It seems to have become commonplace for magazines like SI and ESPN The Magazine to immediately release a preview of next season following any title game. I expect the 2013-2014 NHL preview by Thursday. Anyway, these previews are fun not only just for speculation but also because they give fans an idea of what to look forward to next season. I felt like it was long past time for someone to prophesize about what the 2014 College Open season will look like, as well as make some highly questionable pre-rankings.
Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur
Key Departures: Tyler Degirolamo, Alex Thorne, Isaac Saul, Zack Kauffman, Michael Brenner, Ethan Beardsley
Key Returners: Max Thorne, Pat Earles, Marcus Ranii-Dropcho, Aaron Watson, Trent Dillon
Pittsburgh has arguably the most significant roster turnover in the nation. They lose every member of their starting O-line other than Max Thorne and Pat Earles/Aaron Watson. Saul, Brenner, and Kauffman were all fantastic distributors, and the loss of Degirolamo and Thorne can’t be overstated enough. Both were superstar players, players that teams would HAVE to plan for ahead of time if they even hoped to contain them. Even then it almost always wasn’t enough. Their departure will certainly be difficult for Pitt to overcome, but they still have a very strong junior class as well as some great seniors. Max Thorne, Pat Earles, Trent Dillon, Joe Bender, and Christian Pitts will all need to take larger roles, Thorne/Earles on offense and Bender/Pitts on defense. Trent Dillon is a bit more interesting. While he exclusively played D this year, he certainly has all the tools to be a dominant O-liner. We’ll see what Coach Nick Kaczmarek elects to do with him next season. Marcus Ranii-Dropcho will most likely anchor the D-line with fantastic handler movement, while Aaron Watson has started on both O and D in the past two years. Just like Trent, his skill set is diverse, and we’ll see how Kaczmareck utilizes him in 2014. The experience he gains from playing on the 2013 NexGen Tour will certainly help in his campaign to become Pitt’s best player.
Central Florida Dogs of War
Key Departures: Michael Hickson, Daniel Jakob, Matt Carlson
Key Returners: Mischa Freystatter, Mike Ogren, Jeremy Langdon, John Best, Alex Bullock
Central Florida returns almost every important piece from 2013, with the exception of Callahan nominee Michael Hickson. Although his 6’5” presence will certainly be missed, Central Florida is otherwise going to be the same team albeit with finals experience. Best and Bullock will form one of the best handling tandems in the nation on offense, while Ogren and Langdon will the potent d-line. And of course, who could forget about Mischa Freystatter? The behemoth will continue to be one of the most athletic (and tallest) players in the country. Freystatter also has dramatically improved his throws over the past couple years, adding break throws and even hucks to his repertoire. Of course, it does help when you don’t have to throw a high-release to throw over the mark. With the trio of Best, Ogren, and Freystatter all returning for their fifth-year of eligibility, Central Florida is my extremely early pick to win it all next year.
Key Departures: Camden Allison-Hall, Topher Davis, Charlie Wilson-Moses, Tyler Cable, Aaron Honn
Key Returners: Dylan Freechild, Ian Campbell, Gabe Fruchter, Trevor Smith, Brian Penner
I’m extremely interested by what Oregon will look like next year. While they return several key pieces, including Callahan winner Dylan Freechild, the rest of the roster in up in the air. Rumors are circulating that Aaron Honn is studying abroad for the duration of the 2013-2014 school year. If true, Honn’s absence will be felt throughout the collegiate ultimate world. Honn is one of the best pure athletes in at this level in the country, as well as having a fantastic knowledge of the game. Without him (and the graduating Camden Allison-Hall), Oregon will most likely have to rely less on the deep game, instead focusing on quick handler movement between Freechild, Smith, and Campbell. I say “most likely”, because Oregon is returning another talented big man, Gabe Fruchter, for the 2014 season. While not as built as Honn, Fruchter’s height and ups make him an appealing deep target, and we’ll see if he can pick up some of the slack left by Honn in 2014. On defense, Topher Davis is a noticeable loss. Davis’ huge bids and great deep throws opened up the field for the Ego defense. However, Rhino teammate Brian Penner will return for his fifth year of eligibility, generating Ds with his monster layouts.
Key Departures: Simon Montague, Justin Norden, Julian Child-Walker, Nick Stuart, David Long, Will Herold
Key Returners: John Raynolds, Justin Lim, Jonah Herscu, Galen Ryan, James Adams
If I were ranking the hardest graduating class to replace for next year, CUT would be third on that list (behind Pitt and UCF). Every senior mentioned above was a huge contributor to the team’s success, and the losses of Montague, Stuart, and JCW can’t be overstated enough. Along with being the three best players on CUT, they also were fantastic leaders, a quality that may be even tougher to replace than talent. CUT rode the Montague-Stuart connection to the finals of Stanford Invite this year, with Montague’s pinpoint hucks finding Stuart after burning his man deep (or vise-versa). If Stuart was healthy for nationals this year who knows what CUT could have done? This is not to say that 2014 will be a down year for CUT; it simply means that some players will have to step up. While CUT this year was certainly more star-driven than in past years (with Montague/Stuart doing most of the heavy lifting), next year’s model will have to go back to their patented, systematic offense, relying less on the big play and more on wearing down teams with smart, crisp throws. Justin Lim will most likely be center handler on O, while Galen Ryan and James Adams will be great cutting threats. Adams in particular will take a much larger role after gaining vital club experience on Subzero this summer. There also remains the question of handler Jonah Herscu. What will his role be after missing the 2013 spring season studying abroad? Last year he and Norden were a great handling duo on O; we’ll see if he and Lim will continue in 2014. There’s also been talk that John Stubbs, recently named U23 and Chain Lightning player, will be attending Carleton. If true, chalk up another top 5 recruiting class for CUT.
Key Departures: Brian Hart, Dayu Liu, Andrew Meshnick, Thomas Coolidge, Tanner Marshall, Kelsen Alexander
Key Returners: Colin Camp, Jordan O’Neill, Ben Rehmann, Kyle Geppert, Nick Zemen
Wisconsin, although perhaps not to the extent of Pitt, has (to me) the fourth most significant roster turnover in the nation. The first and most obvious loss is that of Callahan nominee Brian Hart. Hart was a superstar, and it’s a shame that he injured himself on the first point against CUT at natties. Wisconsin sorely could have used him in their prequarters game against UC-Davis. In addition to Hart, Wisconsin loses perhaps their best handler defender in Coolidge, as well as center handler Liu. They’ll also miss Meshnick, who although was only on the team a year dominated the stat sheet at nationals (5 goals, 9 assists, 9 d’s). Luckily for the Hodags, Mr. 8-Goal himself Colin Camp will be returning for his fifth and final year of eligibility. With so many important distributors graduating, Camp will most likely facilitate the offense, looking to do damage with his throws instead of his athleticism (although that’s always a threat). Jordan O’Neil, another fifth year, will be a great deep target for Camp’s hucks. On the defensive side the Hodags are always athletic and intense, and next year will be no different. Look for Ben Rehmann to lead the d-line and generate breaks with pinpoint hucks.
North Carolina Darkside
Key Departures: Tristan Green, Marshall Ward, Justin Moore
Key Returners: Christian Johnson, Jonathan Nethercutt, Ben Snell, Jacob Mouw, Jimmy Zuraw, Charlie Shaffner
I’m going to say it right now; based purely on returning talent, Darkside has to be right next to UCF for favorites to win the National title next year. Although Callahan nominee Tristan Green and center handler Marshall Ward will be tough to replace, UNC returns almost every other valuable contributor from their fantastic regular season this year. Christian Johnson will almost certainly be one of the best players in the nation, as well as Jonathan Nethercutt, while who often is overshadowed by Johnson’s big plays is just as if not more important to Darkside’s success. Nethercutt marshals the D-line with great efficiency, as well as going in on O if they need him. Truckstop player Ben Snell is also a huge contributor who returns for his senior year. A fantastic break-thrower, Snell may become the center O-line handler, finding Johnson whenever and wherever he has a bit of space. Add to that Mouw and Zuraw (athletic O-line cutters), Shaffner (often guards the best player that Nethercutt isn’t guarding), and several elite sophomores (including 2013 freshman of the year Aaron Warshauer), and UNC is primed to make a run at the championship.
North Carolina Wilmington Seamen*
Key Departures: Tommy Lamar, Trueman Nottingham, Mark Evans, Robert Goode
Key Returners: Luke Hancock, Nick Jackson, Xavier Maxstadt
UNCW didn’t get back to me about who is returning for their fifth year. Consequently it’s really tough to do a preview on them. In many ways, UNCW’s 2014 roster situation is very similar to Texas and Colorado. If either Tommy Lamar or Robert Goode return it completely changes what the team will look like (just as with Driscoll/Bennett for TUFF and Mickle/Morrissy for Mamabird). Lamar’s steady hand on offense and Goode’s athleticism make them both elite players, and to return either (or both) would be fantastic for the Seamen. If not, the team will look to Xavier Maxstadt and Luke Hancock to take the reins in a region that will almost surely be dominated by a veteran UNC team.
Key Departures: Piers MacNoughton, Misha Herscu, Allen He
Key Returners: Mark Vandenberg, Josh Fries, William Dean, Jeremy Nixon
Again, Harvard never got back to me about their 2014 fifth year players. We know for certain that New England Player of the Year Piers MacNoughton won’t be returning, having finished his 5 years of eligibility. Although losing your best player is tough for any team, MacNoughton leaves behind a promising young team. Now-Sophomore Mark Vandenberg had a fantastic nationals, finishing
with 5 goals and 16 assists. He and fellow O-line handler Josh Fries will disorient teams with their stellar movement, while Jeremy Nixon makes big plays downfield. If Misha Herscu returns for a fifth year (fresh off a club season with Ironside), this team will be formidable.
Minnesota Grey Duck
Key Departures: Greg Arenson, Dave Eddy
Key Returners: Josh Klane, Jason Tschida, Reese Hornnes
Grey Duck has a very strong now-senior class, led by Jason “Fatty” Tschida and Reese Hornnes. Although Hornnes sat out the entire 2013 season with a torn ACL, he is an extremely fast deep-cutter with ups. He and Tschida will captain Grey Duck, along with U23 world’s player Josh Klane. These three will make Grey Duck’s offensive line one of the best in the nation, despite the losses of Greg Arenson and Dave Eddy. The oft-criticized Arenson, despite his faults, was a fantastic player and will be tough to replace. “Twinkletoes” Klane and Tschida will gain even more elite experience this summer playing for Subzero. We’ll see if Grey Duck can get back to Nationals after a disappointing end to their 2013 season.
Key Departures: None
Key Returners: Josh Johnson, Brandon Lafferty, Trent Erickson, Matthias Broner
Luther had no seniors on its 2013 team. None whatsoever. That’s ridiculous, and just shows how strong this Luther team was. Clearly, there is nowhere to go but up, and “up” in this context means being a team that wins games at nationals rather than simply qualifying. Luther certainly expects to compete next year, and with everything-man Josh Johnson captaining the team, don’t put it past them to make it deep into the tourney next year.
Key Departures: Jimmy Mickle, Tim Morrissy, Jackson Kloor, James Mitchell, Hidde Snieder
Key Returners: Pawal Janas, Zach Nager
Like UNCW, Colorado is one of the teams that didn’t let me know who’s coming back and who isn’t. Thus, I’m not sure if NexGen/U-23 players Mickle and Morrissy will be back for their fifth years. If they return, Mamabird will be a completely different team than if they do not. Both are superstars, players who affect the game anytime they step on the field. Mamabird would certainly love to have them back in 2014. A few things are more certain. Defensive stalwarts Kloor and Mitchell will not be coming back, having both finished their fifth years. Both were capable defenders, often matching up on the other team’s top players. Returning for Mama is center O-line handler Pawal Janas. Janas has every throw in the book, and if Morrissy and Mickle do not return for their fifth years, Mama will need Janas to use just about every one.
Key Departures: Duncan Linn, Jordan Listo, Matt Bricker-Mounts
Key Returners: Khalif El-Salaam, Kyle Steen, Julian Peterson
Washington also didn’t inform me as to their seniors’ plans for next year, but this poses less of a problem than it did for UNCW and Colorado. While Sockeye player Duncan Linn will be tough to replace*, Khalif El-Salaam and Julian Peterson are more than up to the task of keeping the Sundodgers running smoothly. Washington has been on a bit of a run lately, making Nationals the last 3 years. El Salaam and Peterson will be hoping to continue the trend in 2014.
Key Departures: Peter Clarke
Key Returners: Will Driscoll, Mitchell Bennett, Chris Brooks, Trey LeMastres*
Word is that Will Driscoll and Mitchell Bennett will be returning to TUFF for their fifth year of eligibility. This gets TUFF primed for another deep run at Nationals. Almost all of TUFF’s other essential pieces are returning (Trey LeMastres is rumored to be, also). The 2014 incarnation of TUFF will have to depend less on Driscoll to carry the load and instead turn to their other veterans, such as d-line stalwart Chris Brooks, if they want to make it past quarterfinals at nationals. Not that Driscoll can’t carry the load; he will almost certainly once again be one of the best players in the college game. But one player can only do so much. Bennett, Brooks, and LeMastres* will do whatever they can to share the load.
Key Departures: Bennett Wachob
Key Returners: Jason Silverman, Rob Brice, Bobby Ley
Florida is primed to finally return to Nationals in 2014, returning all of their major contributors. Bobby Ley is amongst the best at the collegiate level, while Silverman and Brice bring strong leadership as well as consistency to a Florida squad that has seen a shift in mindset over the past few years. Gone are the days of Gibson, Gehret, Brodie, and Sullivan, days when the offense would rely on the best player to make the plays to win games. While Ley certainly can make those plays, the Florida of today is much more team-oriented, preferring to win by committee instead of on the shoulders of a giant. We’ll see if the new mindset pays of for a veteran squad in 2014.
Key Departures: Sean Ham, Alex Smith,
Key Returners: Brice Dixon, Ben Lacy, Nolan Schmalenberger, Jacob Lien
The first thing to notice about Arizona is that their Callahan nominee, Brice Dixon, will be returning to Sunburn for a fifth year. This is a huge boost for a team that is losing valuable contributors Sean Ham, Alex Smith, and Tom McClintock. Ham is an especially tough loss, as his aerial superiority and great deep cuts will be hard to replace. However, Dixon was the cog that ran the ‘Zona d-line this year, and with other returning fifth year Jacob Lien on the O-line, Sunburn will have capable leaders on both sides of the disc.
Key Departures: Ben Hubbard, Patrick Lahey, Marcelo Sanchez
Key Returners: Elijah Kerns, Nathan White, Benjamin Souvey, Kevin Liantono
Elijah Kerns, Davis star and recent NexGen addition, will return to Davis for his senior season. Although many of his main targets, including Hubbard and Lahey, won’t be back, Kerns has plenty of other athletic targets to throw to. Nathan White and Benjamin Souvey will attempt to fill the void left by the departing upperclassmen, while Kerns will do his best to have a repeat year of 2013, where the Dogs defied all expectations and defeated Wisconsin on its way to a quarterfinals finish.
Florida State DUF
Key Departures: Jordan Huston, Ben Stringer, Corey Logan
Key Returners: Chris LaRocque, Andrew Roney, Connor Holcombe
Florida State by-and-large was a faceless army this year, but luckily for them their best (and most well-know) player Chris LaRocque will be returning for his senior year. In addition to making spectacular highlight reel plays, LaRocque also dominates the stat sheet for DUF, finishing with 8 goals, 15 assists, and 9 d’s in only 5 games at 2013 nationals. A potential 2014 Callahan competitor, DUF will most likely rely on him to generate big plays and run the offense.
Key Departures: Adam Salwen, Nick Thompson, Ryan Sturm
Key Returners: Jake Stevelman, Daniel Wekstein, Walter Kai, Jordan Diamond
Ever since Cornell’s 2010 semifinals run at nationals, they have been somewhat of a faceless army. Lots of good, fast, and experienced players, but no superstars like the 2010 Buds had with Jon Hirschberger. They may have found that superstar in captain Jake Stevelman, a handler that dominates touches for the Buds on offense. Cornell will most likely follow Stevelman to their umpteenth consecutive nationals, and (the Buds hope) possibly more.
Key Departures: Mitch Cihon, Connor Haley
Key Returners: ?
Of their 20 Man Roster at Nationals, 7 were seniors and 4 were grad students, meaning that Ohio may be losing more than half their team. This is especially devastating when the leaders in stats at 2013 Nationals will be gone. Cihon and Haley were fantastic players, and more or less impossible to replace. Cihon especially has been an Ohio institution for what seems like decades. Ohio Ultimate could be in for a rough 2014.
Dartmouth Pain Train*
Key Departures: Ian Engler, Daniel Rosengard, Matthew Heffley
Key Returners: Spencer Diamond, Daniel Harris, Arthur Bledsoe
It’s the end of an era at Dartmouth, as Captain Ian Engler is finally graduating. His stoic presence on offense will surely be missed, in addition to his leadership, which was instrumental in their surprise quarterfinals finish at nationals. Although many of these qualities will be nigh impossible to replace, Pain Train still maintains a fantastic core of players, led by the fantastic Spencer Diamond. Diamond can do it all; cut, handle, play D, and lead. While it will be difficult for Pain Train to duplicate their 2013 Nationals success, Diamond and the very underrated Daniel Harris will do all they can to surpass it.
Key Departures: Robby Perkins-High, Adrian Banerji
Key Returners: Gene Buonaccorsi, Carter Thallon, Tyler Chan, Eric Shaw
After a disappointing game-to-go loss to Dartmouth finished Tufts’ 2013 season, the E-Men will be back in force hoping to make their hiatus from nationals a one year anomaly. Leading this campaign will be All-Region 1st team player Gene Buonacrcorsi and 2nd team players Tyler Chan and Carter Thallon. Thallon was just named to Rhino’s 2013 roster, where he will surely improve his already solid game. In addition to these three impact players, Tufts returns center o-line handler Eric Shaw, whose great throws in the wind kept the E-men in the game against Dartmouth. Although Tufts showed flashes of brilliance in 2013 (making it to semis at the Stanford Invite), they’ll look to peak later in the season (regionals) in 2014.
Key Departures: Max Leonard, Javid Aceil
Key Returners: Elliot Erickson
The one consolation for Georgia is that Elliot Erickson will be returning. Other than that, there isn’t much good news. Erickson is injury-prone, sitting for all of 2013 Nationals. He isn’t much use if he can’t play. Georgia also loses Max Leonard and Javid Aceil, two players who led the team in stats at Nationals. Georgia was very grad-student heavy this past year, with eight on their roster. With such significant turnover, Erickson and company have a lot of work to do in 2014.
Key Departures: Jacob Janin
Key Returners: Ethan Parrish, Brennan Johnson
Jacob Janin, Rhino/NexGen star, is finally graduating. While Janin’s athleticism and knowledge of the game will be nigh impossible to replace, captain Ethan Parrish will lead the team in his stead. He and sophomore Brennan Johnson will try to guide a young, speedy team back to the Promised Land.
*My apologies if any of this information is inaccurate. The teams indicated with an asterisk didn’t get back to me on their departing seniors, so I went off of score reporter, the Nationals event guide, and hearsay for the info.
|Most Significant Roster Turnover||Super Preemptive 2014 Pre-Rankings|
|1. Ohio*||1. Central Florida|
|2. Pittsburgh||2. North Carolina|
|3. Carleton||3. Oregon*|
|4. Colorado*||4. Texas|
|5. Wisconsin||5. Minnesota|
|6. Oregon*||6. Wisconsin|
|7. Georgia||7. Pittsburgh|
|8. UNCW*||8. Carleton|
|9. Minnesota||9. Tufts|
|11. Whitman||11. Dartmouth*|
|12. Harvard*||12. Luther|
|13. Washington*||13. Harvard*|
|14. Florida State||14. Colorado*|
|15. Dartmouth*||15. Florida State|
|16. Central Florida||16. Cal-Davis|
|17. Arizona||17. Arizona|
|18. North Carolina||18. Georgia|
|19. Cal-Davis||19. Cornell|
|20. Cornell||20. UNCW*|
|21. Texas||21. Washington*|
|22. Florida||22. Whitman|
|23. Luther||23. Ohio*|
|*Assuming all Seniors Graduate|
Feature Photo by Daniel Tjiow (Ultiphotos.com)