Carolina Friends and East Chapel Hill asserted North Carolina's dominance.
March 29, 2017 by Patrick Stegemoeller in News, Recap with 2 comments
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The Triangle Area talent pool flexed on the rest of the mid-Atlantic this weekend in Arlington as two Carolina powerhouses came up I-95 and dominated at the YULA Invitational. Against some of the best teams from Virginia, New Jersey, and the Northeast, #1 Carolina Friends School and #5 East Chapel Hill cruised to the final and meet in a climactic struggle that reaffirmed Carolina Friends School’s bona fides as the top team in the country.
After a Saturday that saw some notable upsets, including #19 Columbia, the top seed of pool D, going 0-3 and missing the bracket, the quarterfinals presented further intrigue. CFS quickly disposed of a spirited HB Woodlawn and East Chapel Hill held off a Pine Richland squad whose surprise double game point win over Columbia on Saturday catapulted them into the quarters.
The closer matchups came in the other two games, with #24 Yorktown barely edging Pool C’s bottom seed, the Washington-Lee Slarenegs. It was cold, windy, and dour on Sunday morning, and the conditions acted as a bit of an equalizer, with long turnover filled points that were as much a test of a team’s endurance and mental focus as they were of ultimate skill.
Yorktown walked away with a hard fought 7-6 win, thanks in part to an impressive performance from Jonathon Malks.
Malks was all over the handler space, throwing fearlessly into the wind and showing excellent instincts in taking apart the Slareneg’s poachy zone looks. A senior, Malks is currently deciding on which college team he’ll join in the fall, and has apparently narrowed his choices down to North Carolina, Carleton, and Virginia Tech.
The fourth quarterfinal between Westfield and Lexington was also decided by a single point, culminating in a thrilling finish. After trailing 7-4 at half, Lexington fought back to knot the score up at 7-7, converting some tricky upwind breaks. The big hucks of Alexander Learner were a big part of the game plan for Lexington, as were the pinpoint breaks and over the top throws of Jeremy Bernier.
Westfield would regain their composure and punch in a key hold via a tremendous grab from Christopher Ng just outside the endzone that soon led to Westfield’s first hold score of the second half. Lexington responded just before the hard cap hard blew at 8-8 to send the game to double game point.
After forcing a turn, Lexington marched the disc upwind, 15 yards from the end zone and a berth in the semifinals. A layout block from Westfield in the endzone was called back on a foul, and then another block on a high stall bailout went back as well.
With tension rising, the third time proved to be the charm for Westfield. A drop from Lexington’s Learner finally gave the Blue Devils the turnover they had been looking for, and Cole Feltman quickly took advantage, sprinting to pick up the disc and launch a backhand downwind to Ng who made another spectacular catch just outside the end zone. One throw later, David Perry toed the sideline for the goal that gave Westfield the win on double game point and sent them into the semifinals.
Semifinals: Westfield v. ECH // CFS v. Yorktown
Westfield had to recover quickly from their dramatic win and get on the line against East Chapel Hill in a matter of minutes. They rolled the momentum from their quarters win right into the semifinal, going to toe-to-toe with the #5 team in the country.
Westfield’s wind game tactics were pragmatic, if not aesthetically appealing, and they won the field position battle for much of the first half by throwing gigantic hucks downwind to no one in particular and setting tough trap zones. East Chapel Hill caught a case of the drops in the first half, wasting multiple promising upwind break opportunities and generally contributing to a turnover-filled affair.
Leading 5-4, ECH finally got their upwind break and then promptly doubled down with the downwinder after a first throw turf from Westfield gave East Chapel Hill a short field. The long points burned up much of the round time and East’s 7-4 halftime lead looked unassailable.
However, Westfield broke out of half on a nice layout takeaway by Christopher McLaughlin and another assist from Ng who stood out as Westfield’s most dynamic player. It was too little too late, though, as they could not manufacture another break before the hard cap sounded; East Chapel Hill wrapped up a 9-7 win.
On the other side of the bracket, the outcome was never in doubt. Carolina Friends jumped out to an early lead over Yorktown and never relinquished it. A show of force in the first half from Liam Searles-Bohs, Jake Taylor, and Seth Lee was enough to overwhelm Yorktown, and the CFS coaching staff, which included UNC Darkside players Matt Gouchoe-Hanas and Nick MacLeod, opened up their lines for the second half.
Yorktown fought hard, but they were never going to take down the nation’s top team and ultimately bowed out in an 11-5 defeat.
Rivalry Final: CFS v. ECH
Thus, the stage was thus set for a Carolina clash that many had predicted, with two of the country’s top teams throwing down for the tournament crown. This would be the fifth matchup of the year between the two rivals, whose schools are located a mere six miles apart. Carolina Friends have had the upper hand all year, but the games have been close and this would be no exception.
The wind had died down, and the temperature wasn’t quite so frigid, resulting in one of the cleanest games of the weekend. It was a game that really seemed to be decided by which team could make more plays, not which team could make fewer mistakes.
As they had done all tournament, Carolina Friends got off to a hot start. A quick downwind hold was followed by an upwind break engineered by CFS’s biggest star and the nation’s #1 recruit, Liam Searles-Bohs. He will attend UNC in the fall.
Starting from the edge of a horizontal stack, Searles-Bohs was able to routinely collect open 20 yard unders by streaking deep and taking both his defender and a deep poach with him before turning on a dime and burning both players into the cavernous space in the middle of the field.
It was a pull from Searles-Bohs that gave CFS a 3-0 lead, as East Chapel Hill dropped the massive blade he sent searing their way, leading to a one throw score for the game’s second break.
While other teams had wilted under the early assaults from CFS, East Chapel Hill refused to back down and quickly got back in the game. East was able to stop the CFS run with a couple holds, beating CFS’ force middle defense with quick swings and line drive hucks down the rails. With the score 4-2, ECH started to unveil some defensive wrinkles of their own, sending sneaky poaches from the sidelines into the middle of the field. This resulted in two straight breaks that tied up the score at 4-4, with East’s two big stars Teddy Randby and Tyler French playing both ways and running the offense off of turnovers.
After hitting a speed bump, CFS looked to Searles-Bohs and he answered the call, charging deep and coming down with a sky ball amidst several defenders for a momentum shifting score. After righting the ship and trading holds, Carolina Friends broke again off of an overthrown swing to take half 7-5.
CFS threw out a variety of defensive looks in the second half in an attempt to put East Chapel Hill away, but the ECH O-line was resilient and continued to grind out holds against a three man cup, force side bracketing, and force middle. The Carolina Friends defense looked good, but Randby and French just always had the solution, including one preposterous cross-field flick blade huck to the back corner from Randby that even an elite club defender would have been powerless to stop.
While ECH’s offense kept the pace in the second half, its defense could do little to slow down the Carolina Friends juggernaut. Searles-Bohs came back to handle for much of the second half and Jake Taylor initiated as a cutter, frustrating the defensive schemes that ECH had deployed in the first half to contain Searles-Bohs and allowing Taylor to run roughshod downfield.
Carolina Friends finally got their break in the second half after a turfed backhand from East led to a Searles-Bohs assist. That made it 12-9, game to 13, and after giving up the break, the wheels came off for East Chapel Hill. A first throw turn on a swing gave the CFS D-line the chance for a break, and Searles-Bohs put a high release lefty backhand over his mark’s shoulder to Lee to win the game and the YULA title.
The final was the best played game of the weekend. With two teams that knew each other so well, it was a few execution errors and some moments of individual brilliance that separated them. While Carolina Friends walked away from the weekend with the title, the larger message is clear: the east coast belongs to North Carolina.