This just in: Sandy dislikes Ultimate. As Tropical Storm Sandy transitioned north and became Hurricane Sandy, the winds at Sarasota became harsher and more consistent. As Glum took down Tejas and No Country pushed past Burnside in the fifth place bracket, and Chesapeaked and Wasted Talent took down Fig Jam and Crawl, respectively, to populate the nine-als, the semifinal teams began their preparations. David Remucal of Johnny Encore identified his team’s keys: "We have to try to keep the upwind handles fresh, get early pressure in D to keep Surly out of the upwind goal." In the Reckon/Boneyard semifinal, Reckon’s Jeremy Goecks told his team, "don’t be afraid to invert your flicks into this wind, and muscle those backhands so they sit for the receivers."
These ideas were easier said than done in the bracing, slightly angled wind. Surly and Encore traded downwinders to threes, when a soft turnover on an under gave Johnny Encore an opportunity to punch in a break. Matt Krei found Jason Brask for the vitally important break. However, as they had against No Country in the quarters, Surly surged right back, and Dave Boardman sent a perfect, hanging backhand to Matt Wilken, who hit Bryan Rupert for the answering upwinder. The game would continue rapidly from here, with each team defending the upwind and scoring quickly on the turn. After 11-10 Surly, a Johnny Encore turn gave Surly a shot at the upwind goal, and John Sandahl hit Dave Boardman to take what looked like a definitive lead. Instead, however, Surly turned downwind with game point, and Eric "Turtle" Albright found Colin Hutton to give the Johnny Encore the opportunity to get back on serve. From there, however, Sandy would prove to be too much for either team, and Surly’s Sam Rosenthal found Matt Wilkin with a downwind hammer to put the game away 17-16.
Reckon and Boneyard, by contrast, would spend far more of the game grinding up the wind and threatening the upwind goal. Reckon would start the party early, digging in and scoring the first point upwind through a Mark Driver half-field rip to John "Kid" Hammond. After Reckon made it 3-0 with another upwind break, this game looked like it might be over. Boneyard, however, had other ideas, and Kevin Kusy’s throw to Ray Parrish took the first upwinder back. And then, Kusy found Parrish again before the half, to bring the game back on serve. Reckon, all weekend long, had made every game into a long battle. Mark Driver once again put a big upwind throw into the end zone, finding Jack Watkinson to bring the boys in blue back in front. Boneyard was dialed in now, though, and (who else?) Kusy hit Parrish for yet another upwinder to bring it level at 10-10. Reckon wasn’t finished, with Wilkinson making a 50-yard put upwind to Ryan Balch, who, after a timeout, found Rob Barrett for yet another upwind goal. Would this one hold? Of course not, as Kusy made it four upwind scores to Parrish. After Reckon dropped the ensuing pull, Boneyard would not look back, and the North Carolina side punched their ticket to the 2010 finals rematch with Surly.
The finals set up as many expected, with Surly coming to their sixth straight final to attempt the unprecedented three-peat, and a very hungry and rejuvenated Boneyard returning to the ring for another shot. The early going was mostly Boneyard, with Surly’s offense in particular looking static and tentative. It was no surprise, then, when a short Surly turn at midfield led to the first upwind break of the game. Robbye Brooks found Ray Parrish for the goal, and the Boneyard D became focused and aggressive. Still, neither team could find a way up the wind for the rest of the half. When Boneyard converted the first point after half, Surly’s chances looked slim. But you should never doubt the heart of a champion. Working upwind, Surly’s Ben "Jammin" Cohen found Sam "Hummer" Rosenthal for the score that started a six-point run, bringing the game to 11-9 after Mike Berseth hit Rosenthal. All game long, the teams went to their usual suspects, but Surly’s rookies, including Cohen, Berseth, Alex Fraser and Scotty Alsleben made some big plays when it counted in this, their first Masters finals. While Boneyard continued to get inspired play from Brooks, Brian Lang and particularly the ferocious Mike Denardis, the defending champs worked the disc to the downwind goal area, and Cohen’s short strike through the teeth of the defense to Matt "Rook" Wilkin completed the comeback and gave Surly the three-peat.
I’d like to take a moment to thank the teams and their fans this season. Once again, your accommodating grace and willingness to discuss the action even as it was going on was invaluable for my work. Once again, thanks. As Masters says farewell to this event, I’d like to think this season was a fitting conclusion to this legacy. Cheers, all!