Conference Match Ups: SoCal

by | April 19, 2011, 4:15pm 0

By Guest Writer Will Griffin. Will is a former Vacaville High Fire Ant and currently plays club for San Diego Streetgang


The SoCal Conference Championships are as much different as they are the same. When it was Sectionals, this tournament had 20-plus teams, and if you were the one or two seed going in it was likely that you would have a Saturday that you could sleep walk through. This year, however, there are no B teams, no C teams, and no D-III teams, so the competition has become a whole lot more concentrated. As for what remains the same: it will be in San Diego, it will most likely be hot, it will be intense, and exciting.

With 11 teams the format is imperfect, but it is what it is. Two pools and the top two from each pool go straight to semis, 7 bids to Southwest Regionals.

Pool A is:

  1. San Diego State
  2. Long Beach State
  3. UC San Diego
  4. UC Irvine
  5. Azusa Pacific

Pool Thoughts:

San Diego State has been the top dog in the conference all season, not having lost to anyone in the section thus securing the 1 seed.  They have a veteran team with great athletes, and have played deep into a couple of tournaments this year. The Feds, however, have never been in this position before and are typically looking up at this time of the year. Some may question if they can handle being the “hunted” and wonder if they can perform with the target on their back. But with 5th year players in Jackson “The Cheese” Sterns and Richard “DaBomb” Prodan, who will likely play out of their minds in their last (first) Conference Championships, I expect The Feds will play up to their seed.

Long Beach is the defending Sectional (Conference) Champions from a year ago when they beat SDSU in the finals. They are an athletic team with a good mix of veteran and young guns. Marcos Perez is one of their captains and a dominant player for them and I’d expect he will be all over the place this weekend for the Stalkers. Long Beach typically runs with a smaller squad so playing SDSU in the first game of the day plays into their favor. Since there is no love lost between the Feds and the Stalkers I’d expect this to be the game of the day.

UCSD lost a lot of experience from their last few Nationals teams, and it shows in their record this season. I’d expect that they are a team that is trying to peak at the right time and if they can get solid games out of Josh “Forge” Nickerson and Daniel “Roget” Cox they should have a good shot to get out of pool play and into semis. But if the team they took to Centex shows up this weekend they may have a tough time getting to Regionals.

Irvine and Azusa Pacific– I don’t know too much about these teams other then they are not B teams. Obvious, I know, but my point is they will not be easy outs. They have been practicing all year as an A team, going to tournaments and trying to get better like everyone else and if they can put together a good game they could walk away with a win against a top seed.

In the end I see the pool holding on seed at least for the first two slots; SDSU taking the pool and Long Beach 2nd. The bottom three may shuffle with some placement likely going to point differential.

Pool B is:

  1. UC Santa Barbara
  2. San Louis Obispo
  3. UCLA
  4. USC
  5. Cal Poly – Pomona
  6. Cal State – Fullerton

I’ve always said I hate playing Santa Barbara in the series because they are a program that knows how to ramp up a season and peak at the right time. Tide doesn’t have that dominant all star, but they are a collection of solid talent that play well at the right time and they tend to win games at this time of year. Expect them to show up ready to play, focused, and prepared both mentally and physically to do what it takes to win.

Cal Poly SLO is an interesting team and has fallen a bit since they were the 3 seed at Regionals a few years ago. They still have Condors player Jake Juszak as well as a few other guys who will probably make Condors this year. I have only briefly seen them this year, but from what I saw they are athletic and will put the disc deep to those athletes. I think they are the “Wild-Card” team of this tournament and could take out Tide and potentially win the pool if they play well. Most people probably do not know what to expect from them this weekend, other than boosting it to “Jacuzzi,” and that plays to their advantage.

UCLA is another team who lost a lot of starters from previous years and with different personnel they seem to have struggled to find an identity as a team. Typically they have been a team with quick handler movement and look to break the mark often, but I do not believe they have that type of roster any longer so those growing pains show in their results. If they have “found” themselves I would expect they could give a game to the two teams seeded above them but I’m not sure they can pull out a win.

I know nothing about USC, Pomona, and Fullerton other than they are perennial development programs that gain a little ground one year but then lose it the next. I would expect USC to take the 4th spot in the pool but again I have no idea what these are or who their guys are.

I expect this pool to hold seed with the Tide vs. SLO game to be closer than some may expect. With 6 teams in this pool it should be a long day for all these teams and if it is hot like it typically is you could see the B team pools falter a bit on Sunday.

Final Thoughts

In the end I expect SDSU to take the Conference over Tide in the final. I know, not very exciting as I am predicting things to hold seed more or less, but Tide and SDSU are the best teams in the conference and I give the edge to SDSU because I believe their top guys are better than Tide’s.

With the competition being as concentrated as it is this should be a very exciting Conference Championships with close games all weekend and players making big plays. As for who will advance it is hard to say because the format seems to put the teams that do not make semis into a giant pool. I guess you finish in the top three and you go to regionals, it would seem unfair though if two teams tied for the final spot have to deal with point differential to advance. But we’ll see.

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