The Minnesota Ultimate Disc Invitational (MUDI) has been held for 12 consecutive seasons at the Twin Cities Polo Club fields in Independence, MN. This midsummer classic is a celebration of Minnesota and Midwestern Ultimate. Local elite teams in each division are generally present to get some reps against regional competition, try to avoid the small town speed traps, and enjoy a cold Surly brew with friends after the games. In addition to all the practicing club teams, there are always several throw-together teams just looking to have some fun in the July sun!
MUDI 2015 promised to be the best yet. There was going to be a great Thai food truck, the Thrivent Reverse Food Truck (collecting food), a real band for the party, and a sanctioned Mixed division. This last part is particularly important. Some local movers and shakers have always felt that with a few more sanctioned results between Drag’n, CLX, Noise, Bird, MSP, and others that we could prove, mathematically, what we have always known: there are more than two North Central teams that can compete on the national stage.
But MUDI v.13 would succumb to some bad luck before it ever began. Heavy rainfalls blanketed the Twin Cities for several days leading up to the tournament, so much so that the Polo Club decided to pull their fields from use. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately?), no one knew this until players started arriving at the fields on Saturday morning. With teams from all over the Midwest in attendance to get sanctioned games, there was an immediate effort to find new fields and play the Mixed division as scheduled. Both these tasks took longer than they should have, but a big thanks goes out to The Millers for leading the charge!
With new fields (loosely) secured (we were squatting) everyone headed out to the Hopkins High School fields. In order to maintain the sanctity of our sanctioned event we had to stick to the original schedule, two hours later. With games pushed back til 11am, and the humidity and heat quickly climbing, everyone knew we would be in for a long and trying weekend.
Game #1 vs. Brew City Bandits from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
This team was very representative of the spirit of MUDI. They were a little shorthanded, but young and certainly willing to work super hard! Many of their players would play several points in a row, working the disc well, until a minor error would result in a turn. Knowing how much energy would be spent over the 3 game afternoon, Drag’n was quick to capitalize on these mistakes. We committed only 6 turns, converted 58% of our chances on D, and had the offense hold 100% of their points. Shwa lead the team with 2 blocks, Sierra with 2 assists, and 2 goals for each Vandy, Jaime, and Jess.
Final: Drag’n 11-1 Brew City Bandits
Game #2 vs. Cream City Crooks also from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
We got the impression this was the more established of the “beverage-themed-criminal-teams-from-Milwaukee” based solely on their possession of a twitter account. I’m not going to say we were scared, but we may have been guarding our beer a little more closely. So much so that we had an uncharacteristic 4 drops in this game. We also had 11 total turnovers and fell to a 42% conversion rate. Despite the sloppy play the offense still converted all of their opportunities and we were able to duke it out, notching defensive blocks from 9 different Drag’ns. Vandy continued his scoring streak, tracking down 2 more goals and joining Trosvig with the most for this game. Shwa continued his dominance, but focused more on offense and with McKean, co-lead the team with 2 assists.
Final: Drag’n 11-3 Cream City Crooks
Bye: Miserable heat continues.
Game #3 vs. Mojo Jojo from Saint Louis Park, Minnesota
Drag’n is very familiar with the roster of Mojo; both teams have a strong influence of players who sharpened their teeth at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. The rest of the Jojos are very active in the Twin Cities Ultimate League and with coaching for our local youth teams. Needless to say, there was plenty of great spirited play, community building, and occasional horseplay. Despite the distractions we were able to clean up the play and with only 2 drops and 8 throwaways, the D-line climbed back above 50% converted opportunities to score. Again the offense remained in control, going 3 consecutive games and the first day of the tournament, without giving up a break. Offensive mainstays made their way onto the leaderboard with 2 assists for Austin and 3 goals for Clarq. Jacob Lien and Sierra were big contributors on the D-line, securing 2 blocks each.
Final: Drag’n 11-3 Mojo Jojo
In typical Drag’n fashion we peeled out of the high school parking lot and headed to our parents’ house for some delicious food and drinks. The Lien family provided an amazing spread to refuel our depleated Drag’n energy, although the day’s contests were far from over. In the 4th quarterly Drag’n Homebrew Competition, former Drag’ns Pete and James entered the ring against current players Pat and Austin to see who had brewed the best Blonde Ale. There were definitely some…interesting…entries, but Pat brought home the title with his Honey Basil Blonde (even if it was technically too dark to be a blonde…)
Despite not bringing his team (CLX) to the tournament, the ever-present Neal Hanke spent most of the day on our sideline doing what Hankes do best–distracting the injured Jay Drescher and heckling Liens. Then by some miracle he was able to cycle, without any navigation tools, from Hopkins to the Lien home in Independence for food and fun! Thank you Lien Family for your incredible hospitality!
Game #4 vs. Minnesota Star Power from Minneapolis, Minnesota
We made it to Sunday and our final pool play game! MSP always brings it against Drag’n and with the pool going to the winner, we were not looking past this team to the rest of the day. With new leadership and many new athletes it was unclear to us what to expect from this mainstay. MSP has historically had an army of talented male handlers and women finishers that can run for days! Fortunately for us, Vandy and Sierra decided to join Drag’n this season and showed up big (again!) in this game with 3 goals between them. Strings made his presence felt and tried to rack up the most blocks with 3 total, but the real defensive prowess goes to Baker who had 3 blocks in a single, grueling point! We had a pretty standard turns:scores ratio, and although MSP battled hard until the end, we won the game and the pool and headed off to quarterfinals.
Final: Drag’n 11-4 Minnesota Star Power
Quarterfinals vs. No Touching from Minneapolis, Minnesota
I’d be remiss if I failed to point out the obvious right away; with the change of fields and the average age of this roster well into the master’s division, they were either unable or unwilling to bring the famous banana stand to Hopkins. Despite our disappointment, we were still happy to face No Touching. They have a craft and guile that challenges us in unique ways that only they can. Their poaches and craftiness created an almost immeasurable 27 turnovers between drops and throwaways, and the first break of the Drag’n offense! (This seems like a good opportunity to thank Jay and Shirley for stat keeping all weekend!) Lucky for us No Touching prides themselves on taking risks, because despite a measly 9 blocks, Drag’n was still able to possess the disc enough times to walk away victorious. It is important to note that the final No Touching score finally settled the age old battle of which McKean is better; No Touching’s Tyler, or Drag’n’s Jake. With their backs to the ropes and Drag’n pulling on game point the electric crowd cheered for the matchup that was a decade in the making. Obligated to fulfill the family motto of “give the people what they want!” Jake set out to accomplish the impossible and shutdown a determined Tyler. As No Touching marched towards the upwind endzone, Jake thought he was positioned perfectly for the inevitable swill that Norgaard, DVB, or Reed Bailey was bound to throw. Sure enough, a bladey forehand went up to Tyler in the back of the endzone! Fronting the whole point, Jake sprinted to catch up and defend both his pride and the upwind endzone. Crafty as ever, Tyler gave up position to his brother and then laughed along with Old-Man-Wind as the disc plummeted and fell right into his hands. Devastated, Jake returned to the shade of the Drag’n tent….teammates parting in silence and embarrassment. Fortunately, the Drag’n offense would hold going upwind and we advanced to the semifinals!
Final: Drag’n 13-8 No Touching
Semifinals vs. Bird of Minneapolis, Minnesota
Widely considered as Minneapolis’ second team behind Drag’n, we have had the opportunity to play this talented team often over the years. It was their first round regional defeat of Drag’n in 2013 that focused the team for the remainder of the series. Bird and Drag’n had held a combined tryout in May and road-tripped together to the US Open in Ohio two weeks later. Despite Bird being young, athletic, and feisty, Drag’n was able to easily dispatch them in their two early season meetings. From the onset, it was clear that this would be a different game. Both offensive lines came out hot and scored their first three downwind points. At 3-3 the Drag’n O-line blinked and Bird scored the first upwind point of the game. Drag’n put out a D-line to get the upwind hold and a battle ensued! Both teams played incredible defense and several turns were forced both ways before Drag’n finally scored. With upwinds at a premium, this proved to be a critical hold and allowed the Drag’n D-line to break for the downwind point and get back on serve. We went back to trading flawless O-points until a hiccup and quick score gave them another break to take half at 6-7. With a break in hand and headed downwind on offense, Bird took definitive control of the game. Despite forcing several turnovers and working it all the way into the red zone on multiple occasions, the Drag’n D-line simply could not complete a pass into the upwind endzone. Finally at 10-11 an unforced Bird turn allowed Petersen to boost a patented upwind huck to Regan and the much need break. With the wind at our backs we put out a D-line to convert the next break and regain the lead. But Bird had other things in mind. When the pressure was the greatest they worked it up the field with no turns, highlighted by a phenomenal sky and game saving catch by Bird’s Bvon on a bladey flick that could only be described as a stall 9 bail out. Facing a game point for Bird and 70 yards of stiff wind the Drag’n offense faltered and Bird punched their ticket to the MUDI Finals.
Final: Drag’n 11-13 Bird
Third Place Game vs. Des Moines Metro from…..it’s unclear, some town in Iowa…
Fairly deflated from our loss to Bird and the need to change fields, we set out to play an uninspired game against a very talented team from down south. All the huddle talk about responding after a tough loss could not overcome the suffocating heat or Des Moines’ offense. It was another upwind/downwind game without either team getting the upper hand and Drag’n taking half on serve 7-6. Finally sick of licking our wounds, Drag’n started the second half with an upwind break, and consecutive downwind break, to seize control of the game. More point trading was made exciting by a trailing edge, spinning, over the shoulder, circus catch from Sarah “SK” Anciaux! Des Moines would notch a late game break, but eventually fall to Drag’n. The O-line deserves a ton of credit for carrying us to victory on this one! Assist leaders were Trosvig with 4, Martha with 3, and Jaime with 2. SK had a whopping 4 goals, slightly outdoing line mate Carlos, who had 3.
Final: Drag’n 13-10 Des Moines Metro
All in all it was a fun, but frustrating tournament for Drag’n. With veterans Erica Baken, Sarah Meckstroth, David Shirley, Dave Klink, and Jay Drescher sidelined with injuries or other commitments, it provided the opportunity for the rest of the roster to step up. We worked on some offensive strategies that should help us going forward and were able to scout our regional competition. There is no doubt that Drag’n will be learning from the lessons of MUDI and pushing one another at practice in preparation for the Pro Flight Finale on August 22nd-23 at the National Sports Center in Blaine, MN and beyond!!