National Surf League Results — Despite several teammates sporting Mohawks with the letters “SD cut into the sides of their heads and heroic efforts from Rob Machado, Team San Diego came up just a little short in the O’Neill Game Weekend, the fourth and final regular season stop on the inaugural California Cup Series. San Diego narrowly defeated the squad from Ventura on Friday (157.75 points to 153.75) then demolished Santa Cruz on Saturday (165.50 to 135.50) setting up a climatic showdown with Orange County on Sunday. With hometown pride and home break advantage on the line for the NSL Championship Weekend, OC won all four quarters en route to an 11-point victory.
Although each of the previous Games were crucial in the standings and surfers from both teams were “laying it on the line, Sunday’s match up saw the strategy, tensions and emotions raised to an all-new level. San Diego’s approach, which worked to their advantage the previous two Games, was to let their opponent start in an effort to score consistent waves at the end. Orange County’s strategy was to score a minimum of 40 points in each quarter.
OC started strong, scoring what would be their highest quarter total of 44.5 points on the strength of a 14.75-point performance from Chris Ward. San Diego responded with 40.75 to keep things close. The second quarter was virtually even with OC scoring 42 points and SD answering back with 41.75. The third quarter proved dramatic as both teams used all three of their allotted timeouts in order to maximize waves during several lulls in the surf, a first in the history of the NSL. SD kept the score close, notching a 40.75 effort to OC’s 41, but missed opportunities made the gap and the stress level larger than it needed to be.
In the all-important fourth quarter, another big score from Ward (who won MVP honors) and an amazing frontside 360 air reverse from Brett Simpson that netted him Most Radical Maneuver award, led OC. More importantly, the team scored 42.75 points. SD tried to ride the coattails of Machado who had “lit it up against Ventura on Friday, landing Game MVP honors. But Mother Nature failed to produce and, with no timeouts remaining, SD needed 47 points to tie and could only muster a score of 36 points.
“We knew coming into the game if we could post no lower than 40 points straight through we could win, said Garth Tarlow, OC Assistant Coach. “The overall history of the game shows that teams that consistently post 40s or better in each quarter, meaning each guy in double digits, usually were victorious. According to NSL founder Brad Gerlach, “San Diego failed to take advantage of a few opportunities during the first three quarters. While the waves didn’t pump for them in the fourth quarter like they did for Orange County, failing to capitalize early on placed them at a larger disadvantage in the final quarter than it should have been.
“Today we knew we were up against a heavy team, everyone needed to be on point, said Jeremy Sherwin of Team San Diego. “We were sticking with them the whole way; we were only down by four points the entire time. It’s a real bummer that our boys in the last quarter really couldn’t produce.
San Diego’s 30-point victory over Santa Cruz on Saturday was critical, as it placed them ahead of Ventura in the standings due to “margin of victory. Ventura must now defeat SC in a match previously postponed in order to have any chance of qualifying for the NSL Championship Weekend. If they lose, SD is in. Santa Cruz has no chance of reaching the final, but is thrust in the role of playing spoiler.
Team Wins Loss Winning Margin
Orange County 4 1 72
San Diego 3 3 38.5
Ventura 3 2 10.5
Santa Cruz 0 4 0
As of Tuesday (5/25) morning, NSL officials were still working on the dates and location for the previously postponed Game between Ventura and Santa Cruz as well as the timing of the NSL Championship Game Weekend. Stay tuned to www.nslgame.com for updates.