That was our last guaranteed practice together. -Andrew Wilkes, Virginia Night Train captain
I’ve been hanging out in Charlottesville for a couple days, going to Night Train practices and catching up with friends. When Wilkes brought the team into a huddle and ended practice with that statement it reminded me, once again, that the Series is special. Good luck to everyone competing this weekend and beyond.
Here are a few bullet points on the conferences and match-ups that I didn’t get a chance to write full articles on…
Metro Boston– Harvard v. Tufts
- When these two met in the finals of One Nightstand two weeks ago, Harvard coach Josh McCarthy made sure to open up his rotation because he knew they’d be playing again this weekend. They’ll probably play yet again at New England Regionals, but I think that this time, both teams go all-out since the winner will get the one seed at Regionals.
- Tufts’ Sam K-S is still not 100% healthy. He needs to get 100% healthy.
- McCarthy also had high praise for Tufts handlers Alex Cooper and Ben “Prancer” Nelson.
North New England– Middlebury v. Dartmouth v. Vermont
- This Conference actually has a fourth team: New Hampshire. They also have four bids to Regionals. So they’re all going. Last I heard, the conference coordinator was still in search of a field site.
- While they’re all going to Regionals, winning this one will mean playing Tufts instead of Harvard in the semis at Regionals.
- Vermont is a team that a number of people in New England respect. They are heavy on juniors talent, with four former Amherst players (Matt Guild [captain], Sam Hart, Julian Summa, David Baecher) and Ryan Rzepka, a captain that played at Longmeadow… Their other captain is Jake Saunders… Hart and Summa are both big forces in the air…This year, they are coached by former Dartmouth coach Mike Lee, who brings an overall sense of confidence as well as an ability to run effective and efficient practices… they don’t play a lot of zone, relying instead on strong man defense… instead of playing on separate club teams like they have in the past (Pie Wagon, Sons of Liberty, etc.), the Vermont guys all played club together this year.
- I said this on the podcast earlier in the week, but Tiina Booth called Spencer Diamond one of the best players to ever come out of Amherst. From a coach that has produced two Callahan winners and god knows how many Team USA members, that’s high praise… I’ve also heard lots of good things about Dartmouth coach Brooke Martin, particularly that he is adept at designing zone defenses that use the personnel at hand well.
- Middlebury’s Robbie Zabel, the team’s central handler, broke his leg back in February at T-Town Throwdown. Apparently he is now back in action… Jake Herman and Jon Cox are All-Region caliber players, and Conferences will be a good gauge of whether or not their team will be able to ramp it up and peak at Regionals, something they’ll need to do if they’re going to get back to Nationals.
Ohio– Ohio v. Ohio State
- This got a bit less exciting when the Ohio Valley lost its second bid, but it’s a good rivalry story nonetheless. Ohio State has been in and out of the national scene for a while now, while Ohio has spent a number of years playing second fiddle. This season, Ohio put in strong performances at T-Town, Queen City, and the Easterns Qualifier, and are currently at 23 in USA Ultimate’s end of season rankings.
Ozarks– Washington University v. Kansas State v. Kansas
- I don’t know very much about any of these teams, but with Wash U at 26 in USAU’s rankings, Kansas state at 35, and Kansas having qualified for five of the last eight Nationals, you’ve got to think that at least one of them will contend for one of the South Central’s three bids to Nationals.
- Wash U has put up close scores against Wisconsin and Michigan, but has yet to post a real quality win. Joe MacDonald, a grad student who was All-Region at Middlebury last year, started playing with them in February once his ankles finally got healthy, and they could peak in the Series.
Photo by Tufts E-Men