The Jacksonville NPPL marked the UT PaintVols’ first ever national 7-man competition. The event was hosted at the Jaguars stadium parking lot in downtown Jacksonville. The weather was warm and sunny. Walking around the event Thursday was impressive. The NPPL provided water and fruit for all players. Prelims began Friday morning. UT drew the afternoon session which didn’t start until 1:00PM and had 3 games to play with 5 to follow the next morning.
The first game was a letdown as several players got shot early in the game leading to a close defeat. The PaintVols regrouped and came back to end the first day of prelims 2-1. Friday, UT had the morning session which began at 7:30AM. Due to a storm Thursday night, NPPL crews spent all night and Friday morning repairing netting and bunkers. Friday had its ups and downs. UT had 2 losses, including one to CS Union, the team that won the last event Huntington Beach. UT would finish the prelims 5-3. This would be good enough to make it to Sunday.
Sunday morning’s quarterfinals had UT slated to play CS Union once again in a best-of-3 format. The first game UT came out strong, but CS Union managed to come out on top with 3 bodies alive. Second game, UT countered with a convincing victory to make it 1 game to 1 taking the match to a decisive third game. Both teams knew that the winner would advance and the loser would go home.
UT broke out, eliminating 2 of CS Union’s players early in the game without losing a player. Our front player worked their way into the 50-yard line bunkers as the game drew to a breaking point. With time starting to run low, UT front player Colby J takes off down the field eliminating 2 opposing players but incurring a 1-for-1 penalty. Now 5 on 3, UT would lose one or two key players which turned the tide and ultimately lead to defeat.
All in all, Jacksonville was an excellent event. So much so that UT will be fielding a team in the next NPPL in Buffalo, NY in late July.