Oregon Salvages Quarters Spot Over Minnesota, Presented By Ultimate Central

Oregon gets a blank slate in quarters.

Oregon lays out for the disc at 2015 Nationals.
Photo: Jolie Lang — UltiPhotos.com

Oregon struggled throughout pool play, but advanced to prequarters and defeated Minnesota 14-11 to reach the Sunday bracket. But it was not an easy win, as Grey Duck gave Ego a run for their money in a tale of two halves.

Oregon started on offense, and the struggles started early. Minnesota’s Tony Poletto came up big with a layout Callahan the first point of the game. It’s good that they got their break early, because the first half would be one of the sloppiest halves of the tournament for both teams. There were a combined 34 turnovers for both teams in the first half.

Despite the sloppiness, Minnesota would hold their one break for most of the first half. Minnesota big men Josh Kautz and Ryan Osgar were big matchup problems for the Oregon defense, which struggled to stop the deep shots of Minnesota early. Tristan van de Moortele had his hands full with Dylan Freechild, but in the first half he was up to the challenge. If the Minnesota defense had been slightly more efficient, the scoreline could have been dramatically different. Freechild alone gave the Minnesota defense three chances to break in the first half, but Minnesota couldn’t take advantage.

Oregon had trouble punching in opportunities as well, with a deep game that was virtually non-existent. The Oregon O seemed perfectly content to only use one side of the field, and look off all of their same-third hucks. Oregon O looked unorganized and impatient, with a plethora of drops in the first half. Trevor Smith was suffering from a long term shoulder injury, and was spotty handling for Ego.

At 7-7, everything pointed in the direction of Minnesota. Even in a sloppy game, their deep presence gave them the advantage moving forward, an advantage that fizzled away when Dylan Freechild showed up. Oregon made the transition into an “every other” offense with Freechild at the helm. The former Callahan winner threw an around backhand under the foot of his mark for the 8-7 halftime lead.

The second half was different on both sides, with the defense stepping up its game and the offense improving its consistency. Oregon only had four turnovers in the second half, most of them coming on D-line shots to the endzone. Minnesota’s van de Moortele began losing his matchup with Freechild. But still, Oregon couldn’t convert their break chances to put Grey Duck away.

The soft cap horn blew at 11-11, and the Oregon mood changed. Trevor Smith put a deep shot to Connor Matthews who toes the back line by inches at most. While the volunteers took note of the score, Oregon had already forced a turn immediately off of the pull. Chris Strub assisted for the 13-11 lead.

A wild last point began with a layout D from Nic Heaton, giving Oregon a chance to break for the win. But Minnesota’s Callahan nominee Soham Shah wasn’t done yet. A huge handblock on Trevor Smith breathed life into Grey Duck for one final push. The Oregon D would not even entertain the possibility of a comeback. William Watkins got a D in the end zone, Ego bombed it to Trevor Smith, who continued to Nic Heaton for the score. Oregon finished on a 3-0 run.

At times, Oregon couldn’t move the disc well enough to put in O points, let alone breaks. But the last half of their prequarters showed the true potential of the team that has made semis the last three years. For Minnesota, they were close but ultimately overpowered by the tight defense of Ego. Josh Klane was as good as ever, but the slight wind made consistent deep looks difficult, and the underdog side will have to wait until next year.

Oregon faces off against Texas in the quarterfinals tomorrow at 8:30 AM.

  1. Preston Thompson
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    Preston Thompson has been a staff writer for Ultiworld since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Alabama where he played for four years. He started playing ultimate in the AFDC in Atlanta, GA in 2009. You can reach him by e-mail (preston.james.thompson@gmail.com) or follow him on Twitter (@pston3).

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