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Pres Day 2013 opened to a beautiful weekend in San Diego. Highs in the 70’s and minimal wind gave teams the chance to showcase open field talent and show who could pressure turns out of high caliber opponents.
Conditions were perfect; however the field struggled on two accounts. On a whole, teams seemed to struggle keeping pulls in bounds and hucks from going out the back. The new(ish) 20 yard endzones were a constant source of heartache as player after player would lay out only to land 2-3 yards out of bounds. We’ll see how teams and handlers adjust to the new field size as the year progresses.
The Colorado Wobbles
Colorado, despite going 4-0 today, treaded shaky ground. By and large, Colorado looked to be the athletic machine it’s been in the past. However, in games versus Vermont and UCSD (teams that went 1-3 on the day) Mamabird played down for most of the match, only pulling out wins in the last 3 or 4 points. It could be the slow leveling of the college playing field as more and more become dedicated to the sport, but even players like Jimmy Mickle seemed to be forced into bad decisions, point blocks, and turns due to defensive pressure.
Don’t count Mamabird out, but in order to run deep into the tournament Mamabird needs to rely on more than late game breaks to win Pres Day this year.
Assertive handler movement from Kilian Marsh and Jesse Cohen led the UCSD Air Squids to moments of ecstatic chemistry on the field. But that optimum performance couldn’t be sustained. But, they didn’t close out when it mattered, finishing fourth in their pool. I would watch them as the season goes on because there is a nationals level team in there… somewhere.
And Cincinnati, a surprise for the day, showed up with only 12 healthy bodies but still managed an upset to take third in the pool. They’ll be riding a razor’s edge of injury for the rest of the tournament, the discipline and determination showed by a large percentage of the Cinci players made waves. I’d love to see these guys backed with a little depth and they could shake larger programs.
This was a rematch of the 2012 prequarters at nationals where Minnesota ended Cal’s run at the championship.
Minnesota showed early physicality, bodying up players and cutting with steamroller mentality. Their cuts looked like a nationals level ultimate team’s cuts should look, but their chemistry seemed half a second off. Errant and slightly out of reach throws would evade receivers, giving Cal a chance to control most of the game. Despite playing down, and despite it being early tournament, Minnesota didn’t show much weakness in its players.
The mechanics of Grey Duck’s play are there. They live and die by the huck game. Just give this team two more months to work together and this team could be deadly. And a word of the wise to future Minnesota opponents: #66 Jason Tschida isn’t just a baby face with the handler instincts of Ben Wiggins. That kid is fast. He scored at least two points off catching the pull, dishing it, and beating his defender for the next 80 yards.
Cal, to take a different approach, attacked this game with vigor and mostly only that. Their offense looked much less refined than the dump-swing-huck Minnesota approach, but they hammered at it like nail long gone bent. Handler Andy Smith seemed to will his throws to go where they needed to with his muscles instead of finesse, with much success. It was Cal’s consistent willingness to work that kept this game close and kept Minnesota behind by a break for most of the match.
Both teams had numerous chances to blow the game wide open, but they kept it close, with Minnesota turning out 2 breaks at the end to win to universe.
An honorable mention goes out to Las Positas, a team I unfortunately didn’t get to catch a game of today. They took Cal to universe and finished 3rd in their pool. I think they have big potential to upset both Santa Cruz and Arizona in their power pool on Sunday.
UCLA and UBC proved to be no match for the other teams.
Ride the Burn
Arizona Sunburn, a team looking to step back into the limelight, came out with a strong Saturday showing. Crafty throws (especially #3 Bryce Dixon) to their 6’+ goon squad propelled Sunburn to 4-0 on the day. They are slowly proving they deserve to be in the top 20 rankings, being able to pull of trick plays and grind out defense.
Even though they started slow (giving up an early break to a horribly under ranked Virginia Tech), coach Juan Castro lauds the team for being receptive to his teaching and easily adaptable to any game situation. Fingers are crossed that Arizona can finish strong and the nation can get a good look at what they are capable of against a Minnesota or Colorado. Players like Sean Ham will have to keep digging deep for Arizona for the wave of success not to break.
The match up for the day for Sunburn was their out of region contender, Washington.
Washington coach Gabe Pedersen commented on the Sundodger’s mediocre performance at the Santa Barbara Invite saying, “We didn’t have the weekend we wanted but also didn’t have the weekend we didn’t want.” A roundabout way of saying they show promise.
Gabe also was excited to see Washington’s Khalif El-Salaam , flowing easily into handling and cutting roles for the team. But breaks rolled for UW on the backs of hard play by handlers Julian Peterson, Matt Bricker-Mounts, and Sockeye newbie Duncan Linn. But, the fourth round of hot play in San Diego left Washington with not enough in the tank to fight off Arizona.
Power Pool Predictions:
Pool A: Minnesota takes this pool easily with V Tech fighting off Santa Cruz for the quarterfinals slot.
Pool B: Colorado over Washington. Colorado College a distant third.
Pool C: I can’t call this one, with the still shaky (though good) play by Arizona. But I’ll Say Arizona, Las Positas, and Brown following at third.
Pool D: Seeing the Cal v. Cal Davis match up will be excitng. After seeing Davis’s hard style of play against a relenting Santa Barbara, I’m going to put Davis over Cal. While Cincinnati played excellently today, they don’t stand a chance at the national hungry team’s home turf.