Round 9 Recap: 2014 College Championships

Here is the recap of the 9th and final round of pool play at the College Championships.

MEN’S

Pittsburgh (#2) v. Central Florida (#14)

It’s rare to have a game plan that holds water when the game starts. Instinct takes over. Momentum rises and falls. Things don’t go the way you drew them up and the mind panics. That is, unless you’re UCF coach Andrew Roca, who previewed the Dogs fourth round game against Pitt with me perfectly a half an hour before the first pull.

“On of the biggest things I saw this season is them getting beat deep, but we have to open up opportunities to go deep,” Roca said following a pool play win over Dartmouth. “That’s going to be the biggest challenge. I think once we’re in the air we’re going to be golden.”

Even though Pitt held seed and defeated UCF 15-12 – Roca wasn’t lying.

Offensively, this game was a home run derby. Huge throws to huge guys, over and over again. Pitt knew what UCF was doing and often couldn’t stop it. The Dogs’ big guys Jeremy Langdon (#25), freshman Michael Fairley (#5), and Stuart Little (#74) ran wild in the first half. Moon shot hucks came from Brawley Adams (#1), John Best (#33), and Mike Ogren (#42).

Unlike the other teams in Pool B, the Dogs ran very little junk defense at Pitt. The Dogs challenged Pitt with man and generated some early turns with hard pressure. Yeah, Pitt’s got athletes, but so does UCF. You can tell by the score.

UCF isn’t the only one team that can huck. Throughout all of this Pittsburgh’s Pat Earles (#3) is throwing break huck after break huck to the upwind endzone.

Pitt takes half 8-7 on serve and makes their adjustments, running switches on in cuts to keep a man deep. It works, kind of. The strategy slows Central Florida down but Pitt wasn’t really taking the disc away.

Playing the deep game, being as heavily invested in the deep game as UCF was is a lot like living and dying by the three pointer in basketball. A lot can go wrong from that far away, and if you’re not clicking, Pitt will make you pay. The Dogs have a good short game, too, no question, but hucking was a category where Central Florida held a serious advantage.

Pitt scores to make it 12-11 and UCF is hanging tough. Then a familiar scene unfolded. Head coach Nick Kaczmarek calls for the muscle and sends out a KILL line of Tyler Kunsa, Max Thorne, Aaron Watson, Trent Dillon, Christian Pitts, Marcus Ranii-Dropcho, and the man of the hour, Pat Earles.

Ranii-Dropcho forces a misread on a hammer, Earles gets the disc and rips a break huck to Max Thorne. Pitt goes on to win 15-12.

Earles finished the game with an unbelievable stat line. Six assists, two goals, and zero turnovers.

UC San Diego (#13) v. Eastern Michigan (#17)

Despite dropping into an 8-3 trench, Eastern Michigan stormed back to make it close with UC San Diego before falling 15-12 in the last round of pool play today.

Riding high at 11-6, the Air Squids slipped into a complacent mindset and let the Fighting Hellfish string together four in a row to make it an exciting battle at 11-10. Johnny Bansfield led the EMU offense with precision flicks, racking up five assists along the way.

A few risky decisions near the end, however, prevented the Fighting Hellfish from completing the massive comeback. The Air Squids managed to reclaim their poise and energy after drifting away from their characteristic discipline.

Aaron Lee, the only UCSD player also on the roster for the Air Squids’ last trip to Nationals, said that his team straying away from their identity near the end led to EMU’s comeback.

“We’re very good at finding our energy inside. When we tap that energy we can beat anybody,” Lee said. “It’s gotta come down to discipline. We can’t let little things distract us from that discipline.”

Such discipline was evident in the first half where, after essentially trading to 4-3, UCSD exploded into a 4-0 run to take half up 8-3.

Both teams took turns being efficient on offense, bringing the score to 11-6. It seemed like the Air Squids would walk away with it.

Then it was all Hellfish.

Loud sidelines and fiery energy bolstered the hungry play of EMU, as they rolled off a four-point run before UCSD had a chance to respond.

They did so with a mini-run of their own to expand their lead to 13-10 before the Fighting Hellfish found their stride again and forced another one-point margin at 13-12.

A big sky by Trevor Purdy gave the UCSD some cushion, and an excited EMU squad took some questionable looks trying to climb back into the match. None of them worked, and the Air Squids wound up closing it out.

Nevertheless, EMU veteran James Highsmith saw much to be proud of from his team in their first Nationals appearance.

He said the Fighting Hellfish’s defensive intensity really picked up in the second half, and let them scratch their way back.

“We had to go back to our roots as a defensive team,” Highsmith said. “The second half defense really picked up. Everyone was on their man.”

He added that considering how close EMU’s games were, the team came away from pool play with the knowledge that they can hang with any team.

Moreover, he noted that thanks in great part to the squad’s sidelines, the team was able to keep their energy up despite running nearly savage all weekend.

“A lot of our sidelines traveled with us the whole season. That’s huge for us,” Highsmith said. “It’s their Nationals almost as much as it is ours.”

Texas (#3) v. Tufts (#15)
UNC (#6) v. Florida State (#10)

The highlight of Pool C was the Texas v. Tufts game that decided seeding moving forward. Texas won handily, enabling them to not have too many players play consecutive points. Despite the great play of senior Eric Shaw, Tufts fell short in a 15-11 loss. Both teams are playing in the prequarters.

FSU looked to grab their second win against a UNC Darkside team that had already locked up their first round bye. Both teams were certain of their final pool positions, causing UNC to rest players and DUF to open up their lines. DUF grabbed the 15-13 win. UNC will play the winner of Harvard and UNC-Wilmington in quarterfinals tomorrow morning.

WOMEN’S

Central Florida (#3) vs. Northeastern (#15)

The first instinct is to guess that Central Florida, coming off a 3-0 game streak, would take it easy in their final game against Northeastern. Northeastern couldn’t unseat their seeding, but the Valkyries unseated the Sirens’ perfect record with a 15-13 upset, and it was a close battle until the end.

Central Florida and Northeastern traded points to begin, hitting 3-3 quickly. Central Florida was up a break, but the Valkyries played to the hilt in each matchup, with Melissa Ellis loading her stats sheet with layout blocks. Northeastern grabbed a break off one of these D’s, and Central Florida tried to rally their energy to match the Valkyries.

Central Florida was not coasting: they kept their top lines on for most of the game, and Sunny Harris and Mariel Hammond rallied their team after every score, demanding that the Sirens “hit the ground” and “want it more than they do.” They wanted it, and they were trying to want it more than Northeastern.

Northeastern played more cautiously against a zone and a team that they already knew would steal their deep looks, but their offense still looked good, and Mei Brust made a lot of crucial saves downfield.

Northeastern took half 8-6, up two breaks. The Sirens offense looked more locked in the second half, with laser puts from Harris to Erin Goding several times in the endzone. The Sirens began to find their defensive fire as well, with quick reflex D’s from Shelby Spence, and they took their break to make it 10-10 late in the game. Their zone generated another turn, and the Sirens sealed a big break again.

The Valkyries dug deep, refusing to tire against a seemingly tireless Sirens line. They came back 12-11, and persevered with hungry and opportunistic offense that gave them at least two 50/50 grabs in the endzone.

The Sirens stayed fired up and they stayed angry, but the Valkyries wanted the game more. They had a point to prove with their eventual 15-13 victory. They won’t continue into prequarters because of their loss to Colorado this morning, but they made their statement against a semifinals favorite.

Tufts (#14) vs. Oregon (#2)

Sandwiched between a game that was brutal and a prequarters that they knew would be, Tufts seemed to take it easy against the 1-seed Oregon, losing 5-15. Oregon grabbed a 7-2 lead quickly in the first half despite long points in which Tufts worked through the Fugue zone. Oregon took half 8-3.

Oregon carried the game away in the second half, outscoring the resting Tufts 7-2 to win the game 15-5. Both teams will advance, Tufts to the prequarters and Oregon to quarters.

Stanford (#7) vs. Western Washington (#11)

Stanford and Western Washington met in the fourth round as the official non-contenders for prequarters in their pool, and with the pressure off, Chaos found their first win of the weekend 15-10, with Callie coming back into play to help her team find a boost of energy.

Stanford Superfly went up early with strong looks from Maya White, Monisha White, and Steph Lim. Western had a few missed connections early despite Callie’s contributions, but at 7-4 Chaos woke up and decided to make some changes.

Western went on a 7-point run, capitalizing on Stanford’s drops and winning 50/50 looks. Mah’s influence shone as she got bookends to make it 11-7, and then Stanford recovered slightly to score from Veronica Cruz to Rosemarie Sandino.

But Stanford’s energy wasn’t there. They knew they had lost the three team tie in their pool, and even though they kept up with Chaos after that score, Western continued to break their zone and close in the endzone, winning their first game 15-10.

Carleton (#6) vs. British Columbia (#10)

With both teams potentially fighting for their tournament lives, Carleton and British Columbia met on the showcase field. The teams traded blows in the Ohio sun, but Carleton’s offense lacked the punch it needed to match the Thunderbirds. UBC took the victory, and secured a spot in the prequarters as the pool’s number two seed, with a 15-12 win.

The first half was a wash, with both teams notching a break. The stars were out, with Julia Snyder of Syzygy and Mira Donaldson of British Columbia making their presence felt: Snyder scored or assisted the first three Carleton points (with a pair of Ds), while Donaldson tallied two goals and three assists in the first half. Victoria McCann also helped the Thunderbirds, registered a goal and three assists to help UBC take the 8-7 lead at half.

British Columbia opened the second half with two scores to take a three point lead before Carleton began battling back. Sarah Robinson made a number of big defensive plays, including an impressive layout on a British Columbia under cut. However, Carleton struggled to punch in breaks or finish off holds once they got Ds. Four points in the second half saw Syzygy get multiple Ds without finding the end zone.

In the end, UBC was able to defend Carleton and force them to make plays, which they failed to do. Snyder finished with three goals and five assists for Carleton, while Donaldson had four goals and five assists in the victory.

Both teams advanced on point differential to the prequarters. Carleton faces Tufts and British Columbia draws Colorado College.

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

Kansas was eliminated from bracket contention, but they played a game that was anything but meaningless against Virginia in the final pool play round of Saturday. Virginia was forced to claw and battle for the entirety of the game against a Betty team with only pride on the line. Virginia’s fate was not as certain, but they ensured a Prequarters berth with a 15-13.

After trading through the first three points, Virginia took five of the next six to capture an 8-4 half time lead. Callahan candidate Alika Johnston was on fire, launching hucks, getting Ds, and ignoring marks. She is a terror in the red zone because of her quickness – both in getting resets and in beating the force.

Kansas brought the game back within reach, with tenacity throughout the second half. There was a three point run for Betty, but it was mostly a steady resistance as they dug out errant throws and pushed through long points. Caitlin Fitzgerald and Clare Frantz were instrumental in the comeback, helping Kansas grind out yardage against Virginia’s reputable defense.

The three point run came with the Pool A five seed down 7-10. Virginia made some short field mistakes, but Kansas earned three in a row. It was close for most of the end of the game, but Sarah Hansen hit Theresa Hackett to close it out, 15-13.

  1. Charlie Eisenhood
    Charlie Eisenhood

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

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