2011 D-III College Championships - Saturday Open Recap

Posted: May 21, 2011 11:32 PM
It appears that while bringing the D-III National Championship Tournament to Buffalo, NY, USA Ultimate also brought sunshine and good weather. For the first time in nearly a week the greater Buffalo area saw no precipitation and simply sunshine.

The attending teams took advantage of the beautiful weather and put forth a day of hard fought, spirited competition at Akron Falls County Park.
Four teams specifically took great advantage of the weather by winning their pools with records of 3-0 on the day, thus earning a bye straight to quarterfinals tomorrow. Those teams were Claremont, St. John’s, Grinnell and Missouri S&T.

Claremont team president Zack Purdy was happy with his team’s handler movement and hucks which he referred to respectively as "sharp" and "on point." He said the team prides itself on its big sidelines and expects that his team’s numbers will play a large role in the Braineaters’ success tomorrow.
St. John’s rolled through its competition about as easy as Claremont did, having only one team finish within three points of their total. Captain Chris Battista told us that St. John’s offensive performance was the key to his team’s success. The Bad Ass Monks’ offense turned the disc only twice through their first two games. Tomorrow, BAM will be counting on its numbers to run opponents into the ground and continue its success.
Grinnell was the surprise of the tournament so far. After being seeded 15th, the Grinnellelephants won some tight games in order to claim victory over their pool beating North Park and Occidental on double game point. Grinnell captain Aaron Swaney said he knew the team was underseeded and attributed that seeding to a lack of series games (the Grinnellelephants played only three). However, he claimed that none of Grinnell opponents were able to stop what the team does best, which is work the break side with its small, quick handlers. Tomorrow, he’s hoping that his team does not get complacent with a 3-0 day and comes out just as on fire as they did today.
Missouri S&T’s captain Steven Naji told me that, since Miner Threat’s school year ended several weekends ago, many players have not been on campus for practices leading up to the tournament. That left MST playing a lot of "mini" and focusing on ZTU or "Zero Turn Ultimate." He attributes his team’s performance largely to this focus over the last two weeks. He also told me that tomorrow Miner Threat wants to have the "most boring offense in the nation with the craziest defense in the nation."
The teams finishing more or less directly below those four will be competing in four crossover/prequarter matches to determine the rest of the D-III quarterfinalists. Those matchups will take place at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow morning between Swarthmore and Georgia College & State; Wake Forest and Harding; North Park and Bentley; and Connecticut College and Truman State.
Rounding out the results from the day were four teams that were eliminated from championship competition that each finished 0-3 on the day, those teams being Colby, Lehigh, Occidental and Lewis & Clark.
Observations from the day:
  • It appears that some of the hype given to Markham Shoffner of Claremont College leading into this tournament was well deserved. The Braineater offense runs exclusively through him and Tommy Li. If the Braineaters have the disc, Shoffner or Li are touching it nearly every other throw and most hucks are coming out of their hands.
  • Wake Forest WOMB has created quite an identity for itself on both offense and defense, depending on a zone defense that it will throw in any conditions to generate turnovers and looking to superb play from senior John Malloy to generate scores. Malloy is a danger from anywhere on the field to score the disc and has proved to be one of the better players in the tournament.
  • Georgia College and State Discconnected proved to be one of the more resilient teams in the tournament, turning around a 11-4 deficit against Connecticut College to a 12-12 tie, only to lose on double game point. GCSU followed that up with another double game point loss to Missouri S&T. Discconnected then needed its first win of the tournament against Lewis & Clark to keep its tournament hopes alive. The team would earn the victory and coach Doug Oetter told me that the team’s spirits were high and he knows that wins will start coming its way tomorrow.
  • An interesting story from the tournament comes in the form of 2-1 Swarthmore. The Earthworms play as tight a rotation as any team that will compete in USAU’s college championships this year. SWAT plays no more than 8 or 9 players per tournament and has played with this tight of a line all spring. Swarthmore captains told me that all three seniors on the team are natural handlers, all four juniors on the team are tall cutters and the rest of the team are sophomores and freshmen, leaving the Earthworms’ choice quite clear.
  • Connecticut College’s Jonah Guerin is having a fantastic tournament, posing a threat to put the disc into the endzone from nearly anywhere on the field and being the central breakmark threat on his team. Guerin’s importance was solidified when, on double game point against GCSU after GCSU’s 7 point comeback, he launched a perfect 25 yard hammer right into a streaking receiver’s hands for a victory.
  • Grinnell’s Aaron Swaney wasn’t kidding when he said his offense depends on strong play from quick handlers that can break the mark well. Seniors Tom Elliot and Dennis Kuo, neither measuring above 5’8", were crucial to the success of Grinnell’s offense.