Mark 'Sammy' Samuel / Mark Danenhauer / Gregg Tedeski / Dan Wachter / Casey Hare / Eric 'Mo' Morrissette / Jim Regetz / Tommy Burfeind / Mike Hall / Ryan Yarbrough / Forrest Collins / Chris 'Gav' Gavigan / James Studarus
Greg 'Hollywood' Husak / Matt 'Pepé' Lefevre / Ben Smith / Bob Steinke / Adam Glimme / Garry Maire / Jason 'Red' Backlund / Jason Seidler
Other 1997 Black Tide Pictures
Hold on to your hats. The weekend turned out nothing as expected. The Black Tides talent and especially their mental toughness would be tested to the limit. And the parents on the sideline probably pushed their blood pressure there too. This was the tournament that decided who would go to Nationals four weeks later. If you failed to make it, your season was over.
This year one advantage was still holding. Everyone was healthy. The weather in Santa Cruz was behaving with temps in the 70s and very little wind.
The first day was pretty easy. UCSB played the 3 other teams in their pool. There were 4 pools with 4 teams each. By the end of the tournament, only 2 of the original 16 teams would be left standing and going to Nationals. On Saturday, UCSB beat their 3 opponents by fairly wide margins: U.C. Davis (13-4), U.C. San Diego-B (13-2) and Los Positas LPC (13-5). The team seemed poised and confident. That night we went to dinner with the team in Santa Cruz and enjoyed the food and conversation. So now on to Sunday and the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.
Sunday morning everyone was very confident and upbeat. The team looked great at warm-ups. The only surprise was our son giving us his pony tail he had cut off the night before after having long hair for 6 years. Their first opponent was Cal Poly SLO who was ranked 16th; not high enough to be a difficult game. But things did not start well. We soon found ourselves down by 8-6. The game continued as it started and we were losing 12-9. The game had gone a long time, so the tournament director "capped" the game at 13 points. This meant that the first team to reach 13 would win instead of going to the full 15 points. UCSB fought back and brought the score to 12-11. But then SLO scored and the game was over. UCSB had lost in the quarterfinals. Everyone was stunned.
So what now? All was not lost yet. Since the Western Region gets to send their top 2 teams to Nationals, the tournament rules work like this. The team that wins their quarterfinal, semifinal and finals games is ranked #1 in the region and goes to Nationals. The second team to go is selected through a process called the back door. In essence, the losers in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals all play additional games. The winner of those games is ranked #2 and also goes to Nationals. In order for the Black Tide to make it to Nationals after losing in the quarterfinals, they had to play 4 more games that day and win them all.
The first back door game was UCSD and was an easy one. Even though UCSB had just lost a heart-breaker, they re-grouped and beat UCSD badly. Next came the Univ. of British Columbia (UBC). This was the first year the U.S. Ultimate Players Association was including the Canadian teams. The Black Tide had played UBC earlier in the season and beat them. However UBC was now ranked 3rd in the nation, and everyone expected a tough game. UCSB came out very aggressive. It was as if they had caught their breadth and were now determined to win. After the first 6 points, the game was never in doubt. UCSB roared ahead and won 15-5.
Then came Univ. of Victoria; another Canadian team who no one had played before. They had also been winning in the back door playoffs, and appeared ready to play a tough game. The beginning of game was fairly even with the score going to 6-6. But then the UCSB defense began to have an effect. They blocked a few throws and the score was 10-6. Then UCSB did it again; they shut their opponent down and won 15-7.
It was about 5:30pm and UCSB had now played 4 games that day starting at 9:30am (thats 8 hours of Ultimate almost non-stop; no food, very little rest, only liquids), and the next game would decide who the second team was that would go to Nationals. Cal Poly, the team that had beat UCSB earlier that day, had just lost to Stanford in the finals. So UCSB and Cal Poly would play one more time to decide the #2 slot. UCSB could either exact their revenge, or Cal Poly would beat them again. It was a grudge match.
Just as the game started, the wind which had been very light all day began to pick up. And by the middle of the game the wind was roaring. Throwing a frisbee in the wind is very tricky. It takes considerable skill and strength to throw the disc where you want it to go. Luckily, UCSB sometimes practices in the wind since the Santa Barbara area is often windy. Ive heard Jason say "the wind is our friend."
UCSB won the first 3 points, and it seemed that this would be a very different game than the first one that day where UCSB lost to Cal Poly. But nothing is easy it seems. Cal Poly came back and almost tied UCSB, and the score went to 4-3 UCSB still on top, but not by much. If you bite your nails, this was a bad place to be. As it got windier, UCSB got better. Cal Poly had a very difficult time completing their passes in the wind, and UCSB would take the disc and move right up field. It was as if UCSB didnt even notice the wind was there.
Soon UCSB was winning 10-5, and the end was in sight. UCSB just dominated the game like they have so many times. Even after pushing their bodies to the limit, and beyond, that day, they seemed to float down the field. Almost every time the Black Tide got the disc, they scored. And every time Cal Poly got the disc, they missed a pass and UCSB took it over for the score. The final score was 15-6. UCSB was going to Nationals.
After a tournament like that and achieving their goal to get to Nationals, you would assume there would be a great deal of celebrating. But think about it. If you had just abused your body for two days, how would you feel? The end of a tournament, even for the winner, is quite subdued. The men are tired, their bodies are in shock, and mostly they want to stay loose so their muscles dont cramp on the drive home. Some of the team met at a popular Mexican place in Santa Cruz to eat a bit before driving back. We said congratulations to them again, and Jason came home with us. He wanted to sleep home even though that meant missing Mondays classes. We didnt mind at all.
By the end of pool play Saturday, everyone knew there were two dominate Ultimate teams at Nationals. By the end of Sunday, the entire Ultimate world knew there was one true champion.
The Black Tide has had sideline support from parents and friends all season. But I think even the older players were a bit surprised by what they saw at Nationals. From the very first game, the sidelines were filled with Tide alumni, B-team players and relatives. Mike B. was his usual lively self and not only brought a Black Tide banner, but he often carried it around the field to the consternation of the other teams Im sure. Mike also brought a friend from Germany who quickly got into the spirit of the game and was blowing an air-horn with every Tide score or D. No other team at Nationals came close to the excitement on the sidelines that the Tide had. The two tents Jason borrowed from the U.C.S.B. Athletic Department were a perfect place for everyone to congregate, not to mention get out of the heat of the sun (high of 95 Friday). And they were mobbed with well wishers.
By Friday afternoon, a carfull of the womens team, the Burning Skirts, showed up along with more parents and grandparents. It was the first time I can remember that the Tides sideline support team outnumbered the players. It was great! And the Tide was not disappointing their fans. The 2nd game Friday was against Wisconsin, and it was expected to be tough. But the outcome foretold the rest of the tournament. UCSB completely dominated the game from the beginning. They scored at will and were fantastic on D. By the end of the day, many at Nationals were beginning to think that perhaps the Tide could really do it again.
Saturday started as Friday ended. UCSB played Cornell and then Oberlin. Both were fairly easy games with the Tide winning big. The third and last game of the day was being billed as the tough one. ECU had plenty of experience, and they wanted revenge for not making Nationals last year. The game started and within minutes the spectators were stunned. UCSB was crushing ECU. No one was prepared for how dominate UCSB was playing. Their defense was awesome, and their offense perhaps even better. The Tide players were making catches that seemed impossible. And a few of the players who normally do not excel on defense were making once in a lifetime plays... and more than once. There seemed to be magic in the air.
Saturday night the Black Tide and the other teams were treated to dinner and a party by the Nationals committee, so the parents were on their own. Six of us had dinner together and got to know each other better. Ill bet the people around us in the restaurant thought we were crazy. All we did was laugh and talk about our sons.
Sunday morning the Tide were not quite up to the level of the ECU game the day before. But no one thought anyone could stay at that level anyway. UCSB played Carleton in the semifinals; the team they beat in the finals at Nationals the year before. Carleton was the only team to score in the 2 digits against Stanford in pool play the prior two days. They were good players, and they wanted to win... bad. The score stayed fairly even for a while, and then as so many times before, UCSB started to pull away. By the end of the game, UCSB won 19-12; the closest game yet at Nationals for the Tide. The Black Tide were going back to the finals.
On the sidelines, many of the Tide supporters were ready to begin celebrating a bit. After all, just making it to the finals is quite an accomplishment. But thats not the Tides style. They came to win, and they were ready. Their faces turned stern, and there were few smiles. Only determination. While waiting for the womens finals to end, the team sat around the UCSB tents which they had moved to the stadium where the finals were being held. Very little activity, saving their strength for the game. Almost no talking. Everyone seemed to know what their job was, and they all seemed prepared. It was just another day at the office.
The womens finals game ended with Stanford beating British Columbia. UCSB took the field to begin their warm-ups. They looked sharp, serious and determined. I got to wish my son good luck, and I knew that was probably the last time I would speak with him until the game was over. Most of the players simply focus on the game to the exclusion of everything else. During the game I might walk past him on the sidelines, but he probably wouldnt see me.
UCSB performed their traditional ritual for the finals game in a tournament of selecting the first 7 players for the game. They formed a tunnel with their arms and cheered as the captain called out their names. Ive seen this before, and I always enjoy it.
The game started and UCSB was quickly ahead by 3 points. It looked like they just might do it again. Stanford then caught up to within one point and stayed close for a while. At 9-7 with UCSB ahead, I was having a chat with Tom Kennedy (TK), the founding father of West Coast Ultimate and UCSBs advisor this year. I remember saying "this is where the Tide needs to go into half-time at 11-7." UCSB made the next point to make it 10-7 and threw to Stanford. On the very first throw by Stanford, Jason got a handblock on the goal line, quickly picked the disc up and tossed it in for the score. Just as I had dreamed: 11-7 at the half. It was then that I knew they would win. In fact, I was quite sure nothing could stop them. A few calmer, and wiser, folks kept saying its not over until the last point (good advice). But I knew. And I think the team knew. This was their day, their tournament, and their repeat National Championship. The game ended 21-13. This was the first time any college team had ever won back-to-back National Championships TWICE (the Black Tide were also No. 1 in 88, 89 and 90).
1997 UCSB Game Scores:
02/15/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 13 Stanford-B 1
02/15/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 13 Las Positas 10
02/15/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 13 Northern Arizona 6
02/16/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 13 U.C.San Diego 4 (Quarters)
02/16/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 15 U.C.Berkeley 7 (Semis)
02/16/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 17 Colorado 6 (Finals)
03/01/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 13 U.C.Santa Cruz 8
03/01/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 13 Iowa 6
03/01/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 13 Humboldt State 5
03/01/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 13 Claremont College 1
03/02/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 13 Colorado 8 (Quarters)
03/02/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 15 British Columbia 8 (Semis)
03/02/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 19 Stanford 17 (Finals)
03/23/97 Stanford 13 U.C.Santa Barbara 10
04/26/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 11 Claremont College 1
04/26/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 11 Caltech 1
04/26/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 11 U.C.L.A. 1
04/26/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 13 U.C.San Diego 6
04/26/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 11 Northern Arizona 2
05/03/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 13 U.C. Davis 4
05/03/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 13 U.C.San Diego-B 2
05/03/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 13 Los Positas LPC 5
05/04/97 Cal Poly SLO 13 U.C.Santa Barbara 11 (quarterfinals)
05/04/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 15 U.C.Santa Cruz 2 (back door)
05/04/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 15 U.British Columbia 5 (back door)
05/04/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 15 U. Victoria 7 (back door)
05/04/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 15 Cal Poly SLO 6 (back door - finals)
05/30/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 15 LSU 5
05/30/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 17 UW-Madison 7
05/31/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 17 Cornell 3
05/31/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 17 Oberlin 5
05/31/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 17 ECU 7
06/01/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 19 Carleton 12 - Semis
06/01/97 U.C.Santa Barbara 21 Stanford 13 - Finals