The 2014 College Tour and this recap presented by Spin Ultimate.
Snowmageddon wreaked havoc on east coast flights, knocking Cornell and Brown out of the running earlier than expected. The two Cornell players fortunate enough to make it to San Diego juggled tangerines and loopily paced the sidelines all day with a local alum. Vermont managed to finagle a skeleton crew of 11 via early flights, although a winless day meant that they will have little to show for their visit other than the presumably horrendous sunburns.
The weather was perfect for those that did make it. Save for some light mid-day wind, weather hovered around the mid-70’s and created ideal conditions for ultimate.
Colorado (4-0), Cal-Berkeley (3-1), and Cal-Davis (2-2) advance to power pools.
All eyes were on Colorado Mamabird after early season success propelled them to #2 in Skyd’s College Power Rankings. Mamabird ran virtually the same seven on offense for the entire game, and Jimmy Mickle, Hidde Snieder, Tim Morrissey, Jeremy Harker, Mark Rauls, Matt Bubernak, and Pete Gleason gave coach Jim Schoettler little reason to mix things up. UC Davis put Eli Kerns and Nate White on defense against Jimmy Mickle with some success. Kerns earned a handblock while White scored a deep D. The story for Davis, however, was their inability to punch in scores on the goal line. Time after time, in this game and against Cal-Berkeley, their defense would patiently move the disc up the field only the turn it on a drop or have a throwaway. Colorado very nearly went down 13-12 after turning the disc five yards from their own end zone, and went 70 yards for the final break to win 14-12 after a Davis player bobbled a simple endzone clap catch.
The story of Pool A, however, was Cal-Berkeley’s polish. Ugmo utilized leading, upfield dump throws to open up space for quick handler cuts. Those handlers were virtually flawless on hucks from power position. Andy Smith ripped huck after beautiful huck from as a defensive handler, and Chuck Cao showed an uncommon polish that would have made him a prime candidate for NexGen 2014. Cal’s suffocating trap zone kept it close early against Colorado, but Mamabird seemed to kick it into another athletic gear in this game after sleepwalking through the first three matchups. Pawel Janas scored the last of three straight breaks into halftime with one of the most hellacious sprints and shoulder-high layouts that I have seen in my decade plus of ultimate.
Oregon (4-0), Washington (3-1), and San Diego State (2-2) advance to power pools.
So, Dylan Freechild is here, and Khalif El-Salaam is here, and they are guarding each other. And yet it was pretty obvious that they were both holding something back. This had every bit the feel of two superstars biding their time and keeping a poker face until the elimination brackets. Oregon is a pretty young team but has the polish and confidence of a contender. Gabe Fruchter has stepped up to fill the large body role of Aaron Honn, yet it’s clear that the team misses the powerful deep defense and bailout options of the expat. Ego should easily make the finals of this tournament on the back of their suffocating man defense and all-around hilarity of the break bucket.
UCSD (4-0), Las Positas (3-1), and Oklahoma (2-2) advance to Sunday power pools.
UCSD showed few signs of struggle in its undefeated Saturday. The team is coached by an all-star trio of Air Squid alums who ensured that the team stayed disciplined. UCSD has a well balanced lineup of quick handlers and strong, athletic bigs that managed to snag several errant hucks when wind picked up during the fourth round of play. The final game, against LPC, showcased several club veterans of Mischief and Streetgang in a back-and-forth affair that UCSD pulled out 13-10. Savvy handling from Sonny Zaccaro and lockdown defense and overall aerial prowess from Robert Madden in earlier rounds ensured that LPC would move on to power pools.
Technically, UCLA broke seed by winning its final game against Vermont. Smaug, however, squandered a five point lead against Oklahoma in its second game and gave up a 6-1 run in the second half to lose against LPC after leading at halftime. Inspired play from captains Nils Clauson (out for the rest of the tournament with a dislocated ring finger), Jeff Forman, and Andrew Padula kept games close, but Smaug will drop to consolation pools wondering what could have been.
UBC (3-0), Arizona (1-2), and UCSB (1-2) advance to Sunday power pools. Whitman (1-2) relegated on point differential.
UBC couldn’t have been happier to escape 24 degree Vancouver weather, according to captain Keane Knapp. They promptly celebrated by rolling their pool against Arizona, Whitman, and UCSB. The opening round matchup against northwest rivals Whitman, won 15-10, showcased UBC’s quickness mismatch. Thunderbird cutters separated from their defenders via lightning fast first steps while the Sweets at times struggled to set up unders with exaggerated deep cuts. UBC debuted a 3-3-1 zone at times, playing man on handlers with a three-man wall in the middle and one deep. UBC’s athletic mismatch culminated in several outstanding defensive plays from a variety of players, most notably Fred Lam’s skying grab over the backs of two Whitman defenders and Peter Yu’s layout D on a Sweets in-cut. Neither team connected well early on deep shots, but savvy handler movement and professional backhand breaks from Knapp gave the Thunderbirds a cushion they never relinquished.
On the adjacent field, UCSB took on Arizona. Arizona brought a small crew of 14 to the tournament and became early favorites for the “Most Perplexing Cheer of the Year” award, chanting “Where are my raisins? Twooooooo scoooooops.” Sunburn utilized counter handler movement quite effectively in this game, throwing horizontal dump passes that would immediately return to the thrower followed by a quick cut upline, a la Dylan Freechild. Black Tide lefty handler Brett Ploussard worked the break side very well in UCSB’s vertical stack while captain Adam Bolenbaugh ruled the skies, coming down with numerous stall nine floaty hucks. Arizona began the game by running a horizontal stack but shifted solely to vert from the end of the first half until the final point, while only once debuting their famous diamond zone (which Black Tide methodically scored against). UCSB’s defensive pressure turned this into a runaway – 14-10 in the cap for a mild upset.
Sunday’s Power Pools
Colorado, Washington, Oklahoma
Oregon, Las Positas, Arizona
UCSD, UCSB, Cal-Davis
UBC, Cal-Berkeley, San Diego State