unfortunately, San Diego would answer back with more breaks than we could manage and we lost, 13-8.
Following a third round bye, we faced a young and avid Stanford team. We started strong and our defense carried us through the first half. In the second half, we became complacent and let Stanford back into the game. After allowing a few breaks, we gave our heads a shake and powered through to a 13-10 victory.
Up next was Las Positas in a cross-over game. Las Positas hosted a smaller team that had already played 2 universe point games that day (they would go on to play 4 the entire tournament). Their top end talent was unrivalled yet exhausted at the beginning of our game. Hoping to capitalize on our opponents fatigue, we jumped to a 10-5 lead. However, the team became complacent again, hemorrhaging breaks until we were down 11-10. After stabilizing our offence and earning a couple breaks back, it was 13-13; universe point, UBC on O. Playing on the edge of life and death tests the mettle of players; throws become harder to execute and wide open looks suddenly appear contested. After two turnovers, Las Positas was firmly in our red zone and it appeared a forgone conclusion that the game was theirs. An unfortunate timeout call – when they had none left – resulted in one last turnover for Las Positas: we converted. The outcome, 14-13 T-Birds, secured us the fourth seed going into bracket play.
There were some interesting storylines going on elsewhere at the invite. The most significant was that of Tulane, a team only able to field 8 players due to flight delays and cancellations, yet still managing a 3-1 record on Saturday. With the lesson of not being complacent still fresh on our minds, we prepared to face Cincinatti who had just defeated Tulane on universe point (there seemed to be a bizarre number of universe games this tournament. Seriously, check the scores). The highlight of our game wasn’t the complete game effort or the relentless defensive pressure we applied; it was Edward Guo exclaiming “OoooHHH, oOOOh Tyler” as he completely took over a point for which he was handsomely reward a callahan**. Our mentality carried over into our semifinal resulting in a complete game effort, soundly defeating Arizona 13-4. This set up our final with UC San Diego.
Uncharacteristic to our games on Sunday, we started poorly. It wasn’t decision , but rather a bunch of unfortunate execution errors that put ourselves in a 4-0 before finally getting 1 on the board. The squids had come to play all weekend, and it was clear that they were the best prepared team in the tournament. In the second half, with a renewed focus on defence, we started to claw back at the daunting San Diego lead. But in a classic case of “too little, too late”, we were felled 13-11.
The best part of tournaments isn’t necessarily the scores and games but the underlying storylines of the team as it grows. Whether it was Sancho packing 2 days of clothes and jerseys into a draw bag, Hackney’s zeal for life, debating lunch choices at Costco, or simply eating as a team, we learned some tough lessons and grew as a team.
The outcome was positive and the process was enjoyable. UBC’s Santa Barbara invite was a success.
See you at President’s Day.
*Universe point = Double-game-point, next team to score wins the game
**Callahan = a defensive block caught in the end zone, resulting in a unassisted goal.