Sectionals 2022 Recap
The Air Squids took on the SoCal conference last week in hopes to place in the top 6 to advance to Regionals. They loaded up their cars and hit the road on Friday to drive up to the Windy City of the West (San Luis Obispo). For many of the returning Squids, the last time they were here they beat Stanford to go to Nationals for the first time in 7 years. Day one started late and was drained out by the nearby tractor pull. Every 5 minutes huge plumes of thick black diesel smoke covered the sky and the deafening sound of 4-stroke combustion engines filled the air. In between games, the teams found comradery in watching the feat of engineering that is a tractor pull.
The first game was against the hometown foe, SDSU. It was a spirited game resulting in a 13-4 win for the Squids. Next, they took on the rival UCLA Smaug. The Squids came out fired up and scored 5 breaks in a row, completely crushing every UCLA players’ spirit. In the second half, UCLA tried to make a comeback but scored a mere 3 points. Agapito scored more than 75% of the points due entirely to his ability to be 6’5. Namo and Walla would see Agapito in the endzone and huck it. The final score was 13-5. At this point the squids were tired but still ready to go, the next opponent was USC Lockdown. They had amazing handler movement and at first, the Squid’s defense couldn’t keep up. The tractor pull was in full swing during this game so players couldn’t hear sideline calls and some were coughing from all the smoke. USC got a break or two but the Squids kept fighting and got the score even when hard cap went off, 8 to 8. The Squids almost won on universe point but were unable to convert in the red zone. USC won 9-8. The last game of the day, starting at Doja’s bedtime of 5:30, was against Cal State Long Beach Pyramid Scheme. At this point in the day, the Squids were exhausted. The game started off slow and both teams were going back and forth. Scheme was able to score a couple of breaks and get a lead in the first half. However, as the sun ducked behind the mountains and the shadows grew longer, the Squids “climbed the pyramid” to take half. The Squids weren’t sold on the “multi-level-marketing” scheme that Long Beach was pushing and beat them 13-6.
That night, the team piled into the comically large hot tub at the hotel. They talked over the day and planned for tomorrow as the moonlit waterfall crashed beside them (Yeah, this was a pretty steezy hotel). Many Squids were so excited about the tractor pull they forgot to talk about frisbee. Since the squids were 3-1 and had the best point differential (because of the big win over UCLA) they were in the semi-finals for the sectional championship.
On Sunday, they took on UCSB Black Tide in yet another gritty match. The Squids (marine animals) naturally have a dislike towards the Black Tide (an oil spill) purely based on their mascot being pollution. (Funnily enough, UCLA Smaug is also a reference to pollution - something the Air Squids can’t stand for). The rivalry runs deep and every match-up is intense. Both teams played well and it was back and forth for most of the game. The Squids were able to score a couple of breaks and win the game 13-11. Next up was Slo Core (Cal Poly). The reigning champs of the section (and region) for the past couple of years.
Still hanging onto some energy post Black Tide the squids fought hard on defense, almost getting a break numerous times as the offense steadily kept the core at bay. At this point many players had injuries flaring up and exhaustion setting in so the number of subs dwindled. Cal Poly began forcing turns with their marks and poachy style of play that combined with the picking up wind was a terrible combo for the squids. After closing the half at 3-7 the Squids were feeling down. The second half was even more rough as Core stole more and more offensive points and wind and injuries only worsened. The match ended in some flashy slo defense that left the squids angry going into the last game. To determine the seeding for regionals the Squids would have to face UCLA smaug again in a 2nd / 3rd place game.
The game started with some borderline calls and a lot of throws sent back to the throwers. Many players felt defeated as to our disappointment LA took a lead. UCSD kept fighting and won some points back but ultimately ran out of time and spirit to take second place. After refueling their stomachs and their cars the Air Squids headed home pleased with their spot at regionals and excited by the potential they had discovered for such a young squad.