It was a busy and (somewhat) beautiful day in Milwaukee for the D3 Open Championships. For full results check out score reporter, but here is a round by round look at some of the results, along with players who looked good throughout the day, and some thoughts for tomorrow.
The Middlebury (C3) upset over Stevens Tech (C1) may be a bit understated in the video recap. Stevens mentioned a few times on the sideline that they usually come out slow on Saturday’s, but it didn’t look as close as the 15-10 score suggests for almost all of the game. The Pranksters were very patient and consistent with the disc on offense, while Stevens was looking for the huck immediately but not connecting. That proved to be the difference in this game.
While Georgia College (C4) didn’t quit against Carleton College GOP (C2), they couldn’t do enough to win that game or any other today. They seemed very spirited throughout the day though even with a short roster, and certainly made each team worry after they rattled off a break or two.
Brandeis (B3) would not qualify for the crossover games with a loss to North Park (B4), but they would play Amherst (B2) the closest all day long. The Amherst zone was run pretty much the entire day, and would force turns against impatient teams – as Brandeis proved to be.
Early in the day, it was the one seeds getting upset, and John Brown (D3) did just that to Wake Forest (D1). At the start of the game, WOMB was having problems holding a consistent force. This allowed John Brown to work the middle of the field very easily, and score with their O-line and D-line’s offense. John Brown would also throw a zone for most of the day, even though the wind didn’t pick up until the third round, and that proved troublesome for Wake Forest. The WOMB offense wasn’t stretching the field enough, and instead tried to force passes. This led to easy turns. But with tight lines by the short-staffed John Brown squad, they were noticeably tired. If Wake hadn’t had unforced errors at the end of the game, when they looked a lot more energetic, a win would’ve been entirely possible.
Puget Sound (A1) made defensive adjustments early against Lehigh (A3) that helped them win this game. Although they the lead changed a lot in this game until the UPS win at the end, the poachy on handlers and bracket on cutters was working wonders for the Postmen. At times this proved very suffocating for Lehigh’s offense. But when UPS had a few unsuccessful hucks, Lehigh was able to jump back into the game at times – including a 3-0 run.
Claremont (D2) had no answer to Wesleyan (D4). Wesleyan was able to switch between cuts underneath and deep cuts throughout the game. The Braineaters would end up losing this game, but towards the end showed more energy.
In the Bentley (A2) and Rice (A4) game, it was fairly close for a while. Both teams relied on the huck for a large portion of the game – and while it worked for Icehouse, Cloud 9 gave Bentley a lot of break opportunities. Some solid play from Bentley though allowed them to pull away from Rice, and win the game 13-9.
The game that I thought going into the round which would be most interesting was Middlebury vs. GOP. I figured with Middlebury beating Stevens, this game could decide the pool. But some first half miscues by GOP, what the Middlebury coach called unlucky, helped give the Pranksters a bit of a cushion going into the second half and made the game a bit less interesting. As the wind picked up, this game especially became an upwind/downwind battle, and that would end up being the difference for Middlebury. GOP was never truly out of the game though, showing their talent and skill to get a break or two back in the second half. A late stall bailout huck finished with a layout grab sealed the game for Middlebury in the end though.
Early in the Puget Sound vs. Rice game, it looked like Rice would keep it close. But tired legs, and that UPS defense, would prevail.
The difference for Wake Forest against Wesleyan was their man defense. While Claremont struggled to control the Wesleyan offense, WOMB forced turns with a very strong man defense – especially the marks. With the hard marks, Wesleyan was forcing throws up the sideline. They had no opportunities for breaks, and the tight window throws gave Wake Forest a lot of break chances in their win.
John Brown would play another close game thanks to their zone defense, this time against Claremont. They were notably tired towards the end of the game again on offense, not generating cuts at times, but the Braineaters also noticeably stepped up their man defense this game as well.
For a quick second, it looked like Georgia College could upset Stevens Tech. But the mixture of tired bodies, and a zone defense from Stevens that was generating a lot of turns, would pull the upset out from under them.
Lehigh played another close game, this time against Bentley. At the end of the game, Bentley was able to pull away though to take a 15-11 victory. A mixture of a solid defense from Bentley, their hucks connecting, and fatigue among Lehigh led to the Icehouse win.
Middlebury would go on to win their pool this round after beating Georgia College. Noticeable from the Pranksters was their junk defense. The focus wasn’t there after the defense generated a turn to score on every break opportunity, causing some frustration among them, but was clearly a very effective defense for them.
Wake Forest dominated Claremont in all aspects in route to a 15-6 win. It looked like another energy-less game for the Braineaters. This made the outcome of the Wesleyan vs. John Brown game a lot more interesting, as a John Brown win would knock Claremont out of Championship contention while a loss would keep them (John Brown) out instead. Ironfist looked very tired again this game, yet continued to run zone. With a lead at the end of the game, their choice to throw zone on defensive points meant any break chances left a tired line that made a few mental mistakes. This, and the fact that Claremont had joined the sideline to cheer for Wesleyan, helped swing the game away from a John Brown win. Like Georgia College, John Brown was a very spirited team – not only from my observations, but their opponents made a point of telling me that as well. I count no seniors on their roster, so look for Ironfist to come back next year with hopefully deeper lines and a sound strategy.
While Puget Sound vs. Bentley was close for a while, in the end Puget Sound pulled away to win – with the same thing they did in the previous three rounds, hard defense. Zone from Icehouse seemed to give the Postmen offense a bit of trouble at first, but by the end of the game Coach Adam Lerman and co. had it figured out.
Every team was noticeably very tired this round. The wind was also probably at its highest of the entire day during this round, which coupled with the tired play made for some frustrating games to watch.
The Lehigh vs. Wesleyan game was one of these games. Lehigh squeaked out a win against Rice during the last round of pool play to get here, so I figured they’d be very tired against Wesleyan. Both teams were though, and the game was very turn heavy. At the end, Lehigh pulled away from Wesleyan – while I didn’t see the end of this game, they must’ve found some more energy in tank, as they advanced into quarterfinals.
Stevens Tech was up on the North Park Lost Boys 6-1 at one point during their pre-quarters game. But they let North Park right back into the game, and would only win the game 15-11 to advance to quarterfinals – that’s quite the lead to squander. During their fault, the Stevens sideline got very chippy with each other, but they ultimately pulled it together to win the game.
During the first half of the Bentley vs. Claremont game, Icehouse was able to pull away during long points in the later part of the half. These were long points filled with unforced and forced errors and cramping on both sides. This lead to an 8-5 lead over the Braineaters for Bentley.
I spend most of the first half of this round watching GOP vs. Harding. While GOP was making a lot of unforced errors, Rhys Lindmark was being Rhys Lindmark a lot during the first half and making plays on both sides of the disc. You’ll notice that he’s the first name I’ve dropped in this recap so far. That’s because without some of the plays he made that first half, it looked for sure that Harding would’ve ran away with this one. During this first half, Harding was not able to connect on their deep shots while GOP was. Before half though, Harding had a 7-6 lead that they soon squandered to GOP, letting the defending champs take half 8-7. As soon as half hit, I left to travel across the complex to find out what was going on in the other three games.
While wondering across, I got sucked into the second half of the Icehouse vs. Braineaters game. Down 8-5 out of half, Claremont would rattle off 5 straight points. There were plenty of times that they generated break chances, but Bentley also made a lot of unforced mistakes – such as throwing the disc way behind the wide open cutter. For Claremont on offense, they were dominating the sky and that proved to be the difference – especially the ginormous sky to break for the 9-8 lead. After they grabbed the lead, it was all forced turns from the Claremont defense. The had the energy, and they would beat Bentley 11-9.
As soon as the game ended, I ran over to the end of the Carleton and Harding game. While I was gone, GOP had a 12-9 lead at one point during this game. Harding was able to come back into the game though through some very long points that saw a lot of players on both sides (but especially Harding) go down with cramping. Harding simply outlasted GOP during these long points. After a toe-in score by Harding shortly after hard cap went off to make it 12 all, GOP was receiving the disc with a chance to win the game. GOP got the disc to about 5 yards outside of the endzone, and had a player open on the force side. But a combination of the disc being thrown too far in front of the receiver, and fatigue resulted in an incomplete pass as the disc bounced off of the bidding player’s hands. Harding would shortly after huck the disc, and while it looked like the GOP player made the play and they’d get another shot, the Harding player called foul. In my opinion, it was not only a questionable foul call but a questionable ruling by the observer to give Harding the disc on the end line. Harding would shortly after punch the disc in off of an upline cut, knocking off the defending champion GOP. Yes it was a questionable call, but that doesn’t change the fact that GOP had a 3 point lead with little time remaining, and a 12-11 lead shortly before soft cap went off.
Here’s a short list of players that I felt deserved recognition for their solid play throughout the day. Note to teams: There were others who I only caught the numbers of that I didn’t include in this list, mostly because the numbers didn’t match up.
From Amherst College, #22 Lock Whitney seemed to be running the show on their offense. He was steady all day long for Amherst, as they went undefeated and are looking to advance past Claremont in quarterfinals.
From North Park, #45 Reese Samin was crucial for any break chances the Lost Boys defense was presented with.
On GOP, both #9 Brandon Taitt and #90 Sam Rosenberg were working hard on both sides of the disc and were good compliments to Lindmark.
John Brown played tight lines, and it was clear that #20 Aric Powers and #35 Andrew Goode were big off their zone’s turns.
For Bentley, #77 Alex Foo was all over the place. I saw him make plays defensively, but also throw monster hucks off of the turn. In every Bentley game I watched, I have a note to talk about him, that’s how noticeable his play was.
Middlebury’s Jeff Hetzel (#1) was a very balanced and consistent thrower for their offense. He had the throws that were needed to get past the defenses they faced today – especially GOP’s. #2 Andrew O’Connor, only a sophomore, played very well as the team dropped some close games – but was also able to move onto quarterfinals.
For Steven’s, two Hammerheads players, #5 Andrew Misthos and #82 Marques Brownlee helped guide the team through their early lack of energy into second place in their pool, and into the quarterfinals.
After a first round loss, #13 Jay Sehgal and #18 Ismael Salgado helped lead Wake Forest Womb into a quarterfinals appearance.
Harding’s #28 Taren Goins and #10 Gregg Downing helped lead a solid squad.
On number one seed Puget Sound #21, #22, #23 and #44.
And lastly for Claremont, #34 Alex Gruver made some big plays in their pre-quarters game that allowed them to move onto the next round.
Look for Puget Sound to dispatch Harding, and the winner of Stevens Tech vs. Wake Forest. Their defense looked to be too much for their opponents today.
Amherst and Claremont should be a very interesting game for this round, and the winner will get a challenge in a Middlebury team that is turning heads.
The 2 hour bye in between semi-finals and the finals will allow for much needed rest on both sides. As said, teams today were exhausted by the later rounds. Hopefully the bye means that won’t happen in the finals.