2012 Chesapeake Invite -- Mixed Division Preview
Posted: August 24, 2012 12:35 PM
AMP's Patrick Sherlock weighs in on the Mixed Division field at the 2012 Chesapeake Invite:
Chesapeake features the tournament's strongest field in years, including nearly every promising team from Minneapolis east. Among the contenders are several who have made a strong statement with their results early in the summer, a range of up and coming teams challenging to seize a place in the nationals conversation, and several familiar names eager to show they should not be counted out.
The Ghosts are making their first appearance at a non-Northeast tournament, and featuring several new recruits including Ben Faust and J Dono. Though the team's trademark 1/3 zone and aggressive transition game shows off the attacking potential of the male half of their roster, the women's side has some notable names and experience as well. Opponents looking for a successful formula may want to consult New Hampshire's Enough Monkeys; after their 17-16 matchup at Easterns, few other games have been close this summer.
Slow White was able to solve their Northeast rivals in the consolation round in Sarasota last October, but could not repeat their success in the final game at Boston Invite. Outside of that matchup, Slow has largely demonstrated they're a top 3 team nationally, losing in the US Open final and rolling lesser competition at Chowdafest. Their Chesapeake roster features many returning players on the mens side, though several notable women have moved on from last year's team.
After a strong debut in 2010, Drag'n Thrust failed to make the national quarters last season, but showed good character by battling for 9th. With a sidestack offense that isolates male cutters to run onto deep throws to space, they can score quickly, but don't always have a plan B against poachy D. Tripped up twice by Slow at the US Open, but otherwise strong, they have not seen any other team in the Chesapeake field aside from Overhaul.
Now separated from their former Central rival by the regional redraw, Overhaul has hit the road several times already this summer and won Philly Invite without captain Colin McIntyre using a poised, high-possession offense. All four of Chesapeake's top seeds have won a tournament already this summer and have quarterfinal experience at the Club Championship level. Do not expect too many challenges before crossovers on Saturday, but seeing all four make semifinals without an upset would be a surprise.
Last fall's 16th place finish at nationals may obscure the real threat Termite's Entourage posed in their initial pool, competing well with Slow White and pushing CLX to 15-13 before losing steam. Evaluating this year's team fairly is tough as well. Philly Invite was used primarily as a tryout tournament for the New Jersey side who now feature Sean Murray, Dustin Damiano, Matt Gallin and Alex Grintsvayg of the AUDL-Champion Philadelphia Spinners. The female side of the roster is less accomplished, but explosive Katie Ryan is one of the best receivers in the division.
Termite's in joined in Pool H by District 5, another club with pro-ultimate heritage. This year's edition lacks notable leaders Chris Mazur, John Korber and Kendra Frederick, but returns most of their offensive line and womens pickups Lucy Gillespie and Caitlin Redding.
Florida's Sabre Corp was one of two teams from the state to make nationals for the first time last season. Returning this summer, they produced a strong Saturday performance at Terminus, but fell in the semifinals on Sunday and are still in search of a win against a quarters-quality opponent.
Atlanta's Bucket has played at that level in the past and is seeking to recapture their form of 2010. This season's edition is without Shanye Crawford and Jay Hammond, but adds former Truck Stop captain Noah Eden, among others, following a season with few pre-series challenges and a disappointing run in Sarasota. Already more active than last summer, Bucket won their home tournament in July. They will face AMP in the second round of pool play in a rematch of last season's national pre-quarter play-in. The new regular-season ranking system has challenged the Philadelphia team's habit of using the summer season to experiment and prepare for a series peak. The results don't look too bad after a run to semifinals at Philly Invite, but Chesapeake will be a sterner test. AMP's roster has gotten younger on the mens side, while their female talent remains deep, including 8 returners from 2011.
Ant Madness combines several notable James Madison University alumni including Jeff Laarz, Chris Barker and Justin Illuzzi, though uncertain attendance may limit their ambition this weekend.
Ambiguously Grey has an alumni connection of their own between the powerful tandem of Jarnail Bajwa and Calvin Oung, both formerly of Truck Stop, as well as Ellen McCrae, Matt Greytak and Jordan Kwok, all with experience on Slow White. Contributions need to come consistently from the rest of the roster for the DC team to challenge.
They are joined in Pool F by Santa Maria, a first-year club from Columbus, Ohio led by Jeff Kula. Their resume is sparkling so far, but unlikely to finish the weekend as clean.
North Carolina's Cahoots showed last year during the club series that they have upset ability, but find trouble against more organized opponents.
The fire and aggressive play of 7Express' Matt Auletta drives the New York team's success [and his opponents nuts], but their high-risk deep game is not consistently high-reward.
Death By Jubilee has continued to build around a core that had some success in the Mid Atlantic region last season, with several new veteran recruits.
Not least of the "challengers," Wild Card is the highest seeded team in this cohort after performing with consistency and confidence at Philly Invite, following a fair debut at Boston in late June.