Luther Flashes Dominance With Perfect Start To Season: 2014 Huck Finn Tournament Recap

This article was written by Ben Krupp, one of the organizers of Huck Finn.

After an early season marked by inclement weather, and more than an inch of snow on the fields the Wednesday before Huck Finn was scheduled to take place, very few were optimistic about the chances of the tournament going on as planned. However, a pair of warm, sunny days, along with a great drainage system at the Chesterfield Valley Athletic Complex field site, allowed the St. Louis tournament, which drew teams from as far as Rhode Island and Washington, to go on as scheduled.

Pool play on Saturday opened cold and overcast, but warmed up slightly as the day went on. Right from the start, Pool A had some very unexpected results. After cruising through their first game of the day, Missouri, the one seed, fell on double game point to a scrappy Wisconsin-Steven’s Point team (three seed in pool A) in the second round. Steven’s Point would then go on to lose to the two seed, Saint Louis University, who would, in turn, fall to Missouri. After all was said and done, Missouri won the pool based on its head-to-head matchup win against Saint Louis, and the hometown team would take second, both having gone 3-1 on the day.

Pools B and C were far less interesting in terms of upset victories than Pool A; every game went to seed. That is not to say, however, that there were no telling results from these games. In Pool B, Brown and Iowa (the one and two seeds, respectively) showed their dominance over the rest of the field, neither team letting up more than seven points in any game through four rounds of play. After having both gone undefeated against the other three teams in their pool, the two top seeds met in the last round of pool play in what promised to be a highly competitive matchup. After an inconsistent start to the game that saw as many breaks as holds, Iowa pulled out front and took half 7-4. Not to be denied, Brown’s D line finally put it into gear out of halftime and gritted out multiple strings of breaks to grab an impressive 11-8 win and the pool victory.

A similar storyline played out in Pool C, with Iowa State and Washington University in St. Louis, the one and two seeds, vying for the top spot going into Sunday. With both teams undefeated entering the last round of play, the matchup between them would determine their seeding for the bracket the next morning. Wash U got a couple of early breaks and took half 7-5, but Iowa State looked the fresher team in the second half and was able to chip away at the lead. The teams continued to wear each other down, but Iowa State pushed through and came up with the 13-11 win, winning the pool in the process.

Meanwhile, in Pool D, Luther (#13) put on a clinic throughout the day, never winning by fewer than six despite being the one seed in the only pool in which each team had to play five games on Saturday. Their closest game was against Missouri S&T, a team that came in seeded fourth in their pool but who might have been the biggest surprise of the tournament, earning a second place finish in Pool D and a spot in the championship bracket on Sunday.

Despite the forecast for rain on Saturday afternoon into evening, the skies eventually cleared without spilling a single drop, and Sunday dawned bright and clear. With temperatures reaching into the mid-forties by the first pull on Sunday morning, conditions were ideal for bracket play to begin.

The quarterfinals went entirely to seed, each one seed advancing to the semis. Iowa State came out with a strong performance against their in-state rivals, Iowa. All weekend, they looked to be a very polished side, running an effective horizontal stack on offense that featured their athletic downfield cutters and confident throwers. After dropping only two games by a total of four points throughout the weekend, this team could make some noise in the North Central this season as the Series approaches.

In what was the unquestionably the game of the tournament, Iowa State faced off against Luther, a team with recent Nationals experience, in the semifinals. The contest was close throughout, with big plays being made by both sides, and Luther only pulling away in the final moments with some clutch defensive efforts that gave them the two-point victory.

The championship game was a bit anticlimactic after this semifinal and the other one between Brown and Missouri, which Brown ended up winning comfortably despite a number of breaks by Missouri’s defense. The team from Rhode Island, which had looked almost infallible up until the finals, just couldn’t keep up with Luther’s superior play, eventually falling 15-8. Luther looked totally dominant during the entire weekend, their only close game coming in the semifinals against Iowa State, and they seem to have cemented their status as a contender in the North Central this year.

Though Huck Finn did not feature any perennial Nationals teams, it served as an effective measuring stick by which to see how those with national aspirations measure up against similar programs. Luther clearly came out head and shoulders above the rest this weekend, but Brown, Iowa State, and Missouri also came up with big wins that might bode well for their competitiveness down the stretch this season.

NOTES

…Wash U came back from a loss to Brown in the quarterfinals to get wins over Missouri S&T and Iowa to earn a fifth place finish at their home tournament…On the D-III side, Oberlin showed they could be a contender in the Ohio Valley after solid wins over Wisconsin-Steven’s Point and Pacific Lutheran earned them a 3-0 record on Sunday and a ninth place finish…

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    Ultiworld is the premier news media site dedicated to the sport of ultimate. This article includes the work of a number of our staff or contributors that have been identified within the piece.

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