May 25, 2013 by Michael Aguilar in Recap with 2 comments
In the final round of the day on Friday, teams were looking to get a coveted win heading into the evening to grab some momentum for Saturday’s pool play rounds. Here’s a look at the games.
Round 5, like every other round on Friday, did not disappoint when it came to excitement.
While the marquee game of the round should have been the overall 4 seed vs. the overall 5 seed in Pittsburgh versus Texas, they were outshined by North Carolina vs. Luther.
After a back and forth first half, Luther managed to take half by a score of 8-6. From there, it looked like Luther was ready to pull the upset of the tournament and potentially completely change the outlook of bracket play in one fell swoop. LUFDA broke directly out of half to take a 9-6 lead and, on the wings of great defensive play by senior captain Trent Erickson, continued to extend its lead to 12-8.
That’s where things changed, and quickly. UNC switched things up from its comfort zone of man-to-man defense to a zone of coach Mike Denardis’ invention and Luther was completely flustered. Chuck Shaffner began the streak with a bookends that led to a 12-10 score. It continued from there until the score was knotted up at 12-12. After multiple turnovers, Luther had a great opportunity to score the disc but junior Will Harren couldn’t hold on to the disc in the endzone. Within a minute, UNC junior Jonathan Nethercutt had picked the disc up and ripped a full field forehand to junior Christian Johnson and Darkside had taken the lead 13-12.
Though Luther eventually got back in the driver’s seat and took a 14-13 lead on an Erickson score, it was clear that LUFDA never mastered the zone look that UNC kept giving it. FInally, on double game point at 15-15, Luther was forced into an over-the-top hammer that was intercepted by Nethercutt in Luther’s endzone for a Callahan and the win.
“Their zone was pretty solid,” Luther coach Reid Wilson said. “We just need to do a better job of executing and getting around that. We need to do what we planned to do. You didn’t see Luther Ultimate in that stretch when they started to come back.”
Pittsburgh and Texas matched up on the showcase fields and the first half was a story of elegance and grace on the part of the defending National champions. By the time halftime arrived, Pittsburgh had only turned the disc over three times, and none of those three turnovers had happened on a possession that Texas had pulled to Pittsburgh.
To put it simply, offense looked boring for Pittsburgh as their star-studded cast of the Thorne brothers, Tyler Degirolamo, Isaac Saul and others cut through every defensive look Texas gave them. However, even with that consistent offensive play, Pitt only took an 8-6 halftime lead.
Texas refused to go away and though they would never erase En Sabah Nur’s lead, TUFF was able to close the gap as close as 13-12 and, if you ask Pitt coach Nick Kaczmarek, that’s the most dangerous part about Texas’ game.
“They’re an incredibly patient team,” Kaczmarek said. “To get a turn back from them after we turn it is going to be very difficult. We’re going to have to invest and get Ds early because they’re going to try and outlast you. On the points that they got breaks on, that’s exactly what they did, they outlasted us.”
When it was all said and done though, Pitt outlasted TUFF overall and won the game by a count of 15-13.
In the final two games of the round there was not much excitement to be found. Oregon took half over regional rival Washington 8-4 and didn’t let the game get any closer, finally winning by a count of 15-9.
Meanwhile, Harvard continued to impress by taking half over Cornell 8-3 and, although Redline would eventually let off the gas and allow some its younger players to get some playing time on the sport’s biggest stage, they maintained enough of a gap to stay comfortable with a 15-10 win.
Highlighting this round was the much anticipated Iowa (Pool D #1) vs. Tufts (Pool D #2) game, which had major implications on the pool, and by extension, the field. We hope you joined us for the livestream of the game.
As expected, two very smart and disciplined teams went back and forth, usually with a high rate of execution and fundamentally sound play. Things got off to a sloppy start since both teams hadn’t played in a few hours, but once the two squads settled in, offenses found more flow and defensive intensity was forced to respond. Consistently, Claudia Tajima matched up with Chelsea Twohig and Liza Minor, making for fun battles. Iowa clearly feared Tajima from the start, throwing lots of zones, flattening out on her after the pull, and forcing backhand almost the entire game. Tufts also feared the huck, backing Iowa’s cutters the entire first half. The easy unders played to Iowa’s strengths and they’d take the first half, 8-7. Things stayed tight the second half, with Qxnha Titcomb and Michaela Fallon adding a lot to the Ewo attack, while Minor and Bekah Hickernell were everywhere for Saucy Nancy. Neither team’s defense could get much traction. In the late points, with nearly the same 14 players battling it out point after point, Iowa got a couple of breaks. Tufts had their chances, but couldn’t convert and would fall to Saucy Nancy 15-13.
In Pool C, Iowa State (Pool C #1) and Whitman (Pool C #5) tried to rebound from losses earlier in the day. In the early goings, the Woman Scorned offense would find the fluidity it is renowned for. However, while Whitman had to fight for their points, they were worth just as much and the game remained a tight affair. After a tie at 5s, the top seed would create some separation with good transition offense, another hallmark, and take half 8-5. From there, it was mostly a matter of taking care of the disc offensively, which they did on the way to a 15-10 win.
Georgia (Pool B #3) and Northwestern (Pool B #5) met up for Pool B’s final game of the day. Both teams were searching for their first win of the weekend. Both teams would net early breaks as Georgia held the early 3-2 lead. They’d follow that with a 3-0 run, opening up their deep game successfully. However, the Gung Ho duo of Carol Li and Lien Hoffman put together a run of their own, only to have Georgia push back to take half, 8-5. With both squads unable to maintain consistent offensive flow after the turn, the runs of the first half were less a product of momentum and more of execution. In the second half, more pressure defensively allowed the patterns to continue, the Great Lakes representative coming out hot and bringing it to 9-8, Georgia. The game would again draw even at 10s after Hoffman, who has been fantastic in the air, got a piece of a disc up high, and Li brought it down in Georgia’s endzone for a Callahan. At 12-12, Northwestern would finally break through, courtesy of a nice cut by Alex Chudler, and wouldn’t look back after getting the crucial break. Gung Ho gets on the board with an upset, 15-12.
The Friday finale for Pool A brought together Oregon (Pool A #1) and Northeastern (Pool A #5). Oregon, the tournament favorite, is the only team that has displayed dominance this weekend. Despite a feisty Valkyrie squad playing a strong first few points, the top seed demonstrated why they earned that honor. For the second straight game, Fugue would cruise to victory to the tune of 15-7.
Check out photos of all of the action at the 2013 USA Ultimate D-I College Championships on UltiPhotos.