This weekend’s Queen City Tune Up wrapped up with delightful play and great weather. Cold in the mornings and a bit windy on both days, the tournament warmed up on Sunday, delighting Midwest teams who were happy to be playing in the non-snowy conditions of Charlotte, North Carolina (last year’s tournament had three inches of snow). The tournament was organized by Michelle Ng of Without Limits, TDed by Lindsay Lang and Lily Steponatis, and volunteer assistance was provided by the Charlotte Area Ultimate Association. VC Ultimate was there to sell merchandise.
The tournament featured some experimental rule changes including: end zones changed to 20 yards from the standard 25; stricter team misconduct (TMF) and personal misconduct foul (PMF) calls; observers were immediately referred to for travel and up/down calls; the “contact” call was introduced as an option for a thrower that gets fouled, but would prefer not to stop play. Unless the “contact” call is contested, the stall resets at 1 and play does not stop. Observers also had the role of making sure everyone was positioned before allowing players to check the disc in.
Observer Colin McIntyre noted that players seemed to like the contact call and understand its advantages, but unfamiliarity led to it not being used that much. Other rule changes were minor enough so as not to have a huge effect on the game, though many players like Ohio’s Andrew Ball relished in the opportunity to have observed games.
“Knowing that the final decision on a call is not going to lie in the hands of a partial party makes the game immensely more enjoyable,” said Andrew. “It really makes the game presentable as well. I have played in games with lots of calls that end up being the dullest games to watch and while they are intense for the teams involved, it completely turns spectators off from the sport. I really hope that USA Ultimate continues to develop and train more Observers for the sport because I think it can really help showcase our sport.”
The brisk and turn-filled early morning rounds on Saturday indicated that a lot of women’s teams have been spending a lot of times indoors as wind throws weren’t entirely solid. But overall, most teams placed exactly as expected. “We seeded the top four teams exactly how they ended up finishing,” noted tournament organizer Michelle Ng. The top four, UNC-Wilmington, North Carolina, Northwestern, and Washington University, went 4-0 in pool play.
Pool play ended up determining the rest of the weekend for most teams, with a few exceptions in potential darkhorses Virginia and Cornell. Virginia had a slow start, going 2-2 in pool play, but bounced back on Sunday to take 5th place overall. Cornell also had a somewhat disappointing Saturday, going 1-3 in Pool C, but beat Maryland, Cornell, and Penn State on Sunday to take 13th place. Last year’s College Championships hopeful Maryland didn’t have their best tournament, finishing second to last. This is a rebuilding year for the Maryland Helpful Corn after losing eight of their best players to graduation. One of their key players, Sasha Bugler, was injured.
Washington University, led by captain Sam Huo and versatile cutters Kami Groom and Kate Wilson, demolished their opponents in pool play and came out strong on Sunday, beating Duke 14-3, but eventually fell to UNC-Wilmington 8-12 and Northwestern 4-13. Coach Melissa Gibbs gave the nod to eventual 3rd place finisher Northwestern. “They really crushed our spirits and our equally athletic players at the same time so,” said Gibbs, “although I believe the game could play out differently in different circumstances, they deserve a tip of the hat for getting the job done at the end of a hard weekend”. Gibbs also cited UNC-Wilmington’s ability to convert off of turnovers as a reason for their eventual tournament win: “The conversion after a turnover by us was made an immediate score, they had a number of players who pushed the disc and a number who made the break for the end zone.”
Teams noted as surprises were Dartmouth and Duke. Dartmouth came out ready to play and pulled off a huge upset over Virginia in pool play, then won over Maryland and James Madison on Sunday after a close loss against Delaware. Duke Chakra came in seeded 19th but broke seed in a huge way and ended up 8th, going 2-2 in pool play and beating Charleston on Sunday.
The finals were a great matchup, pitting the UNC Pleiades against the UNC-Wilmington Seaweed. The Pleiades came up big early, even with star Janna Coulter playing through shoulder and hip injuries, but the Seaweed came back to win, despite injuries of their won — Jessica Patrick was sidelined with an hamstring pull (or worse). The final score at half: 8-7 Seaweed. Michelle Ng cited the Seaweed’s win to their other captain, Claire Chastain, who she noted as “one of the top 3 players in the tournament.” Her athleticism allowed her to play the vast majority of points for her team. Although a cutter in the past, other teams weren’t able to guard her and her active handling.
Jessica Patrick gave a shoutout to Michelle Guadagno and Anne Marie Wilson as two players that contributed to the Seaweed victory: “They played with heart and really contributed to the team in a huge way this weekend with relentless defense and smart offense.” Although these two teams haven’t had the rosiest history, the final was spirited. Noted Pleiades captain Lindsay Lang: “Though we played with observers, they were seldom utilized…play was physical but respectful, and all of our calls cleanly resolved.”
4. Wash U
The theme for early season tournaments so far has been getting out of the snow and indoor game and back to the fields for the first time in the season. The Queen City Tune Up was no exception as teams worked kinks out of their finalized rosters and many saw discs hit open air for the first time this season. This year’s Tune Up would see Michigan take the 1-spot over a short-handed Ohio State and a strong Ohio.
In Saturday pool play, the historically strong teams looked good with Michigan and Michigan State easily taking a 3-0 start. In A pool, Ohio State was able to go 3-0 without too much trouble, though Ohio State would struggle against Penn State, a team many noted as looking good this weekend. The second round game would go to 12-11. Ohio State Leadbelly captain Phil Cherosky explained that Penn State was ready to take advantage of Ohio State mistakes. “That game was a defensive battle where each team went on several 3-4 point defensive runs and the only time it seemed to stop was when our offense was able to hold serve two or three times at the end of the game,” explained Cherosky. Ohio State’s mental toughness would take them into the finals against Michigan on Sunday.
B pool saw three teams (Georgia, Ohio and Wake Forest) go 3-0. Though Clemson put up a good game against Georgia (11-12) and Notre Dame would fall 14-13 to Wake Forest, the three pool leaders would make their way to semis, with exception to Wake Forest who fell to Penn State by a long shot 15-4 in quarters.
Ohio battled Delaware in a close quarter final match up. Ohio’s Andrew Ball recounts the game: “The first half was very tight and both D’s got one break a piece to bring the score to 7-7 with Ohio pulling right before half. Our D came out and got us a huge break to take half and we got the disc to start the second half and we were able to punch that in on O putting us up 9-7 and in control of the game. The D line got another break in the second half and the O was able to put in every score giving us the win 13-11 when Delaware scored the last point in hard cap.” Ohio would go on to win 13-11.
Penn State would make difficult the lives of eventual tournament champs, Michigan, taking them to double game point in an emotional match which became riddled with some dubious calls. Michigan would win 9-8 and go onto another close game against Ohio in what magnUM captain Ollie Honderd described as the “biggest challenge of the weekend.” Michigan would best Ohio 10-9. This was not the first time the two teams had a close game. In the fall Ohio and Michigan met in a small round-robin tournament in which Ohio again lost on universe. This weekend’s game same many breaks on both sides. Michigan was up 5-3 before Ohio came back with an upwind break to eventually put them back on serve at 6-5. The two would trade points until Michigan’s d-line broke for an upwinder.
Here’s footage of game point from No Look Scoober.
According to Ohio’s Andrew Ball, Ohio’s strength this weekend is much due to the play of Mitch Cihon, Nick Wetzel (co-captain), Danny Olson (co-captain), Kevin Hanzel and the addition of Andrew Foley – a grad student who played with Texas TUFF in undergrad. Interestingly enough, Ball pointed out that though Ohio may have given Michigan their toughest game of the weekend and made it to semis, Ohio University was not originally included in the field of teams until the tournament was expanded from 20 to 24 squads.
On the other side of the bracket, Ohio State would meet Georgia in the semis. Though missing a couple key offensive players Leadbelly held serve for the majority of the game, getting broken only twice against Georgia’s hot D. Leadbelly’s Phil Cherosky attributed Ohio State’s defense to their victory. “Our defense was able to throw several different looks at Georgia and were able to create D’s,” said Cherosky. Leadbelly would beat Jojah 12-9 and move onto the final against Michigan. Georgia would also fall in a close 3rd place game against Ohio 15-12.
The final would pit a short-handed Ohio State, missing three of their top players in cutters Justin Baumann, Steve Schwab and handler Mike “New Tang” Meilstrup, against a Michigan team exhausted after two double game point matches. Michigan too was missing a player in captain Ollie Honderd, but as Ollie notes, magnUM would find strength and energy to persevere and beat Ohio State 15-10 by focusing on shutting down their remaining talent. “If you can’t get up to play Ohio State in the final, you’re not Michigan,” said Honderd. Leadbelly’s Phill Cherosky was particularly not pleased with the loss.
“It’s unfortunate because the one thing anyone from Ohio knows is that losing to Michigan is one of the worst feelings imaginable. We would have really like to go against them full strength,” said Cherosky.
According to Hondred, Michigan saw great play from their rookies throughout the weekend as well as dynamic contributions from senior Patrick Collins, returning from being abroad for the fall, breakout performances by junior Jesse Brauner had a breakout weekend and energy from Seth Collins. magnUM is looking at an upcoming spring break to train and compete against top teams along the East Coast before competing at Easterns.
2. Ohio State
5. Michigan State
High School Division –
1. Hillside Tech
3. Cardinal Gibbons
5t. East Chapel Hill
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