This Sunday, Carnegie Mellon University is hosting Steel City Showdown, a round robin featuring four of the Ohio Valley Region’s top teams. Carnegie Mellon Mr Yuk, University of Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur, Ohio State Leadbelly, and Ohio University will take turns facing off in what should be an exciting end to the fall season. (Penn State University SPANK was also invited, but declined due to it being over their Thanksgiving Break.)
University of Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur
En Sabah Nur will enter every tournament this season with a target on their back. As defending National Champions, they’ve earned that. And after losing just three starters from last year’s squad (just 7 total players graduated), they very well might be the favorites to leave Appleton, WI with a second consecutive National Championship. One major piece Pittsburgh will sorely miss is defensive stalwart Julian Hausman who was a big part of their comeback win against Carleton College in the semifinals.
This past weekend, En Sabah Nur traveled to Missouri for MLC IX as the #1 overall seed. Despite falling to Texas A&M Dozen in pool play, Pittsburgh reeled off five straight wins (not counting a forfeit win against Texas in the semis) to take home the championship over Colorado Mamabird in the finals. A tournament win at the biggest tournament of the fall is a strong springboard into the 2013 College Regular Season where Pittsburgh will look to cement their status as the team to beat at the College Championships in May.
While many might consider Conferences and Regionals a formality for a team like Pittsburgh, you can bet every opponent they face will be chomping at the bit to prove their worth against the defending national champs.
Last year, Ohio University earned their first bid to the College Championships in team history and missed out on a pre-quarters berth by one point. Ohio will look to build upon last year’s strong performance in 2013 despite losing some key contributors from that squad. Gone are starting handlers Eric Converse and Nick Wetzel, while other starter Mike Bruce won’t return until March or April after suffering a torn ACL at the College Championships. However, 1st team All-Region Cutter Mitch Cihon has returned for a fifth year, giving Ohio another year to run an offense through one of their biggest playmakers.
Ohio also attended Missouri Loves Company last weekend and turned in a strong performance, with wins over Texas, Illinois, Kenyon, and Luther and losses to just Minnesota and Carleton College, earning a T-9th place finish.
Ohio State Leadbelly
Ohio State Leadbelly faces a bit of a different road than the other teams at the top of the Ohio Valley. With only 10 returning players this season, Ohio State will rely on the leadership of a core group of veterans and look for their younger players to step into larger roles this season. They may be off to a good start with a 4th place finish at Fall Easterns this past weekend, including a tight universe point loss to UNC-Wilmington in the semifinals.
Carnegie Mellon Mr Yuk
After a 4th place finish at Regionals in May, the team’s best finish in about 20 years, Mr Yuk is a program looking to break out this year. After only graduating six players from the 2011-2012 squad, Mr Yuk has a strong veteran squad of teammates who understand they must put in even more work this year to take the next step onto the national stage.
Carnegie Mellon attended MLC IX and finished T-9th as well; going 4-2 with wins over Michigan, Iowa, Arkansas, and St Louis, while falling to Championships qualifiers Wisconsin and Texas.
The leadership of Carnegie Mellon began organizing this tournament in August, looking to bring together the Region’s top talent prior to the start of the College Season. With the exception of Cincinnati, these were the Region’s top teams last year and, judging from fall results, should be near the top again this year. The Steel City Showdown should be a fairly decent preview of where each team stands on the road to a Championships berth out of the Ohio Valley.
Schedule and results can be found here.