Another year, another freaking tortuously long trek to the Southeast Championship. This is such a pet peeve for me, but the way the regions for Bike Polo are set up right now, for the past two years, it's been closer for us to go to the South Central, Eastside, or Midwest regional tournaments than it is for us to get to our own. Unfortunately, polo in the South is mostly clustered inside Florida, so come tourny time, they're the ones with the facilities and resources to make it happen. SOME DAY, I think the region lines will work out for us, but it may be a couple of years. Until then, I suppose I can look forward to 12+ hour car drives to what, this year at least, was probably my worst tournament showing of 2012.
Come to think of it, that fact is probably why I've gotten so backed up on blog entries - I just haven't wanted to talk about it. But I think a month later, I've finally distanced myself enough from it to move on. Still makes me cringe that we didn't make it to day 2 - whereas last year, we tied for 9th in a tournament that was filled with outta-region badasses in the top 8.
So what happened? A combination of bad luck and an unfamiliar courts. And, y'know, we just got beat. Coming from a tiny court (115x45) to a ginormous one (200x85) didn't help - just a different play style completely. Of course, if we were good enough it wouldn't matter yada yada, but yeah, we definitely still scrape out wins more than we destroy people, so we need every edge we can get.
The bad luck came in our podium draws. First match: Funk Buddies, a team that 5-0'd us last year, and the eventual 3rd place team for this tournament. Well, we only got 3-0'd this year, so yeah, improvement? Just like last time, their goals were very tricky - no big shots, all breakaways to the goalie and a feint, or wheel shot, or just some crazy magic fakeouts.
So, that puts us solidly towards the bottom of the heap, giving us a REALLY easy game, which we 5-0'd no problem lickity-split, only bumping us to 1-1, but with a positive goal differential, which unfortunately put us against Get It God Damn, a Texas team filled out with players that habitually hammer us when we travel. I like those guys n' gals alot 'cus I feel like they're a step above us, but not so much that we get completely shut down. If possible, I'd just like to play pickup with them for like a month. Buuuuut yeah, they eventually went on to 4th place in the tourny, managing a 3-1 against us in a game where they were admittedly off just a little bit - I would have expected even worse, honestly.
So, with a record of 1-2 and a differential of a flat zero, we weren't doing all THAT bad, but we really needed a bump in our last game. Instead, we got the Solar Bears (eventual 9th placers), who had a 1-1-1 record to that point. I KNOW there were teams with a 1-2 that we could have beaten, but yeah, it just doesn't work out that way all the time. If we could have played one more game as originally planned, I just KNOW we could do well enough to bump us into the second day at least since we would play another 1-3 team (or maybe not, with our luck). Anyways, after the whistle we were behind four-zilch and I was the most pissed I've ever been at polo. I became a bike-thrower. SO SO disappointed and pissed at myself. It only made it worse that we were actually staying with the Solar Bears and Funk Buddies members, and they were really awesome guys.
So, the lesson? NO MORE EXPECTATIONS, FOOL. Another year to go and yeah, maybe the Funk Buddies will only beat us 1-0? Ha. We did win best name (Three Sticks Mafia - nice one, Adam!) and I got to play with the Texas folks for two games after the end of the tournament. AAAAAANYWAYS, took some pictures on the first day, but spent the second day trying in vain to get some pickup going so the trip wasn't a total waste.
Check out the set on the flickrrrrrr. Some faves:
There were little protected habitats full of these awesome little burrowing owls all over the court area, constantly casting disapproving glances as we crashed and burned.
Been trying to get an epic joust pic for a long time, finally got one! Check out that Jimmy Lean!
Andy's wheel-framed, tire-changin' goodness.
Eh, no pithy caption for this one, just like the shot. Lotsa motion. Ok, here's something funny, that girl got pretty sloshed by the end of the second day and was, uh, very amorous?
Chris (I think? Or is it Eric?) of ATL. I goalied for him while he was warming up for a game and, uh, it was scary. Super hard and accurate when he wants to be, super tricky, super freaking better than me.
AWESOME. Youngest polo player I've seen to date (at a tournament). They didn't do that bad either. Heck, they tied with us. (...and depression sets in yet again)
SUPER SHUFFLE PASS!!! Haha I just love the windup.
Not a technically awesome shot, bad composition and all, but LOOK AT THAT FACE. Haha, faces of polo rule.