How did the men's teams fare without their women? How will it all play out at Nationals?
December 28, 2022 by Felix Soedira in Coverage, Recap with 0 comments
The UK Ultimate university indoor postseason is off and rolling with Regionals in the books and Nationals coming up in February. Here’s a look inside the Regionals results from around the UK!
SCUXIR went virtually to seed. St Andrews 1 and Strathclyde 1 faced off in the regional final, with St Andrews taking the victory on universe point. The Saints had an expected dominant weekend, although they were scared by Strathclyde 2 in pool play before they stole the win 6-4. Strathclyde 1 had a similar weekend, and with the exception of the final, their bracket games were won with ease. Will Strathclyde be able to repeat the success they had last season or will they fall?
Edinburgh 1 had a banner weekend, only losing two games, both of which were to Strathclyde. Ro Sham have always been a solid team and it showed in their 2v3 G2G to Division 1 Nationals, a rematch against Strath. Although it ended as a loss on universe, it shows they can come back when it really matters. While they had a disappointing finish at Division 1 Nationals last year, expect them to press into the bracket at Division 2 Nationals in February.
Glasgow 1 and Stirling 1 rounded out the last remaining sports to Nationals. Glasgow had an easy pool win but had to get past Strathclyde 2 in their way to quarters before falling hard to St Andrews in semis. Another loss in the 3vs4 left them without a chance to get to Division 1. Stirling 1 had to get through the prequarter round after coming third in their power pool and did well to muster their way to the G2G. After losing 8-5 to Edinburgh in quarters, they handled the rest of their games with ease.
Strathclyde 2 just missed out on qualification after a weekend of impressive results. They stole second place in pool play, challenged Glasgow 1 in quarters and beat Heriot-Watt on universe to get them to the G2G. Although they lost out on qualifying, they certainly proved that they are more than just a second team.
Durham 1 reclaimed the northern regional title after 3 years and they had the skill, the energy, and the mentality to win it. DUF looked like the best team all weekend and it was Jacob Holmes that really ran the offense for Durham. They had their fair share of obstacles along the way, however. They tied with LJMU 1 in their power pool as the squad from Merseyside ran very efficient offense. Their semifinal against Liverpool 1 was perhaps their biggest challenge, however. They faced a Liverpool team reinforced with Alex Hately (SMOG Rising) and Alex Arkle (Manchester Ultimate) but stay composed until the last point, winning on universe. Hyped from this, they comfortably won their final 10-5 over a tired Manchester team. Facing off against a zone from Halcyon, smart fundamentals and lots of energy led to them clutching the regional title.
Manchester 1, with their second straight regional finals appearance, looked strong and promising. Halcyon utilized their zone from mixed, with Morgan Garland (Manchester Ultimate) stifling those on the mark. With George Hoak (William & Mary) hanging in the lanes and Andrew Baker (Manchester Ultimate) stopping anything deep, Manchester stunned offenses, including capping both Liverpool 1 in pool play and LJMU 1 in semis. A draw in power pools against Lancaster and a disappointing final show they need to adjust better when needed. But for a squad with just six players, the boys in purple turned a lot of heads this weekend.
The last Division 1 Nationals spot went to Liverpool 1 who had a rough Saturday, missing Alex Hately and Alex Arkle due to GB Indoor commitments. Come Sunday, however, and they find themselves in the semifinals. While they couldn’t bring out the win, they dominated their G2G to Division 1 Nationals in a de facto indoor varsity matchup.
While some consider small squads a disadvantage, it always works in the case of LJMU 1. With the trio of Jack Slater (GB U20), Nathan Wright (GB U20), and Hamish Schnadhorst who returns from a foot injury, John Moores looked strong on Saturday. A draw against DUF and a win against the Fish showed they were worthy to advance into the bracket, but injuries on Sunday hit them hard. A 6-5 win in quarters against Lancaster 1 began to show the cracks before their offense was completely roadblocked in their semi against Manchester. With a depleted squad, they could not handle the power of Liverpool 1 in the G2G to Division 1. If healthy, however, LJMU could be a real threat at Nationals and they showed last year that they don’t need all their key pieces to do well.
The last remaining spot went to Lancaster 1. After a tough time at NUMIR last year, missing out on qualifying, the Fish showed they’ve come a long way. Although Saturday started with a surprise universe point loss to Liverpool 1, they tightened up their offense. They drew with finalists Manchester 1, with patient play against zone but got unlucky in their quarters path, facing LJMU 1. Their loss didn’t phase them, however and they crushed the rest of the competition, even capping Durham 2 in the G2G. With Ollie Tanner-Smith (SMOG Rising) playing limited minutes due to a foot injury, Fish utilised him well during important games that allowed them to stay close. If all is well by February, the Fish will be a strong team at Division 2 Nationals – expect them to go far.
The biggest surprise of the weekend was Newcastle 1. Despite a stacked squad including James Blount (SMOG Rising) and the return of Jack Laskey, persistent chemistry issues caused them to crumble. They looked confident against LJMU but lost their prequarter in shocking fashion against Lancaster 2. This meant they were out of Nationals contention and sent to play for 9th.
Yorkshire and East Midlands
Sheffield 1 returned as the regional winners to no one’s surprise. They obliterated the competition: their only close game was against Leeds 1 in the final, which they won 7-5. Even with the loss of Sam Higginbotham (SMOG Rising), Sheffield have plenty of equally talented players to throw out on their lines, including U20 stalwart Jet Hilborne and Josh Hanham (SMOG Rising). There’s no doubt that they’ll be looking to advance to the final at Nationals after falling short of expectations last year.
Leeds 1 similarly looked like a strong side on the weekend. They played confidently and with flare and it got them to the final. Unfortunately, Sheffield’s defense began to wear Leeds down, and Leeds couldn’t quite hold on, losing 7-5. That’s not to say Leeds won’t be a real challenge at Nationals, though. Last year’s performance was a great indication that they’ve got the potential and the capability. But can they put all the pieces together and stay headstrong? If they can, they’ll be looking at a semifinals berth at Nationals – or better.
Loughborough 1 looked promising, using their athleticism to make big plays but come semis and they couldn’t keep up with Leeds. Too many errors and Leeds’s quick exploitations off turnovers led to a big lead and Haze couldn’t recover. They did beat Nottingham to secure a Division 1 Nationals spot, however. While they haven’t got the depth the possessed last year, don’t count them out just yet.
Nottingham 1 had a tougher route to their fourth-place finish at regionals. A tight pool play game against Leicester 1 was telling that they might struggle later in the bracket. They crumbled under the pace and relentlessness of Sheffield 1 in semis, before losing to Loughborough 1 in the 3vs4. This sent them to the G2G to Division 1 and even then they had to grind out an 8-6 win over Loughborough 2. Long gone is Joel Miller (GB Euros 2019) as well as a few other key components to Nottingham but they did enough to get them to Division 1 Nationals, a huge improvement from last year’s regional result.
The last spot was contended for between Leeds 2 and Lincoln 1, two teams that had arisen from quarterfinal losses. Although Leeds 2 looked like the favourite to nab the last spot all weekend, it was Lincoln 1 who came out on top, winning narrowly, 7-5.
West Midlands and Wales
Not making the regional final was usual powerhouse Birmingham 1 as they narrowly fell to Cardiff in semis, in a rematch of last year’s final. UBU’s pool results looked dominant as expected and they came back to win their 3vs4 before avenging their loss to Cardiff with a 9-4 beatdown in the 2vs3. The joys of the backdoor bracket.
Winning regionals was Swansea 1 who no doubt benefitted from Lemmings and GB Indoor star, Ryan Kapma. Kapma is the engine for the Swans. Utilising an arsenal of throws including both overheads and inside breaks, it kept Swansea’s offense in flow and if they were ever stuck, Kapma was there to get back in the right gear. Swansea had close games in quarters and semis but really shut the coffin door on Cardiff in the final, winning 9-4.
Warwick 1 had a successful weekend, despite losing Felix Martin (Clapham Ultimate) and Nathan Sanders (Lemmings). The only trouble they ran into was Swansea 1 in their semi, but this was a close affair, losing 8-6. They couldn’t seem to find any fuel left in the tank and they lost to Birmingham to finish fourth and qualify for Division 2 Nationals.
The final spot went to Keele 1 who qualified for the first time in seven years (!). KUF had to really work through the backdoor bracket after putting up an impressive score against regional winners, Swansea 1. Their last two games were a real grind and they only won by a total of three points but they showed they can hang out till the very end. They knocked off Swansea 2 to take the last spot and Adam Newman ensured that KUF’s offense was kept in flow.
Sussex 1 returns to the top of regionals after falling at mixed. They had strong pool play results, with only a 7-5 win against Royal Holloway as a mere blip in their record. They won their semi and final by a combined goal difference of +16 and got the better of Surrey this time round. Surrey 1 could not repeat the same success as at mixed. While they topped their pool, they had some close games and could not muster a win against Reading 1, losing 8-4. After a blowout loss in the semis, they rematched against Reading 1 and unable to contain the Knights, they fell once again to the G2G. Having to grind out a win in the G2G to Nationals shows they can pull it out of the bag when the stakes are high, but exposes the reliance on their women for success. If Billy Wretham (Smash’D) can return for Nationals, it’ll alleviate some of the pressure in the backfield.
A surprise appearance in the final was Oxford Brookes 1, who came third in pool play. A big win over Reading 1 in the semi-finals on universe sent them to the title game. Perhaps already exceeding expectations, they lost heavily to Sussex in the regional final, 9-1. Reading 1, on the other hand, may not have made the final but they beat Oxford Brookes 1 in a rematch in the 2vs3 to clinch the second and final Division 1 Nationals spot. A huge achievement for Reading, considering their tenth-place finish last year, they’ll be more than happy with their finish this weekend.
Narrowly missing out on qualification was Royal Holloway 1, who fought up the backdoor bracket after a series of heartbreaking losses, including a universe point loss to Oxford Brookes 1 in the quarters. They lost to Surrey 1 in the game-to-go but it was a close game and shows that Royal Holloway are a side that are definitely capable to ruin someone’s day.
Bath 1 return as SWUIR champions, with a domineering 10-2 win in the final. They cruised through pool play, capping all three teams in the process. Their only challenge was Bristol 1 in semis, but even then, Bath looked unphased. With Andrew Sweetnam (Chevron Action Flash) and Lloyd Thomas in charge, Bath look solid and they’ll be wanting to beat their 12th place finish last year.
When Southampton 1 placed third at Nationals last year, everyone seemed shocked. But when you have Andrzej Zaród (Poland U20) running the show and an offense that lasers through defenses like they’re nothing, it’s no surprise they finished second at regionals. While their final was a blowout to Bath 1 and they drew against Bristol 1 in power pools, they crushed other teams. While maybe not at the strength as last year, if they can keep up the energy they enchant, they could make quarters at Nationals.
Bristol 1 may also not be as strong as previous years but their performance was enough to get them to Division 1 Nationals. They had tight wins against Exeter 2 and Southampton 2 before reaching the semis, where they put up a good fight against regional winners, Bath. They couldn’t hang on however, and they dropped all the way down to the game-to-go to Division 1 Nationals in what was a rematch against Exeter 2. A much better performance led to a stronger scoreline and they clutched fourth place securing their ticket to Glasgow.
The continued strength of second teams showed with the only two Division 2 Nationals spots being seized by Exeter 2 and Bath 2. Exeter 2 came third in their pool before topping their power pool to send them into Sunday as a dangerous 9 seed. However, making it to quarters seemed like their ceiling as they dropped to the backdoor bracket to fight for 5th. It was a battle, having to scrape out a universe point win against Bath 2 in the process. Bath 2, on the brink of being eliminated at this point, grinded out a universe point nail-biter that advanced them to the game-to-go. Perhaps fuelled by their win, they bulldozed UWE 1 to grasp the final spot Nationals.
East and London
In another whirlwind regionals down in Cranford, UCL 2 placed higher than UCL 1 for the second straight time! On Saturday, everything looked as normal. UCL 1 took the top spot in pool A and UCL 2 came second in pool D, although this was only on point differential. Come Sunday, however and the tide turned. Both UCL teams found themselves in a semifinals game, with UCL 1 being shocked early by Imperial 2 in quarters. A close loss to Cambridge 1 meant that UCL 1 could face missing out on Division 1 Nationals contention for the second regionals in a row. On the other side of the bracket UCL 2 handily beat UEA 1 before an equally punishing win over Cambridge 1 in the final. UCL 1 managed to remain composed in their 3vs4 to take the last spot to Division 1 Nationals but there’s something in the water at UCL – and I don’t what it is.
Coming off an impressive UXIR was UEA 1, who had a destabilized Saturday, finishing third in their pool after an intense draw against UCL 2. Sunday saw a new team and they worked up the seedings from tenth to reach the semifinals, beating Imperial 1 in the process. Their winning streak had its limit, though, and they fell in semi and 3vs4 to make the top spot to Division 2 Nationals. Not shabby at all.
The final spot went to Imperial 1, a team historically known for its strong men’s program. Despite everything going as planned on the Saturday as they topped their pool, they were shocked by UEA 1 in their quarter and fell to the 5-8 bracket. No stranger to a tough competition, they clawed their way back to the game-to-go, where they knocked off a tired KCL 1 squad to punch in their pass to Coventry.