Each one of these pool play recap articles will highlight a particular matchup for each round.
With the sun setting, I headed over to catch the 1 vs. 2 matchup in Pool D, which had played out to seed thus far. Round 5 would pin Vanderbilt Brickhouse vs. the heavy club experience of Cincinnati Cinister. This was a rematch of the semifinals of the Dave Baldwin Memorial Tournament from this past fall, where Cinister won on universe 14-13. Early on, I had picked this game to be a barnburner with an exciting finish…and it did not disappoint.
Vanderbilt displayed one of the better handling cores of the tournament with Jeremy Kharrazi and Amir Aschner. Though short in stature, Kharrazi and Aschner were able to get open consistently, efficiently moving the disc laterally as well as upfield. With balanced pivoting and solid decision making, both of these handlers reeked of club experience.
Cinister got on the board first, with Gus Misleh shooting it deep to captain David Weber. On the ensuing possession, Kharrazi’s impact was felt immediately, distributing to well and working with Sam Linton of Tanasi to tie the score at 1. On the next defensive possession, Brickhouse came down with a 2-3-2 zone, forcing multiple turns from Cincinnati. However, Vanderbilt was unable to make use of their break opportunities, providing Cinister’s club talent with too many chances as they eventually held 2-1. The next point featured a unconverted break opportunity for Cincinnati as Kharrazi was able to get the around dish from Aschner and the assist to Linton. Changing up the defensive scheme again paid no early dividends, as the 4 man cup from Vanderbilt led to a Scott Schriner hammer to Garret Moulder, bringing the count to 3-2.
At the start of the next point, Kharrazi’s backhand break attempt led to a turnover. Weber followed by easily earning an under and sending a nice flick to space for the speedy Gus Misleh, 4-2 Cinister. Unable to settle down off of a timeout, Brickhouse’s offense continued to have issues as they focused on the breakside. Another turnover brought about a second Cincinnati break, where Misleh threw the upline and streaked deep for the 5-2 goal. Though Vanderbilt’s offensive line continued to have problems moving the disc upfield, Joe Wagner came down with a bailout huck that was lofting to the break side. Both teams offensive line’s held for the remainder for the first half as Brian McMahon found Moulder on the break sideline to for a 7-4 Cincinnati half time lead.
All of the energy seemed to be in the hands of Cincinnati, whose main halftime message was to not let up and let Vanderbilt back into the game. As they were coming out on offense, Cinister tried to keep the energy high by doing the gloating cheer “I Believe That We Will Win”. While the first half exhibited the tight defense of Cincinnati coupled with the quick strike abilities of their club players, the second half proved to be a different story altogether.
Returning to the 4 man cup, Vanderbilt’s defense experienced success immediately, as Wagner was able to get a big foot-block, leading to Brickhouse’s first break of the game. With the zone working effectively against Cinister, Vandy found themselves back on offense, this time using the breakside efficiently as Kharrazi hit Linton in stride. After the catch, Linton stumbled to the ground, soon finding himself in a high stall situation at the Cincinnati brick-mark. Seeing no other option, he threw up a prayer high release backhand to the endzone but Matt Boj was able to get to the space first and bring done a second consecutive break for Vanderbilt. A high and well placed pull allowed for Brickhouse to set up their zone’s trap mark, causing an early turn. On the door step of tying the game for the first time since 2-2, Vanderbilt called time out to set up a play:
The Vanderbilt zone continued to be incredibly effective, as the pressure seemed to sink in on Cinister, who had been so confident just moments before. Trying to get a reset on a high stall count, a Cincinnati handler threw a push-pass backfield, which Linton ate up. Running on the fast break, Linton quickly dumped to Aschner and then cut breakside to get the double happiness, and Vanderbilt’s first lead of the game. While the Brickhouse zone was certainly tight, Cinister was showing some poor decision making by constantly keeping the disc on the force sideline, leading to more turnovers. This time it was a high release through the cup which Wagner was able to pick up easily. Aschner then added another assist to his stat sheet, hitting Andrew Mungan for the 9-7 break. The once boisterous and jovial sideline of Cincinnati was now hushed in silence, as Vanderbilt had gone on a 5 break run to start the second half.
Off of a deep shot from Gus, Cinister made a veteran call and spiked it big to wake up the sideline and provide a second wind to the dismayed players on the field. Picking up the pull deep in their own endzone, Vanderbilt’s first look was overthrown, leading to a short field for Cincinnati. Just outside of the line, Cinister’s inside-out break attempt was too far for the intended receiver, but a trailing Garret Moulder laid out and tied the game at 9s. Another Vanderbilt turnover, this time on a short huck, translated to another break with Weber hitting Misleh deep. Reminiscent of the first half, Vanderbilt’s offensive line was having issues working the breakside, giving Cincinnatti the disc just outside of the Brickhouse endzone.
Out of a timeout, Gus Misleh picked up the trash on the following broken play:
Changing things up, Vanderbilt employed a punt and play D strategy, trying to use their strong zone that had brought them back into the game a few points before. This paid off immediately as Brickhouse forced multiple turns in a long point, eventually leading to a Sam Linton assist to Joe Wagner. Wagner showed the power of concentration, initially tipping the disc, falling to the ground, and regaining composure soon enough to lay out for the grab. Coming down zone once again, Tripp Mas honed in on Cincinnati’s first throw earning him the layout block. Linton kick-started the offense, breaking to Wagner, leading to a Andrew Mungan 11-11 break. Hot on another run, Vanderbilt would not take their foot of the gas. Cincinnati fumbled through the Brickhouse zone for the rest of the game while Vanderbilt converted on two break opportunities to close out the score 13-11. Check out the video below, showcasing the crazy ending to this game as Sam Linton puts it up for Joe Wagner.
It seemed that the team that was on defense had the advantage throughout the game, especially in its later stages, with all 12 points scored in the second half coming in the form of runs (5 for Vanderbilt, 4 For Cincinnati, 4 for Vanderbilt). As timeouts were used to set up endzone plays, both teams were unable to stop these longs strings of breaks in order to kill momentum and settle down their players. With Vanderbilt’s zone being the key factor in this game, the choice to play punt and D late was a great move.
When all is send and done, I think these two teams provide a great matchup for one another, and I would love to see round 3 in better conditions.
I spent this round doing live audio play by play of the Ohio State vs. Alabama pool play game and because of this, I didn’t take notes. However, the general feeling of the game was total dominance in terms of experience and athleticism by Leadbelly. Running an efficient offense, OSU took advantage of the multitude of break opportunities that Yellow Hammer provided. With their offensive line rarely ever seeing the field, the 2 defensive lines (“Black” and “Red”) got a ton of experience against the top players of Alabama.
One of the main things that did not work well for the Crimson Tide was that their handlers were too close together in the backfield. With the dump defenders poaching the lines, Travis Midkiff was unable to move the disc upfield, causing most of the throws to go between Daniel Gilstrap, Nathan Baker and himself. This increased number of touches, along with the pressure of “the big game” caused a number of miscues in the form of drops and throwaways. These errors also trickled down to the cutters, as they felt that they needed to make plays the moment they touched the disc, instead of working through their handlers as the Yellow Hammer offense typically does. This was a tough lesson for Alabama, and hopefully they walked away learning some key points and will adapt their strategy for the better. Final Score: 13-5 Ohio State Leadbelly.