Tufts dominates day two
After falling to North Carolina-Wilmington on day 1, Tufts was forced to go the long way through pre-quarters. The extra game didn’t seem to matter, as they steam-rolled through competition, 12-3, 14-11, 14-8, 14-7. Only regional rival Dartmouth seemed to have a chance, coming within three in the quarterfinals. By the time the finals rolled around, Wilmington had run out of gas, and Tufts ran away with the game going into the second half.
Alex Cooper played a majority of the points from the handler position, distributing the disc along with Eric Wilburn and Eric Shaw. Cooper wasn’t relied on to send to it deep, but rather keep the flow going, dump swing when necessary, and throw several inside breaks to keep the defense honest. Piers MacNaughton dominated down the field, acting as the type of player that can be found in the right place at the right time. Sam K-S played a limited role, but the ex-Sockeye cutter was able to get open at critical times during possessions to keep the ball rolling. Adrian Banerji played a limited role due to coming back from injury, but should be healthier towards the end of the season.
On the defensive side, Jack Hatchett often took the toughest assignment and repeatedly found ways to to win those battles. Whether he was being forced to guard handlers or cutters, Hatchett has the athletic tools to get up, and the quickness to dominate the short game. Defensive handler Will Wong was pivotal in capitalizing on turnovers. Tufts employed the use of a transition zone, which turned out to be very useful in the wind and stopped any pull plays that teams were using. In general, Tufts ran a pretty open rotation throughout the tournament, keeping them fresh for their semi-finals and finals games. This clearly paid off in their demolishing of Ohio and Wilmington, and should pay dividends throughout the season. Tufts’ Alex Cooper had these words to say about their performance:
“This was a great weekend for us in a number of ways. We started to figure out chemistry for our O-line (even though we only lost 1 person, we had to re-figure everything out), we got practice with a number of different D looks (including various zones and transitions), and a lot of new guys got a bunch of playing time. Those, coupled with the facts that we were missing [freshman] Tyler Chan (who will be mixed in with the O-line), and D-line handlers Gavin Murphy and Nino Figliola, and things went really well for us.”
Piers MacNaughton won our first Open Skyd College Tour Spin Ultimate MVP award. I caught up with Piers and the red jersey, at the airport and chatted with him about Tufts’ experience at QCTU:
The Winds of Wilmington
North Carolina Wilmington proved one thing for certain this weekend. They were one of the best teams in the wind. With the possibility of Regionals being held in high wind conditions, things are looking up for the Seamen. Wilmington dispatched rival North Carolina easily, winning 13-7, after being up 10-3 at one point. Tight lines enabled Wilmington to keep the disc in the hands of experienced throwers. Tommy Lamar was the standout cutter, but got support by several other veterans. Freshman Xavier Maxsdadt is looking experienced enough to possibly be an award winner come may.
Ohio, the second in the Valley?
Ohio was the highest finishing team from the Ohio Valley at the tournament. They did not have much available for Tufts, but didn’t face many threats before that point. Mitch Cihon continued to play well, as well as Connor Haley and Adam Cellar. Eric Converse and Mike Bruce were the main handlers during the semi-final game, and seemed to operate well. Tufts seemed to throw different looks at Ohio, and they were just not able to handle it. With their blowout over Uconn in the third place game, this may have been the second best team at the tournament. As of right now, they are the second best team in the Ohio Valley, finishing well ahead of Penn State, Ohio State and Carnegie Mellon.
Uconn – the beast of the Metro East?
With Cornell and NYU failing to advance to the championship bracket, Connecticut proved that they are the front runner for the Metro East title (for now). They went undefeated on day one and made it to the semi-finals vs. Wilmington before falling to a 4th place finish. There is, without a doubt, talent on this team – Matt Baum, Kamil Skwarek, Ben Weyers, and others. UConn is a team that relies on their individual skills and collective athleticism to get the job done.
North Carolina, no longer the AC favorite?
North Carolina was highly touted going into this tournament (ranked #11 in the Skyd Power Rankings), and certainly performed below expectations. In facing Wilmington, they refused to employ dump swing up the field, instead relying on Thomas Sayre-Mccord to put it deep. Despite playing a huck and play defense strategy, their offensive line just didn’t look ready to battle.
There are teams that perform better than others in sub-par conditions. With Chapel Hill normally being mild, North Carolina doesn’t have to practice in the wind or the cold all that often. Wilmington has a distinct advantage of gutting it out through the wind and developing a complete set of skilled and confident throwers. The turnovers seemed to affect the mind set of the younger North Carolina players, leading to drops and throwaways. Trust was lost, and older veterans were only throwing it to a select few.
I certainly expect them to fall from the top 20, but two bad losses on the weekend isn’t a death sentence for this squad. Even if they can’t force their way in for a strength bid, it’s better to find out now what the main weakness is. There is always a debate on whether or not to trust results in the wind. In a sport that is so variable that 50 mph winds can appear during the national final, having a strategy to play in those conditions is vital.
Dartmouth, second in New England?
Despite not having superstar Spencer Diamond, Ian Engler and crew gave Tufts their toughest game of day two. The big story surrounding them is the possibility of a strength bid, but they really showed mixed results in losing to North Carolina, Tufts and Michigan. With President’s Day this upcoming weekend, they will have another chance to pick up some out-of-region wins.
The Great Lakes, no top 20?
Michigan and Michigan State came out with relatively mediocre results, and so far have not done any favors for the Great Lakes region. Both teams were defeated on Universe by Connecticut and North Carolina. It’s still early, but the outlook isn’t that favorable for a strength bid.
Virginia proved once again that they have not solved their troubles in the wind. It’s hard to know what this team will be like come Regionals, but the depth doesn’t seem to be there like in year’s past. Penn State, while having a decent tournament, showed that they are still a mid-tier team. Ohio State seems to play with a lot of heart and determination, but still is behind in the Ohio Valley race. With this still being an early season tournament, there is certainly nothing set in stone for any of the teams here.
It was 19 degrees in the morning and it was windy. I like traveling to the South because I get to escape the confines of Upstate NY. Instead I was doing play by play in my car.
Check out more QCTU 2012 Sunday photos from Miller Yoho!
Feature photo of UNC and Ohio battling in the air.