Written by Matt Davidman, former Hodag.
Pre-Series Record: 20-6 Series Record: 14-5
End of Season Standing: 11T at College Championships, eliminated in Pool Play
Coach: Hector Valdivia (2010-present)
2010 Tournaments: Trouble in Vegas, 1st at Mardi Gras, 5th at the Stanford Invite, 1st at Easterns, 1st at Lake Superior Sectionals, 3rd at Central Regionals, 11T at the College Championships
Qualifying for Nationals every year since 2000, Wisconsin is a perennial powerhouse, and by their own standards, 2010 was a very disappointing year. After some early struggles at a rainy Vegas, the Hodags appeared to be back in form with a tournament win at Mardi Gras. The young team was looking strong going into the Stanford Invite but struggled, losing to Pittsburgh, Calreton and Cal. After avenging their Pittsburgh loss and winning Easterns, the Hodags strolled through their Sectional tournament but again struggled and took 3rd in the Central Region, showing signs of its youthful inexperience. With much anticipation and excitement going into Nationals (which the Hodages hosted in Madison), a tough loss to Michigan effectively knocked them out of competition and their season came to a surprisingly early end.
Roster Turnover and Offseason Club Experience:
Wisconsin is returning almost its entire team, but has holes to fill with the losses of handlers Evan Klane (First Team All-Region) and John Masler as well as experienced cutters Matt Davidman and Matt Young, who was a captain and brought a lot of heart to the team.
However, 2011 captain and returning handler John Bergen and captain/cutter Ben Feldman have gained valuable club experience with Madison Club along with cutters Pat Donovan, Colin Camp and handler Dayu Liu, all of whom look to be big offensive weapons for the 2011 team. Also returning is coach Hector Valdivia.
On offense, the Hodag’s like to throw numerous looks, featuring a vertical stack that can start at all points on the field and a split stack there are always lanes and hucks available at all times. Handlers John Bergen and Dayu Liu will be the primary players moving the disc amongst each other as Pat Donovan looks to open up the deep game and cutter Ben Feldman finds isolation cuts for big gains underneath. Wisconsin uses handler movement that sends one handler up line and another back to fill the dump space in order to keep the disc in motion as cutters find open space.
On defense, the Hodags are still a physical force to be reckoned with. Look for in-your-shorts man defense and a lot of physical contact. With multiple junk and zone looks, including a four man cup which forces sideline or middle it will always be a struggle to break through the Hodag defense. With the ability to get the turn and quickly transition for the score, the Hodag D will look to help break open games and give the offense time to stay fresh.
This fall, Wisconsin attended Missouri Loves Company and had a strong showing with loses only to Carleton and a very fast and experienced Colorado team in Final. With wins against Illinois, Minnesota, and revenge against Michigan 13-3, the Hodags were strong and competitive.
Wisconsin will be attending Florida Warmup, Stanford Invite, and Easterns, and the team is considering others.
With new transfer and former GOP captain Eric Alexander and a strong rookie class, the new and more experienced 2011 Hodag team looks to be a strong threat to the college scene. The Central Region will be up for grabs this spring and will undoubtedly be the strongest region in the country. All teams in the region know they will have a fight with Wisconsin, Carleton, Minnesota and Iowa looking to take the region and a likely 1 seed in the 2011 Nationals tournament.