It was sunny and 65 degrees today and hucks were flying at this season’s first major tournament, the Stanford Invite. Many teams decided to battle it out in the air with a few like British Columbia and Carleton absolutely dominating the skies.
The big surprise this weekend was the strong play of last-seeded Whitman, who beat Harvard and Washington on their way to finishing second in B pool. Also, a highly touted Pitt lost a close game to Oregon 14-16 to give Ego the top spot in D pool.
Carleton had the strongest performance of pool play, going 4-0 and outscoring their opponents 53-30. Known for a conservative and efficient offense, Carleton was brave enough to open up the field with lots of deep throws, which paid off well.
Texas had a rough start on Saturday. In their first game, Tuff fell to Tufts 11-13, and went on to fall to Santa Cruz. They came back to beat Santa Barbara 13-11 and came alive against Carleton. CUT took half 7-5 with Texas playing with very few mistakes. The offensive lines traded points, climaxing in Grant Lindsey lay out for a score thrown by Justin Norden. The Texas D-line got the game to within one break, but was unable to outlast. Carleton wins 14-12.
The rest of the pool ended with Santa Cruz taking the second spot after beating Tufts 13-8. The Slugs also beat out Santa Barbara a 13-9 win today. A highlight from the Santa Cruz-Tufts game involved a deep huck to UCSC’s Russell Wynn. Despite being surrounded by three Tufts players, Russell went to the house and came down with the disc.
Moving on to championship bracket: Carleton, Santa Cruz, and Tufts
Colorado made it through Saturday unscathed on their way to winning B Pool. Their biggest challenge was a hard fought game against Harvard at the end of the day. Mamabird beat Harvard 13-9 and brings a lot of momentum into Sunday.
The big story in B pool was Whitman’s upset of Harvard in the first game of the day. Captain Jeremy Norden explained, “We decided to come out and throw everything we had at Harvard.” Whitman took control of the game early, going up five and taking half 7-2. After half, Harvard rallied back, taking it as close at 13-12 until Whitman finally put it away 14-12. The Sweets went on to beat UC-Davis 14-12 before getting trounced by Colorado 13-3. “We opened up our line pretty early,” admits Norden about the Colorado game. The assumption was Whitman wanted to save their energy for the next game to secure the #2 spot in the pool. It seemed worthwhile, because Whitman was able to put away regional rival Washington to end the day 3-1. The game against UW showed Whitman grabbing another early lead, taking half at 7-5 and at one point leading 10-6. Again Whitman had to fight off a comeback before vanquishing UW 13-8. Whitman was playing with only 14 players today. “Ben McGinn stepped it up and Charlie O’Rourke was great on both offense and defense. But really, it was a whole team effort,” says Norden.
Harvard took third in the pool after beating UC-Davis 13-11 and UW 14-12.
Moving on to Championship bracket: Colorado, Whitman, and Harvard
C Pool was filled with talented teams and very hard-fought games. British Columbia dominated in the air on their way to claiming C Pool. In UBC’s game against Cal, the first ten points of the game were scored without a single turnover. The teams traded points until around 9-9, with UBC closing it out 15-11. Next, British Columbia shellacked Stanford 15-5.
Against Wisconsin, UBC really showed their dominance in the sky. Wisconsin captain Ben Feldman remarked on the lethal throwing by one of UBC’s handlers. “We were forcing backhand, but he started killing us with his I/O backhand break,” explained Feldman. “So we had to switch to forcing forehand.” At 11-13, a cutter for UBC caught a disc but mistakenly called timeout when there were none left. Despite this mistake, UBC managed to get the disc back and score 11-14. In response, Wisconsin’s Ben Feldman got high for a big grab and threw it to Brian Hart for a score to make it 12-14. But in the next point, British Columbia ended the game on a dramatic play. UBC throws a deep huck that is headed out of bounds when a Wisconsin player decides to D it anyway. With a massive layout, the Wisconsin player hits the disc and tragically macks it in-bounds and 20 yards downfield, where a UBC player catches it in the endzone for the score.
Wisconsin’s Feldman went away from the British Columbia game impressed with UBC’s great throwers and strong cutters. UBC cutters would usually start shallow and take off at full speed with the handlers throwing the hucks early and accurately. “I think they match well against Colorado. They play a similar game,” said Feldman.
Against Stanford, Wisconsin went down early but managed to take half 8-7. In the second half, the Hodag’s offensive line started to fall apart. A cutter went down with an injury and the game started to slip away, reports Wisconsin’s Feldman. Wisconsin was also playing without key cutters on defense this weekend. Wisconsin managed to finish off Stanford 12-9.
The Wisconsin-Cal game showed Cal consistently swinging the disc, eating up yards. Cal played very well, despite missing Sam Kanner and captain Andrew Hagan. The consensus was that California looked like one of the freshest and well-practiced teams at the Invite so far. In the end, huge plays in the air won this game for Cal, beating Wisconsin 10-12.
Cal would however fall to Stanford 15-10 in the showcase game knocking them out of championship bracket contention.
Moving on to the championship bracket: British Columbia, Wisconsin, Stanford
Pitt debuted their highly anticipated season today with wins over UC San Diego (15-8) and San Diego State (15-6). Oregon then handed Pitt their first loss of the season in a very close game. The wildcard San Diego State beat UC San Diego 15-8, and put up 11 points on Pitt. Pitt should not be counted out, though. Outside of the 4 undefeated teams going in to Sunday, Pitt has an excellent chance of making to the semi’s and beyond. Keeping in mind this is Pitt’s first major tournament of the season, they may still have some kinks to kick out making them somewhat unpredictable.
With solid performances at Presidents’ Day and the Santa Barbara Invite, San Diego State may still yet make some noise as well.
Moving on to the championship bracket: Oregon, Pitt, San Diego State
All in all it was a great day for Northwest teams with both UBC and Oregon going 4-0 and Whitman going 3-1, upsetting some teams in the process.
Eugene has proven it’s still a city that breeds talent with both Ego and Fugue on the women’s side going undefeated in pool play.