College Championships: Pool D Round 1 & 2 Recaps (Men’s), Presented by Ultimate Central

UNCW is still the favorite in Pool D after two rounds of play

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Round 1:

Colorado 15 – 12 UCSB

Playing on the showcase fields to start the morning, the 2014 champs Colorado Mamabird kicked off their title defense against UCSB Black Tide.

In a throwback matchup between rivals from the old Southwest region — the two programs have won a combined eight national titles between them — neither team looked like their title contending predecessors, at least at the start. First game jitters and rust definitely seemed to be a factor for both teams. Throwaways, dropped pulls, and blown defensive coverages marked the early stages of the game as the players struggled to get up to speed physically and mentally.

Neither defense was applying too much pressure; the focus was on taking away easy scores and forcing the opposition to make a lot of throws. Santa Barbara’s athletic handlers made several spectacular possession saving grabs that made up for some less than crisp throwing in the dump scheme, and after some early miscues, were able to score fairly easily against the loose Colorado defense.

After each team broke twice, Mamabird was set to receive for half with the scored knotted up at 7-7. UCSB loaded up on defense looking for the break, moving U23 stud Hunter Corbett over to the D-line. After forcing three turnovers from Mamabird, Black Tide’s defense finally punched in a score to break for half.

Mamabird broke out of half with a loaded D-line of their own to even the score at 8-8, and from there the two teams traded holds to 11-11. At this point, still down a break and needing to make something happen, Mamabird trotted out Stanley Peterson on defense, and stifling pressure on the UCSB handlers forced a turnover which lead to a Colorado break. Coach Brett Zionic elected to keep the pressure on, moving offensive stalwarts Pawel Janus and Pete Gleason over to the defense in an attempt to put the game to bed.

After forcing an errant hammer from the UCSB offense, Janus reeled in a huck from Jeremy Harker and dished to Oak Nelson for another break to give Mamabird a 13-11 lead that they would not relinquish, eventually winning the game 15-12.

UMass 15 – 7 Cornell

Massachusetts started their day strong against 20th seeded Cornell, jumping out to a big 8-2 halftime lead.

Shifting between man and zone effectively, Zoodisc’s athletes made life miserable for Cornell’s offense. Off of turns UMass was quick to put up hucks, and in the first half they were connecting on them much more often than not.

Coming out of halftime Massachusetts took their foot off the gas a bit, which allowed Cornell to go on a 4-1 run and tightened the score to 9-6. During this run UMass had taken some of their starters out of rotation, and without Ben Sadok and Brett Gramann behind the disc, Massachusetts struggled to hit on some of their throws. Once Zoodisc’s starters came back for every point, they took control of the game back from the Buds.

With the score at 9-6, Jeff Babbitt skied everyone in the endzone to extend the lead for Massachusetts and Zoodisc wouldn’t look back from there. On the whole it was a dominant performance by Babbitt, as he racked up 5 goals and 5 assists. He will need to continue his sterling play though out the weekend as Zoodisc moves on to tougher competition.

Round 2:

**Note: After a bye slot, “Round 2” in Pool D took place during the third time slot, 12:30 Central Time.

UMass 15 –  7 UCSB

Massachusetts Zoodisc picked up where they left off this morning and continued their excellent play, handily defeating UCSB Black Tide 15-7 to move to 2-0 in pool play.

The game got out of hand quickly for Santa Barbara, as several unforced turnovers by Black Tide were quickly converted into breaks by UMass’s Dline. In their game against Colorado this morning, UCSB’s sloppiness in the beginning of the game could have been attributed to rust or first game jitters, but there were no such excuses for them in this game against UMass. It appears as though UCSB just doesn’t have the offensive polish to consistently move the disc against hard defense.

They had some success early in the game by putting over the top throws past Massachusetts’s 3-3-1 zone. Hunter Corbett was able to connect on multiple hammers that kept UCSB in the game, but in general the team had trouble creating any kind of dynamic offense. With the score 5-3, UMass put on the jets and started to cruise past their opponents, punishing almost every turnover with quick, efficient scores.

As efficient as their defense was, Zoodisc’s offense was even better. They went unbroken the entire game, and were often able to score in just a few throws. Jeff Babbitt continues to dominate every time he steps on the field, and has done it all for UMass’s offense. So far this weekend he has shown that he is much more than just an athletic deep cutter, as he has run sets from the handler position and been the go-to thrower on several lines. He tallied 4 assists to go along with his 4 goals in the game, and was able to run past, over, and through any defender UCSB put on him.

In Zoodisc’s first win of the day win over Cornell, the team let a big lead dwindle by losing some focus and taking some of their top personnel out of the game. They would not repeat that behavior, as they took an 8-4 lead into half and pushed that advantage in the second to expand the lead. The kind of mental focus UMass showed in the blowout was encouraging, and will be important when they take on the top two seeds in their pool, Colorado and Wilmington, tomorrow.

UNC Wilmington 14 – 10 Cornell

The Cornell Buds gave 4-seed UNC Wilmington a much closer game than most probably anticipated.

After trading points with Wilmington though the first half, the Buds got broken on the last point of the half to enter the recess trailing 8-6. They continued to fight hard in the second half and were consistently able to work the disc well on offense thanks to a standout game from handler Franklin Li. After getting a big upwind break to close deficit to 11-10, it appeared that Cornell had a real chance at pulling off a major upset.

That would be as far as they got however, as Wilmington turned up the intensity on defense and did not allow Cornell to score another point. After Cornell’s break reduced Wilmington’s lead to 11-10, Xavier Maxstadt responded by ripping a picture perfect flick huck sixty yards upwind to Erik Esposto for a score. We all know how little fear Maxstadt has on the field when it comes to making the big throw, and that crucial score was another reminder.

Following Maxstadt’s huck, Wilmington’s defense noticeably turned up their intensity and made it much harder for Cornell to work the disc around. Two turns on dump throws led to two quick Wilmington hucks for scores, and the Seamen closed out the game 14-10 on a three point run.

Despite the win and impressive performance in the last several points, Wilmington’s profligacy early in the game allowed Cornell to stick around longer than they probably should have. Every extra point that the Seamen put on their legs during pool play will have an effect in the later rounds this weekend, and they can’t afford to let teams like Cornell hang around as long as they did.

  1. Patrick Stegemoeller
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    Patrick Stegemoeller is a Senior Staff Writer for Ultiworld, co-host of the Sin The Fields podcast, and also a lawyer who lives in Brooklyn.

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