The Metro East Regional will take place in Princeton, NJ this weekend. Temperatures are expected to be great, between 50 and 70 degrees with little wind. There’s only one bid to nationals, so this tournament should be hard fought with every team that makes it to Sunday. I have already done a formal write up for USAU, and it can be found here (Pools can be found here). Below I examine each team individually in greater detail.
Cornell has an interesting year due to the restructuring. It was unlikely that this region would come close to getting a second bid, and thus the Buds traded early season success for late season depth. Cornell Captain Alex Kadesch elaborated, “We didn’t emphasize early season results, in part because we are a younger team than a year ago.” That would explain why Cornell traveled far and wide to play the best competition, even though they were only able to come away with one quality win against California.
That being said, Cornell is the only team at this tournament with the experience of going through a gauntlet of talented teams. UConn and NYU have battled it out at One Night Stand and Queen City Tune Up, respectively, but haven’t had the success to play consistently throughout one of those tournaments. It’s clear, the title goes through Cornell.
Cornell is good from top to bottom, and have a top 6 or 7 that make them Nationals contenders. Alex Kadesch is a very quick cutter that usually is allowed to move in isolation. Brian Grundy and Neil Butler are the tall talented guys that keep Cornell rolling. In addition, there’s a great supporting cast that I’ll be reporting more on after this weekend.
Rutgers has finally made the Metro East region after years of falling a little bit short. After a stellar fall, culminating in a fantastic UOA Big East tournament, Rutgers hasn’t quite had an equally impressive spring season. Although they did win Yale Cup with a finals victory over Vassar 13-8, they failed to beat NYU and Uconn and have finished third in their respective conference.
Geoff Irving, Frenchy Boyea, and Eric Haung are the three captains that move the Machine forward. Infused by youth, Rutgers also sports an impressive freshman class. Geoff Irving notes, “Finally, there is a stellar freshman class. They continuously motivate me to motivate them with their unconditional love of this team and their dogged hard work.” Albert Alarcon, Josue Alorro, Andrew Lopresti, Matt Weintraub, and finally Freshman of the Year candidate Scottie Xu who brings 4 years of High School ultimate experience to the table.
They may be seeded 8th, but this Rutgers team had the capability of being the number 2-seed from their fall performances. They’ve come just short in some big wins of NYU and Columbia during the season, so don’t be surprised to see some upsets. Seeding wise, this pool’s one two game might be the “worst on paper”, but I think it’s one worth paying attention too. When this team is on, it truly is a Machine. Cuts coming from everywhere, smooth flow, working it up the field, almost mechanically. Whoever they play on Sunday is going to have their hands full.
Princeton a long time ago scored a bid to Nationals from the old Metro East. They have not been back to Regionals in recent years, but now have the chance. During the season they played pretty good competition, Towson, UMass, but feel short in the Conference Championships against TCNJ by a large margin. The 12th overall seed in the tournament might not be able to make much noise, but can definitely use this as a stepping stone to return to prominence.
The Chupacabras were the last of the original qualifies, winning the 5th place game against RIT in horrible weather in Upstate NY. Captain Douglas Urbino recalled the weekend, “The first day had terrible weather and we had several people get hurt. Going into the second day we only had 8 people. One sub.. three games to make it to Regionals.” This is definitely one of the new faces on the block, because just three years ago, you wouldn’t have seen them at Sectionals let alone Regionals. “Our team is only five years old,” said Urbino. “The turnaround was about three years ago when I was a freshman.”
Urbino knows that it’s going to be difficult to take down some of the top seeds. “Going into Regionals we realize that our chances are not very good,” said Urbino. “We want to gain experience out of it and put it towards future tournaments.” For a guy that’s taken a savage team to Regionals as a 16th seed I concur. You have to get to this stage first before you realize how hungry you can get. Use this as a learning experience, make sure you go all out and you’ll learn the most about yourselves.
I knew that Connecticut was going to be one of the top seeds going into Regionals this year. They looked good at UOA’s Big East in the fall, and only cemented that with a win over Michigan State at Eastern’s Qualifier. Connecticut has been preparing for the Gauntlet, taking any all competition this season. Add in being in a weak region, and you have motivation. Connecticut’s Matt Turiano noted, “As soon as they redid the regional boundaries we knew things would be different for us. We have a lot of returners and knew that we would be in a good position this year.”
As far as players go, UConn is very good team from top to bottom. At UOA Big East, there were primary play makers, but nothing ever really seemed forced. Ben Weyers is the towering figure that is most likely going to come down with a 50-50. Kamil Skwarek is the handler that’s going to find ways to spread the field with inside out breaks. Add in an explosive Brian Varis, and Connecticut has players to fill every role.
Every team that eventually goes on to do great things needs that one win, that one belief affirming win that you are a good team. It gives you confidence throughout the rest of the season, because you know you are capable of taking down top competition. I asked Turiano if they have had such a win, and yes, they have. “Our win over Michigan State at Easterns Qualifiers,” said Turiano. “We had played an awful game against Tennessee earlier that day and we were a bit down on ourselves. We came out firing and ended up with probably our best win of the season.”
Wesleyan was looking like one the top seeded teams in the Metro East until Conference Championships. A match-up with Wesleyan in the championship game was expected, but Connecticut College smashed that with a huge upset in the semifinals. None the less, Wesleyan has some impressive wins over some old New England Rivals in Vermont and UMass who are looking to contend in the upper half of their respective regions. Not much is known about Wesleyan, except that they did face of against UConn earlier in the year. UConn dominated with a 15-6 victory, wonder if it will be the same story this time around.
Queens Kingston (B3)
“O Canada, Our Home and Native Land”n
The lone Canadian representation is here, and back for more. The Mothership isn’t as powerful as it used to be when they made Nationals in 2004. Captain Alex Ginther said, “Our school did represent the region at Nationals a few years back. That was a group of exceptional players that who have gone on to amazing things in the sport. We’re all keenly aware of the history of success, and we try to convey a sense of team history to new players.” Now in 2011, Queens Kingston represents the fourth bid from the Upstate NY region.
Made up by a core group of veterans, there aren’t too many stand out players. “Captains Alex Ginther and Andrew Carroll play a large role and try to lead by example, but our offense and defense are complete team efforts,” said Ginther. Queens has been a perennial regional qualifier for many years, and pretty much know what to expect. “We used the early season tournaments as learning experience and then planned to peak for sectionals, then Regionals,” Ginther continued.
Due to the Canadian season being in the fall, Queens has an interesting season schedule:
Our year starts in September, when we hold tryouts about 1 week before our first tournament, the Eastern Championships (CEUUC). A few weeks later, we play Canadian Nationals (CUUC). The fall season is very short, and with the timing of our school year, we’re still early in our development as a team come CUUC.
We take a break from November to the start of January, and then start indoor training (snow everywhere) in a dome and the gyms. We typically then play 2 or 3 tournaments in the U.S. in March, leading up to the College Series. Canadian Nationals are important to us, but the real development of our team happens during the Spring, just because of the amount of practice and competition we get. – Alex Ginther
The Burger Champ is here. One of the Cornell Players has eaten 4 Huge Burgers in 6 minutes. I can’t remember his name, but I like to call him Burger Champ. The Pinesburger Challenge
Cornell B got their ranking high enough on the waitlist to get the first of the bids. Historically this team has done well at sectionals, finishing in the top ten, and pretty close to qualifying for Regionals. They’ve finally broke through and will give the bottom half some stiff competition.
I ran into NYU on the sideline at Queen City Tune Up while they were playing North Carolina. I just remember the guys saying with enthusiasm, we want to go to Nationals. After winning one of the tougher conferences, Metro NY, by taking down Columbia twice and Rutgers, NYU is the third seed in the tournament. When I asked them how was the road to Regionals, Captain Charlie Eisenhood told me, it hadn’t been a concern. “To be honest, our goal all season has been to make it Nationals,” said Eisenhood. “We decided in the early Spring season that we were going to be prepping for Regionals Competition.”
NYU has had some impressive wins over teams outside the Region as well, beating Delaware at Queen City Tune Up and William and Mary at Hellfish Bonanza. This team is led by a strong core of seniors and grad students. There isn’t just one player who leads the strategic planning, but a multitude of experienced leaders in the huddle. The big weapon is Husayn Carnegie, who has been described as the deep threat to watch out for by other teams in Metro East. Lu Wang is also a Captain and a very well rounded cutter.
Besides Cornell, NYU is the highest finished from last year’s Metro East still remaining. “Last year we were just happy to make it to Regionals,” Eisenhood noted. It used to be much harder to make it out of the Metro NY with sometimes two bids, and Columbia, Vassar and Rutgers breathing down their neck. This year, it’s clear, NYU isn’t backing down to anyone. “This year, we’re coming for the crown,” said Eisenhood.
The seeding in the Metro East almost took a crazy turn with Yale beating UConn in pool play at the Conference Championships. After having a great Saturday, Yale fell short in the title game, 15-6 to a dominating Uconn performance. With a 10-9 win over Wesleyan, Yale has found themselves in a seemingly winnable pool. After all, they only lost to NYU at Yale Cup 7-6.
The name that keeps coming up with Yale is Yuri Shandunsky, and the hype isn’t coming from his teammates. Yuri is the player that gives Yale a shot in these games, whether it be with great defense or his ability to break people. I never like using the term unguardable, but Yuri seems to be pretty hard to stop from his reputation. I’ll definitely make my way over to see what he has to offer.
Syracuse took the third bid from the Western NY conference, beating Queens Kingston in the 4th place game. After having an up and down regular season, Syracuse finally made it back to Regionals for the first time since 2006. Paul Kloster notes that it was a point of emphasis for Scooby Doom: “Coming into this season we had set our team goal to make Regionals. Last year we chocked as sectionals and lost a game where we really felt we were the better team.”
On the playing field, Syracuse has a few players that stand out. In particular Captain Sean Gallagher has very nice puts to space, including several I saw first hand two weekends ago. Usually coming in front a cutting position, you can find Gallagher hitting Sean Sweeney on an ensuing deep cut. Paul Kloster and Elias McQuaid are the main handlers who help Doom keep the flow going and the wins coming.
While the squad is happy to be there and competing, they definitely have a chip on their shoulder. “Over the last decade or so we have developed a fairly competitive rivalry with SUNY-Buffalo,” explained Kloster. “While lot of our players know and are friends with a handful of their players, we would really like to finish ahead of Green Eggs and Ham this year, after suffering devastating losses to them three of the last four years.”
Buffalo and Syracuse don’t often meet in the regular season, so historically they’ve met in elimination games. I know from my experience that those were some of the most fun games I ever got to play in (Shoot, my bias is showing).
The Spuds from RIT limped into Regionals after losing some significant players to injury. David Wheeler was one of the most impressive players in Western NY, with some reportedly sick layouts. Unfortunately, I’ve heard that he broken his hand and likely is going to be out for this Regionals. Eric Dixon, Dan Justa, and Dean Culver round out the rest of the crew. In my five year career I always seemed to be playing against RIT every other game, and they were always a tough team to beat.
What can I say? I’m rooting for this team, hard. After being eliminated in pool play last year sectionals, this team has had one focus. Qualifying for Regionals. With that being said, their hard work and consistent play has paid off. After blazing through day one of Conference play, Buffalo was tied at 4’s with Cornell in the championship game. The wind was certainly a factor as Cornell ended up with 3 up wind breaks to seal the deal 13-8. I knew that this team was likely to make Regionals, but the expectations on seeding were just not there.
Third year Captain Zack Smith is one of the hardest working players I know, and that’s mostly because I’ve seen him the most. He’s come from a freshman player that no one wanted on the field ever, to a leader that’s needed to win. David Ferraro is one of the fastest kids in the Region, as well as one of the skinnyest, and will likely be on the receiving end of big hucks from Mitch Wheeler. Jon Bain has exploded in terms of a handler, going from a man with a wobbly forehand, to throwing lefty backhands and inside out breaks. (Yes, my Buffalo bias is palpable.)
Even though there were no expectations in terms of seeding, or placement at Regionals, the opportunity has become readily apparent. Buffalo hasn’t faced much of this Regional competition, but did give Uconn two very good games at UOA Big East in the fall. Besides those names from the top, it’s a team made up of young sophomores who’s performance is imperative if Buffalo plans on doing well.
Columbia has been in the thick of things of the Metro East ever since their surprise run to 4th in 2009 from the 15th seed position. The constant has been Milo Snyder, who is usually making plays from the handling position. After losing to NYU in the Conference Championship game by 1, Columbia definitely has the ability to make some noise this season. Micah Babbit, Captain, knows that it’s anyone’s game: “Every team is looking to win the big one. If that wasn’t the case there wouldn’t be a championship. Upsets happen every year. Why not us?”
In addition to Snyder, Kerry Chang, Jason Sun, and Babbit round out the leadership. Other teams have described them as being fundamentally sound, looking to spread the field and break the mark. They have competed well in every game so far this season, even playing up to tougher competition. Any team that runs into Columbia is going to have it’s hands full.
The College of New Jersey (D3)
Greg Owens is the man behind the TCNJ Revolution. You’ll have to see it for yourself as this man is going to be making athletic plays and giving his team a shot to win any game. After playing club for last two summers he’s become a much more well rounded players and can put hucks from any where on the field. This man is an all region lock. In addition to Owens, Jack Frenchu is the veteran handler that makes the offense run, and Ben Johnson rounds out the leadership at Captain.
TCNJ historically had to go through the Metro NY Section to get to Regionals and came close within the last few years. Now with their DIII path, TCNJ could have chosen to try and qualify for DIII nationals. Johnson said that wasn’t considered: “We plan to show that even DIII teams can compete at the DI level. Our biggest rivalries have been against DI teams as long as I have been on the team”. TCNJ looks forward to competing against Buffalo, Columbia, NYU and Rutgers. “We look to be shaking up the Metro East,” said Owens. This is a dangerous nine seed folks.
If you look at the roster of SUNY-Albany you’ll see an old New York Knicks roster. While SUNY-Albany had some good years during the Ryan West, Lucas Murphy and Vinny Fiacco regime, they have not returned to Regionals until this year. None the less, they are looking to win some games and break seed.
One of the funnier previews I received, Albany seems like they will be enjoying Princeton. B-ri is apparently the player to watch out for.
“As far as players on scam it starts and ends with b-ri. I don’t want
to over exaggerate but that guy plays ultimate at a level above anyone
else I’ve ever seen. It’s obviously impossible to shut him down but if
any team could even slow him down we would lose every game 15-0.
As for our “team pulse” I mean seriously, b-ri is like an ultimate
deity. It’s been a year and a half since I saw someone catch a disc
while he was covering them. And the last time he threw a disc away he
was a freshman. Honestly if ultimate was an individual sport he would
have already won nationals this year.”
I don’t think I can be unbiased enough to really lay it on the line for this tournament. Regardless, Cornell and UConn are the teams to watch. I think Rutgers is going to break seed, and TCNJ might just upset its way into Sunday play. NYU, Buffalo, and Columbia are going to give any opponents a tough game.
Be sure to following me on Twitter if you want updates, and interview of the championship team. Follow No_Look_Scoober.
Photo by Court Remm