Ventura edges out series leader, Orange County in sudden death overtime
Ventura Seaside Park/C Street, May 11th, 2004 – In one of the most anticipated games in the 2004 California Cup series, Ventura defeats Orange County in the first ever sudden death overtime match in the history of the National Surf League at the Quiksilver Game Week. With a packed crowd of local Ventura fans skipping work and school, supporters witnessed their home team shutting down Orange County 176.5 to 172 while completing the Quiksilver Game Week with an exciting full sweep.
Redemption from Ventura's last meeting with OC filled the minds of the Green Machine today, after OC defeated Ventura earlier by a small margin in Huntington Beach Pier on May 1st. Friendly taunts were exchanged prior to team introductions as local Ventura supporters made their way in large groups over to the north side of the Ventura team dugout area. OC's roster came stacked despite the notable absence of Pat O'Connell, however marquee surfer Chris Ward, Timmy Reyes, Brett Simpson and Mike Losness and the remainder of the OC crew would give Ventura a definite run for their money.
OC began the first quarter with an incredible 46 point total score with Timmy Reyes exploding on head high to overhead rights. His speed and rail control followed by calculated roundhouses back into the foam gave Timmy long rides for a total game high score of 15.5 and eventual Game MVP. OC Assistant coach Garth Tarlow, filling in the rank for head coach Mike Parsons, had seen stats from the last two days and knew right away that OC had to shock Ventura immediately with above average scores. Aerial specialist, Chris Ward searched for launch ramps to boost his infamous and deadly airs, but found it challenging as wave conditions were hard to predict. While teammates scored waves, Chris Drummy was slow in catching any decent rides. However, late in the quarter, Drummy was positioned by water coaches and team mates to catch solid rights showcasing his powerhouse surfing with beautiful fans of water as Drummy pummeled the top of the lip busting full fins. Not knowing if his team's scores would equate to a slap across Ventura's face, Coach Tarlow stood nervously as the quarter score came in. A 46 score for OC in the first quarter elicited cheers and gestures towards the Ventura dugout. Ventura sent out their arsenal led by living legend Tom Curren, Adam Virs and rising sixteen year old star, Nick Rosza. Power combo Keoni Cuccia and late substitution Jeremy Ryan kept Ventura close to OC with a quarter score of 43.5. Tom Curren's incredible 8.0 ride from the mid section peak had the entire beach cheering wildly and the OC dugout literally bowing down as no one on the opposing team could jeer Curren's classic roundhouses and snaps.
The second quarter proved to be the most difficult scoring quarter as wave sets dwindled and winds picked up. OC's Coach Tarlow quickly spread out his group in order to maximize anything that would form a rideable wave. In what was looking like a sub 30 point quarter score, coach Tarlow nervously called a time out in hopes of one last major set. As the time out began to run out, sets out the back could be seen with one minute left in regulation time. Within moments, all four OC surfers, Todd, Hoisington, Simpson and Simmons were surfing four separate waves salvaging the OC quarter heat with a 32.5. What was dismal in wave opportunities for OC, proved that the ocean does not discriminate, as Ventura experienced an equally challenging quarter with blown out wave conditions. Unlike the previous two days, the lefts did not provide the steep walls Bobby Martinez had ripped, forcing the young talented goofy footer to go right. Ventura's young superstar Dane Reynolds, scored the only double digit score of the entire quarter with his tight bottom turns and vertical surfing coupled with a sizeable frontside air into the foam that was partially completed.
In the third quarter, OC edged out Ventura by 3.5 points (Q3: OC: 40.5, VC: 37) with solid 6.0 points plus individual best wave score performances from Timmy Reyes, Mike Losness and Chris Drummy. Substitution combo, Jeremy Ryan for Keoni Cuccia proved to be a good choice by Ventura Coach Sean Hayes, rendering an 11.0 quarter score. Wave conditions continued to prove challenging, as Ventura focused on positioning the crew in the mid section peaks. By the end of the third quarter, OC had a lead of 5 points over Ventura, for an overall score of 119 to Ventura's 114.
With a low scoring fourth quarter, OC's final quarter score of 33 matched closely with their dismal second quarter score. Ventura had only to score a 39 to defeat their adversaries and bring out the broom for a game week sweep as Danny Nichols of OC had done in Huntington Beach. Dane Reynolds again wowed the crowd as he powered through closed out sections on a righthander blowing spray in a mind numbing visual display above the lip while Reynolds maintained speed by utilizing foam sections for another huge vertical snap. Goofy footed Hank Mills had opted throughout the Quiksilver Game Week for rights, as he unleashed a series of 5 backside snaps and scoring a solid 6.0. The Green Machine and their fans waited nervously for the final scores, a symptom that has become a staple in Ventura's consistent record of narrow margin victories and single upset to OC on May 1st. "It's a tie, we're going into overtime!", shouted NSL founder and game referee, Brad Gerlach. Ventura had scored a 38 to match Orange county for a tie score of 152 points, the first ever occurrence in the history of the National Surf League's Game competition format. Back in the OC dugout, all of the OC surfers had changed out of their wetsuits expecting either a win or lose decision, but were perplexed coupled with wide eyed anticipation by the prospect of an overtime scenario.
The teams huddled and were briefed by Brad Gerlach that the overtime quarter would be nine minutes, half the time of a regular quarter, and only one best wave score from each surfer would be needed instead of two. The teams would be allocated one time out of three minutes, the same as regulation rules, and the grace period for positioning prior to the clock starting would remain 4 minutes. OC's Coach Tarlow explained explicitly to his group of Timmy Reyes, Mike Todd, Chris Ward and Mike Hosington to kick out of any waves that did not look like scoring material. Ventura started the overtime with a killer group of Tom Curren, Nathaniel Curran, Dane Reynolds and Bobby Martinez. "I can't tell you how nervous I was paddling out for the overtime" said Nathaniel Curran, "Bobby and I were positioned for a perfect A-Frame and we both yelled at each other, who's going where? Bobby screamed, 'I'll go left and you go right' and I complied." In a spectacular display of communication and positioning, both Curran and Martinez attacked the right and left respectively with huge simultaneous snaps off the lip to a raucous cheer from the crowd and jumping team mates from the Green Machine dugout.
Both Curran and Martinez received 6.0 scores and their performances were compounded further with a magnificent show stopper from Dane Reynolds as he boosted an insane air reverse on a left hander. Surprising many who had watched him select right handers throughout the Quiksilver Game Week, the crowd stood on their feet for a standing ovation. Teammates and coaches ran to the edge of the beach and greeted their crew who had collectively scored a combined overtime score of 24.5 points, pushing Ventura to an overall game score of 176.5.
OC assembled their overtime 'special teams' with Coach Tarlow working diligently with water coaches Jeff Hurley and Danny Nichols, to position the team and substitutions as effectively as possible. "Guys, we did not drive all the way up here to lose, we came here to win, stay focused" explained Coach Tarlow over walkie talkies. With wave opportunities dwindling further, Chris Ward was able to find a launch ramp as he boosted to an awe inspiring no handed frontside air and stomping the landing. His heroics earned him the award for most radical maneuver. Although Chris Ward's maneuver was commendable, his wave score was given a 6.0 as he completed only a few turns. Coach Tarlow quickly calculated that OC needed at least 6's to make a dent into Ventura's score. With time running out and the ocean not so forgiving, OC was only able to score a combined overtime score of 20 points, losing to a jubilant Ventura by 4.5 points, VC: 176.5 to OC: 172.
The Quiksilver Game Week at Ventura's Seaside park/C street ends a phenomenal weekend of surfing with home break heroes, Ventura walking away with a clean sweep. The Quiksilver Game Week marks the completion of the second stop of the National Surf League's 2004 California Cup series where four teams from Santa Cruz, San Diego, Orange County and Ventura will travel to Santa Cruz's Steamer Lane May 14th to 16th for the third stop of the series. The NSL would like to thank Quiksilver, Olas Mex Grill and the fantastic people of Ventura County. For photos from NSL photographer, Kurt Jones, please go to http://www.surfshooter.com/NSLGame.html .
For updates on Games and Stats check www.nslgame.com, www.surfingthemag.com
and www.surfermag.com, and for the official swell forecast of the California Cup go to www.surfline.com.
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