Pool A Preview: Men’s Division

Pool A doesn’t have the star power of Pool C or the parity of Pool D. In fact, in our poll yesterday, Pool A was voted the least difficult draw by a large margin.

While Revolver may be the heavy favorite to go 3-0 and cruise into prequarters, there could be some exciting games as PoNY and Truck battle once again and Florida United looks to muscle their way into the Friday conversation.

San Francisco Revolver (1)

Revolver may not be the nearly invincible team they were two years ago, but they are still the gold standard in the Men’s Division and come into the Club Championships as the number one seed for the second time in three years.

This is not the same type of one seed they were in 2011, a year in which they only had one loss, however. They come into the Club Championships with four losses to four different teams. They’ve looked pedestrian at times. But they still have some of the most talented players in the game on their team and will be the heavy favorites in Pool A.

Beau Kittredge, Mac Taylor, and Ashlin Joye were all selected to be a part of the 2013 World Games team. They retain veteran leadership in Ryo Kawaoka, Nick Schlag, and Cassidy Rasmussen. They added some impactful new pieces like Evan Boucher and Andrew Hagen.

But this season’s departures — Bart Watson, Robbie Cahill, among others — were huge contributors and a big reason why the team won back-to-back National titles in 2010 and 2011. The dropoff of some of the team’s elite talent, along with the rise of other teams’, has led to a year with more parity than ever.

At the Pro Flight Finale, Revolver struggled with their red zone efficiency, something they can ill afford in Frisco. But don’t expect to see them have problems — few teams in the Division are as good at running their systems and focusing on the fundamentals as Revolver.

New York PoNY (8)

PoNY’s outstanding 2013 season was almost cut short two weeks ago at Northeast Regionals, when they nearly fell to Boston Garuda in the game-to-go. After pulling off an unlikely double game point comeback win, they have had a chance to take a deep breath.

Now, they’ll need to refocus.

They come into the tournament playing well — had a couple points gone differently in their games against Boston Ironside at Regionals, they could certainly have won those games — but facing a real challenge in pool play. Not only will they have to face off against the top seeded Revolver, they’ll have to again go up against Washington DC Truck Stop, who has had their number this season (and dating back into the Major League Ultimate season). PoNY is 1-2 against Truck this season, but their win (8-6) came on a lightning-shortened game at Colorado Cup.

PoNY has changed a lot since last year, both in terms of personnel and their roles. Chris Mazur has moved from the defense to the offense, and has been a huge component of their handling attack. But Jack Marsh, the team’s captain, is the driving force behind the team, both on the field and off. His leadership has really helped to gel this year’s PoNY squad, especially as they have added a number of new, young defensive line players.

While they may lack the top end talent of many of the elite programs at the tournament, PoNY plays very well as a team and will be hungry to hold seed in their pool, looking for another game against Chain Lightning, who they are 2-0 against this season, in prequarters.

Washington DC Truck Stop (12)

Truck Stop has had an inconsistent season, highlighted by some good wins over PoNY but lowlighted by an ugly 0-4 Saturday performance at the Chesapeake Invite. They have shown the ability to hang with the top teams — they lost by just one to Doublewide at Colorado Cup — but also a tendency to play down to their competition (they lost to Michigan High Five, and narrowly beat Columbus Madcow and Raleigh Cash Crop).

If they have worked out their Chesapeake offensive woes in time for Nationals, they could put some teams on upset alert. They have consistently showed an ability to generate breaks with their impressive defensive line, anchored by Jonathan Neeley and Dan Kantor. But their offense, which has run heavily through Alan Kolick, was turnover prone and out of sync late in the season.

They still have plenty of weapons downfield — Sean Keegan, Jeff Wodatch, Tom Doi — but their handler set cannot simply rely on Kolick to do everything.

They will be eagerly awaiting a matchup with PoNY, who they have to feel was the best two seed to land in their pool draw.

But having not faced serious competition in over a month and a half (Regionals was a breeze for them), will they be ready for the fast paced new format at the Club Championships?

Florida United (13)

Florida United comes into the tournament with just a single win against a Club Championships-bound team (Madcow, 13-8 at Colorado Cup). But they did everything right during the regular season to earn a third bid for the Southeast and then handle their business at Regionals to get a spot in Frisco.

Will they just be happy to be there, or will they bring some fire into pool play?

Certainly, as the four seed, they’ll be the underdog, but the team has a lot of Florida’s best talent. That’s a good recipe for success, considering the strength of Florida’s college programs over the past few years.

Cole Sullivan and Chris Gibson return to Florida after playing with Doublewide last season. Central Florida’s coach Andrew Roca and top player John Best are playing alongside Florida’s coach Cyle van Auken and top player Bobby Ley. Alton Gaines returns from Ring of Fire.

They have a 13-11 loss to PoNY this season; they’ll likely feel they have a shot to take second in the pool.

With no game tape available on United, they are playing with the benefit of mystery on their side. While all signs point to a bust out in prequarters, they are one of the teams most capable of pulling a surprise upset.

Pool Predictions

Revolver should have little trouble going 3-0 in this pool. If they do struggle, that could be a bad sign for the number one overall seed. PoNY and Truck should both handle their business against Florida.

Predicting that PoNY/Truck game, however, is a coin flip. PoNY has the better season results, sure, but ultimate, like most sports, is all about matchups. PoNY simply does not match up well with Truck, and they’ll need to play a much cleaner game than they have against them earlier this year to get the W.

Florida United would need to pull out some big performances from their stars to get much traction here.

Correction:  An earlier version of this article said Martin Cochran left Revolver.  In fact, while he wasn’t on the roster at the start of the summer, he has since rejoined them.

 

 

 

 

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

    Charlie Eisenhood is the editor-in-chief of Ultiworld. You can reach him by email (charlie@ultiworld.com) or on Twitter (@ceisenhood).

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