Round 4 Recap: 2014 College Championships

Here is a recap of the Round 4 Pool Play games from the 2014 College Championships.


Harvard (#8) v. UC San Diego (#13)

In a game of runs it’s all about how you finish.

UC San Diego learned that the hard way, falling to Harvard on double game point, 15-14, in pool play after being up 13-11. After four lead changes and seven different ties, it was Harvard and their consistent breaks that came out on top in a match that could’ve gone either way.

Red Line’s top players helped them close out in the end, with New England Player of the Year Jeremy Nixon racking up five assists, Mark Vandenberg notching four, and NE Rookie of the Year John Stubbs tallying four goals and one assist. After a pair of turnovers on the final point, it was Vandenberg looping a pretty outside-in flick to Nixon in the back of the endzone for the victory.

It was the culmination of an emotional ride, with both teams looking like the potential favorite at various points.

The Air Squids opened it up with two breaks right out of the gate. Red Line would find their groove without much hesitation, however, and jump right back in it. The teams traded to 5-5 until a few breaks allowed Harvard to take half at 8-6.

But the momentum would soon shift.

UCSD came out of the half like a group of mad men and go on a 5-1 run to give them the lead and a two-point cushion at 11-9. Each squad traded scores to 13-11, when another Harvard turn gave the Air Squids a chance to essentially seal the win. They would not convert.

Instead, Harvard would rattle off two in a row, gaining the final swing of momentum in the process. Another trade would send the match to double game point at 14s, with Harvard receiving.

A Stubbs huck sailed out the back of the endzone and gave UCSD a chance to take back the game. James Lai put up a floating huck that the 6’6” Trevor Purdy came down with on a good read. His backhand continue pass to Nikhar Abbas for the win, however, bounced off the latter’s hands and gave Harvard another shot. It would be all they needed.

Confident break throws and patient handler possession would make short work of the field before Nixon’s grab — over Abbas, coincidentally enough — would leave Red Line the victors. The Air Squids were crushed.

“Our mistakes lost us the game,” UCSD coach Kevin Stuart said. “We had a lot of opportunities to win.”

He went on to say that, unlike with Wisconsin, Harvard’s defense was nothing his team had never seen before. But poor execution and discipline, specifically in dump positioning and the tossing up of 50-50 balls, at the end let it slip away.

Harvard coach Michael MacKenzie said his team was able to pull away by turning up their defensive intensity and taking better care of the disc.

“Our offense settled down under pressure,” MacKenzie said. “We did a much better job of taking care of our opportunities.”

He said that Red Line’s experience being in numerous high-pressure situations earlier in the season helped them have the poise to execute when it got close.

Despite solid production from Lai (five goals and one assist), Paul Morimoto (five goals and one assist), and Nick Smith (four assists), the Air Squids just weren’t able to convert at the end. They will now have to best the #1 seed Colorado and #17 Eastern Michigan tomorrow in order to make prequarters.

Texas (#3) v. UNC (#6)

In Pool C’s 1v2 matchup, Texas played their first game of the day against UNC Darkside. UNC was reliant on their big two — Christian Johnson and Jon Nethercutt — to get them the 14-12 win.

Both Johnson and Nethercutt were extremely consistent and dynamic in both the jobs of scoring and covering the TUFF playmakers. One of the surprises of UNC’s team was Drew Chandler, who was charged with the task of covering TUFF speedster Mitchell Bennett. Chandler was able to not only contain Bennett downfield, but also landed two layout Ds on him before having to go out with an injury (he appears to be able to come back in their next matchup).

Bennett still was able to make a few of his typical plays, but for a Texas team that relied heavily on their upper level, they needed more; Chandler denied them.

Will Driscoll was on and off for a majority of this game. In the first half he was full of turns but full of scores as well. On their defensive offense, Driscoll primarily stayed behind the disc in order to maximize his touches. TUFF as a whole had a hard time getting used to UNCs staggering downfield defense. Texas may not yet be used to the tight windows they’ll have to hit to win these games. Consequently, there were multiple stall 9 turns that Texas didn’t need.

TUFF still has UMass to play, and will try and rebound against a team that earlier took Florida State to double game point. For UNC, they won’t be able to play through Christian Johnson and Nethercutt forever. UNC’s defense looks superb, but offensively they need more people who can move the disc quickly and precisely; they clearly miss Ben Snell. UNC is done for the day, but will play UMass in the second round tomorrow.

Florida State (#10) v. Tufts (#15)

In the 4th round of the day, the 3v4 game between FSU and Tufts was back and forth until Tufts took over late. The absence of Christ LaRocque from Florida State left them vulnerable to an upset from a Tufts team that nearly beat UNC this morning.

FSU’s depth shine late, when a 9-9 tie turned into a 14-11 win for the Elephant Men. This could possibly eliminate FSU from the championship bracket, unless they are able to score an upset over Texas.

Tomorrow Tufts will open against UMass, then face Texas.

Wisconsin (#12) v. Eastern Michigan (#17)

It’s full sun and windy. Eastern Michigan has 15 rostered players, and not all 15 can play. EMU has some players the Hodags would LOVE to have. They just don’t have enough of them. Tempers flare and a lack of big game experience shows as they fall to Wisconsin 15-11 after hanging tough early in the game.

For every player who went to a small school that built up a solid program without a lot of players, teams that squeezed a dozen players and were able to make lemonade — watching Eastern Michigan play at 2014 Nationals is inspiring. Within that, you realize that the value of depth.

Keys to the Game

Wisconsin was only up 8-7 at half but came out to find a tired EMU squad who was unable to give max effort after intermission. The Hodags sprinkled in some junk looks on defense. Some side stack GO plays on offense. That was enough to beat an EMU team playing near savage.

Other Notes

– EMU’s Johnny Bansfield (#55) is seriously elite. He throws “I dare you to catch this” pulls.
– Wisconsin might be the most well represented in terms of parent/entourage attendance. Hodag Love.



Michigan (#8) vs. Virginia (#12)

The Round 4 game between Michigan and Virginia featured few easy points and a number of big plays. Neither team let the margin extend too far, with Virginia pulling together a late comeback. The cap would close in, however, tolling the bell on their comeback and closing the door for a 14-13 Michigan victory.

Each team featured central handlers that were happy to take give and go’s whenever available, and sometimes when they weren’t. Michigan’s Meeri Chang, along with Hannah Henkin, saw numerous touches; Chang’s field vision is impressive, revealing the range of options she has with the disc. The same is true of Alika Johnston’s repertoire, clearly seeing the field in a different way than most players in the college game; she registered six assists and three Ds.

Sarah Hansen, however, may be the story for Hydra. Hansen was a force as a cutter, racking up major yardage and plenty of goals; she finished with 6G, 1A, and 3D. The junior cutter is off to a great start to the weekend.

Michigan’s Theresa Zettner rivaled Hansen’s play, picking up assists from just outside the end zone after getting it due to smart cutting and gutsy defense. She tallied 3G, 7A in the victory.

Flywheel took half 8-5 after a nice run of points, but the teams traded once the second half began. Both defenses looked tired and the offenses looked rhythmic. Michigan was the first to step up the defensive intensity, with Zettner, Jacqueline Jarik, and Becky Moore all doing work. Virginia recovered, however, in characteristic grinding fashion, behind Johnston and Hansen’s endless efforts.

In the end, Virginia’s rally was cut short. With hard cup looming, Michigan burned their final time out to end the upset bid. UVA scored the final goal, but Michigan had the last laugh.

Central Florida (#3) vs. Carleton (#6) 

The Sirens asserted themselves early in their first game, roaring out to a 6-1 lead behind their signature zone D, transition offense, and well spotted hucks. Carleton was missing captain Bri Rick, forcing her teammates to step up, and in a difficult situation against Sunny Harris, Mariel Hammond, and UCF. Central Florida found success in their first game, 15-9.

Carleton began to put things together near the end of the half, finding some success moving the disc against the Central Florida zone. They struggled, however, to contain the continuous movement and dish passes of their opponents and could never really close the gap.

Emily Buckner and Mariel Hammond matched up often, and while Buckner had some great bids that were very close, Hammond won the battle repeatedly. UCF’s zones kept Julia Snyder from taking over with her break throws and kept the transition offense opportunities coming. Harris finished the game with 8 assists in the victory.

UBC (#10) vs. Northeastern (#15)

Talent and size met up in the fourth round, as the Northeastern Valkyries and the UBC Thunderbirds squared off. Northeastern held a slim lead throughout before UBC tied it up late, but a double game point winner sent Northeastern to another upset, 14-13.

Northeastern began on defense and nabbed two breaks, but UBC took one back, and they remained down a break throughout most of the game as the teams traded points.

British Columbia’s Mira Donaldson and Laurel Jay have great disc skills, moving onto the break side to find Johannah Yeo in the midfield. But their throws were seriously tested as Northeastern’s notorious zone closed in on them. Their tall cup suffocated the UBC handlers time and again with uncalled double teams, and once they earned their turn, the Valkyries would send the disc deep to Mei Brust, Kate Flood, or Jenni Ladutko.

UBC for their part played impressively tight defense on the Northeastern handlers, forcing junk throws and last minute decisions. Downfield many of the Northeastern cutters were similarly marked, but often their height and good reads gave them the disc regardless.

Northeastern took a close half 8-7, and they came out on offense out of the half. They continued to trade points, UBC always down a break, until Northeastern pulled ahead 12-10 with great plays from Kate Flood and Jenni Ladutko once more. They battled through to 13-13 before hard cap was called: UBC pulled to Northeastern, and the Thunderbirds didn’t stand a chance, as Jenni Ladutko landed a huge huck, and reset to Hannah Walter. Walter found the indomitable Kate Flood in the endzone for yet another score and yet another upset.

Victoria (#13) vs. Kansas (#17)

The Victoria Vixens and Kansas Betty began their fourth round looking tired, with drops and foolish looks from both teams. Betty, a team known for their clean, smooth offense, had uncharacteristic turfed throws and missed connections, and while the score stayed close, neither team regularly scored upwind, trading long downwind points. Victoria managed to eke out the close win, 13-12.

Victoria pulled ahead to take half 8-5, with great plays from Kate Scarth, Corinne Dunwoody, and Danie Proby. Betty’s chances looked bleak. Their movements were there, but their mental game was missing. Christina Baker, Caitlin Fitzgerald, and Kat Songer continued to control Kansas’ backfield, sending long looks to Kailee Karr, who had a wealth of fantastic grabs and assists.

In the second half, however, Kansas reassessed, and they went on a powerful 6-2 run to tie the game. The wind died, and both teams started hucking it toward both endzones. The game remained sloppy, but Kansas looked more confident and effective, and after an insane grab from Kailee Karr, the game as at 12s, game to 13.

Kansas pulled to Victoria, and Victoria managed to break through with several impressive handler layouts from Scarth and Dunwoody. They worked toward the break side, and they sealed their seed with a 13-12 win.

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

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

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