May 18, 2014 by Patrick Stegemoeller in Recap with 3 comments
With action continuing today at DIII Nationals, Ultiworld’s Patrick Stegemoeller was on the ground to offer some thoughts and a recap of day one action in Pool A and Pool B.
Missing several graduating seniors, including New England region player of the year Alex Foo, some had doubts about Bentley’s ability to live up to their lofty seed on Saturday. Ice House put those doubts to rest, and then some, by handily defeating all of their pool A opponents en route to a perfect 3-0 day.
Perhaps not as crisp as they would have liked on the offensive end, Bentley brought the intensity all day on the other side of the ball, smothering their opponents and getting breaks early on in games. With their seniors arriving in time for Sunday’s action, we could see a Bentley team that already played very well today hit a new level of dominance on Sunday.
Carleton GOP (2-1)
After starting out the day with a sloppy loss to Bentley, GOP relied on their intensity and their physicality to carry them to three straight wins and a berth in the quarterfinals. The disappointing performance against Bentley definitely lit a fire under the boys from Carleton, and it was clear that they were focused on maintaining a high level of intensity throughout the rest of the day.
Their game with Lewis and Clark really demonstrated the effect a huge sideline presence can have, as the energy never wavered for GOP as they pulled out a close win. Against Cedarville in prequarters, they unleashed a tide of athleticism and defensive effort that the tired legs of Cedarville simply could not match. Although GOP gave up a few breaks at the end of the game to let Cedarville back in it, the Carleton squad will have to be feeling good about how they ended the day and looking forward to quarterfinals after their heartbreaking one point loss in prequarters last season.
Lewis and Clark (1-2)
A long, hard-fought day for Lewis and Clark Bacchus ended in disappointment, as they could not complete their comeback against Richmond in prequarters and were bounced from title contention. A team known for their cohesion and chemistry, Bacchus had trouble all day from an execution standpoint. Even in their 14-7 win over John Brown to start the day, they played some very long, turnover-filled points that unnecessarily taxed their legs for later games.
Against Richmond, Will Shaw demonstrated the kind of skill that made him player of the year in the Northwest, but it was not enough to overcome the execution errors that left Bacchus coming up just short. Bacchus can’t be disappointed in their effort or passion this weekend (as everyone watching them play their hearts out against Richmond can attest to) but will be left wondering “what could have been” if they had been able to execute more effectively on a few key possessions.
John Brown (0-3)
Saturday was a rough day for John Brown, as Ironfist dropped all three of their games and were not particularly close to winning any of them. They rebounded from a shaky, turnover heavy game against Bacchus to put ten points on a really strong Bentley team, and looked much better do it. The uptick in play was not enough however, as a loss to GOP in the last round of pool play knocked JBU out of championship contention. The two time nationals qualifiers will have Sunday’s games to improve on their T-15 finish from last year, but they will need to clean up their offense if they hope to do so.
Brandies surprised just about everyone by vaulting from the bottom of Pool B to the top in a magnificent display on Saturday. Tron started the day by surviving a universe point game against SUNY-Geneseo, thanks to clutch goal line point block from Hanson Yang that led to the winning score. Using the momentum from that dramatic win, they took it to a Lehigh team that may have been underestimating Brandeis, and then ended the day by running a weary St. John’s squad off the field. Brandeis prides themselves on their conditioning and their intensity, and both were on full display Saturday.
Their legs were key in their comeback win against Geneseo, as well as their two emphatic victories over the pool favorites Lehigh and BAM*. Their cutters kept grinding in cuts,s running defenses ragged and getting hold after hold in the second half of games.
One of the prohibitive favorites coming in this weekend, a stumble against Brandeis in pool play may have hurt the team’s chances, but they are far from out of it. Their offense was electric all day, and with the exception of the beginning of the Brandeis game, was largely able to do whatever it wanted with the disc. Against St. Johns in particular their handler movement was devastating, as upline after upline moved the disc up the field and into power position for hucks to their imposing deep cutters. The prequarters victory over Bryant highlighted the team’s ability to make opposing defenses look helpless when Lehigh is firing on all cylinders. Efficient handler movement combined with effective break side flow to produce points that looked easy.
Defensively, Lehigh had some trouble taking away the opponent’s preferred option. They were unable to stop Brandeis’ unders and Geneseo was able to huck at will against them for large portions of the game. They will have to play better team defense on Sunday and work on taking away what teams want to do if they hope to succeed on Sunday.
St. John’s (1-2)
After running rampant thru North Central regionals, St. John’s BAM* came back to earth on Saturday. They simply didn’t have the same offensive cohesion they displayed three weeks ago. It certainly didn’t help that Nihal Bhakta was plagued by muscle cramps the entire day, as the superstar cutter was forced to limp up and down the field as he valiantly tried to engineer a comeback in their pre-quarters loss to Claremont. The team visibly tired down the stretch of their game against the Brianeaters, which came just after they were run off the field by Brandeis the round before. With all the accomplished veterans on the squad, not being in contention on Sunday will surely hurt for a team that entered the year with such high expectations.
It was a day of “what ifs” for the Metro East squad that came close in all three of their games, but were unable to come away with a victory in the team’s first ever trip to nationals. Missing 10 players from their roster, including 1st Team All-Region handler David Abbott, Snail didn’t have the legs or the composure to put away games. Leading Brandeis 10-8 with the disc on the goal line, Snail turned the disc on a hasty throw and what could have been a three point lead with hard cap approaching instead gave Brandeis the opportunity to come back and win the game on universe, springboarding Tron to their huge day and consigning Snail to a day of close defeats.
Outlook for Sunday
With Brandeis taking the top spot in the pool away from Lehigh, the number two overall seed now finds itself matched up in the bracket with number one Bentley. Ice House looked scary enough on Saturday without their missing seniors, their added presence could mean trouble for Lehigh in this premier matchup.
On the other side of the bracket, GOP and Brandeis will clash for a spot in the semifinals. This game presents an interesting look at different playing styles, as the mechanical Brandeis team faces the exuberant squad from Carleton. GOP’s athleticism could be a problem for a Brandeis roster that lacks height, but then again Tron was able to take care of business in pool play against teams that all boasted impressive deep games.