Round One Recap: 2014 College Championships

CINCINNATI — Here is a recap of the 8:30 AM round of play at the College Championships.

MEN’S

UNC Wilmington (#5) v. Carleton (#16)

A 4-0 run at the end of the first half sealed a 15-13 victory for Carleton in a big early upset over 5th seeded UNC Wilmington. The UNC-W offense that was so sharp against UNC in their huge upset over UNC at Regionals showed signs of early jitters, giving up five breaks in the first half.

Sef van Kan and Jesse Bolton were the stars for Carleton, grinding out in cuts and outrunning UNC-W’s defenders.

Carleton opened up a 3-1 lead with two early breaks, but UNC-Wilmington answered back with a pair of breaks of their own to retake the lead at 5-4. After a timeout, Carleton responded with a big run to take half, thanks to some excellent reset defense that even earned a point block against UNC-W’s Luke Hancock.

Wilmington was sharper in the second half; they did not got broken. Their defense couldn’t make much of an impact on Carleton’s smooth offense, though. They did break to start the half after an unforced Carleton turnover (a common theme for both teams throughout the game). They cut the Cut lead to one with another break three points later.

But Carleton’s handlers — particularly Justin Lim and Ben Caffrey — were poised and held off the Wilmington attack to close out the 15-13 win. Jesse Bolton scorched Robert Goode deep on the final point to seal the victory.

Central Florida (#14) v. Texas A&M (#7)

Dew on the grass. Nerves. Not fully warmed up. Nationals or not, the early points of the first game are often about surviving your mistakes. After five points of first round follies that included A&M staying in zone way too long, a terrible UCF pull that netted eight yards, and a requisite huck to no one, the Dogs of War found themselves up 4-1.

Down two breaks and without Dalton Smith, who suffered a hamstring injury during warmups, things were looking bleak for Texas A&M.

Enter A&M’s first team All-Region star, Matt Bennett. Dozen starts grinding to get back on serve. At this point, Bennett is playing every point and doing everything. Huge backhand hucks, break scoobers, hard defense. Texas A&M dropped a pull to go down 12-10, so Bennett went a head and caught pulls from that point on — just to be sure.

With an adjustment to force flick and an unholy layout catch by Jeremy Langdon – which is probably going to be in a banner ad for some kind of Ultimate specific sports drink — the Dogs never looked back, winning 15-11.

UCF is playing ferocious and they’ve been battle tested. Even with A&M missing some key components, this is still an upset. A great first win for a team trying to get back to the championship game.

Keys to the Game

Central Florida was dominant in the air. This is a big, fast team. With their hucking game firing on all cylinders and their ability to break zones with Mike Ogren hammers, the Dogs had solutions to the different zone and man looks Dozen was throwing at them.

Other Notes

Dozen’s Matt Bennett (#2) vs. UCF’s John Best (#33) was the game within the game. Two all region players pinning their ears back and going at it. Each guy got his at some point. Bennett was relied on to do a little bit more. Best’s defense was smothering.

Florida (#3) v. Rutgers (#20)

The score may have finished 15-10, but the Florida Gators still trotted our their stars against the fifth seed Rutgers Machine. Defense or offense, James Dahl and Jason Silverman joined Bobby Ley in a talented backfield to lead the charge against Machine.

Florida showed dynamic scoring ability against the Rutgers man defense, scoring often after a rash of lightning quick resets running through Ley and Silverman, but also taking advantage of Ley in isolation looking deep to streaking cutters.

Machine matched the shallow Florida rotation with their own top layers, with seniors Matt Weintraub anchoring the backfield for the majority of the game and Scott Xu in a utility role that would see him handle, cut, and defend.

It wasn’t all easy for Florida. Walking out on offense with an 8-5 lead to start the second half, the Gators seed and confidence may have gotten the better of them. A few rushed hucks, some impressive turns generated by an unrelenting man defense, and Rutgers had stolen three straight breaks from the Gators to tie the game.

Rallying around Ley and Silverman for the rest of the game, Florida checked themselves and ground out the rest of the game, going on a 7-2 run to finish. It may have been a case of the first-game jitters, but Florida’s shallow line up may have trouble later today when they face a Carleton CUT team hot off their first round upset.

Pittsburgh (#2) v. Dartmouth (#18)

16 hours on a bus is not conducive to playing your best Ultimate. Neither is playing the two time defending champion in the opening round. Dartmouth did a nice job stopping Pitt’s pull plays with zone defense, but then you’re just picking a different poison. Pitt took the foot off the gas around 9-5 and took some studs off of the defensive line. Give Dartmouth credit, they were still able to score, but this result was never in question.

Pitt wins 15-8.

WOMEN’S

Oregon (#2) vs. Colorado College (#18)

Oregon got off to a bit of a slow start against their pool five seed, Colorado College. The teams traded early before Oregon opened up a 6-3 lead, and Fugue eventually took the first half.

Colorado College’s Lisi Lohre was an ever-present influence on the game, constantly resetting, throwing breaks, and putting up hucks. On the other side, Oregon defended the rest of Strata well, but struggled to build offensive flow without the aid of a fast break. Unforced errors gave Strata a few too many possessions, or ones that were too easy.

In the end, however, Oregon’s speed and depth was too much for Colorado College to compete with. A few late second half scores for Fugue allowed them to open their national title defense with a 15-10 victory.

UC-Santa Barbara (#5) vs. UCLA (#16)

Two of the top Southwest squads went after one another to start off their College Championships and the game played out like you might expect: they were very familiar with one another.

UCLA had the first break of the game to go up 4-2, headed by the stellar play of Alexa Cohen. BLU utilized some early zone sets to try and contain the forward motion of UCSB’s fast moving offense. Neither team was particularly clean and hucks of varying percentages were plentiful.

The Burning Skirts adjusted by sending superstar Lisa Pitcaithley downfield more on offense, using Kelly Gross to piston up shots for the 5’10” Callahan shortlister. Pitcaithley was utterly dominant, scoring or assisting on the first 10 Santa Barbara points, catching discs over the head of anyone and everyone, while shredding zones from both behind and in front of the disc.

Michelle Chang put up some great hucks and Cohen continued to do a great job downfield, on both offense and defense, but the Santa Barbara foursome of Pitcaithley, Gross, Noelle Neason, and Joy Kang proved capable of carrying a hefty offensive weight. With little wind, UCSB attacked UCLA’s zone over the top and kept the disc moving and eventually netted their first win, 15-9.

Whitman (#9) vs. Cornell (#20)

Whitman began their Friday strong against Cornell, gaining a lead early and warming up their offensive flow against Cornell Wild Roses. The Wild Roses were able to build offensive movement between their handlers, but they would usually get 4 or 5 throws in a possession before they either threw the disc away or threw to a close match up that Whitman was able to take advantage of. Indeed Whitman stayed true to their gritty nature, earning run-through Ds on close calls and working defensively downfield to limit Cornell’s options.

Cornell was able to keep it close enough as both teams brushed off morning dew and morning jitters, but Whitman was consistent, calm, and efficient. Alex Hardesty had a great game for Whitman with authoritative handling and a few great physical Ds.

Whitman was able to notch a solid win 15-10 with reliable handling from Julia Bladin and Hardesty, finding Celine Valentin and Claire Revere downfield regularly. Cornell had smooth offense, but they lacked the physicality to gain back their own breaks.

Tufts (#14) vs. Stanford (#7)

Tufts and Stanford stayed neck and neck from the first moments of the game, both teams submitting proof early on that they deserved the coveted 2-seed position. Stanford Superfly began their game with rapid-fire give and go’s between Steph Lim, Monisha White, and Maya Jennie Lummis. These quick offensive transitions carried them through several points early on, finding Kellie Schueler and Hilary Vance downfield.

Tufts EWO adjusted, shutting down this handler movement with close man defense. They forced Stanford into a much calmer vertical stack, where they had to work their cutters and find inside breaks. Tufts plays hard, physical defense: Michaela Fallon and Qxhna Titcomb are imposing forces on the field, and they gained several Ds simply with their presence.

Stanford started to look better and better as the first half progressed, and Hilary Vance almost single-handedly took half for Stanford with a huge layout D, another D within the point, and a clean assist to Maya White.

Out of half, Tufts responds with a score to make it 8s, with Emily Shields working the under space with fast feet and sticky hands. Stanford persevered, earning Ds and maintaining possession on offense with skilled throws from Lim and White. Tufts never relented, putting up talented looks from Fallon and JoJo Emerson to great plays from Mia Greenwald. But they weren’t able to gain the breaks they needed against Stanford’s handlers. Stanford eked out a close win, 13-11 in soft cap.

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