Smooth UNC Offense Gets Them Into First-Ever National Semifinal

The Wisconsin Hodags put on a defensive clinic yesterday against Carleton CUT in the prequarters, and we expected nothing less than a game full of extremely tight matchups against North Carolina Darkside this morning in the quarterfinals. Despite those bidding Hodag defenders on their tails, UNC outran and out-gunned Wisconsin in a 15-9 drubbing.

A UNC Darkside player lays out at the College Championships.
Photo by Kevin Leclaire — UltiPhotos.com

The Wisconsin Hodags put on a defensive clinic yesterday against Carleton CUT in the prequarters, and we expected nothing less than a game full of extremely tight matchups against North Carolina Darkside this morning in the quarterfinals. Despite those bidding Hodag defenders on their tails, UNC outran and out-gunned Wisconsin in a 15-9 drubbing.

Nethercutt And Johnson In The Driver Seat For Darkside

The man defense was there for Wisoconsin, but the true spectacle of this game was the trust of the UNC throwers. It was no surprise that Jonathan Nethercutt led the way in the backfield for UNC, using all sorts of throws to score against the Hodag defense. He rarely missed his cutters, with almost all of his big throws arcing out high over the open side, and then tailing onto the break to make them nearly unblockable.

Johnson took a few turns in the backfield himself, stepping up to help on the resets where injured senior star Ben Snell usually pairs in an unstoppable passion with Nethercutt. While the major connection remained Nethercutt to Johnson, the connection reversed at least once for a score, and Johnson also found Jimmy Zuraw for a score early on. Nethercutt finished the game with a whopping nine assists, with Johnson snagging five goals and assisting on three more.

Hodags Junk Ineffective Against Darkside’s Height

Yesterday, Coach Hector Valdivia and his staff rolled out their junk zone against a CUT backfield that had previously been unstoppable. The smaller and shallower CUT rotation couldn’t find a rhythm against the junk, and Hodags very effectively converted the turns they generated.

Darkside, however, was ready for the Hodag defensive scheme. Pushing their cutters further down field in a horizontal stack, UNC launched throws over the swarming Wisconsin wall, finding open cutters and annihilating the center of the zone.

Wisconsin also got a taste of their own medicine, as UNC rolled out their own zone and forced a number of bad Wisconsin throws. Both teams would miss a fair amount on their big shots, but it was UNC who was able to run through long points and convert the scores.

As UNC pulled ahead, it became clear that their top players, many of whom had rested even more than the top end of the Hodag lineup during pool play, were fresher and maintained control. Wisconsin got great effort from Camp, co-captain Jordan O’neill, Danny Stuligross, Craig Cox, and sophomore standout from Saturday, Ross Barker. It just wasn’t enough against the well-oiled machine that North Carolina looked to be.

UNC is in the College Championships semifinal for the first time in program history. They will face regional rival UNC Wilmington, who hasn’t been to the semis since the 1990s, tonight.

  1. Simon Pollock
    Simon Pollock

    Simon Pollock is a Contributing Editor at Ultiworld. He lives in Seattle and started writing for the site in 2014 while living in Baltimore, MD. Email him: simon@ultiworld.com or tweet at him: @_simonpollock_ .

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