It was an interesting weekend for sure at Spring Ultimax. I was among the Buffalo sideline helping the team, who showed that they could hang with the strongest teams in the tournament. Without further ado, lets get into the weekend coverage.
Game 1: Buffalo-Duke
Buffalo got out to a strong lead early on, at one point scoring 5 straight, and never really looked back. The D line was operating smoothly in high winds and wasn’t often denied. Duke attempted a zone at the beginning of the second half, but the O-Line cut through it quickly. Last year I would have been the one leading the charge through the zone, but the team didn’t miss me. Duke would score a few to bring it to 12-8, but Green Eggs and Ham would pull away, winning 15-8.
Game 2: Buffalo-Elon
Elon played Buffalo tough early on, but we relied on the strength of our defensive line. The defensive offense was able to use their agility to keep Elon on their heels, and helped build a solid half time lead. John Bain and Zack Smith were the constants on defense providing easy dumps and tremendous break throws. Towards the end, Buffalo pulled away as Elon’s top players looked gas. Elon has some solid numbers, but needs to put in the work to get back to where they were. Final score, 15-10.
Game 3: Boston College – Buffalo
If there was a game of the weekend, this was it. I had seen Boston College at ACC’s, and they were able to hang with the lower level teams and even challenge the top 4. We knew this would be a challenge for our young team, but it seemed that we up to it early on. Our D Line again was our rock, building a 6-2 lead before BC took a timeout. They were able to score, and get a break to get the lead within 2. Buffalo would recover getting another point, but BC would bring it back to 7-7.
The eagles would start to gradually build a strong second half lead, finally breaking late to gain a 13-11 lead. Buffalo showed that they were not done, scoring, and getting the break to 13 all. The soft cap would be blown, making the game to 15. BC’s offense would score easily and quickly. On the ensuing pull, the Eagles seemed to have a huge advantage, pinning one of our young handlers in the back of the end zone. The defense seemed to be on a high, not allowing any open cuts. After being patient, Zack Smith and Andy Incaudo worked it back and forth, finding some space within the defense. Zack Smith would launch a flick huck down the right side to David Ferraro to tie the game at 14’s, giving Buffalo a chance.
On Universe point, both teams would get chances to score. A miscue on a dump by Buffalo gave BC back possession early on. They would work it up the field, but the Buffalo defense held, giving the offense another shot. A throwaway would give BC the disc for the last time, and they would convert deep for the game winning point. Needless to say we were disappointed, but the majority of players were calm. We knew it was going to be difficult to give an effort in the next game, knowing that it was the 4th straight of the day.
Game 4: Buffalo-Drexel
This game was a strange one, and there are plenty of reasons why we were not successful. Drexel built a 6-3 lead early in the game, and really never looked back. I have to give them credit, because I counted nearly 6 layout catches in the back of the end zone. It was one of those games where they did everything right, and we couldn’t do much right. A combination of being out of focus, mentally and physically gassed. The team couldn’t find it’s legs nor the patience or focus to convert on offense. It wasn’t about being depressed or angry, it was just hard to find the will after a tough game like that. This unfortunately would make things difficult to get into the championship game, as we lost 15-7.
Zack Smith put it best as he noted that the two losses were only going to make us hungry for Sunday. We were only scheduled to play 3 games, and were at least looking forwards to a rematch against Drexel. After an easy win against Georgia Southern B, we had a bye for the second round. ECU had beaten BC the day before, and we knew how much of a challenge they would be for round 3.
After being a really calm day earlier, the wind increased dramatically. Buffalo would choose to start going downwind, giving them the advantage. Our strategy would hold for the entire game, as we decided to punt it and play Zone D. After punting it to the end zone, Nick Rogers would win a 6 pack from me with a Callahan to start off the game. After the first few possessions, the teams would trade, and I would hear an ECU defender would say “This is such an easy team to guard”. I’m not sure if he realized that they were punting it at the time, rather than hucking it, but it was working.
The points were long, and the ECU defense looked like they had opportunity to breaks from time to time, working it through zone up the field. Eventually a throw away would always get the best of the them, and our offense would find a way to convert. At 5-4, the Buffalo defense would finally break, building a 6-4 lead. This would lead to a defensive downwind point, and a break here would really put some pressure on ECU.
Unfortunately, three different times, younger cutters were unable to work the disc up the field. It was the one time during the tournament that frustration got the best of the team, and things boiled over for a moment. In the past, this would have taken us out of the next few points, but thankfully, the team was able to settle down. ECU would get the upwind point, and the next break to bring the score back to 6-6, on serve.
After the next two points were slowly traded, soft cap was blown at 7-7. Buffalo would score the next point, but both teams decided to skip halftime. ECU would score after a few turnovers to bring the game to 8-8. Normally on universe point, you send out a universe line. Well, the offense had not been broken on a downwind point yet, so they were not going to change it up now.
The Buffalo zone had done an admirable job all game with Carlos Acosta pinching in to swat away some throws. Deep throws were not an option with CJ Colicchio standing back. I was in the ear of Andy Incaudo, giving him a crash course on how to play zone. After a few turnovers, ECU would work it up to the goal line, one pass away from the win. A pass would go near the sideline, with an ECU player jumping up to ensure a catch. I had a great view, of the play, with the cutter attempting to toe the line. However, it seemed that he decided at that he would be straddling the line, and attempted a greatest. The pass fell well short, giving Buffalo back possession. CJ Colicchio was sprinting deep, but Mitch Wheeler’s pass was way too long, giving the Irates the disc back at the corner of their own goal line. ECU would turn it relatively close to their own goal line, giving Mitch Wheeler another shot. Jason “Ender” Stiffler, a senior cutter who seems to always be open on the final points, caught the push pass to give Buffalo the 9-8 win.
Drexel would leave, giving us “third place”. We would play Elon again with our lines opened up to give some of our younger players play time. BC would go on to win against a tired ECU team, 13-10, for the championship. We certainly walked away from the tournament feeling pretty good, but knowing that we have to play well in consecutive games to ensure a shot at the title. Despite not making the title game, the team walked away with confidence and some hunger. We are still a young, relatively inexperienced team. For many of these guys, the Boston College and ECU games were the biggest they had ever played in. For once, I never felt uneasy about any of the players being in the game. They all have skill, and they all play hard, and that’s something I’ve never been able to say of a Buffalo team.
I’d like to give some shout-outs to some of my boys who weren’t mentioned earlier.
- Jimmy Leppert – Most Improved Player
- Mitch Steiner – Way to hang with an all region cutter
- Dan Shaw – Man of Steel
- Ian Dipace – Michael Strahan
- Rob Smith – Often the best looking player
- Robby Cola – Way to play through injury
- Mike Kanaby-Keep playing solid, trust your abilities
- Matt Pivarunas – Most improved player (1A)
- Greg Pollock – Anti-Coach
- Colton Steiner – Field Awareness ++
- Anthony Peacock – Highlight Master
- Jessie Chiello – Full Metal Alchemist
You know how much better than you guys were than at Big East and Fall Brawl, keep up the hard work and it’s going to pay dividends. It’s cliched, but true.
Treat every year as your last, because while you will have opportunities to be more successful as a player, you never know if your opportunity as a team will be greater in the following years. It’s the success as a team that’s the most rewarding, not the accomplishments of an individual.