D-I College Championships 2022: Commendable Auburn Effort Can’t Slow Cal Poly (Men’s Prequarter Recap)

Despite Auburn's hard-nosed effort, SLO was simply too much.

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#9 Cal Poly SLO got off to a rocky start at Nationals, but they emphatically turned that around on Saturday and continued their stellar play by handily beating a tired #25 Auburn team 15-8. SLOCORE’s O-line went the entire game without surrendering a single break and their defense consistently forced Auburn into uncomfortable positions. SLO were so convincing, it speaks to Auburn’s resiliency that this one only ended up at 15-8.

The game began about as well as it could have for Cal Poly, with two quick breaks caused by good defensive pressure and clean offense off the turn. Seamus Robinson, perhaps the standout member of SLO’s D-line this tournament, notched a run through block after a handler poach led to a moment of hesitation by the Auburn cutter. A few swings, later sophomore Leo Lauritzen climbed the ladder on the break side cone and pulled down the game’s first score.

Smelling blood, Cal Poly loaded up their D-line hunting a second break that would build a convincing early cushion. KJ Koo and Matt Miller crossed over from the offense and after a pressure-caused drop near the brick mark from Auburn, the two O-line players went to work and claimed a second break for SLOCORE’s defense.

“We were putting them in pressurized situations with hard marks and good reset defense” said standout SLO freshman Keaton Orser. “They were having to throw up some suspicious throws, and that’s what we want to see, that’s what works for us, even if they do come down with a few.”

At this point, it would have been easy for Auburn to roll over. It was the fifth game of the weekend, the third today, which takes a toll on teams with full rosters, let alone the 18 person skeleton crew that Auburn brought to Milwaukee. But the team huddled up, composed themselves, and put in a patient downwind hold. Throughout the game, even as Cal Poly slowly extended their lead, Auburn refused to let their energy lag and made more than one inspiring hustle play to deny seemingly easy goals for Cal Poly.

“For some of us, this our last game ever in college ultimate” said an emotional Nicholas Smith after the game. “It’s hard not to leave it all out there.” “Yeah why not give everything you got?” chimed in Brett Hulsmeyer “We came into it with a mentality of ‘it’s one game, why not give literally everything.’”

The effort was noticed by their opponents. “They didn’t have a lot of depth on the team, but they were really grinding. They had some sick layouts that our offense was a little surprised by, got us a little shook when they put bodies on the floor like that” said Orser. “And it seemed like they were playing the same seven the whole time, so props to them, I’m tired just from playing 1/3rd of the points the whole day.”

That effort kept Auburn competitive on a point-by-point basis, but it wasn’t nearly enough to stop SLOCORE’s march towards victory. Auburn sent defenders down in zone hoping to neutralize the Cal Poly attack, but Matt Miller proved to be too adept in the backfield, calmly carving the zone up with controlled flick blades. While he ended the game with four assists and a goal, the biggest throws he made were not the ones into the endzone, but the ones that broke open Auburn’s zone time and time again.

SLO was up 8-4 at half, and the teams largely traded holds from there to the end. There was a sense of mild annoyance from Cal Poly that they hadn’t put the game away more decisively, but given how much the team improved from Friday to Saturday, having a little dissatisfaction to chew over heading into Sunday may suit them just fine.

  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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