Held at the noticeably beautiful fields of East Carolina University, the Ultimate Observers Association Nationals marked the end of a month-long fall series and the first steps of a new, observer-focused tournament management organization.
As the only team that qualified for the College Championships in May, Pittsburgh looked like the time to beat at UOA Nationals from the start, and that’s exactly what Virginia Tech did. After an uneventful first round, Virginia Tech’s Burn battled Pitt to 13-14 before a couple breaks sent the game to 15-15 and an eventual 15-16 V-Tech victory. Though Pitt had recent Championships experience and a dominant entrance into UOA Nationals, Virginia Tech was able to throw them off guard with zone D in Saturday’s windy conditions.
“We had the momentum for the majority of the second half even though they took half 8-7,” notes Virginia Tech’s Evan Klein.
After the first day of play, Virginia Tech was resting on a 4-0 day, not having met the second and third seeded Virginia and Dartmouth respectively (both 3-1 on Saturday). Pitt, on the other hand, had already faced both teams and come out on top with swift 15-7 and 15-8 wins.
With less wind and 70 degree weather, Sunday saw a continuation of the expected for Pitt, as three more victories sent them into the championship game. Though, Virginia Tech had a tougher road ahead. The first game was against second seeded Virginia, a regional rival who had supposedly only lost to VT once previously in the last two years. Maybe it was the beautiful weather, or confidence from the first day win over Pitt, but Burn came out firing on all cylinders and was able to topple Night Train 15-7 (though reportedly Virginia was missing a few key players) .
The finals played back to seed as the game got away from Virginia Tech early, seeing Tech down 3-8 at halftime. “We just came out a little flat,” notes Klein. “We had a couple injuries.” Tech was able to make up a few breaks, but Pitt would capitalize on turns. It seemed the magic Tech saw on Saturday had run out. Pitt went on to be crowned the first ever UOA National Champions after beating VT 15-7.
Still, notable was the undeniable potential Virginia Tech showed in this pre-season event. Evan Klein cites more organization, more conditioning work outs and more developed underclassmen as reasons for success this weekend. “This is the first year our team has broken up into an A and a B team this early,” says Klein. “We’re bringing back a lot of young experience from last year.”
The overall atmosphere at the event was one of positivity. Players considered UOA Nationals to be “well run” and enjoyed the opportunities for play that focused observing provided.
“Active observers [are] definitely a plus,” offers Klein. “It just speeds it up, you don’t have to worry about it as a player…It comes down to how well your team plays instead of how many of the calls go your way.”
Will more active observers become more prevalent at tournaments? At least one team thinks so. “I think it’s definitely the direction that Ultimate is headed,” Klein continues. “Clearly our attendance at this tournament shows that we’re interested in that.”
[stextbox id=”custom” color=”000000″ bgcolor=”ffffff” image=”null”]
Update: (11/22/10 1:30pm): Skyd interviewed Pitt’s coach, Josh Suskin, about the weekend. Here’s what we found out.
You lost to Virginia Tech on Saturday in a close game but rocked everyone else. You later came back to dominate VT in the final. What did you do differently in your first and second game against VT?
Josh Suskin: The wind really picked up in our Saturday game, and turned it into an upwind/downwind game. This neutralized our athleticism and depth, which are strengths of our team. They ran an effective zone, which we did ok with, but we asked our O line to go upwind one too many times. We needed to make a big play down the stretch, and just didn’t come up with one. Credit them, they played a great game and just ended up being one point better. That’s a team who is very capable of making some noise in their region. We were prepared to make adjustments to their zone on Sunday if needed, but it really wasn’t windy. They threw it on their first D point and we sliced through it rather easily. I think everyone realized the game was going to go a little differently after that. We also weren’t too happy about losing a game, so we came out jacked up and ready to play from point one, and didn’t let up until it was over. What was your most challenging game of the weekend and why? The VT game on Saturday was challenging and frustrating. It would be easy to blame it on the wind, but the reality is we just didn’t execute when we needed to.
What was the weather like? How did it affect Pitt’s play?
Josh Suskin: Saturday was much windier then Sunday. I’d say the only game if really affected us was the first VT game, because they’re a team that likes to play zone and obviously the wind favors that. Aside from that, I don’t think weather had much bearing on what we were looking to do.
What strategy did you use to be able to dominate the field so handily?
Josh Suskin: We like to play aggressive on defense, and smart on offense. Our offensive has a very “take care of business” mentality when they’re on the field, and did a great job over the course of the weekend. We have a very hard nosed defense, who really prides themselves on getting on the field and staying there.
Who made big plays this weekend?
Josh Suskin: We win as a team and lose as a team. Everyone has a role and plays into the system, and it results in a lot of different people being able to showcase what they can do. When asked for input on who was the tournament MVP, I wasn’t able to come up with an answer. I really think everyone on our team was able to make a contribution over the course of the weekend to what we were able to accomplish.
What does Pitt need to work on as a whole for the spring?
Josh Suskin: We have very high expectations for our team, and this weekend provided a great opportunity to evaluate where we are, and what needs improvements to get to where we want to be. I’d say the biggest thing we need to work on is just experience playing with each other. We’ve made some personal changes on both sides of the disc, and people need to get comfortable playing with each other and recognizing what they’re supposed to be doing on the field. In terms of specifics, our pulls were pretty terrible over the course of the weekend.
What’s one team to look out for come the spring and why?
Josh Suskin: I’d imagine the Florida’s, Carelton’s and other big name programs will all be good as they always are, but we don’t really concern ourselves with other teams. We really just like to focus on our own team, and maximizing our own potential. We can’t control who we play and what they do, so we just try to make sure that they’re playing the best Pitt team possible.
How was the tournament run? What was the impact of observers on your games? Did you like the formatting? What calls did you like, what did you not like?
Josh Suskin: Mike Gerics has been running some of the best tournaments in the country for years, and the UOA system him and Jason Weddle have put together has only increased the overall quality. While sometimes it’d difficult to make adjustments when you’re asked to not do things you’ve been engrained to do (such as calling travels), the overall flow of the games have a tendency to be much smoother. At this point, I’m not sure the observers have a huge impact in our games, as the majority of games we play in are observed. However the UOA system helps keep the game flowing and really let’s players focus on just playing, rather then having to deal with the other aspects that you can sometimes get caught up in when players are responsible for every single call.
- Virginia Tech
- James Madison University
Score Reporter: Open
The Oregon Hosted tournament moved back to Eugene this weekend, for the last big college tournament in the Northwest consisting of 23 open and 9 women’s teams.
Saturday saw favorable conditions as the weather cooperated with calm skies, no rain, and a comfortable temperature in the mid 40’s – unheard of for November in Oregon.
“OMG 2010 proved to be a well-run tournament,” said senior Spencer Wu from the University of Puget Sound. “Despite the lack of a tournament central, everything made sense.”
Even with teams splitting X/Y, all four pools played to seed with Oregon Alumni, Oregon-Y, Lewis and Clark, and Pacific Alumni closing out all their games.
Oregon Alumni, listed as Central Oregon Community College, laid down some home-turf justice as they crushed all of their pool play opponents 15-5, save Oregon-X who was able to run off 8 points on the veterans.
Portland-based Lewis and Clark College showed early promise for the upcoming spring season by making it all the way to the finals, edging out Oregon-Y in the semis with a 14-12 victory.
Saturday play was capped with the traditional Oregon vs. Oregon Alumni game. Despite the alumni team going down by half and missing a few customary star players (like Ben Wiggins and Dusty Becker), the current U of O team couldn’t close the door. Eli Janin filled the main handler role in Ben’s wake, dropping some dime hucks and a crowd pleasing full field hammer pull.
While the game seemed to be lacking some of its former showcase throws and bone crunching bids when compared to past years, “It was still great for freshman to learn,” said Wu.
1. Pacific Alumni
2. Lewis & Clark
3T. Central Oregon (Oregon Alumni)
5. Humboldt State
It could be the start of another dominant season for the Oregon women as they cut through OMG! competition. But, being as there were no other Championships contenders this weekend, we will have to wait until the spring to really see the Oregon guns.
Reed College made a showing this weekend. While they only fielded eleven, they were able to give the Oregon women a shiver, going up 3-0 on the reigning national champions and forcing them into a timeout.
Oregon quickly bounced back throwing a nasty zone defense and soon regaining control.
“Zone D is a crucial part of Oregon’s game,” said Reed captain Lindsay Simon. “Once they went zone we were shut us down for the rest of the game.”
With only a loss to Oregon, Reed ground out into the semi finals, finally losing out to a short roster of Oregon Alumni and other Oregon Club players.
The University of Montana women also showed heart by defeating Western Washington 9-8 in the quarter finals after going 2-2 in pool play. They even put up 6 against the national champions in semis.
1. Oregon Alumni
5. Oregon State