Round Two Recap: 2013 D-I College Championships

Ohio's Connor Haley gets up at the 2013 D-I College Championships.
Photo by Alex Fraser — UltiPhotos.com

A recap of the action in round two today at the College Championships:

OPEN

In the 10:30 round at College Championships, there were no surprise upsets. But, as is often the case in sports, the way things happened was surprising.

In the premier matchup of the round, Oregon and Colorado squared off in the key Pool A game. Oregon jumped out in front early to a 5-3 lead, forcing turnovers by pushing Colorado’s handlers backwards with tight defense and forcing the downfield players out. Oregon continued to ride tight defense and a steady offense to an 8-5 halftime lead. After adding another goal to its lead, Ego forced Mamabird to trade points to an 11-7 score. Suddenly, things started swinging Colorado’s way.

That swing was almost completely willed into existence by senior captain Jimmy Mickle. Colorado came out with several zone looks that forced a few turnovers and Mickle capitalized with quick hucks to streaking receivers and gobbled up a few floaty throws, both on offense and defense, on his own to close the gap to 11-10. Mickle simply took control of the game.

“You can always count on Jimmy to give 100%,” Colorado coach Brent Zionic said. “That’s the way he’s built. Sometimes he’ll push it all the way to the edge.”

Oregon coach Jay Janin had a few complimentary words on Mickle as well but also pointed out that this game was a perfect example of just how tight things can be at the College Championships.

“They’re really good,” Janin said. “The difference between the team that wins here and the team that loses here isn’t very much. So it just takes a little bit of a slip.”

***

Elsewhere in the round Georgia and Dartmouth faced each other in a game that, in all likelihood, will have a huge impact on which team from Pool A would advance to prequarters.

The game began with the teams relatively even before Georgia let a few breaks slip and, according to coach Ben Gray, struggled to earn them back with enough time for it to matter. More than anything, Dartmouth seems to be a team that knows its identity as well as any team at the tournament. Against Georgia, Pain Train found its rhythm and, try as Jojah might, nothing was getting Dartmouth out of that rhythm.

“They did what they do well and we weren’t able to take them out of that game,” Gray said.

“I think that is very much what it felt like to me,” Dartmouth captain Ian Herrick said. “I think it felt like we were running the system that we’ve been working on all year.”

All told, Pain Train held seed with a 15-13 victory.

***

In Pool C action, UCF held seed 15-13 against Cal-Davis. A win is a win is a win, but the margin might not have been as big as many would have expected. UCF coach Andrew Roca wasn’t happy with how his team played over the course of the entire day and the first game of the tournament was no exception.

On the flip side, UC-Davis, which was probably one of the biggest unknowns coming into the tournament, showed that they are here with a purpose to win some games and compete at the highest level, a trend that would continue over the course of the day.

***

In the last game of the round, Luther and Ohio were matched up in another game that featured an unknown. Luther has some of the most negligible results of any team at the tournament given the weather that teams in the Midwest dealt with this regular season.

However, as LUFDA would quickly show Ohio, it was ready and willing to compete on the biggest stage. The game, which was close throughout, featured Luther taking a two goal lead out of halftime, 10-8, and Ohio quickly stealing it back to take an 11-10 lead that it would not relinquish. The end of the game featured some stellar play from Ohio senior Connor Haley, who made some huge plays in the final two offensive points of the game to conserve possession and lead his team to a win. The final play of the game — a Haley full extension layout into the endzone for the game winner on double game point — was a picture perfect finish.

Ohio’s patient offense really made the difference in the contest. They smoothly worked the disc around sagging Luther defenders in the throwing lanes.

WOMEN’S

In Pool A, the feature matchup had Oregon (Pool A #1), the tournament’s top seed, taking on Wisconsin (Pool D #2). It didn’t take long for Oregon to assert themselves. Behind stifling defense and senior handler Bailey Zahniser – a Callahan finalist – Fugue opened the game up 4-0. They’d go on to take half 8-3, with Wisconsin backing off a little bit.

On Fugue’s sideline, after being asked what helped them take the lead, the response was, “Have you seen us play?”

Their confidence paid off in spades as the 15-9 score was closer than the actual game. This team has a lot of swagger; their athleticism and junk defenses look tough to beat.

***

The 3 v. 4 matchup in Pool A went down between Stanford and Minnesota. Early on, Stanford went with a man defense, and Minnesota’s senior cutter Sarah Meckstroth proved to be a handful to cover. On the other side of the disc, the tireless Superfly captain Michela Meister worked to consistently catch quick resets and used her considerable arsenal of throws to register scores.

Stanford made the switch to a zone look, frustrating Minnesota and allow Superfly to take control. Minnesota settled in a little, still behind the popping of Meckstroth and the handling Natalie DePalma, and kept it tight in the first half, 8-7. In the second half, the Ninjas would find themselves unable to work through the Superfly zone and Superfly would pull away, with a lot of strong under cutting and continuation throwing from senior Captain Allison Fink. Stanford would pull it out, 15-9.

***

Pool D saw the bottom four teams start off against one another. Ohio State (Pool D #2) and Central Florida (Pool D #5) tested one another with lots of zone looks. Central Florida’s zone is their calling card, with them rarely going to a man defense, and early on it stifled Ohio State, who struggled with drops. The Sirens, riding their trademark intensity, took the lead 7-6 in the first half. Fever responded putting together some of their first fluid offensive points, with senior handler Paige Soper hitting over the top throws in the zone’s holes, allowing them to take half. The depth of Ohio State seemed to show itself in the second half, where Central Florida, who ran seniors Sunny Harris, Mariel Hammond, and Katie Fox out pretty much every point, seemed to wear down. Their zone was slower to react while Ohio State picked up the pace of their disc movement. While Fever didn’t make a dramatic pull away, they were in control on their way to a 15-12 victory.

***

In other Pool D action, Virginia (Pool D #3) took on Whitman (Pool D #5). Virginia applied a lot of defensive pressure, swarming cutters in the lanes and getting some early breaks and a 4-1 lead. Their top players were making the plays you would expect, with sophomore Alika Johnston wrecking possession after possession against the Lady Sweets. Once they fell behind, Whitman had trouble recovering, again playing a couple of players (handlers Beth Daviess and Julia Bladin played almost every point) and draining their legs. Hydra rolled through that tired Lady Sweets in the second half, winning 15-8.

Check out photos of all of the action at the 2013 USA Ultimate D-I College Championships on UltiPhotos.

  1. Michael Aguilar
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    Michael Aguilar is a reporter for Ultiworld. He began playing ultimate in the summer of 2008 at the urging of a few University of South Carolina players. He played for USC in the spring of 2009 and for LSU in the spring of 2011. In his spare time during those years, he ran one of the first ever ultimate news blogs, Movin' On Up. He was the head coach of Catholic High School in Baton Rouge, LA, from 2011-2016 and the assistant coach in 2017. He owes all his success to his loving wife Kendall.

  2. Keith Raynor
    Keith Raynor

    Keith Raynor is a Senior Editor and the Business Development Manager at Ultiworld. He co-hosts our Deep Look podcast and does play-by-play and color commentary. He coaches UConn Rise, the college's women's team. You can reach him by email (keith@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@FullFieldHammer).

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