Written by Zack Smith.
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After a poor performance at Queen City Tune Up three weekends ago, Michigan Magnum has been relegated off of the Top 20. Though Yonaton Rafael was back in the fray, UM fell to three out-of-region opponents in North Carolina State, Connecticut and Appalachian State. In a Great Lakes region that all but sure to have one bid to Madison, Magnum will likely look to improve their young depth in the hopes of peaking in early May.
Two weekends ago, Dartmouth Pain Train headed to Tampa to battle against some of the nations best. Coming away with a 4-5 record isn’t as bad as it sounds when your losses come from Top 20 teams in Central Florida, Florida State, Texas and Pittsburgh. On the contrary, a Saturday loss to Georgia Tech is a blemish that can not be looked past. A chance for redemption will appear in just about a month with Pain Train heading back to Wilmington, North Carolina’s College Easterns for the second year in a row.
Without any results to draw comparisons to, there just isn’t room on the list for Iowa IHUC. Due to inclement weather the Free State Classic was cancelled this past weekend, leaving IHUC and it’s young roster as a big question mark for this season. With a 3 bid North Central region looking likely, it’ll be interesting to see what Iowa brings to the table.
Roaring back with a semifinals appearance in San Diego, the California-Davis Dogs have returned to the Top 20 at #18. The Dogs avenged their early season loss to UCSB and took down a full strength Washington squad before taking fourth at the prestigious Southwest tournament. Located near the bottom of the Top 20 with other regional contender Stanford Bloodthirsty, Davis still needs to have better results or the wide-open Southwest may only have a ticket or two to Madison.
Splitting a two game series with the defending National Champions Pittsburgh at Warm-Up: A Florida Affair, Florida has resurfaced on the college open scene. Deviating from the style of play implemented by Brodie Smith and Cole Sullivan, Florida now harnesses their well-conditioned and athletic players in a system where they can flourish. According to Alex Cooper: “Where there were once tall athletic guys making big plays, Florida now shows the most patience of any college team I’ve seen and every guy knows how to work within the system. Instead of just one or two superstars, there are many key players, and they can put themselves in any game.” With a strong identity early on in the season, the Gators may not just qualify for Nationals, but participate in meaningful games on Saturday.
#16 Harvard Redline is back after a successful tournament at QCTU. Piers MacNaughton and Misha Herscu have helped the boys from Cambridge reach the top of the Northeast so far with a win over rival Tufts, a close loss against Ohio and a tight game against North Carolina Darkside. Appearing in both College Easterns and the New England Open, Redline looks like they have what it takes to make the NE a two bid region once again.
Who has our attention?
#7 Arizona Sunburn remains undefeated so far in 2013 with a win at the President’s Day Invite in San Diego, CA. Though already in the Top 20 after a Santa Barbara Invite tournament victory, Sunburn has officially put the nation on notice after notching wins against higher pedigree opponents in #8 Minnesota Grey Duck and #9 Colorado Mamabird. Top teams will certainly not look past Arizona anymore, who will be attending the Stanford Invite, according to tournament organizer David Gerson. I’m excited for my trip out west to see Sunburn’s stifling zone and effective deep game with my own eyes.
The Northwest looks deadlier as the Washington Sundodgers and the Whitman Sweets are beginning to show their true form. The Sundodgers impressed at Pres Day, taking down lower competition while playing tight against #7 Arizona, #9 Colorado and #18 Calfornia-Davis. Despite significant roster turnover, Whitman is still in the hunt after qualifying for the Stanford Invite and a universe point loss in a scrimmage against Oregon Ego. Depending on their performances in Stanford, both of these former qualifiers have an opportunity to earn the NW a second bid to Nationals and silence many doubters in the process.
Georgia Tech Tribe performed relatively well at Warm-Up except for a universe point loss to Dayton Ghetto Force. With wins over Dartmouth and conference rival Georgia Jojah, the Tribe Called Tech may find themselves in a game-to-go, even if they aren’t the ones to earn a bid.
I’m not giving up on Las Positas just yet, though they failed to qualify for the Stanford Invite. The Hawks may not be the team that earns the Southwest a strength bid, but don’t be surprised to see them play spoiler early in May.