High School Northeasterns - Day 1 Recap – Boys’ Division

Posted: May 21, 2016 11:16 PM
As teams from all over the Northeast descended on Slippery Rock University’s campus, they were met with rain, wind and temperatures in the mid-50s all day. The weather did not deter teams from playing their best ultimate, many of them getting the opportunity of their high school careers to play teams from outside their state and test themselves against the best in the region. Top seeds Amherst and Pennsbury took care of business to maintain their one seeds, but the rest of the field confounded expectations. 
Round 1: Pine Richland vs Pennsbury
Pine Richland came out in a zone against Pennsbury, hoping to stall the offense in the rain and mild wind. This worked for the first couple of points, as Pennsbury had a few drops and throws that went just a little too far. The scoreboard read 2-2, and it looked for a moment like this was a game that would continue to stay close. But as Pennsbury handler Mac Rushing got into a rhythm, he swung the disc well with a litany of low- and high-release throws. Nick Argenti played well as the conservative handler who kept the disc moving, but connected on big shots down the sideline when the zone allowed a window. Tim Clarke did a great job getting the disc and dumping to handlers, but was also able to throw deep shots when the timing was right.
Handler Casey Mann and cutter Luke Pederson of Pine Richland were impressive. Pederson dug up everything within reach, and Mann was able to quarterback the offense until Pennsbury buckled down. A tighter mark from Mac Rushing kept Mann contained and forced him to clear up-field at times. Pennsbury’s cutter defenders (Argenti among them) used great body positioning to stop the first in-cut that often got the offense going.
Final score Pennsbury 10 - Pine Richland 5.
Round 2: Amherst vs North Allegheny
Amherst Regional High School came into this tournament the clear favorite, but did not let it deter their intensity. The Amherst boys were laying out during their half-field warm-up, and they brought that intensity to their tough man defense. North Allegheny came down in a zone to start, and Amherst responded with about 25 quick passes in two minutes to score the first goal. Amherst dropped a pass on a short field turn the following point. North Allegheny’s Nolan Boyle threw a nice pass over an Amherst defender guarding the cone a little too aggressively to tie the game 1-1.  
Amherst began challenging in-cuts and throwing zone, both of which proved too much for North Allegheny to handle. They often got stuck at half field, and the zone would go on to force a turn over. Nolan Boyle sent a nice backhand blade from midfield over the entire Amherst zone to make it 5-3, still in Amherst’s favor.
At this point, Amherst could rely on defensive depth and handler movement from Ben Goldman and Jared Kannel to run up the score. The tall Amherst squad came down with deep shots sent by Boyle and Joseph Helgermann. 
Final score 13- 4. 
Round 3
Westfield vs Franklin Regional
Both teams played a lot of zone all game. Many long points ensued with the conditions, causing drops and wayward throws. Franklin Regional’s Rob Davis threw well to get off the trap sideline while Victor Mao distributed the disc well behind the cup. 
Westfield’s zone eventually clamped down, and Franklin Regional’s shots over the wall and through it either didn’t connect, or were adeptly defended by aware Westfield defenders. 
Cole Feltman was Westfield’s man this game, throwing well over the wall and cutting when he needed to. He also commanded the short-field offense well, throwing many assists. At half, the score was 7-4 with Westfield in front. 
Westfield’s handler core moved the disc well laterally, keeping the Franklin Regional defense on its heels. Hard cap blew early in the second half. Final score Westfield 10, Franklin Regional 5.
Needham vs Montpelier
In my tournament preview, I noted that teams with no out-of-town results entered the tournament as unknowns, and may come out of nowhere to show us that they can ball with the bigger-name schools. 
Needham led Montpelier 7-3 at half. Needham’s offense seemed to hit open cutters, both long and short, and dish the disc amongst the handlers to move it up-field quickly. Their offense was clicking on every level. A common observer would write this game off as the 16 seed playing true to form against a Massachusetts program with average regular-season results against quality teams. But that did not happen; it turned into a barnburner in the second half.
I asked Montpelier Coach Anne Watson what changed at half. How did they make up the gap? She remarked briefly, "We switched to zone." 
Needham was forced into throwing scoobers, hammers and blades they were not used to throwing which fell flat in the grass or soared over their intended receivers. 
Montpelier, in large part thanks to Reed Browning, capitalized on the litany of turnovers caused by their zone. He often went every other throw, without making mistakes in these tough conditions. Supporting handler Isaac Avery-Padberg and cutters Elijah Coolidge and Fox Winters reeled in catches in traffic and played with a ton of heart. Montpelier eventually tied it 10-10 by forcing miscues and desperation throws. Browning continued to connect downfield for three points in a row to give them the lead at 12-10. On the following points, Needham returned to form and marched the disc up-field, knotting the score at 13-13. 
Montpelier received the pull for the last point of the game. Browning and Avery-Padberg kicked the disc around to midfield as Needham focused on stopping the cutters from getting open. From midfield, Browning caught a centering pass and put a low inside-out backhand over several Needham defenders. The pass hit his receiver in stride to end the game.  
Final score 14-13 Montpelier.
This game was no fluke as Montpelier would go on to win their pool. This team came in as the 16 seed and finished last at Northeasterns 2015. 
Round 4
Lexington came in as the overall three seed, yet Radnor beat them in the first round, creating chaos in the pool. 
Lexington and Columbia came in knowing that this game mattered, since the pool could potentially end up with three teams at 2-1, and the team with the best point differential would get a first-round bye. Both teams were blasting music and laying out during their warm-up drills with the thought of skipping round five and cruising to tomorrow’s championship bracket in their minds. 
This was another game dictated by zone defense, pressure and efficiency. Whoever could make the most of a short field off of a turnover and earn the better conversion rate would win this game.
Lexington did a good job possessing the disc between their handlers. Chris Padilla threw over the cup with lefty and righty high-release backhands and scoobers, He and Walden Ng attempted to stretch the field with long hucks that either sailed too far or were eaten up by Columbia’s defenders. 
Columbia’s Alex Rafkin had a handful of sky blocks and long throws connect for goals. Russell Moy hauled in many of these goals and was tireless when it came to producing reliable in cuts, close man D, and long cuts when needed.
It was a long game with a lot of back and forth. The conditions and great defensive plays caused many turnovers. In the end, Columbia’s shorter possession time (they’d either turn it over or score quickly) and greater efficiency won out. 
Final score 10-8.

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