The 2012 AU Winter League again took place at Bill McKinley Park, on the turf fields under lights – eliminating most of the issues that plague organising outdoor ultimate during the New Zealand winter.
Unlike last year, the weather showed a harsh side with challenging winds and rain for many of the games. However five teams braved the cold and damp to fight it out for the coveted Top Hat Ice Bucket Trophy and accompanying bottle of winner’s bubbles.
Who’s Your Wookie and Unruly quickly stood out as the top teams with Who’s Ink, Somethings Smells Fishy and El Camino playing some very close games between themselves. The standard of play overall was high and very few games resulted in blow-out wins – with each victory hard-earned. The team rosters were stacked with young players looking to get a taste for competitive ultimate and it was great to see that the future of Ultimate is so bright in Auckland.
In round robin play Who’s Your Wookie stole a game from Unruly to earn direct qualification to the final, while Unruly made it via the semi-final with a win over Who’s Ink. Something Smells Fishy beat El Camino to earn another game on finals night.
In a tribute to how closely matched the teams in the Winter League were, both games on the final night went to Universe point. Something Smells Fishy pulled off a comeback to defeat Who’s Ink for 3rd and everyone gathered around pitch one for the last point of the final. Adam Lothian came through for Unruly with a layout catch block to set up the winning goal and crown Unruly as 2012 AU Winter League Champions.
The MVP awards recognised the great contribution the younger players made to the league with Kahu (NZ U19 Girls) player Emily Camuso winning the female MVP award and Blake Rainey, another up-and-coming young player taking the male MVP prize. Something Smells Fishy won the coveted Spirit award in recognition of their competitive but fair play.
All in all – another great Winter League and a straw-poll at the end of prize-giving gave thumbs up to the format of holding the league on a Sunday evening rather than late at night during the week. So keep an eye out for the 2013 edition coming at you in September next year.
Who’s Your Wookie
Something Smells Fishy
Spirit Something Smells Fishy
Female MVP Emily Camuso
Male MVP Blake Rainey
Winter League TD