This year marks the 5th iteration of the Radnor Invitational Tournament, affectionately known as Green Eggs and Spam. In years past, this tournament had a field of six participants on both the boys and the girls sides. This year the field has been vastly expanded. On both the boys and girls sides there are now A and B brackets, the B brackets being mostly filled with JV teams. The boys have expanded to 8 teams from around the region along with an 8-team B bracket. On the girls side, the tournament is a 5-team round robin with a 4-team B bracket. For the purposes of this article, we will be focusing on the teams in the A brackets.
The reason why I’ve loved going to this tournament is that for many teams, this is the first tourney that’s on the schedule and the first real opportunity to see how the team will look for the spring season. This year many top teams in the New Jersey/Pennsylvania area are making their first appearance at the Radnor Invitational. I believe that many, if not most of these teams are going to be strong candidates for Northeasterns come May. Obviously, my predictions may be very off-base because this will be the first time that I see these teams, but I’ll be trying to make predictions with the help of score reporter. Without further ado, let’s get to the primer in earnest.
Boys, Bracket A:
[As of writing, pools have not been posted]
To be honest, I don’t know much about this program. Looking at the score reporter, there have been no results posted for them in recent years. However, new teams should never be discounted, we all know the possible strength of upstart programs. Hopefully we will learn a lot more about this program once this tournament is over.
Columbia High School:
The reigning New Jersey state champions are coming into the spring having beaten many of the teams coming to the Radnor Invite. On the other hand, the winning margins were not large, and they have also lost to some of these teams, notably Pennsbury. With new coach Ben Haim at the helm, expect Columbia to play disciplined, fundamentally sound Ultimate as per usual. With the earliness of this tournament in the spring season, look for an established program like Columbia to come out quick; they are one of the favorites to win this tournament.
Hampton High School:
Hampton is a team that hails from the Pittsburgh area, traveling a long way to get to Radnor. The team has only had one interaction with any team that will be at this tournament, and that was a 7-8 loss to Pennsbury at the Tidewater Tuneup. With only one close loss, I think it’s too soon to tell how Hampton will stack up against teams from eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Coach Christie Lawry and captains Graeme Kernick and Scott Trimble have been putting the team through their paces in the winter and look to come out of the gate quick in the spring.
Haverford Ultimate Disc Alliance:
Haverford hasn’t posted a result from the fall season. However, coming off a strong showing from last year’s Pennsylvania State Championship, expect them to be a force. We will have to see if coming in fresh will work to their advantage.
Lower Merion is coming off a very strong fall season. At Pennsbury Fall Brawl they only lost to Columbia by one point and lost to eventual champions West Windsor North by two points. Look for Lower Merion to capitalize from their fall season and carry their momentum by winning Radnor. They certainly have the resume for it and I think they are one of the favorites.
Pennsbury is coming in from a fall where they won and lost against teams with very tight margins. They are capable of beating, and have beaten many teams that are going to be at this tournament. This leads me to believe that they are more than capable of winning this tournament, if they can be consistent and maintain a steady hand throughout. If not, then it’s possible that they will stay in the middle of the pack with some key losses in pool play. Looking at the field, these teams are very close; it will just take a few key momentum swings to win the tournament.
Radnor High School:
Radnor is the reigning champion of Pennsylvania coming into this year. They lost a key senior with Trent Dillon graduating and now playing for Pitt. Radnor’s fall season was a 50/50 proposition. They had a few blowout wins, but tight key losses against many of the opponents they will face at their home tourney. We normally don’t talk about home field advantage in Ultimate, but this early in the season, it will be a decided advantage to know your fields and not have to travel. It remains to be seen if Radnor will be able to capture their own tourney, but I wouldn’t count the home team out.
After making a strong run to the New Jersey State Championship Finals last year, the fall season for the Warriors was a mixed bag. They notched a two point win against Radnor at Pennsbury Fall Brawl, but dropped games to Columbia and Pennsbury by wider margins. Graduating captains Charlie Lian and Is Ulaj meant losing a talented handler and dangerous deep threat. Coaches Ken Karnas and Mike Porter along with captains Anderson Chan, Nim Sten-Gilady and Chris Nguyen have been working diligently to prepare for a quick jump out of the gate for the spring season.
Girls, Bracket A:
Columbia High School:
Sparkle Motion’s only action in the fall was at the Columbia Round Robin, which they hosted. They posted solid victories over Stuyvesant and Beacon, with only a loss to Watchung Hills. Look for captain Gabriella Cincotta to be the linchpin of this team. With a new coach at the helm and fellow captains Hannah Hart and Aurora Rojer, look for Sparkle to make a run.
Haverford Ultimate Disc Alliance:
Coming off of a solid showing at Easterns and Pennsylvania States last year, HUDA looks to improve for the upcoming season. Like the boys, this team doesn’t have anything in the score reporter for the fall, so look for them to build off of their solid past spring season.
Lower Merion was a powerhouse in 2010, but for the past two years as they graduated many talented upperclassmen, they have been in a rebuilding mode. Coach Christina Minecci runs a tight ship though, and has been building her underclassmen back into form. Lower Merion has always played tenaciously and will be a tough match for any team.
Coming off their first Easterns appearance last year, the Raiders look to be focused and on point for the spring. In the fall, Radnor made a clean sweep of their schedule winning all three games. Look for senior captain Hannah Henkin to play an integral part to her team’s success in the coming spring. As I previously noted, this early in the season, home field advantage is a nice thing to have; don’t count Radnor out of this tourney.
After winning their first ever New Jersey State Championship, the Watchung Hills girls continued their strong play into the fall. Despite losing five seniors, the Warriors were able to retool their roster, winning a college tourney (Fall Brawl III) and the Columbia Round Robin. They hope to be able to continue their success in the upcoming season. With wins over each of the teams in the field over the past year, the Warriors seem to be the favorite to win the tourney. However, if they get complacent, any of the teams in the field can make a game of it.
All in all, this should be a great kick off for the spring season for these teams. Look for a recap of this tourney, it should be exciting to see!