A Shakespearean Final Act

by | May 26, 2013, 11:46pm 0

The final game of the 2013 season features two teams that have been favored to reach this point all season long – the defending Champion Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur, and Central Florida Dogs of War. Both have only one loss on the weekend, and both looked dominant in their semifinal match-up to reach this game.

We know what Pittsburgh brings to the table. The play of Callahan-nominee Tyler Degirolamo, the throws of Alex Thorne, the defense of Trent Dillon and others make up a strong Pittsburgh squad that has re-tooled from the players that graduated after last year. During the spring, it was sometimes questioned if Pittsburgh would be able to reach this point. Bowing out during Warm Up, Stanford Invite and Easterns brought these questions about, because they didn’t look as dominant as last year’s En Sabah Nur did during the regular season. That was a team that was seen happily running sprints after winning Easterns. This wasn’t that team, they weren’t leaving the tournaments with any trophies. This team experimented with lineups throughout the year, and made use of every game to improve, yet still questions remained if a repeat was possible. But those questions have now been answered – Pittsburgh doesn’t need tournament wins in the regular season to show how good they truly are, they just need this weekend.

Tyler Degirolamo has been the cornerstone of Pitt's success. It will need to continue against high-powered UCF. Photo Courtesy - Alex Fraser (Ultiphotos.com)

What about the Central Florida Dogs of War? Until the series, it was unclear how they would stack up against the top teams over the course of a weekend. At much of the same tournaments as Pitt, UCF lost focus and control in many of their games, costing their team chances at victories even in consolation games during the season.

On score reporter, there is a quote on the UCF page: “Cry havoc and let loose the Dogs of War.”

The Shakespearean quote couldn’t be any truer, as since those tournaments, UCF has taken the spoils in front of them at the command of their coach and captains, with the weapons of mental toughness, a fast-paced offense, and a hardworking defense now loose against any team that challenges them. And it isn’t only the top players performing for UCF at this point of the game. During their final pool play game, in which many of those top players were walking around in sneakers, their lesser-known players were still diving for every disc, running their offense against a hard-working Ohio team, and most importantly keeping each other in the game even late. The dogs have been let loose, and at the rate they’re going no one will be able to catch up.

The two teams have met twice before this season. At Florida Warm Up, they first met late on Saturday and Pittsburgh edged out the victory 13-11. Again that weekend they would play the third place game with Pitt taking the victory 13-7. As UCF Coach Andrew Roca told me after their game at Dartmouth, they are a much stronger team mentally now and I believe that could be the difference this time. Pittsburgh, on the other hand seems much more focused themselves. They have the confidence they need, and they know that a victory here is more than possible.

When I talked to Pitt Coach Nick Kaczmarek after the second semifinal, he stressed that Pitt had to be prepared for the thletic and well coached Central Florida team. He mentioned looking for match-ups that could suit their players on either side of the disc. Meanwhile, UCF’s Roca and Freystaetter recognized how well these two teams match-up to each other (especially in size), and how excited they were to just be in this game. They also noted that having met them twice this season, and three times the season before, they were very familiar with this team.

With familiarity between the two sides and the vast resources now available, we should see a strategic battle between two of the best coaches in the college game. If you listened to the ESPN broadcast, you would’ve heard the announcers compare Kaczmarek to New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick. If he’s Belichick, does that make Roca one of the Harbaughs? Either way, what they cook up for their respective team’s offense and defense should be very interesting. Today we saw one coach limit the effect of Dylan Freechild and company, while the other stifled a strong CUT squad into submission.

When the game is said and done, and the teams each depart Madison, only one will be a champion and crown their season a success. But both have accomplished something – both have built upon what they established in the spring, and improved greatly upon that. If they hadn’t, they wouldn’t be at this point. Only one will be a champion, the other disappointed like the 18 other teams that have already been eliminated; but without a doubt, both have earned the right to play for the championship in front of the stadium and its crowd, ESPN, and whoever else is tuning in.

Feature photo by Alex Fraser – UltiPhotos.com

Comments Policy: At Skyd, we value all legitimate contributions to the discussion of ultimate. However, please ensure your input is respectful. Hateful, slanderous, or disrespectful comments will be deleted. For grammatical, factual, and typographic errors, instead of leaving a comment, please e-mail our editors directly at editors [at] skydmagazine.com.