The first test of the season is over and Carleton CUT came out with the big win. The weekend was enjoyed by all teams attending, more so by the teams in from the north as they were all ecstatic to be outside. While temperatures were a bit brisker than many were hoping for, all the teams came ready to play and many questions were answered.
Carleton is just fine with the loss of their handling core. Even with the absence of Grant Lindsley to an ankle sprain, CUT was able to power through, though not as convincingly as they have before. This team was built to go deep into long and demanding tournaments and their performance in Florida will be repeated throughout the year.
Colorado has the most depth in the country. It is simply a fact. This team will go far in any tournament. Look for them to clean up the little things that prevented them from winning Florida and expect their handlers to be near unstoppable by Nationals.
As for the Ivy leagues, Cornell was a little disappointing. Coming off a Semifinals appearance at Nationals last year, much more was expected than a 7th place finish with out any signature wins. If this was the NCAA tourney, this bubble team would be out.
Harvard, however, put themselves in a good position to be a threat this spring. While Adam Fagin and Andrew Vogt were not at full health, this team still managed to play hard and take down a strong Hodag team. Special praise for George Stubbs as every team I spoke to called him the tourney MVP with throws that were nearly perfect all weekend.
Wisconsin came to play. They are young and hungry and crave bringing the Wisconsin program back to the top (very few programs would call a 5th place then 11th place finish at Nationals disappointing, but they do). Missing D line studs, Chris Scotto “He’s married?” Divetta and Dave Wiseman, Wisconsin’s D was still able to generate turns, though struggled to score at times. The O line looked strong for almost the entire weekend. Baby blue is definitely not rebuilding like many thought, but still learning how to peak at the right time.
Top performers on the weekend (as noted by other squads):
- George Stubbs (Harvard)
- Matty Zemmel (Colorado)
- Patrick Roboberts (Carleton)
- Julian Childs-Walker (Carleton)
- Cole Sullivan (Florida)
- Nathan Sage (Florida)
- Tanner Marshall (Wisconsin)
After a strong first two days, with big wins and two losses by a combined 5 points to Florida and Wisconsin, CUT came out ready to play Sunday, as they are known to play big when it counts, and took apart Cornell on the way to the semifinals against Wisconsin. Looking to avenge a prior loss, Carleton came out strong and never looked back against the Hodags cruising to a 13-8 win.
Colorado meanwhile, started off the tournament looking like the team to beat. The late round Saturday was a phenomenal match up against CUT that saw Mamabird go down for the first time 13-11. After a hiccup Sunday morning against a Virginia team firing on all cylinders, Colorado was still able to advance to semis against Florida. With Matty Zemel leading the charge and some great play from Hylke Sneider, Mama was able to take down the defending National Champions for the second time on the weekend. The finals were set and the two powerhouse teams of CUT and Mamabird were ready to face off in finals. All four semifinalist teams showed strong starts to the season and all proved they deserve to be in the top tier for the entire spring season.
The finals were phenomenal. This game get closer and closer as it moved forward. Some great play by CUT’s Alex Evangleides got Carleton their first break (after a D and assist) and CUT would take half 7-5. Carleton would extend their lead to 11-7 and was looking to finish out the game but Colorado refused to quit. A few rapid breaks put the game back even at 12-12 Colorado receiving. CUT’s defense would prove to be too much for Mamabird as Carleton broke twice to take home the championship and earn the right to be called the number 1 team in the nation.
What does it mean?
On the grand scheme of the spring season, not a lot. This was a confidence and experience building tournament. CUT, Mamabird, Hodags and Florida are and will be good. When Harvard gets healthy there is no reason they wont be a legitimate contender with their top three. Cornell stumbled but they don’t have the history as the other northern teams and maybe just take longer to get their legs under them and throws down. It was a great weekend for competitive, top tier Ultimate and a great start to the Spring.