The Skyd 2013 College Tour presented by Spin Ultimate heads down to San Diego this weekend for the 26th annual Presidents Day Open Invite hosted by the University of California San Diego Air Squids. The three day event is gathering national contenders like Colorado, Washington, California, Arizona and Minnesota (three of which boast being in Skyd Magazine Top 20 Power Rankings) to compete for the title and for precious strength bids. For many, this will be their first look at the chemistry of their own team being pitted against strong national contenders. Traditionally, early season tournaments are set up to give teams a chance to develop, an out of character loss or two to an out of region team could be the difference between an extra ticket to nationals and a one bid region.
While the 72 and sunny weather would be enough to lure any team to So-Cal for a warm February weekend tournament director and 2012 UCSD captain, Chris Schmidt, wants this year to provide high level, cross-regional combat. “We’ve designed this tournament so the Champion will have to dominate for an extended period of time,” stated Schmidt, “I believe you will see the true character of many programs revealed by the end of the Monday games.”
While there is the standard California showcase with the likes of UCSD, UCLA, Cal, and a host of other Golden State mainstays, Pres Day brings out the best of Cali and gives a playing field, format, and weather more closely related to what teams will be seeing at the end of the season in Madison.
Colorado and Minnesota are looking to dominate with little roster turnover and a hunger to shape their teams into programs destined for games past the 2013 nationals quarter finals. Washington and California are licking wounds after are rough Santa Barbara Invite, but both look ready to build. Arizona and UBC have potential to shine. Arizona will have to keep on the steady upward climb they started for themselves with an early tournament win. UBC will have to stop playing streaky and string some wins together before the rest of the nation writes them off early this year.
However, this is all early tournament speculation so let’s break it down by pool.
Perhaps just narrowly the favorite to win Pres Day, Minnesota takes the first seed in the tournament having been the only team to finish in the top 8 in 2012. Grey Duck will have to face Cal, the team they knocked out during pre-quarters of nationals last year. Cal comes in to this tournament hoping to exact some revenge after a series of close losses ended their season. (Cal Lost four games at nationals by only six points total.) We’ll see if Ugmo has the resilience to close out games after going set in Santa Barbara.
UBC is given a generous second seed in their pool given their mixed results when playing out of region last season compiled on their mediocre performance at the Santa Barbara Invite. However, Vancouver has a way of churning out top players and UBC knows how to play hard.
Las Positas and UCLA both have generous strides to make to play into the Pres Day brackets, but it is February. Anything can happen.
Colorado Mamabrid looks to test the collegiate waters and enters the weekend with a solid core of captains that have seasoned experience. Jimmy Mickle, Chris Bubernak, and Tim Morrissey are leading the charge into San Diego with a focus on offensive efficiency and defensive intensity. I’ll say here that a Colorado, Minnesota final would be exciting. Easily the favorite to win the pool Colorado will have to take on the home team UCSD as well as resilient Vermont, who finished 2012 with a loss to Dartmouth in the semi-finals of the New England Regionals tournament.
Tournament Director Chris Schmidt thinks UCSD is up to the task of competing deep into the tournament and welcomes the Colorado juggernaut stating, “the Air Squids aim to defend our home tournament every year, but there’s no pride in winning a tournament that doesn’t bring in the best teams it can.”
And again, the bottom two seeds of pool B, Cincinnati and UCSC, have a lot to prove to contend with Colorado. We will see if any Slug is ready to step in to Cassidy Rasmussen and Russell Wynne’s very fast cleats.
Arizona hasn’t seen the light of nationals play since 2008, but after a strong performance at the Santa Barbara Invite Sunburn look grind out the next months in effort to relight their national contender status. With 9 out of 20 teams coming from outside the Southwest Region, it will be Arizona’s own doing to come together and play like the South West Deserves. I’d be happy to put these guys as the darkhorse for winning the tournament and a hopeful for at least making Colorado or Minnesota work for it.
Washington is off to a slow start this year with a less than great showing at the Santa Barbara invite, but having attended nationals twice in the past two years has given the team some much needed big game experience. They’re taking the two seed in the pool and with the pickups of former Mamabirder Casey McPhee and Seattle youth stud Khalif El-Salaam they should be infused with some vitality to keep this program running at the top level. While UW has a lot to prove to remain a national mainstay, this weekend will be about building the team for the Sundodgers.
Virginia Tech and San Diego State will be hopeful for an upset, neither with any substantial wins over top tier teams during the 2012 season. Cal-Poly SLO does have the lauds of winning the Stanford Open last year and upsetting UNC and UCSB last year at the Invite, but this is a new season and they’ll have plenty to fight for in the South West.
Pool D is a compete toss up. I couldn’t fit a tire between these teams (though I’m sure their fans and players will tell me otherwise) and this pool should be the most volatile/fun to watch this weekend.
UC Davis looks to start defending their nationals berth against Santa Barbara, who they handily defeated in the South West 2012 Regional game to go.
Colorado College wants to prove that their 2011 nationals visit wasn’t just a fluke after underperforming in 2012.Two excellent youth players, Connor Crowley and Amos Adams, now have some college years beneath them and should be able to carry the team to at least one important victory.
Santa Barbara and Brown are both looking for a return to glory. Winning the pool at Pres Day would be a good start for either program.
I’ll mention Cal State Long Beach here because I think I’m contractually obligated to.
There are no predictions to how this pool will turn out, but just for fun I’m going to postulate 1.UC Davis 2. Colorado College 3. Santa Barbara 4. Brown 5. Cal State Long Beach. Wasn’t that fun?
While I’d like to see a Washington or Vermont or UBC at the top of this pool, we’ll see how much the winner of pool D means as the tournament progresses.
Feature photo by Andrew Davis