Pitt, UCF Break Seed to Finals

by | May 26, 2013, 10:43pm 0

Oregon Ego vs. Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur

The first of two semifinals in the Open Division could not have given viewers a higher quality match up. It’s possible that a Carleton-Wisconsin regional rivalry would have provided some additional hype, but that rivalry is rooted in history and the contest we witnessed this evening included two of the most dominant clubs in recent memory. Pittsburgh was playing to defend the title they earned in 2012 and Oregon was seeking to continue climbing the national ladder after tying for fifth in 2011 and tying for third in 2012.

Ego jumped out to an early lead, going up a break and claiming the first two points. It was clear that they knew Pitt would not be quickly silenced and continued to pressure Pitt’s O-line, generating numerous turns but struggling to capitalize on those break opportunities. The rest of the first half was defined by inconsistent offense from both squads, long points, and long runs for each team. After Oregon took a 3-1 lead, Pitt was the first to go on a run, stealing 6 out of the next seven points from Ego and claiming a 7-4 lead.

Oregon got off to a fast start, but it wouldn't be enough to overcome the Pitt offense falling 14-11. Photo courtesy - Alex Fraser (Ultiphotos.com)

Oregon’s defense quickly made some adjustments, shutting down the dump options and forcing the Pitt O-line to throw more low percentage passes. Ego would go on a 3-0 run of their own before Pitt’s #21 Alex Thorne launched a full field huck to Callahan nominee #81 Tyler Degirolamo for half, 8-7.

In the second half both clubs brought an elevated level of intensity and physicality to their cuts and marks on every point. The #5 Aaron Honn and #81 Tyler Degirolamo match up was an ideal demonstration of this intensity as neither one ever got more than a yard of separation from the other. Every time the disc came their way the energy in the stands spiked, the crowd hoping for a spectacular full-extension D from the big fellas.

The two sides traded goals until the soft cap went on mid-point and Pitt fought for a break, taking a 12-9 lead in a game to 14. With the pressure on, senior #22 Camden Allison-Hall took a big shot to the end zone, throwing a huge bladey flick to a streaking #10 Dylan Freechild, bringing the game to 12-10. Although Freechild would add one more goal for Ego, they were not able to convert any more breaks. Pitt finished strong, winning the game 14-11 and eliminating Oregon from the title contention. En Sabah Nur will play in the championship game tomorrow at 2:30pm against the Central Florida Dogs of War.

Carleton CUT vs. Central Florida Dogs of War

For the first time ever, the Central Florida Dogs of War will be entering the D-I Open Finals, and all of that comes after taking down one of the most storied college teams in convincing fashion. In their semifinal game against Carleton CUT, they took the lead early and would only add onto it in route to a 15-8 victory. It wasn’t just the big players who came out to play against CUT, but the entire team, forcing Justin Norden, Simon Montague, Julian Childs-Walker and co. to make uncomfortable decisions that would cost them the game.

Jumping to that lead, it became obvious quick that while UCF was clicking, CUT was not. As CUT coach Phil Bowen said after the game, “the flow wasn’t there.” It wasn’t just that CUT was making more decisions with their hucks, it was that UCF was forcing the D. Before the game, Simon said that they were going to work the easy looks, and go for the reset if their first look was shutdown. It didn’t look like CUT was doing that at all though; instead it seemed more like forcing the disc down the field. With their first looks shutdown, they were then forced to move the disc to uncomfortable areas. By the end of the game, it seemed like a combination of both good UCF defense and CUT errors. It was clear that the CUT offense wasn’t working on all cylinders; some of their turns no matter the defense were clearly mental miscues including drops, poor throws and anything else. That UCF defense was all over the field, making plays, laying out and never giving up. Even late in the game, they didn’t stop grinding against CUT.

The conservative UCF offense was too much for the high-flying but also high risk CUT defense. Photo Courtesy - Alex Fraser (Ultiphotos.com)

For the UCF offense, it was the fact that they were more patient. The defense from CUT was no less spectacular than it had been all season – especially Simon Montague, there were a few highlight plays out of him alone. But it wasn’t enough, as UCF was able to reel in hucks, and capitalize quickly on any of the CUT turns. Unlike the other semifinal, in which we saw players wide open deep often, there were no uncontested deeps for either side. Instead it was UCF making the plays on offense, often grabbing it off a bidding Carleton defender. Even with Carleton trying zone, the UCF offense as able to work through it. Perhaps CUT was missing Nick Stuart, their strong senior who, after a big play during UNC-W, was forced out with an ankle injury on top of the hamstring that had been bothering him. The upbeat CUT sideline continued as the game went on, even down 11-5, but it wasn’t enough to make a difference.

For the Dogs of War, the team effort was apparent for the start. After the game while talking to Mischa Freystaetter and Jeremy Langdon about their victory, I made sure to tell them that even though they’d be the ones on camera, it was truly a team effort. Names that stuck out besides those two included Michael Hickson, Mike Ogren (of course), Daniel Jakob, but also two freshmen, Kyle Reedy and Tommy Hankin. They’ll need a similar game from the entire squad if they want to beat Pittsburgh. Credit also belongs to Coach Andrew Roca, whose strategy was a large part in this victory and the transformation at Central Florida. A big game awaits them tomorrow, with everything they’ve been working for all season long, on the line.

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