It’s great to be back doing DIII Nation for the second year in a row. This season, I plan to do things a bit differently. I think everyone now has a pretty good idea of the main DIII contenders with the previews from last year. Thus, this year I will just be writing a bi-weekly ranking, with assorted musings on the DIII landscape. Without further ado, the preseason rankings:
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Yes, St. John’s Bad Ass Monks (BAM) did lose to GoP in the quarterfinals of DIII Championships last year. However, they are one of the few teams on this list not to have significant roster turnover. From their starting line, they have only graduated captain and O-line player, Paul DeWenter. However, they have added Andrew Johnson (U-23 tryout player) after a semester abroad last Spring. On the O-line, he will work with Pat Kunkel, who will often be isolated as the first cutter, allowing him to either strike deep immediately, or come underneath and fire it deep himself. On the D-line, big man Nihal Bhakta, Ben Berthiaume will all provide the athleticism to force a D, and the cutting prowess to get open for the throws of captain Matt Kortz.
Harding lost three big time players in Tyler Samuel, Ryan Rummage and Jarron Sharp. However, Harding still has a great handler in Taren “T-Rex” Goins. They also triumphed in a 10-5 victory over the reigning champion GoP in the Fall.
GoP lost captains Cory Fauver and Jon Isaac to graduation. However, they return one of the best all-around players in the division in Rhys Lindmark. Including consistent handlers Matt Godfrey and Scott Graber, who propelled them to their championship last Spring.
Puget Sound lost their main handler Ky Lewis and one of their big athletes, Luke Jesperson to graduation. They return captain Spencer Sheridan and all around baller Eric Hopfenbeck. Finally, they gain defensive specialist Dylan Harrington. With a win over one of Oregon’s split squad teams, Puget Sound has what it takes to make another run deep into bracket play of 2013 DIII Championships.
Fredonia was ranked highly last year until they were upset at regionals by Stevens. However, during this game they were without their top player, Greg Wakeman, who had broken some finger(s) earlier in the tournament. Furthermore, they return the majority of their roster including three players from the AUDL team, the Rochester Dragons: Wakeman, Kevin Quinlan, and Doug Urbino. Wakeman and Urbino also were selected for U23 tryouts. Don’t be surprised if 2013 is finally the year for Fredonia to qualify for DIII Championships.
Kenyon lost several key seniors in captain Brendan O’Connor, captain Adrian Galbraith-Paul, and cutter Adrian Galvin, but they return ex-Columbus Crane and U23 tryout player Jordan Rhyne. With a key win over Missouri in the Fall, Kenyon will be back to avenge their early exit from 2012 championships.
This is a bit of a sleeper pick, but Stevens broke seed significantly to take 9th at 2012 Championships. Furthermore, they are returning the leader of their D-line, Mason Compton, along with New Jersey Hammerhead players Andrew Misthos and Marques Brownlee. They only graduated three starters, so look for Stevens to use their pro experience to make at least quarterfinals at 2013 DIII Championships.
Bentley lost key cutters Peter Login and Dan Bourdeau to graduation, but they return their main handler, and 2012 Championship top 10 assist leader, Alex Foo. They have wins over top DI Metro East team, Connecticut and new DIII competitor Middlebury.
Now, the author’s favorite team of the bunch. (Note: I’m the captain) The big question for Claremont is how they will perform without superstar Tommy Li. However, their rookie class is large, talented and experienced. They also will benefit from the return from abroad of two defensive stars, Abe McKay and Jake Coleman. Finally, with some decent fall results (2 wins against SLO, and a close game against UCSB) I think it’s safe to put Claremont a bit ahead of their last place nationals finish in 2012.
Pacific Lutheran got fourth out of a NW region with three bids to DIII nationals in 2012. However, they only graduated Bernie Anderson, and had a solid Fall season, handily defeating Lewis & Clark, and one of Washington’s split squad teams.
This list is probably more noteworthy for the snubs rather than the additions. For snubs, I considered the high placing teams at 2012 nationals who didn’t make it into the top 10.
Lewis & Clark – Lost their two Rhino players, Ben Lohre and Kelly van Arsdale, and they also got crushed by Pacific Lutheran in the Fall. We’ll see if they can rebound, but for now I’ll leave them off the top 10.
RPI – Also lost their two main playmakers, Dan Donovan and John Hosmer as well as a number of other seniors. They were a small team to begin with, so the void left by these players could be too much to fill. We’ll wait for results from DIII Warm Up (see below!) to see if they can breach the top 10.
Rice – They graduated the leader of their D-line, Stephen Haff, and the 2012 nationals assist leader, Sean Murphy. On top of that, they didn’t have a sizable roster to begin with. Again, we’ll see if they can light things up at DIII Warm Up, but for now, we’ll leave them off the top 10.
North Park – Despite their third place nationals finish, North Park took the biggest hit of all these squads in terms of graduation. Grant Blankenship, Tyler Nelson, Sean Burke, Erik Ek, Carl and Christian Gieseke, Peter Fredrickson, and Connaught Donnelly all graduated (See last year’s spotlight for context). They have a large group of athletic rookies, but they lack the disc skills and experience to make up for this strong graduating class.
St. Olaf – They lost a few key players to graduation, and various sources point to this being a rebuilding year for the Berzerkers.
This wouldn’t be a complete without a huge plug for DIII Warm Up. On February 9 and 10, Claremont and Carleton-GoP will be hosting a national DIII tournament in Riverside, CA. If you have any interest in DIII, I highly encourage you to follow along. The tournament will showcase three of the top four teams on this list. Finally, look for a special announcement concerning the tournament in the next week. I’ll give you a hint now though: The coverage of this tournament will feature something special that has never been done in any ultimate tournament before (including DI and Club).
That’s all for now. Check back in two weeks for the ranking set after DIII Warm Up!