By Eli Leonard
Ahhhhhhh. Regionals sweet Regionals. MagnUM traveled down once again to the pithole in Rockford, Illinois in quest of earning a Great Lakes Regional championship. The winds were blustering, the fields were adequate, yet the passion still permeated the atmosphere as teams fought to die another day. MagnUM pulled up the fields sporting a healthy dose of swagger and an even healthier desire to blast a little Creed through their bumpin’ speakers. Oh yea, it was gametime!
Game 1: MagnUM-10 Loyola Chicago-8
It was evident in our first game that we forgot to drink our coffee that morning. With finals week’s toll on our total sleep tally, MagnUM needed a wake up call in the form of a vastly inferior team finding ways to keep the game close. We were lethargic because, as Ricky reminded us, we were “going to win this game.” Eventually, the O-Line buckled down and finished the game off with a close win (in score).
Game 2: MagnUM-11 Illinois State-5
Wait, you must mean Illinois! No, no we don’t. A group of fairly talented players grouped together playing pickup Ultimate stepped onto our field to throw up anything and everything they could think of. They were dangerous, but not formidable. MagnUM stomps them in a complete team effort for the win. This is just one of those games where there wasn’t much to write home about.
Game 3: MagnUM-11 Little Brother-6
We always get Michigan State’s best game. They came out with fire, enough fire that their hot-heads exploded. MagnUM was fired up to shut down our baby bro, and did just that. The Defense was taking no prisoners, and the Offense was firing on all cylinders. After a few spikes here and a few shoves there, Michigan State had exhausted all of their options on MagnUM and went down easy.
Semi-Finals: MagnUM-15 Eastern Michigan-12
If Michigan State is our little brother, what does that make EMU? Our estranged step-cousin? Throughout the past few years, we have taken on our Ypsilanti neighbors many times, always with the same result. This time, however, the win took on a different form; we had to really work for this one. The cross winds picked up in time for the first pull, making this a battle from start to finish. Eastern had a unique defensive scheme that allowed their athletes to contain our veteran playmakers, but with enough grit, MagnUM pulled ahead 4-1 to start the game, capped off by a huge D in the air from Charlie Hyde to stop their best threat from catching a goal. Their athletes found a way to shut down our typical offensive flow, yet MagnUM found new ways to get the disc up field. With incredible catches from Jesse Buchsbaum, full field bombs from Noah Backer, bail-out grabs from Jesse Haji-Sheikh, and heavy defensive pressure that caused turnovers, MagnUM found the endzone just enough times to close out a very hungry Eastern Michigan team. After rallying off 2 straight breaks to come out of half, MagnUM had this one locked up.
The Finals: MagnUM-10 Northwestern-9
Sunday brought on a brand new beast. With a 25-30 mph cross wind exerting its wrath on the flatball fields, MagnUM and Northwestern duked out a barn-burner for the regional championship. The wind slightly favored one endzone, making the other much more difficult to score into. MagnUM started out electrified and energized to take the crown. With a quick easy goal for Michigan, followed by a long winded and difficult score for Northwestern, it appeared MagnUM had the upper hand. The game was decided by a fight for field position; throwers would chuck it deep in hopes of a great catch, or in anticipation to play lock down defense after the turnover. One highlight play was a huge endzone layout D by fifth-year Daniel DeTone which prevented Northwestern from taking half going upwind. After many down-wind holds, it appeared neither team would score a break up wind, but right in time for half, MagnUM had a slip that allowed Northwestern to go up by one break.
With a half time deficit, MagnUM remained calm, confident, and more eager than ever. We pulled to start, and with the wind the way it was, they turned it over and gave us a chance to score. MagnUM hit a shot upwind near the endzone. After many calls and a tension that anticipated the upwind break, MagnUM punched in the disc for a score that allowed. From this point on, the energy sided with the good guys. Going downwind, Captain Sam Greenwood came down with a monster sky for another break, making the score 9-8 in favor of Michigan. Northwestern responded with a goal, causing a double game point situation. With the score 9-9, Michigan turned the disc over close to the Northwestern endzone. After working the disc past half field, Northwestern looked to be striking. The season was on the line, and Michigan was in need of a stop, and boy, did they ever get one. Captain Eli Leonard was marking the man with the disc, and as the disc flew, he stuck his foot out and kick blocked the throw on the open side and proceeded to pick up the disc and huck a cross-field backhand to a galloping Jesse Buchsbaum for the goal and the title of Great Lakes Regional Champions. Game. Set. Match. On to Nationals.