Surly claims Masters title over Boneyard

Posted: October 30, 2010 11:11 PM


2010 USA Ultimate Club Championships
Day 3 Recap
Masters Division
By: Tony Leonardo, special to
It felt, at times, as if the entire Masters division was written in stone by some grand master in the sky. Then one or two small, innocent, meaningless things went off script.
A missed opportunity to score downwind from five yards, a drop, a throwaway, another turnover – and soon everything clear cut came to resemble just another example of human fallibility.
It was 14-11, Boneyard, game to 15 in the semifinal against GLUM. On the field next to them Surly has just finished off Chicago’s Real Huck, 15-11 and with Boneyard receiving it seemed destined for a duplication.
Instead all those little things happened and GLUM tied it at 14s. You have to give GLUM credit for sticking around. They didn’t make any crazy plays but they never gave up and took what Boneyard gave them. Boneyard’s defense had bottled up GLUM’s stagnant downfield cutters and forced the Ottawa handlers Dave Janssen, Mark Zimmerl and Derek Hodgson to do all of the heavy lifting. They proved up to the challenge to knot it at 14s
Finally, Boneyard scored for 15-14 before misfortune struck again, two tough foul calls to observers on bad discs resulted in GLUM possession-keepers, a turnover wasn’t converted, inches on layout Ds were missed and Hodgson made a pretty play in the upwind short corner for 15s.
Then the fun began. Boneyard’s big recruit from the Open division, Ray Parrish, tried to bail out a bad throw with an athletic short sideline greatest attempt that was D’d up. GLUM couldn’t take advantage, Boneyard got it back. Then GLUM’s Owen Lumley made one of those eye-popping speedy layout Ds down low and got the glory goal on a massive bladey forehand from Janssen and boom – break advantage was GLUM’s at 16-15, game to 17 and Boneyard was actually down for only the second time all tournament since 0-1 to Chicago in pool play.
A huge rip on the backhand side from – who else but Augie Kreivenas -- tied it at 16s, double-game point, GLUM receiving. Then the gak: a look-upfield-before-disc-comes-into-your-hands on the third throw in a soft zone and Boneyard had the chance to finish the script. And so it happened: from seven yards out, D-liner Brett McCall laces a blade to Ray Parrish cutting in to the short cone and game over, 17-16.
“I knew I couldn’t float it and I didn’t think a break would work and I trusted my receiver,” said McCall, all smiles, explaining his reasoning behind the blade.
But the bigger picture wasn’t so pretty. With the extra seven points played Boneyard did everything wrong. They exposed their weaknesses to the entire Surly team watching on the sidelines. They tired out their top players and most importantly, they lost a sense of inevitability and confidence. The sheen was gone for finals. They were going to be definite underdogs now and everyone knew it.
“Ouch,” said McCall. “It was a brutal nail-biter.” It was, but it was also fun to watch and both teams kept up great spirit and good plays. From a spectator’s perspective you have to give them all props.
The aforementioned Surly-Real Huck semifinal, a rematch of the central region finals, hinged on the first two points in the second half. Surly was up a break, 8-6, and pulling. They came down with an aggressive, mesmerizing defense that Chicago had seen plenty of times. As had happened in the first half, Chicago made an unforced error into the wind. But this time Surly converted on a put to “Bad Santa” Chris York. Then with Real Huck going downwind that monstrous mass of burly bodies bursting from ghastly blood-red-and-black jerseys got the turn and converted in the up-crosswind goal. 10-6, Surly, and that, as they say, was the ball game.
Chicago never gave up or lost their cool, but neither did Surly and the final score reflected that four-point bulge.
“I have to give credit to the guys for listening to our D-line captain,” said one of Surly’s double-rookies, John Sandahl. “After half we said that the D-line was getting turns but failing to convert. We realized that to score in the cross-downwind we had to tack into the wind first, before getting to throw that forehand shot with the wind to the corner.”
“We weren’t patient on our goal line,” confessed Real Huck’s Graham Smith. “But,” added teammate Adam Krawitz, “Even when we played crappy we never got emotionally beat. They’re a good, deep team.”
As it turned out, Chicago’s loss was the closest game Surly would play all tournament.
Officially it was the 1 seed Surly versus the 4 seed Boneyard but it felt that, as Kreivenas told me, “the teams were on a crash course to play this game.”
Anticipation was preserved after the rare instance where players were announced and introduced over loud-speakers to a field ringed with spectators, but then the “crash course” began with a bang.
Boneyard pulled to Surly and in a flash a fleet Surly offense ran like the field was sloped downward. After eight perfect passes a disc to the end zone floated a bit and Boneyard’s Ray Parrish mis-judged just how fast Surly was moving. He tried to make a run at it but instead clobbered the receiver a second or two after the score was caught. Parrish realized his error and helped up the Surly receiver apologetically but he was nonetheless assessed a TMF (team misconduct foul).
In my estimation, it meant that Boneyard had come out flat-footed.
They are a team built on fast, advantageous and amped-up defense led by Parrish, Brian Lang, Tim Lupo, Brett McCall and Mats Mueller, among others. Young, thin, speedy Boneyard was getting used to smothering teams so when Surly caught them by surprise I felt the momentum immediately go right to Minneapolis and it never left.
Despite the mistake there was little chance Parrish would leave the field. The two best players in the division looked like the two best players in the division by putting up dominating numbers in finals. In other words, Finals quickly became the Ray Parrish and Ron Kubulanza show.
Parrish scores, 1s. Kubulanza throws a goal, 2-1, Augie hucks one, Kubulanza catches one, Parrish throws one, 3s.
For his third score Kubulanza ripped a backhand 50 yards right through a loud foul on the wrist. His snap power was scary: even with the foul he managed to laser the throw right on target. 4-3, Surly. Then 5-3, then Surly 6-3 after a Boneyard end-zone drop on a hammer from Parrish. 6-4, Parrish scores. 7-4, Eric “Turtle” Lonsdorf jacks a forehand that Kubulanza rips out of the sky, 7-4. Ride momentum from huge hang time to 8-4 lead.
9-4 out of half with another D break. Boneyard gets one back on Augie huck. 10-5 Surly when Kubulanza throws a score with a low shovel pass which I’ve heard called either an “Ox-Driver” or “Bowler.”
10-6, 11-6 is another Kubulanza score, 11-7 is Parrish catching a score. On the next point Kubulanza gets a nasty hand block and then throws the goal, 12-7. A visibly frustrated Boneyard player trying to guard him finally says, “What the !$^! can I do?!?”
12-8 Terry Kramer to Ray Parrish. 13-8, probably Kubulanza. 14-8, 14-9, 15-9 finally, when Kubulanza hoovers in a lazy huck and throws a very pretty forehand riser for the game-winner, appropriately.
Final tally? Of his team’s nine scores, Ray Parrish threw two goals and caught five and was just about involved in every play for his team. Of his team’s fifteen goals, Ron Kubulanza, who played primarily on offense, connected on five throws and caught three and was similarly impossible to curtail. Surly’s offense was never broken.
How did Ron feel on the field? “I felt great,” laughed Kubulanza afterwards. “It was a nice weekend and great to be able to share it with teammates.”
“You know you have so much tension before games? Well this was great and I right now I feel relieved,” said Kubulanza.
“He was just eating up yardage,” spoke Boneyard’s Kreivenas after the game. “He killed us. We had no answer. Their offense, over all, was just really good.”
Ray Parrish, when asked if he felt pressure to carry the team in the finals, responded like a gentleman. “I got lucky on some unders. Maybe made some big throws but these guys (Surly) ran really hard and seemed to have an answer for everything we threw at them.”
Surly’s John Chandler-Pepelnjak spoke equally well of Boneyard. “We won some 50/50 discs and got a lot of the early breaks. Otherwise it could have been a different game and they were right with us.”
For Kubulanza it was the ninth different team he’s played on to make the Club Championships, one behind Steve Finn and two ahead of Calvin Lin if you’re at home counting. He was able to claim a title with Sockeye, lose a final with Furious George, lose a final with San Francisco’s JAM and now win again with Surly.
How, exactly, did he get to this team, and where might he be going next?
“I started playing with Charlie Reznikoff (one of the Surly team leaders) in college at Wisconsin and it was really nice to be able to play at Worlds and now Nationals with some old friends from Madison and what used to be my rivals at Carleton,” he explained.
GLUM rebounded from the DGP semis and defeated Real Huck to take 3rd. For fifth place, Fig Jam eclipsed their seed and won out on Sunday. For that matter, so did Le Tigre in taking Ninals over Ball & Chain. They can now boast of two undefeated Sundays in a row at Regionals and now Nationals. 9th seeded Rumble tumbled to 11 while Slow Country Boil finished with the gumbo.
Chesapeaked couldn’t escape with another win and fell to the Beyondors, who took 6th. The DC team then got a bit of revenge by beating Death or Glory for 7th, meaning DoG closed out with the eight spot and an overall 3-5 record, surely the first time the team in its 16 seasons at Nationals has ever posted a losing record. Could that be a sign of the end?
Well, at least it ends this write-up and the coverage from 2010 Club Championships.