CUT is back in the final for the first time since 2011.
May 28, 2017 by Preston Thompson in News with 8 comments
Ultiworld’s reporting on the Men’s division of the 2017 D-I College Championships is presented by Spin Ultimate; all opinions are those of the author. Please support the brands that make Ultiworld possible and shop at Spin Ultimate!
Carleton continued their surge through the Nationals bracket with a 15-14 double game point win over UMass in the semifinals. CUT was resilient against a late ZooDisc run, showing patience they’ve been developing since their poor game against UNC in pool play.
This is Carleton’s first finals appearance since 2011.
For the first men’s semifinal, the crowd was treated to a show of high-profile matchups, strong handler performances, and a wild double game point finish.
Clean Offense In Two Different Styles
For a game with a consistent wind that made deeper throws more difficult, the first half was remarkably clean for both offenses. Tannor Johnson played both ways for UMass, matching up against Tim Schoch on offense and Henry Fisher on defense. Early in the game, offense won the battles.
Ben Sadok was an immediate influence on the game, keeping the UMass offense calm with short high-percentage movement. His 55 touches were the most of anyone on the team, and despite playing 21 of 29 points, he was consistently the best player on the field for most of the game.
Offensive efficiency has been the crutch of CUT for most of the season, but everything came together on the biggest stage. Four different players registered a goal on the way to a 4-4 tie, with zero offensive turns for Carleton.
The first signs of weakness came when UMass came down in a zone with Chris Bartoli in the middle. What became famous as Jeff Babbit’s spot in the zone was filled valiantly by Bartoli, who registered two layout blocks on the same point.
Carleton looked back to their old ways of impatience, but head coach Phil Bowen was quick to respond.
“We added more handlers to the field. That was probably the biggest adjustment,” Bowen said. “Chris Padilla in particular.”
The switch settled things down for the rest of the half, after suffering only one break in the transition. Halftime was a welcome gift for UMass, who had been running a short rotation all weekend. Junior Pat Barron took only three points off the entire game.
Carleton was much deeper on the defensive side, with multiple players playing only D-line points. With one of the only break chances of the half, they took advantage. Pinned to the corner just shy of the goal line, freshman Joe White hammered across the field for a break to put CUT up 7-6. They held for an 8-7 halftime advantage.
Halftime was a welcome gift for ZooDisc, who has been running the same 10 players all tournament. Junior Pat Barron got the worst of the tight rotation, with only three points off the entire game.
“We stopped running the zone because we weren’t going a full 14 deep and you can’t just run the wall with the same guys over and over again,” UMass coach Russell Wallack said after the game. “It just runs them into the ground.”
UMass Claws Their Way Back
Offensive holds were still flowing, despite some more turns seeping into the game. UMass had yet to get the break they needed, but they had two of the best offensive weapons in the division playing every point.
Down 11-10, Barron gave ZooDisc a golden opportunity with a big handblock on a Sol Yanuck huck. Ben Sadok moved quickly, finding Johnson for the sky and game tying score.
In a hope to give themselves even more chances, UMass switched back into man defense.
“I honestly expected a few more turns, maybe out of Sol,” Wallack said. “I think last time we played against them their tendency to shoot kind of kept us in the game. But Sol had a pretty darn good game.”
Even with the game brought back to even, the UMass starting unit was getting more and more tired. Tannor Johnson, in particular, was burdened with not only offensive responsibility, but covering an impressive deep threat in Henry Fisher.
With an opportunity to break, Caleton tested the matchup.
Fisher had one step as a huck went up for a massively important break. The two big-men put their bodies on the line in the back of the end zone, with Fisher making the grab just in bounds. The play gave CUT a 14-12 advantage in a game to 15.
Ben Sadok responded with a gorgeous scoober for the offensive hold, but UMass still needed breaks. A rare moment of impatience gave them that chance.
On weak legs, UMass was crisp. They found the energy needed to grind out unders all the way to the end zone. Sadok scored and UMass forced double game point.
The Final Moments
Carleton needed to keep it calm for one more point in order to advance. With a slight headwind, grinding out short throws was the best option. But before the point, Phil Bowen kept things in perspective.
“The result doesn’t matter as long as we won our personal energy battle, as long as we never quit,” he said. “I didn’t care what we did offensively. I just told them we were going to get the disc back. If we played with that kind of energy, then it didn’t matter what we did offensively, because we were going to score eventually.”
After the first few cuts, White found himself with the disc around 40 yards out. All week, he has played beyond his years, but the incoming upwind huck showed flashes of “freshman” that we haven’t seen before. An ill advised throw gave ZooDisc the chance to cap off their comeback and advance to the final.
Sadok took off for the end zone. He had space and was begging for the throw. Brett Gramann couldn’t resist the chance to let one fly with the tailwind at his back, but his full-field flick went sailing out of bounds.
White recovered from his decision, showing no fear as CUT moved down the field. After two scores were taken back for fouls, Yanuck found White for the game winner.
The UMass charge from 14-12 to 14-14 was cut short, and Carleton completed the wire-to-wire offensive performance.
Ben Sadok went down swinging with a remarkable four assist and six goal performance. Alex Olson commanded the Carleton offense with six assists from the center handler spot, making a number of difficult throws in the wind.
CUT is through to the final to play the winner of UNC and UNC-Wilmington. UNC already gave Carleton a thrashing earlier in the week, but they’re ready to recover.
“We played probably one of the worst games of our year against UNC,” Bowen said. “We’d like a chance to redeem ourselves, but we’re not thinking about the other team. We’re thinking about playing the best that we can play.”