The first two weekends of action are in the books and some top teams are already writing their 2017 story.
January 25, 2017 by Keith Raynor in News, Recap with 2 comments
During the spring season, every other Wednesday,1 we will publish a bite-sized biweekly recap of the action across the College Division. This will serve as a supplement to our standard tournament reporting and will offer a high-level look at the latest happenings and the biggest stories of the week.
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North Carolina Starts Strong at Carolina Kickoff
Full tournament recap can be found here!
#5 North Carolina was an effective and efficient machine befitting of their ranking at their hometown Carolina Kickoff. Heavily favored after rival #3 UNC-Wilmington was forced to drop from the tournament, UNC was dominant, with no margin of victory smaller than three and four games won by six or more. Matt Gouchoe-Hanas, freshman Anders Juengst, and Nathan Kwon all made big plays on Darkside’s uncontested run to the tournament title.
The rest of the tournament seemed like a crapshoot. Both of the preseason ranked teams, Connecticut and Georgia Tech, struggled with some missing pieces and injuries, winning just one game between them. Instead, it was #20 Central Florida and #23 NC State that rose up the ranks. UCF was led by Michael Fairley, a serious matchup quandry for just about any college team, and was playing without Stuart Little. NC State’s Davis Mossman and strong rookie class flashed real signs of growth and they could raise a little Cain in the Atlantic Coast. Florida was the fourth semifinalist, led by Billy O’Bryan and Tanner Repasky, with a solid looking defense that will keep them in the mix in the Southeast.
Oregon Cruises Through Flat Tail Open
The #1 team in the land, Oregon Ego, performed mostly as expected in their season opener. They throttled a crew of teams fighting to get to Regionals and B teams on Saturday before finally encountering resistance. It was still a cakewalk through their semi and they defeated Oregon State 11-8 in the final. They did it all without the services of Connor Matthews, but getting big contributions from Adam Rees, Will Lohre, and standount freshman handler Colby Chuck. Chuck’s drawn first blood in what looks like a crowded ROTY race.
There’s not much to report from the rest of a lower tier field. OSU has been trending upward as of late and their performance is a continuation of that. They’ll head to the Stanford Open, where a victory could send them to the west coast’s most prestigious tournament with a chance to make waves.
Air Force started their D3 season with a bang, finishing third and only losing to Oregon State on the weekend; it looks like they’ll again be a strong presence nationally and in the South Central for D3.
Full tournament recap can be found here!
#3 Dartmouth was the first team considered a championship contender to take the field, heading to Apopka, FL for Florida Winter Classic. They head back north with the tournament win in hand. Along the way, they notched quality wins over #23 Kansas, #13 Ohio State, and #20 Florida (twice). While Jaclyn Verzuh, Julianna Werffeli, and Angela Zhu provide massive challenges for any team, Dartmouth was running open lines and turning to their depth this early in the year. Caitlyn Lee stood out as a major contributor and seems poised for a breakout season.
The other finalist, Florida, had a big weekend to open the year. They haven’t won a ton of big games in recent years, but have always been solid. This year’s veteran laden team might be onto bigger and better things. A pair of wins over #22 Vermont were by strong margins, and their losses to Dartmouth and Ohio State were mostly close. All of their other wins were blowouts.
Vermont and Ohio State were the other semifinalists, and had solid but unremarkable weekends. #23 Kansas, led by Clare Frantz and Kelsey Akin, were another one of the surprises, with a 6-1 weekend where their only loss was to Dartmouth. They might be a real player in the South Central.
Virginia Narrowly Victorious at Winta Binta Vinta Fest
#11 Virginia Hydra hosted their annual season opener, Winta Binta Vinta Fest, and won the tournament per usual. But it wasn’t exactly a smooth ride through the unremarkable field in Charlottesville. With the typical January caveats about early season play and open lines, UVA cruised through Saturday but was tested Sunday. In the semifinals, they needed a second half comeback to defeat UNC-Wilmington 12-10. In the final against Liberty, they gave up a huge five point run to force double game point, which they scored for the close win.
The narrow margins are cause for concern, but Virginia had a quiet start to the year in 2016 and finished that year in the semifinals, so there’s no need to sound the alarm yet.
- Santa Barbara Invite is the major event on the calendar this weekend. 11 of the top 25 teams from the two divisions will take the field, headlined by #1 Stanford and #2 Whitman in the women’s division. We could get a championship game rematch this Sunday!
- Flat Tail Women’s marks the debut of #7 Oregon, as well as Puget Sound, one of the west coast’s top D3 programs.
With some extras in March busy season; subject to change ↩