The University of California San Diego Air Squids close out the preseason with SoCal Warmup, a tournament held on UC San Diego’s campus to get players of all levels a whole lot of play time. Like every year, we split into three teams, each with a healthy mix of A-team, B-team and rookies. Team Nick Cage took to the fields with expressive Nick Cage faces spray painted on their white tees. Team Oh Yeah instilled fear into their competition with the Kool-Aid man bursting out of their shirt. Team Pokémon drew pokeballs on their tees and came out to play chanting “Gotta catch ‘em all!” at the top of their lungs.
Early on Saturday, Team Nick Cage faced off against Northern Arizona University. The opponent proved to be an athletic, capable bunch who was used some tricky throws to sneak past team N’s zone defense. Consequently, Nick Cage switched to practicing man defense and found success in the one-on-one match ups. While team N put up a good fight, they would lose the game 7-9. On Sunday Team Nick Cage also took on Cal Poly SLO’s B team. They used this opportunity to put people in challenging and new positions. Rookies became the main cogs on the line of seven, dictating where the discs went and getting it moving when the offense slowed down. They cruised to a strong victory of 13-6.
Team O started off Saturday with an inconsistent performance against UC Irvine. Despite their best efforts, attempts to take control were hampered by a series of turnovers that ultimately gave Irvine the upper hand. Fueled by their defeat, Oh Yeah faced their cross city rivals SDSU. Utilizing a tight zone defense, Oh Yeah generated turns by forcing SDSU to throw less than ideal throws, which were eagerly swatted down by Oh Yeah’s fish army. By stifling SDSU’s offense, Team O went on to win by a comfortable margin of 10-5. Soon after, Oh Yeah faced SLO. Using the same zone gave Team O a 4-0 lead. However, as the game went on, Oh Yeah lost focus, and ended up losing in universe to a high-stall huck. O battled it out later in the day against Arizona and Pomona, but finished the day with a 1-4 record. Not deterred at all, and determined to be crowned the best team in San Diego, as well as the Ninth place champions, Oh Yeah woke up Sunday refreshed and ready to battle. Their first game Sunday saw them battling their arch-rivals, Nick Cage. After trading O points and not being able to capitalize on turnovers, Oh Yeah finally got a break with their trusty zone. That break then led to several others. Emerging victorious from the duel with Nick Cage, Oh Yeah then faced their other arch-rivals, Team Pokémon. Both sides saw outrageous plays by the fish and returners alike, which led to a close game by all accounts. However, through sheer willpower Oh Yeah broke away and won, claiming the crown of the best team in San Diego. But the day wasn’t over yet. SLO wanted a rematch for the Ninth place championship. Oh Yeah sent in the fish lines, eager for payback. Flying fish were seen all around, with everyone wanting a piece of the disc. Oh Yeah cruised on to beat SLO to claim their Sunday title, led by an ever improving squad of fish that refused to tire.
Team P had a really strong game against USC Lockdown and took them all the way to universe, where the scores were tied, and had an opportunity to score because of a good defensive effort but the team couldn’t convert and USC capitalized to close the game. Despite losing such a close game, the Pokémon Masters rallied to play some of their best ultimate all tournament against Cal Poly SLO’s B team, running a tight zone defense and capitalizing on all of SLO’s turns. Team P took half for the first time all weekend with a score of 7-6 and then continued playing with defensive intensity, displayed by layouts from various members of the team, to roll into their first victory of the weekend.
Each team played hard fought games with competition all over the Southwest regions, but played even more ferociously when it was time to play against one of the other Squid teams. Nick Cage took down Pokémon in a convincing 13-2 win the first day, but lost to Oh Yeah in a hotly contested battle on day two. Oh Yeah would go on to win against Pokémon and cement their title as the best Air Squid team for SoCal Warmup 2016. Other notable games were Team Nick Cage’s heated game against ASU’s A-team, which featured a great showing of athletic plays offensively and defensively from both sides, and Team Oh Yeah defeating local rivals, the SDSU Federalis. Ultimately, veterans and rookies alike had a great time playing with and against their fellow Squids while the younger members also got valuable experience on the field. By the end of the tournament, even rookies were executing veteran moves, diving for discs and throwing pinpoint shots deep for a score.