This past weekend I got the opportunity to go play in the Jeju Gnarly Nines Tournament. This is a coed tournament where you play 5 men and 2 women on the field at a time, but you are only allowed to have 9 total players on your team. This makes for a very brutal tournament because you get very little time to rest, and injuries can just cripple a team. The games were played on the World Cup Soccer practice fields in Jeju, which made them some of the best fields I’ve ever played on. The weather was perfect for the tournament mid 70’s but it was overcast in the hottest part of the day. It was a bit windy at times, but that just made things better because we got to run more zone then. I have to say this is the second best tournament I’ve ever been to, nothing beats Nationals for me. Jeju comes in at a close second, with great fields and cheap tournament cost which includes hotel, food, and party. Finally the great atmosphere that hangs around the whole tournament and players is what really makes this a top notch tournament.
This winter I suffered my first dreaded knee injury, so I was extra cautious coming back from it. This left me completely out of shape and also without time to practice with the team, so I was rightfully put onto the Seoul C team and asked to be a leader. We came into the tournament as the 7th seed(I think) out of around 24 teams. Our first two games were against ringer teams, meaning they are all top level players who don’t practice together but form up for a tournament. We got crushed by these teams. Then we got to play Seoul B who is easily more athletic than us but seemed to be lacking in leadership. We took half on them and they didn’t even talk, they got water and went to the line ready to start the second half. At this point I knew we could win the game if we came out strong for the next couple points. I think we traded points for the rest of the second half, but the hard cap went on, so we finished the point and were up 10-9 and that was it. It was great to beat Seoul B because it guaranteed two things, a spot in the quarter finals and bragging rights. We then got crushed by the Japanese team in the last game on Saturday.
Sunday started and we got to play Justice League, the eventual winners of the tourny, for one more time. We then got to play Seoul F who had worked their way up from the B bracket only to be dominated by us. It felt good to actually have a convincing win instead of losing badly or barely winning. For our final game we were scheduled to play against the Daejon team, but they were injured and tired and decided to forfeit to us. Little did they know that we would have forfeited to them if they had said they wanted to play the game. Hooray for a free win to end the tournament. Now all we had to do is cheer for Seoul A and drink beer.
The semifinal game between Seoul A and Justice League may have been one of the most exciting games I have ever watched. It had it all layout D’s, hucks, people skying each other and the game swung back and forth first in Seoul A’s favor then in Justice League’s. Finally Justice League pulled out the win and moved on to the final. Unfortunately the fans just didn’t have the energy after cheering for the semi final game. Although the final was a good game, it just didn’t have the emotion and therefore the crowd never got into it.
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