Easterns Qualifier 2024: Centering Pass Day Two (Men’s Div.)

UNCW rose above the masses to clinch EQ with wins over UNC Charlotte, Penn State, and South Carolina, though the latter two did just enough to earn bids to Easterns

UNC Wilmington won Easterns Qualifiers 2024 with a 12-8 final victory over South Carolina. Photo: @EasternsTD

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Welcome to Centering Pass, Ultiworld’s articles covering tournament news and event stories you need to know.

Despite all the buzz around #18 Penn State Spank after their strong opening showings at Carolina Kickoff and Queen City Tune Up, Spank could not weather the storm of UNC Wilmington Seamen to make back-to-back tournament finals. UNCW took down South Carolina Gamecock in the final 12-8 to cap an undefeated tournament, while the final marked the ‘Cocks single loss on the weekend. Though bids to Easterns were ostensibly on the line, as UNCW host the late March tournament the bids passed down to South Carolina and Penn State, who rallied to topple Auburn 12-8 in the third place game.

Full Competition Results

Easterns Qualifiers 2024 Results 3rd-8th

Seamen Spank Spank, Cocks

Welcome back to the Conversation™ UNC Wilmington Seamen! With the exception of a cameo appearance during the Weird December Covid Nationals™ in 2021 – which, I hate to say it, doesn’t count the same as in any other years – Wilmington has been out of the spotlight since 2017, frequently falling below the mark set by their Atlantic Coast peers. Things could be swinging back the other way for the legacy program, though. Two gritty wins over Penn State (12-11) and South Carolina (12-8) to win Easterns Qualifier undefeated have them looking like they could splash into the Big Show once again. Simply put, the Seamen are rising back to the surface.

The fact that they did it without second-year handler Diego Collazo, who was injured at Queen City Tune Up earlier this month, speaks to the team’s depth. Patrick Grossheim, Colby Francfort, Owen Maskelony, and Stewart Kelley all picked up the slack. Grossheim and Maskelony were mostly even-keeled distributors, Francfort took a lot of the connective duties, and Kelley continues to be the team’s pre-eminent goal scorer. That’s a sturdy skeleton for a good, hold-friendly offense that will get even better when Collazo returns.

The real story of the Seamen’s success, however, was their explosive D-line, especially Jay Thomas, Ryan Manuel, and Christian Belus. Thomas and Manuel both blew up multiple seemingly sure plays. Belus exceeded even their high standards: he was a bulldozer with a wrecking ball attached, earning blocks every possibly way you can block a disc and proving unstoppably dynamic on offense. If the Seamen can keep all of these players healthy, they are a serious threat to beat #20 NC State Alpha, UNC Charlotte Skyrise, South Carolina, or anyone else at Atlantic Coast Regionals whose name doesn’t rhyme with Snark-fried.

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  1. Edward Stephens
    Edward Stephens

    Edward Stephens has an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. He writes and plays ultimate in Athens, Georgia.

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