Friday gave us a potential Sunday preview, as well as a few sob stories
May 27, 2023 by Jake Thorne, Alex Rubin and Edward Stephens in Recap with 0 comments
Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2023 college ultimate season is presented by Spin Ultimate; all opinions are those of the author(s). Find out how Spin can get you, and your team, looking your best this season.
Hard to believe we’re in the postseason, but the first day of the 2023 D-I College Championships is in the books! There were plenty of surprises, with two pool one seeds suffering losses and no pool going to seed. We’re here to break down the day’s major storylines, as well as checking in with the tournament’s goal and assist leaders.
Then follow along on the D-I College Championships event page for updates and livestreams throughout the weekend!
Glimpse of Potential Semifinalists
Six teams finished Friday without a loss. The jury is still out on two of them (Carleton CUT and Texas TUFF) until they get a chance to sink or swim against the top seeds in the pool tomorrow. The other four, though? They have the look of teams who could be competing for the championship.
UNC Darkside were all but anointed as semifinal favorites before the tournament; everything they did on Day 1, taking comfortable wins over Oregon and Georgia while completely asserting themselves on offense and playing through their whole roster, reinforced that prediction. No surprise there. There were more questions hanging around UMass – who had hit some speed bumps toward the end of the season – and Cal Poly-SLO, whose inconsistencies during the regular season dropped them out of a top pool seed. But what has come to pass is that they are both on almost equal footing with the defending champs in terms of talent, game planning, and depth.
Pittsburgh’s performance today wasn’t quite as convincing from sunrise-to-sunset. They were a few wide open dropped passes away from losing to overall 16 seed Washington in the opening round. But at the end of the day, the top end talent is overwhelming, and they showed a wise willingness to lean on it as often as possible.
Would-Be Contenders on Shaky Ground
The flipside to the way Pittsburgh and Cal Poly-SLO established themselves as contenders is that those wins came at the expense of a pair of programs who have seen their fortunes potentially hit the skids. Vermont Chill were the Mr. Hyde versions of themselves today – bad drops, funky decisions – in a way that not only likely bounced them out of the bye to quarters, but also raised questions about their consistency. It isn’t a good sign to show your ugly side early in pool play.
Colorado, meanwhile, may not have the horses to hang with the top teams. While they mopped up against a hapless Cornell Buds side, they didn’t play close enough with Pittsburgh at the end of the day to have a credible case that they could beat their potential quarters matchups UMass and Cal Poly-SLO. The most concerning aspect of their day was the defense, who could not come up with much pressure in key moments.
Close But No Cigar
Don’t say that Ultiworld doesn’t have a heart. We truly feel for a few teams who put their best feet forward today with remarkable efforts but don’t have a win to show for it. Jack Brown, Jasper Dean, David Zhou, and the rest of the Sundodgers were a couple of endzone drops away from knocking off Pittsburgh in the first round. Then, their would-be game-winning goal against Texas came back because of an injury call. That’s a tough way to go winless.
Without being quite as heartbreaking, the days Michigan Magnum and Utah State Scotsmen endured only to emerge without a tally in the “W” column are definitely sad. Magnum lost their upset bids against Vermont and Carleton by a combined three points! The Scotsmen, meanwhile, hung a respectable 11 goals on UMass in the opener before just falling short in a furious late-game comeback against Minnesota to fall 15-13 at the end of the day. Rest up, y’all, and may Saturday do more to reward your admirable efforts.
Cullen Baker (Carleton) – 11
Theo Shapinsky (Michigan) – 10
Zach Slayton (Texas) – 10
Aidan Curry (UC Santa Cruz) – 8
Jacques Nissen (Brown) – 8
Anton Orme (Cal Poly-SLO) – 8
Eli Weaver (Michigan) – 8
Chris Doehring (Michigan) – 8
Paul Krenik (Minnesota) – 8
Jake Worthington (Texas) – 8
Jack Brown (Washington) – 7
Daniel Chen (Carleton) – 7