Round Four Recap: D-I College Championships

UCF v. UNC at the 2012 D-I College Championships.
Photo by Nick Lindeke — UltiPhotos.com

Every team had a game in the books by the fourth round, which made for cleaner play and some thrilling matchups. Upsets became more common with the teams warmed up. Here’s a look at Round 4.

OPEN

Round 4 again featured a marquee 1v2 matchup and, this time, it pitted two of the most athletic teams in the field — the University of North Carolina and the University of Central Florida — against each other.

The game featured an auspicious beginning for UNC as Central Florida jumped out to an early 3-1 lead on the wings of two huge deep blocks by senior Michael Hickson. Though Darkside would close the gap to one point in the first half, UCF would quickly open it right back up and take half 8-4 while UNC’s offense sputtered.

Then, UNC spent the entire second half riding the coattails of a defense that was taking advantage of opportunities  that the Dogs of War gave them, clawing their way back into the game. UNC coach Mike Denardis spent the second half calling much tighter lines and trying to anticipate when his team was going to be able to force a turn and be sure that he had a line on the field that had high odds of scoring the disc.

However, in the end, there was just too much from UCF for North Carolina to stay in the game. After UNC tied the game at 10-10, UCF scored its next offensive possession and then relied on its defense to score the next two points, which included a very timely layout block from Hickson, for the capped win, 13-10.

***

In Pool C’s second game of the round, Cal-Davis continued its positive mojo from its first game and pulled off Friday’s only upset outside of 1v2 matchups by beating Ohio 15-13.

Pool A was also in action in this round. Unfortunately for Georgia, their disappointing day continued as they fought tough with Colorado only give up two straight scores at the end of the game and lose 12-10. Georgia coach Ben Gray was not concerned about his team’s emotional state, as he was confident that his squad didn’t feel “out” of the tournament yet.

“They know they’re not out of it,” Gray said. “The only difference between this and the first game at Regionals is we have a night to think about it. There’s no team at this tournament who hasn’t lost a game this season. We’ve got a challenge and that’s all it is, a challenge.”

Continuing on Georgia’s encouraging note, some young players for Georgia stepped up big in their matchup with Colorado, including freshman Neal Raines and sophomore Sam Little, both of whom drew tough matchups against Colorado’s top players. Raines earned two straight blocks towards the end of the game that led to Georgia tying things up at 10 goals a piece.

Colorado would manage to hold on for the victory and, though Mamabird would certainly want a few opportunities back against Oregon, they are in a solid spot to take the two spot out of their pool going into prequarters.

***

Dartmouth again managed to stick with what they knew and have known all season against Washington and put the Sundodgers down 15-10. Dartmouth captain Ian Herrick was happy with how well Dartmouth was able to stick to its gameplan in a “should win” game.

“It was us running our system, except we didn’t have the fall off that we did in the Georgia game,” Herrick said. “The difference was, in the UW game, on defense things started to click in a much bigger way.”

That stifling defense led to a very comfortable win and Dartmouth closed out its day with a firm grip on at least 3rd place in its pool.

WOMEN’S

The showcase field belonged to the women of Pool D, with the 1-2 game of Iowa State (Pool C #1) and Ohio State (Pool C #2) taking place. It was a much anticipated matchup of two strong teams with elite top end talent. Woman Scorned would strike first, taking a 2-0 lead and getting the game’s first break. OSU would counter, knocking off three in a row to take the lead. After getting up 6-3, Fever was able to take the first half, 8-6. The big three for Fever were on point, with Nina Finley streaking deep often and playing great D, Cassie Swafford making some impressive catches, and Paige Soper adding patience and pace from the handler position.

Becca Miller was the highlight for Iowa State, getting multiple Ds with her killer sense of timing and speed.

From that 8-6 halftime score, it would never get much closer, as the teams mostly traded the rest of the way. The depth of Fever shined defensively; they were mostly able to remove the role players from Woman Scorned’s attack. Aside from Miller’s defensive play, the Scorned defense had trouble containing the aggressive OSU attack as Fever upset 15-11.

Upsets were the theme of the round. It was time for the lower seeds to rise up!

Minnesota (Pool A #4) had a chance to get revenge on Wisconsin (Pool A #2) for their North Central Regionals losses. All of the NC teams know each other well and Wisconsin knew slowing the Ninjas down with zone would be to their benefit.

Natalie DePalma was impressive all day in the middle of the Minnesota attack, a confident lefty handler able to move her mark around to open up the looks she wanted. The game started very sloppy though, with a number of unforced errors and miscues for both teams. The first half was one of ties and one point leads until Bella was able to get a little breathing room and take an 8-6 half, mostly on the back of solid defense and some conversions. After Wisconsin took the first point out of half, the teams both cleaned up some on their way to 12-10, Bella Donnea. Led by DePalma, The Ninjas would score and get back to back breaks to take the 13-12 lead. Minnesota would win two of out of the next three with a 15-13 upset victory.

A field over, Stanford (Pool A #3) was struggling to get separation from Northeastern (Pool A #5). Allison Fink and Ellen Rim had great starts to this one, but a team oriented effort from the Valkyries kept them in it. Late in the half, Melissa Ellis turned it on and took over, with two scores and two assists in a five point run that put Northeastern up 9-6. Superfly was struggling to connect against the tight and fired up Northeastern D. Finally, Stanford found some rhythm with Monisha White making big plays on both sides of the disc. Michela Meister and the constant influence of Ellen Rim put Stanford back in it, and eventually tied it at 11-11. With the soft cap and the pressure on, the teams would exchange turns before Northeastern would hold on O. Stanford responded, forcing universe point, but Ellis would find Rebecca Ginsburg to pull off the 13-12 upset.

Also in action in Round 4 were Virginia (Pool C #3) and Central Florida (Pool C #4). Two teams built around oppressive defense and transition offense, the intriguing matchup went against the seedings. Central Florida’s zone defense had Virginia rattled early as they struggled with drops. The Sirens top players, handler and Southeast Region POTY Sunny Harris and cutter Mariel Hammond, seemed to never tire despite playing almost every point all day. UCF took the first half, 8-6. While Hydra would bring it tied at 10s in the second half, they looked drained from the long points UCF’s zone forced them into. Sometimes, they’d work the whole field only to turn it near the goal line and have the Sirens transition streaking the other way moments later. UCF ended the game with a five point run, completing the upset 15-10.

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

  1. Michael Aguilar
    Avatar

    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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