2013 Tidewater Tuneup: Tournament Preview

2013 Tidewater Tuneup logo.On November 16th, 21 youth open and 8 youth women’s teams will meet at Nike Park in Carrollton, Virginia, to compete in one of the largest high school tournaments in the country. Teams from Virginia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Washington DC, and New Jersey will all be fighting for a top seed in their pool to make Sunday’s championship bracket.

Many storied programs that have reigned dominant on the East Coast will come to Tidewater wanting to prove why they deserve to remain on top while smaller, developing programs will be there to show that they have what it takes to hang with the best. In the Open Division, every team will be fighting to knock off the defending champions Pennsbury and return home the 2013 Tidewater Tuneup champions.

In the Womens Division, each team, bringing in a much improved talent pool, looks to fight their way past last year’s Southerns champions Saga and assert their dominance in a tough pool of teams.

Most of the top seeded teams who will be at Tidewater have the depth and drive to take home the championship so expect some gritty matchups in the championship bracket and a great deal of high level, competitive ultimate.

Open Division

Pool A

Carolina Friends (A1)

Coming in as the team to beat in pool A, Carolina Friends (Durham, NC) has shown that they are championship material and should give Pennsbury a tough road to a repeat. They graduated their captains from last season but return this year with a very strong team with their eyes on first place. Captain Sol Yanuck says that with leadership from their coach, Rim Vilgalys, “the Quakers have aspirations to bring home their first Southerns title this year.”

With an impressive 3rd place overall finish at last year’s HS Southerns and a North Carolina State Championship, this powerhouse in East Coast HS ultimate deservingly takes the first seed in pool A. They may meet CHUF, another North Carolina powerhouse, in Sunday’s championship bracket and might give us a taste of a likely matchup for the 2014 North Carolina State Championship.

Yorktown (A2) & Yorktown – JV (B5)

Since the split of the YHB program (Yorktown & HB Woodlawn), Yorktown (Arlington, VA) has proven that they can stand alone as one of the strongest teams in Virginia. This will be their second year competing in Tidewater as Yorktown and they plan to improve on a strong championship bracket run from last year’s tournament. They lost last year’s finals game to Pennsbury 13-3. They aim to take home the 2013 Tidewater Tuneup championship this year and they know it will not be as easy to make it to the finals as last year.

They finished up last season with a strong 2nd place showing at the 2013 Virginia State Championships and a 7th place showing at Southerns. This year their goals include winning the 2014 Virginia State Championships and improving on their placement at this year’s Southerns. Captain Fred Wolf says the team’s goals for Tidewater are to “Improve as a team every game and to show that we are on the same level with elite teams such as Carolina Friends.”

This team is a Tidewater regular and they have played and beaten most of the teams that will attend this year. If they can hold seed in a stiff pool A, they will be a strong force to reckon with in the championship bracket. With strong leadership from their experienced senior captains, this team is ready to break the chain of last year’s history and return home to Arlington the 2013 Tidewater Tuneup champions.

Regarding the JV squad, Wolf said, “A significant portion of the team is made up of 8th graders who will be playing in their first tournament ever but have tremendous potential. They have the goal of improving individual skills and winning games against other JV teams.”

Hampton (A3)

This year’s Hampton Ultimate Club (Pittsburgh, PA) is eager to begin their 2013-2014 season. After graduating two of their top players, they are building this year’s squad off of a seasoned base of returning players. Many of these returning players are coming into this Fall season with another year of Youth Club under their belts. “Hampton has hopes to upset some teams this fall at Tidewater and to dominate their region in the spring,” said head coach Christie Lawry.

Woodrow Wilson (A4)

The Woodrow Wilson Tigers (Washington, DC) are headed to Tidewater to put the growing strength of the DC youth Ultimate community on display. Although the team is fairly new, they have a strong base of experienced players. While returning the entirety of last spring’s team, they have added a large wave of newcomers to their roster. Looking ahead after a disappointing fall season in the WAFC clique league, head coach Jackson Dolan noted, “Wilson is looking to rebound from a tough end to their WAFC season and show that DC ultimate can compete with the best high schools in the mid-Atlantic.” With an overall increased size, speed, and handler depth, this team could upset and make a large impact in pool A.

Pool B

Pennsbury (B1)

Returning to Tidewater to defend their championship title, Pennsbury (Yardley, PA) will have a much more difficult path to the championship this year. Many strong teams will be making their Tidewater debut this year. However, Pennsbury will be coming into this weekend with a lot of momentum and a lot of confidence.

With 3 big tournament wins so far this fall (Jersey Devyl, Kit-Kat, and Pennsbury Fall Brawl), this team is ready for a 4th. They sit atop their pool likely to only be challenged by two seed Pine-Richland. Sunday should bring the team some new challenges. This team has a target on their backs and will be facing teams from the Southeast which they have never seen before. Teams like Carolina Friends (A1) and CHUF (C1) will prove themselves a huge challenge to Pennsbury on Sunday so don’t think that a finals berth for Pennsbury is a guarantee.

Pine-Richland (B2)

The top team in Pittsburgh returns to Tidewater after the loss of 12 seniors last spring. Pine-Richland brings a young squad into this year’s tournament and hopes to improve on last year’s tournament results. Their bracket run ended with a hard fought 11-9 loss to the tournament champions Pennsbury in the semifinals. This year they have their eyes locked on the championship and they are in the right pool to prove that they are ready.

“PRU will look to rebuild the legacy we built from last season, starting with Tidewater Tuneup,” said captain Sahil Dadoo. “This year is already proving to be our year at Tidewater.” One seed beneath Pennsbury in pool B, PR will have an early opportunity in the third round of pool play to show that they are ready to win it all.

East Chapel Hill (B3)

East Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC) brings in a young team comprised of a strong incoming freshman class and a group of former B team players to this year’s Tidewater. After losing 8 of last year’s 17 players, this season will be about rebuilding the program to position it for a successful and competitive spring season. This young team will use Tidewater as a valuable opportunity to gain high-level experience for their new players. “Tidewater plans to be the jumping off point for a another great season for East Chapel Hill,” said coach Aaron Stern.

LC Bird (B4)

Another young team, the LC Bird Skyhawk Ultimate Club (Chesterfield, VA) returns only 11 players from last season. Being a team that values speed over size, expect LC Bird to look for and find success in their 1-on-1 match ups with a vert stack. This year’s Skyhawks are committed to the long term improvement of their team and see Tidewater as their first step towards their goals. This team will be moving pieces around all weekend to find the right rhythm and if they can get into the right groove, they may be able to cause some trouble for the higher seeded teams in pool B.

Pool C

Chapel Hill (CHHS – CHUF) (C1)

As one of the top seeds with a history at Tidewater, Chapel Hill Ultimate (Chapel Hill, NC) is looking to settle a few grudges and won’t accept anything less a than first place. Captain Kevin Mateer warns that “CHUF will be out for blood this season with an attitude that says 2nd isn’t good enough.” They have graduated 6 seniors since their notable season that included a semifinal showing at both Southerns and HS Terminus, but bring in a strong group of underclassmen whom they hope will fills the gaps with even more room to grow.

They have their sights locked on Pine-Richland (B2) who knocked them out of the championship bracket at last year’s Tidewater and Carolina Friends (A1) who beat them in the finals game of the 2013 North Carolina State Championships. With many individual stars on the team, their success will be dependent on their ability to mesh as a team and use communication to work as a unit. Expect high level athleticism and play from this team and possibly some friction with the other top teams due to their hot-headed attitude.

Westfield A (C2) & Westfield B (D4)

A split Westfield Ultimate team (Westfield, NJ) makes a seven hour trip south for their most important tournament of an impressive fall season. With some well-experienced upperclassmen entering the fall season after a 3rd place finish at this past summer’s YCCs with DEVYL, this season is about building the team to make a deep run at HS Northeasterns and the 2014 New Jersey State Championship.

Having made the semifinals of Pennsbury’s Fall Brawl and the finals of the Jersey Devil Tournament, this team has a taste for success. Coach Ryan Belline says the goal of the team “is to establish an identity with these southern teams that we have not seen before. We want to be known as a team with a smooth offensive system with hard working defense.”

They have not yet faced another team that will be attending Tidewater so it will be interesting to see how this experienced team matches up with the rest of the mid-Atlantic’s best.

Woodside (C3) & Woodside – JV (D6)

Woodside Ultimate (Newport News, VA), a team on the cusp of being a top team in the state of Virginia and the hosts of the Tidewater Tuneup, looks to prove itself against Yorktown and HB Woodlawn and show that they are ready to take back the Virginia state title which they last held in 2008. Having graduated five of their top players, the team will use this year and this tournament as an opportunity to rebuild the team but don’t count them out of the championship bracket conversation. “The team’s goal for TT will be to break seed and make the Championship bracket,” said coach Richard Rudnicki.

Regarding their JV team, Rudnicki said “Tidewater Tuneup will be the first ever tournament for the majority of players on the Woodside JV team. We will be looking for them to develop flow and build in game experience as we build the team for the future. Hopefully they can be competitive and maybe get a win or two against other JV teams or in consolation play.”

Bethesda-Chevy Chase (C4)

With a recent change in size, structure and philosophy, the BCC Ultimate team (Bethesda, MD) will come into this year’s Tidewater Tuneup with nothing at risk and a lot to prove. After graduating only a handful of players, this team comes into this season with a strong base of returning players and a fresh mentality. After last year’s 11th place finish at Tidewater and 4th place finish at the 2013 Maryland State Championship, BCC is ready to change things up and become a real competitor.

The team aims to win the 2014 Maryland State Championship and make a trip to Southerns later in the year. The team’s goals include breaking seed at 4th in pool D and enjoying the best and biggest tournament of the Fall season. Coach Seth Golob talked about what the team needs to do.

“Play our game, and use our athleticism and physical D to create opportunity,” he said. “On O, look for tons of possession and take care of the disc, while taking calculated looks deep, really play smart Ultimate. With the level of competition being the toughest we have seen yet, I expect us to stick close to every team we play. We will take most teams by surprise this weekend.”

Washington & Lee (C5)

In their first year of existence, the WL Slarenegs (Arlington, VA) bring out a team of 21+ to see how they can match up with the best of the mid-Atlantic. Most of the experience on the team comes from the attendance of the Capitol Ultimate Camp and YHB practices from when the program still existed. They have spent the Fall struggling to put the pieces of their team together in WAFC D league where they went 1-7 in the regular season.

As time went on, the team began to mesh and found a good rhythm and dynamic to go 2-2 for the final tournament. The young team is excited for their first travel tournament and hope to make the best use of their opportunity to play in the most competitive atmosphere they have experienced and to make themselves known as an established program.

Pool D

Columbia (D1)

Columbia High School (Maplewood, NJ), a team historically linked to the roots and success of the sport of ultimate, will be making their first ever Tidewater appearance this year. With an underclassmen-heavy roster, this CHS team has spent their Fall season making tournament appearances at Jersey Devyl, Autumn Sky, and Pennsbury’s Fall Brawl.

The 2013 New Jersey State Champions hope to keep their strong momentum rolling into their toughest tournament of the season. They came up with an 11-9 victory against one part of a split Westfield team at Pennsbury’s Fall Brawl. Expect this team to make a solid run in Sunday’s championship bracket. With little experience against the top teams in this tournament, it will be interesting to see where this storied program finds themselves at the end of the day.

HB Woodlawn (D2) & HB Woodlawn – JV (A5)

On the other end of the YHB split, HB Woodlawn (Arlington, VA) looks to maintain their dominance over other Virginia teams and make up for last year’s disappointing loss to Woodside (C3) in quarterfinals. They narrowly snuck themselves into a 5th place finish by the end of the tournament.

They brought a split squad into last year’s Tidewater but bring a full single team this year which clearly shows their intentions: they want to win. They will find tough matchups early on in pool play against Columbia (D1) and North Allegheny (D3), so their 2nd seed is certainly not set in stone for Sunday. They will find themselves on a tough road to Sunday’s championship bracket. If they make it, look for the possibility of a Yorktown (A2) v. HB matchup, one that will likely be the finals matchup for the 2014 Virginia State Championship.

The HB Woodlawn JV team, like most JV teams, will be looking to take advantage of the opportunity to play against some high-level teams.

North Allegheny (D3)

North Allegheny (Pittsburgh, PA) has high hopes coming into their first Tidewater Tuneup. So far this season, the team has played in one tournament with their 20 returning players where they made it to the finals and lost to Hampton Ultimate (A3). They were able to beat Hampton later in a scrimmage so a matchup between the two familiar teams in bracket play would be a toss-up. Their goals this season include winning the Pittsburgh High School League (PHUL), placing within 5 at the Pennsylvania State Championship, and qualifying for the 2014 HS NorthEastern Championships. Coach Matthew Burnette’s goal for the team is to “break seed and compete in the championship bracket on Sunday.”

“Tidewater is a new tournament for us and were excited to get a chance to play some new teams,” he added. “With the team I’m bring to this tournament we should be able to run with most of the teams there.”

Coming in to a new tournament, with a group a players including many with YCC and club experience, this team has it in them to break seed and make a splash in a tough pool D.

Menchville (D5)

In January of 2012, a small group of guys throwing a disc around created the Menchville Ultimate team (Newport News, VA). Since then, they have gained some competitive experience through scrimmages with Woodside’s JV and Varsity teams and have high hopes for their first ever tournament this weekend. In their last set of scrimmages with the Woodside teams, they beat Woodside JV 15-2 and lost to the Varsity team 15-3. They hope to use the competitive environment of the tournament to gain experience as a team and as an opportunity to meet and learn about the other teams. This team has a lot of room to grow and for this year, will fit in well with the mix of younger teams and JV programs.

Women’s Division

Saga (1)

The clear favorite in the Women’s Division of this year’s Tidewater Tuneup, Saga (Chapel Hill, NC) returns to Tidewater after last years dominating undefeated performance. As a team, their goals stretch far beyond winning tournaments and championships. Coach Britta Jones says the team’s “focus is on growing the number of girls playing ultimate in the Triangle Area by providing an opportunity for girls to play single-gender ultimate.“

Along with spreading women’s ultimate all over the Triangle Area, this team has asserted itself as the top girls’ team in the Southeast. With a 2013 Southerns championship under their belt, Saga looks to once again push through the competition this weekend and for the rest of the season.

Pine-Richland (2)

This new team exploded last year, starting at the 2012 Tidewater Tuneup. This year, Pine-Richland (Pittsburgh, PA) looks to continue their trend of constant and quick improvement. They began last fall with few experienced players and a new coach, Russell Hailwood. They quickly built momentum which carried them to the finals of the Pittsburgh High School Ultimate League (PHUL) with an impressive regular season record with only one loss. At last year’s Tidewater, Saga (1) handed them their only two losses of the tournament with scores of 9-6 in pool play and 12-2 in the finals game. This team has only improved since last fall and looks to give Saga their toughest games of the tournament. This team knows what it takes to break seed at Tidewater, but they’ll have their work cut out from them against the North Carolina powerhouse.

HB Woodlawn (3) & HB Woodlawn – JV (8)

After a successful season last year that resulted in a Virginia State Championship and a 3rd place finish at Southerns, the HB Woodlawn (Arlington, VA) girls squad will look to upset Saga, who narrowly came up with two victories against HB at Southerns. Losing to Saga by a margin of one point in pool play and three in the championship bracket leaves HB hungry for their rematch. The team will come in ready to maintain their reputation and break seed while settling a score against Saga. The other teams within the first four seeds will prove a challenge to HB Woodlawn and these girls are ready to face and overcome those challenges.

Being the only JV team in the womens division, the HB Woodlawn JV team will bring in a group of inexperienced underclassmen who are excited for their first tournament experience. By bringing a JV team along, the program ensures the future growth of their varsity team by allowing all the players in the HB girls program to benefit from the high-level experience of the Tidewater Tuneup.

Pennsbury (4)

One of the oldest women’s programs attending Tidewater, PUFF (Yardley, PA) hopes to use over six years of experience to lead them to a tournament win. So far in their fall season, PUFF has earned 2nd place at Jersey Devyl and 3rd place at Watchung Hills. Sitting in the middle of the pack at the 4th seed, Pennsbury is in a position where they can pull some upsets against the higher seeded teams. They expect to win most of their games and follow the footsteps of their men’s program, which would lead them to becoming the Tidewater Tuneup Champions.

Woodside (5)

Coming off a huge 2012 season where they finished 2nd overall at the 2012 Virginia State Championship, the Woodside girls team (Newport News, VA) hope to build on their previous successes. They will be relying on their athleticism to break seed and pull off some upsets on their home turf. This tournament is the team’s opportunity to show that they are ready to push onward and increase their momentum going into the 2013-2014 season.

Cutting Edge (6)

Cutting Edge (Triangle Area, NC), a brand new team branching off of Saga, comes into their second ever tournament optimistic about what they can achieve and what they can learn this weekend. They proved they have the ability to hang with their sister team, Saga, at the TYUL Girl’s tournament known as THUG, where they placed 2nd overall. This new team brings a group of new players ready to have a good time and make friends while doing it. Don’t let the youth of the team and the players fool you, they are ready to turn some heads and make a strong run at this year’s Tidewater Tuneup.

Yorktown (7)

The female counterpart of one of Virginia’s best men’s teams, Yorktown (Arlington, VA) has struggled in the past with putting their team together. This year, they jump that hurdle and return to Tidewater. With only one win at last year’s Tidewater, this team has their sights set on improving from last year’s results and using the opportunity to grow as a team.

  1. Sam Shoyer

    Sam Shoyer is an Ultiworld Youth Correspondent. He is heavily involved in the ultimate community as a high school student that spent the past year studying in the US and in Israel working towards the development of youth ultimate. He has spent time working as the Youth Outreach Coordinator for the DC Breeze, the Youth Coordinator for the World Association of Jewish Ultimate, and the coach of the CESJDS Middle School Ultimate Team.

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