The Strange Blue Open Indoors squad was:
The tournament: Midlands University Open Indoor Regionals. The arena: Wolverhampton. ‘Twas not-very-early on Saturday morn that the Strange Blue squad met at Churchill, loaded up into the minibus, and set off. On the way there, rules were discussed, horses were spotted, and lost working hours were lamented.
The unusual power-pool format left us with a tough group to battle through: we’d have to go through OW!, Bears and Aye-Aye, as well as Demons and Aberystwyth to get to the semis. The squad was also mindful of the lessons of history- to wit, SB’s 2010 triple elimination after a tight final.
After a slow start (immediately conceding a break to De Montford), SB got their heads in the game and started running their patterns. The larger pitches took some getting used to, but soon enough a comfortable 10-2 victory was secured.
Aberystwyth was the next lowest seed in the group, but some very strong handling and well-drilled indoors play saw them trading points and even with SB with seconds left on the clock. We struggled with keeping the chill in our offence in this game, generally being too keen to throw the disc off quickly, and allowing Aberystwyth to take the points back. However, certainly towards the end of the game, our D was hot (a massive point block from Tejas really setting the tone for the second half), which gave us a turn on their end zone line and let us put in the final point for a 7-6 victory. However, it was clear we would have to up our game for the remainder of our matches.
And up it we did. SB, having trained with UEA captain Howard, knew that this would be a tough team to beat, and really locked down some sharp and clinical O to get the job done. Even a Hail Mary hammer score on the buzzer couldn’t bring Aye-Aye within striking distance of the win, and SB went through to the biggest matches of the day undefeated.
We play Oxford a lot. Really, we do. So we knew to expect some very intense, very physical play, and they didn’t disappoint. The game was very close (so close, in fact, that certain members of the team didn’t actually think we’d won… even after the captains’ speeches), with SB really having to take control of the pace of the game after a frantic few turns in the last point. 6-5 with only Bears left to beat to take 2nd seed.
Again, we knew what to expect when playing Warwick, and on D immediately set to shutting down the handler strikes which are essential to their weave. Bears had had it easy up until then, but with SB’s hard man D in place really struggled to put the points away, and finished the match down 8-5. SB earned themselves a place in the semis and a late start! Huge mention should go to James for his work shutting down their main handlers.
That night, Nick Woof showed us the sights of Wolverhampton (by which I mean, at spoons we watched a guy on the floor getting arrested). An unfortunate lack of ID on the part of a certain player led us to the local chippy, and then on to beverages from Sainsburys. Back at Chez Woof, we played Goo Clap and… some other game which involved counting and got harder to understand the night went on.
The next morning, we tidied, hoovered and washed up, in lieu of anything better to do given we started at 1130. Nevertheless, we knew we’d have to be pretty hot to take down Jesters. This really hit home when they came away with an early break, leaving SB down and fighting hard to stay within a couple of points. Jesters, looking to consolidate their lead, called a timeout, but Dom’s words to SB proved more effective: we came out with a break right back, leaving us tied at the hooter. Jesters had the O- so far the game had had very few turnovers, so SB had to turn it up to get through to the final. The tension mounted as 3 turnovers followed in quick succession, leaving SB with possession and, after some quick handler movement at the back, allowing Elliott to blade a forehand to an endzone layout from Dom. SB was in the final!
We had some time off at this point. We found a corner, and did some maths. Because we’re Cambridge, and that’s how we roll.
This was to be the toughest match of the weekend: UBU hadn’t had any problems in their previous matches, and had even won their semi by a margin of at least half a dozen points. Their indoor experience showed through immediately, as their slick handler recycling and pinpoint long looks scored an early break. SB had to run hard to keep up with them, but run hard we did and were up by 2 with a couple of minutes left on the clock. However, a turn on our endzone line allowed Birmingham to contest the lead, and it took SB once again taking control of the pace of the game with their O to carry them to victory. Dom was voted MVP of this match for his starkly contrasting stone-cold O and voracious D; Rolo just missing out despite the rock solid reset handling we had come to expect of him over the weekend. Strange Blue were through to Nationals, and officially the best uni indoor team in the Midlands!
MVP for the weekend went to George for his huge D presence and consistently massive bids. Props also to Lewis for his great endzone play on both deep cuts and static discs near the line, and to Edwin for his incredible handling and constant running and grinning. Thanks to all of Cambridge for their support, particularly the training squad who helped us prepare for the weekend, and to CUSU for the use of their minibus. Keep up to date with our progress at Nationals, the weekend of the 24th/25th November, on twitter by following @strangeblueulti .
The victorious squad, with well-camouflaged trophy and MVP disc.
P.S. Apologies for the delay in uploading this, we were waiting on the team photo.