Special thank you to Andrew Janucik for his help putting this all together
This weekend the first annual D-1337 tournament will kick off in Saratoga Springs, NY. D-1337 is a D-III exclusive tournament loaded with some great programs from all over the north east. The TDs have worked to put together a tournament with amenities that many D-III programs don’t get to experience often such as observers, photographers and sponsored merchandise. The weather is looking gorgeous especially for upstate New York in March and everyone is excited to be playing outside finally. In line with making D-1337s all that it can be, we’ve done our best to put together as much coverage as we can. Enjoy!
Pool A features two 2011 D-III College Championships attendees in Bentley University and Connecticut College. The two schools tied for 11th in Buffalo last year. Bentley comes into the tournament as the top overall seed and looks to be loaded up for a great season. They lost some senior leadership from last year’s run but it doesn’t show in their fall results, which include wins over strong D-1 schools Boston College and Northeastern. Bentley’s strength versus D-III competition is going to be their depth. The program gets great contributions out of every class and unlike other schools, won’t depend on 8 or 9 players to get the job done.
Offensively Bentley runs both horizontal and vertical stacks through sophomore handler Alex Foo. Their cutters, led by senior Peter Login, rack up a lot of yardage working under cuts but play within themselves once they have the disc. Bentley’s O-line deep looks offensively come mostly from a handler when the offense stagnates and needs a bail out. Alex Foo has the ability to float hucks over the stack, away from the defenders, and let his cutters win the foot race.
On the other side of the disc Bentley relies on their aggressive man defense headlined by Max Rick and Kevin Sparacino. Once they get a turn their D-line likes to look deep for the quick points. Leading that charge will be Sparacino, an ambidextrous handler who can put it to the endzone from most anywhere on the field. Look for a lot of exciting plays from this Bentley D-line.
Since D-IIIs, Connecticut College has taken a slightly different path than Bentley College. CC lost one of the best D-III players in the country and the cornerstone of their team in Jonah Guerin. Last year they were at top of the D-III Metro East scene, but with a big departing senior class Conn College has had to retool. For them to challenge Bentley College at the top of pool A they are going to need to tight lines and most importantly a great game from captain and main handler Max Weigert. Weigert will have to win match-ups against both Alex Foo and Kevin Sparacino for Conn College to have a chance. His main target will be cutter Jesse Moskowitz (2nd in goals at the D-III Championships last year). Last year’s team ran mostly horizontal stacks but this year expect some split stacks in order to isolate their top players.
Challenging Connecticut College for the second spot in pool A will be a couple of developing programs in Stonehill and St. Lawrence. Stonehill has come a long way from the end of 2010 when they lost their entire starting lineup. Last year they qualified for D-III regionals and this year with the help of Coach Craig Bunce they are hoping to improve on their performance. Stonehill’s offense will run though senior captian Billy Rust, a strong junior class of Pat Caine, captain Mike Caruso, and Liam McAllaster. Defensively expect to see a zone anchored by their last captain, junior Patrick Kelleher.
St. Lawrence will be the wildcard of pool A. They spend a lot of the year playing mixed and bring a lot of zone back into the open game with them. Depending on the wind St. Lawrence could cause a lot of problems for teams that aren’t deep in the handler position. Offensively they are headlined by Zach d’Arbeloff and will play fast and loose with 50/50 shots for some exciting ultimate.
Rounding out pool A is the first year program, Canisius College. The Honey Badgers, led by Kenny Liszewski are going to have a hard time picking up their first win of the year in pool play, but they can only go up. I wouldn’t be surprised to see them to break seed on Sunday.
Pool A Predictions:
Connecticut College will have to rely on Weigert and Moskowitz a lot to get by Stonehill in round 4 and they won’t have the legs to hang with Bentley in the last round. St. Lawrence vs. Stonehill will be full of zone looks but Stonehill keeps calm and limits turnovers for the win.
Connecticut College 3-1
St. Lawrence 1-3
Canisius College 0-4
If this was 2011 everyone would be asking why is Brandeis going to D-1337s? Brandeis had wins over established D-1 programs such as Brown, Dartmouth and Northeastern. They went to D-1 regionals with high expectations and came away tied for 7th. Brandeis lost 7 players from 2011 and this year it’s looking as though they are toying with the D-III route. A nationals (D-III) appearance might be too big of a draw to turn down this year.
So far this year Brandeis has played a few out of region D-III opponents and been successful with wins over Dickinson, Kettering, Messiah and Swarthmore. Brandeis has a small roster but with tight lines comes a better familiarity. They rely on a possession orientated offense led by captains Gabe Colton and Brian Dahlben. Although they are both small in stature they play physical defense and then use their break throws with dynamic handler motion to grind out points.
The captains’ style is contrasted by the play of sophomore handler Nadav Pearl and junior Matt Wiener. Pearl is an explosive handler who loves to beat teams with his hucks and breaks which tend to be high risk high reward, but Wiener poses a completely different problem than the three handlers. He doesn’t have towering height but with a 6’8” wingspan he’ll get to a lot more discs than you expect. Forcing him under is not usually going to be the best solution for teams, as he can also showcase hucks and breakthrows. Expect a few highlight reels from the Pearl-Weiner connection.
Pool B might as well be renamed the SUNY (editors note: not Sunny, Sue Knee) pool with the 2-4 seeds all hailing from the State University of New York program. These pool play games will be a good indicator and will probably have a lot of influence over the seeding of Western NY D-III Conference championships. Last year SUNY-Cortland and SUNY-Oneonta both qualified for D-III regionals. Both programs have added large freshman classes and depth without too many losses. SUNY-Oneonta has already played this year at PhilaU’s Hucktastic Invitational where they took third behind D-1 Metro East powerhouses Cornell and Columbia. They are led by handlers Jesse Smith and Stephen Dechon who look to feed cutter Brian Roecklein with a lot of under cuts to grind out points.
Last year SUNY-Cortland got the better of Oneonta twice and almost the entire roster is returning this year. Dan Mercado will have the disc a lot for Cortland and will be looking to play to their strengths by sending it deep to Tim Kominos or Tim Wuebber. If the deep game isn’t connecting, they will turn to Mike Palmisano and Joe Babbino who will run their defenders into the ground with relentless cutting.
Pool B’s 4th seed SUNY-Geneseo has entered a bit of rebuilding this year. Only a handful of players are left from the 2010 team that beat a split squad Cornell. The two senior captains, Ellis Baehr and Ki Rieffel have big roles on both sides of the disc. Defensively they take the hardest matchups and offensively they will get a lot of touches on the disc. Luckily they got help offensively this year with the arrival of freshman David Abbott. Abbott has already taken over as the go-to player offensively and will need to continue his solid play for SUNY-Geneseo t break seed.
Wrapping up the pool is another developing program from Siena College coached by David Ferraro. Similar to Canisius College they will have a difficult time breaking seed in pool play but D-1337s will serve as a great starting point for this relatively new team.
Pool B Predictions:
As long as Brandeis is able to conserve their legs enough to get through the four games on Saturday I don’t expect anybody to upset them. The three SUNY schools are all very close and will provide the most exciting games in pool B. But I think Cortland has Oneonta’s number and will get them again this weekend. Geneseo will challenge both of the others but they won’t have the depth to finish out the games.
SUNY- Cortland 3-1
Three pools, three top seeds from New England. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) 2012 campaign starts at D-1337s. Two years ago WPI qualified for D-III nationals and after a disappointing finish to their 2011 season at D-III regionals, they are looking to get back to the big show. With only two seniors, Marcus Amilcar and Captain Matt Guilfoyle, WPI is a relatively young team. Their D-line is anchored by handler Chris Overton and offensively Ryan Turner will be the big threat cutter. WPI depends on their consistency to outlast opponents and win by making fewer mistakes. Their matchup with SUNY-Fredonia will be an interesting contrast of styles.
There is also a rumor floating around that Brandon “Muffin” Malecek will be traveling with WPI to D-1337s. If Muffin’s around you shouldn’t need to search for long to find Julie Eagle. Eagle (who plays club with Slow White) has some of the best club experience out of anybody attending D-1337s. If she is in fact playing, she’ll be a fan favorite with her confident play and sick bids.
Challenging WPI at the top of Pool C is one of the fastest rising teams in the Metro East, SUNY-Fredonia. Fredonia already has one tournament under their belt this year with a 3rd place finish at IUP’s Nut Buster behind D-1 schools Shippensburg and Edinboro. The core of their team has also been playing together over the past few months with the Buffalo Hunters, an AUDL team. They are an athletic team headlined by aggressive defense from David Ward and Brian Jackson. Offensively handlers Greg Wakeman and Kevin Quinlin both love their flick hucks and accordingly Fredonia’s game features a lot of deep looks. With their deep game, Fredonia could pose a big challenge to WPI’s undersized team. With a bunch experienced additions from other programs in the past year, SUNY-Fredonia is posed to go from a 0-3 series in 2011 to one of the front runners for the D-III bid to nationals.
Pool C’s third seed is Ithaca College out of Western NY. Last year Ithaca finished 4th at D-III regionals but will face an uphill battle to repeat this year without Chris Giblin. For Ithaca to be successful they will need to fill multiple holes at the handler position. Leading them offensively will be Brian Kibler. Last year Kibler was allowed to take some high risk high reward throws but this year he might have to reel it in if he’s going to be Ithaca’s main handler. Defensively Ithaca is anchored by Matt Mclaughlin (7 Express). Mclaughlin is a physical defender who will cause problems for which ever primary cutter he’s lined up against. Teams with a 2nd or 3rd cutter that could rotate through as the primary looks will be able to avoid Mclaughlin but teams dependent on that first look might struggle to find their flow against Ithaca.
Wrapping up pool C we have two teams that are coming into D-1337s relatively unknown. Bard, led by Jasper Weinrich-Burd, plays a lot of mixed ultimate and has a lot of experience with zones but offensively they might not have the fire power to upset any of the higher seeds. Skidmore College has had an inconsistent program to say the least but they will be led by Max Koenig (played club with Garuda) and I hear he’s pretty good. The question is what sort of supporting cast Koenig brings and do they have enough legs to keep their top players fresh through four games.
Pool C Predictions:
SUNY-Fredonia has the most play time under their belt this year and it will show. Their deep game will be all but unstoppable and they roll through everyone but WPI. In one of the most exciting matchups on Saturday, I predict Fredonia will upset WPI in a very tight game. Skidmore will also surprise teams by playing tight and although I don’t think they’ll upset one of the top 3, I would expect them to handle Bard.
The host team, RPI, comes in as the one seed in the pool after a strong showing at the 2011 Metro-East D-III Regionals, despite last year being it being a rebuilding year. Almost the entire team that took Conn College to universe in the finals returns this year. Three year Captain John Hosmer (who played club with Sons of Liberty ’10 and Garuda ‘11) is one of the best players in the D-III Metro East region and will lead a deep D-line. Hosmer and Chris Persichilli both are capable of big hucks and RPI will be looking to them to score quickly on turns. Captain Max Dyer directs a solid and calm O-line along with senior handler Chris Blum and sophomore cutter Russ Katz. RPI’s top handler Dan Donovan (Tanasi ’11) is out until the series with a fractured orbital but RPI intends to prove they have the depth to hang with anyone regardless.
Challenging RPI for the top spot in Pool D is Bowdoin College out of North New England. Lead by captains Bill Page and Dylan Kane, Bowdoin brings a team stacked with seniors that have only improved on their chemistry over the past year. This strength showed its self with a strong third place finish at the UNH Fall Classic, only losing to UNH. Look for Kane to run the show, shredding zones and putting up big hucks to Nick Riker and Taylor Tremble. The teams experience shows in the versatility of the offense and defense in terms of formations. They will be throwing a bunch of different looks offensively and defensively at their opponents over the course of the game.
Coming into the pool as the third seed, Colgate University is looking to continue their strong fall season which was highlighted by a tournament win at Hucking in an Amish Paradise XI. Their captains and primary handlers Mike Girard and Dan Gerber will headline the team along with junior Kevin Hoercher who is an athletic cutter with the defensive skills to shut others down. Offensively expect the captains to control the disc, get plenty of touches while defensively Colgate will depend on tight man defense and big plays from Hoercher.
In the four spot is Keene State. Losing the core of last year’s offense including both captains has forced some younger players from Keene to step up this season. They will be looking to handlers Bryan Lake and Nate Bearse to control the disc and take their deep shots to cutters Andrew Wallace and Cam King. On defense, Dakota Burbank and Dan Bullard will have to win their matchups against opponents’ best players for Keene State to make some noise. Although the parity amongst the teams at D-1337s make every game a winnable game, Keene State will need to find their flow quickly in order to break seed in a pretty solid pool. Keene State will get a look at conference rival Bowdoin this weekend which will be a good measuring stick for the teams.
Rounding up pool D is one of the few Ohio Valley teams in attendance, East Stroudsburg. ESU is an up and coming program that will have a lot of great chances to break seed at D-1337s. With a great freshman class and consistent veteran players led by Luke Beresk, ESU has the foundation to really develop as a D-III program.
Pool D Predictions:
Any of the top 3 seeds in Pool D could easily win this pool. RPI is still looking for its identity in many ways but they have the talent to compete at the top of D-IIIs. I don’t want to speculate on the results too much other than that I would not be surprised to see 3 of these teams in quarters and 2 in semis.
It would be surprising for Bentley and Brandeis to not make it to at least semis. After that, teams seeded 3-12 could be a crapshoot. SUNY-Fredonia and RPI both can produce some big highlights but the question will be do they have the consistency to beat the solid play of WPI or Bowdoin and then get the chance to challenge those top teams.
I’m excited to see what some of the best D-III teams in the region will produce. Tournaments like this one, although a lot of work for small schools to put on, definitely will help grow the D-III ultimate scene.
From the TDs:
D-1337s will have photographers and a maybe a videographer floating around so keep an eye out for some footage and coverage of how the event plays out. For a preview on the women’s division check out the tournament’s website at d-1337.weebly.com
Also we would like to thank our sponsor, VC Ultimate, for producing some awesome merchandise for the tournament and really make D-1337s a great experience for everyone. VC is putting a lot of work into supporting small programs like ours and it’s always great to interact with companies that share your passion about playing.
Nolan Ryan & Stefan Dicker
Featured image of John Hosmer (RPI) by John Wysmuller