Presidents’ Day Invite 2024: Tournament Recap (Men’s Div.)

Cal Poly SLO cap off an undefeated weekend with their first win over Colorado since 2020

Cal Poly-SLO's Calvin Brown during semifinals of the 2023 Ultimate Frisbee D-I College Championships. Photo: William "Brody" Brotman -
Cal Poly-SLO’s Calvin Brown during semifinals of the 2023 D-I College Championships. Photo: William “Brody” Brotman –

Ultiworld’s coverage of the 2024 college 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.

SAN DIEGO — After three days of ultimate in sunny (and, for a little while on Monday, rainy) San Diego, #2 Cal Poly SLO SLOCORE upended #7 Colorado Mamabird 15-11 to win the Presidents’ Day Invite. Both teams were head and shoulders over their semifinals opponents, #9 Oregon Ego and Oregon State Beavers. Beyond the top two, there was plenty of intrigue, disappointment, and consolation bracket redemption.

SLO March to the ‘Ship

It was a slow build up to the title for Cal Poly SLO, who worked through tougher-than-expected pool play games and some unpolished moments to make their way to the final. Once the bracket started for them on Monday though, Cal Poly looked like a different team and simply took down anything standing in their way. ‘CORE started their semifinal with a 5-0 run to effectively put Oregon State out of the tournament within twenty minutes1; they also broke Colorado on the first point of the final to establish their early defensive dominance. After working through just a two point win over Oregon State on Sunday, Monday’s ten-point win shows significant improvement and hints at SLO’s championship ceiling.

“It’s great to have a long weekend like this,” Cal Poly captain Keaton Orser said after the final. “We get three days to build chemistry, work together, and figure out the kinks. Obviously we didn’t come out as hot as we would have wanted. We had a great tournament at SBI and I think this was just what we needed as a little reality check.”

The reality is that Cal Poly are one of the best teams in the country, even when they aren’t playing their best. On Saturday and Sunday, it felt like Cal Poly needed a moment of magic from one of their stars to score. Frequently, Anton Orme and James Whealan crossed over to the defense to help punch in break chances. During Monday’s games, it felt like every single person on the roster was capable of making a play.

Throughout the final, SLO deployed more advanced defensive sets than Colorado faced all tournament, and they rattled Mamabird. With that sophisticated pressure combined with a steady crosswind, nothing was coming up easy for Colorado. Using matchup defense, Cal Poly found success tempting Colorado to throw deep. The shots that were hitting against the likes of Stanford Bloodthirsty and #23 Utah Zion Curtain weren’t finding the same margin for error against SLOCORE. Using a zone defense, Cal Poly put a lot of pressure on the Mamabird backfield, earning turnovers when Colorado misfired over the top looks.

“[This weekend] was the first time we really saw zone,” Mamabird’s Levi Tapper said. “So we haven’t really developed our zone O yet, but that’s coming.”

  1. A beatdown subscribers can rewatch in our video library 

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  1. Alex Rubin
    Alex Rubin

    Alex Rubin started writing for Ultiworld in 2018. He is a graduate of Northwestern University where he played for four years. After a stint in Los Angeles coaching high school and college teams, they moved to Chicago to experience real seasons and eat deep dish pizza. You can reach Alex through e-mail ([email protected]) or Twitter (@arubes14).



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