2013 College Championships - Open Division Preview

Posted: May 23, 2013 08:31 AM


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Only 20 teams remain with a shot at winning the 2013 College Championship.  Ian Toner breaks down the Open Division's action.

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Pool A

  Oregon   Colorado   Dartmouth   Gerogia   Washington  


Though Oregon should win this pool without difficulty, the pre-quarters battle should be wide open.  There is significant parity between Colorado, Dartmouth, Washington and Georgia.  Colorado, Dartmouth and Georgia all have respectable losses against common opponents.  Dartmouth beat Colorado by four goals at College Easterns, while Colorado only bested Washington by one at Presidents' Day.  The Sundodger and Mambird returners all have recent Championships experience under their belts to calm their nerves, but do they have enough talent?  The smart money is on Dartmouth finishing second and Colorado finishing third, but Washington and Georgia are definitely still in the conversation.

Pool B

  Wisconsin   College13 Carleton CUT O 500x500   Harvard   FSU   Cornell  
  Carleton College
  Florida State


Everyone loves Cinderella stories, but Florida State's lack of high-pressure experience and Cornell's nationally unimpressive regular-season résumé should make it difficult for DUF and the Buds to advance to the championship bracket. Wisconsin, Carleton and Harvard will all be jockeying for prime championship bracket positioning, but they'll also want to be conserving energy for late Saturday and Sunday.  Look for Wisconsin to stay on top of the pool and Harvard and Carleton to battle fiercely for that second spot.  More on that match up's implications below.


Pool C

  UNC   UCF   OU   UCDavis   Luther  
  North Carolina
  Central Florida


North Carolina will feel the most pressure of any top pool seed in many ways.  Darkside is itching to exorcise demons from last year's under-performance in Boulder.  Central Florida is arguably the toughest second seed in any of the pools, with an upward trajectory throughout the season and a nail-biting victory over Darkside at College Easterns.  The Dogs' size in the cutting lanes presents serious match-up challenges for Carolina, whose defenders fare better when working to shut down handlers.  Furthermore, a Carolina loss to Central Florida likely implies a challenging pre-quarterfinal against Harvard or Carleton.  Central Florida should win this pool, North Carolina should take second, and California-Davis should be fighting to steal a pre-quarterfinals berth from Mitch Cihon's Ohio team that lacks depth.

Pool D

  Pittsburgh   Texas   UNCW   Arizona   Illinois  
  North Carolina-Wilmington


Coach Nick Kaczmarek's preparation will ensure Pittsburgh's finish atop the pool, allowing the defending champions a bit more time and energy to focus on the championship bracket.  The race for second will be a rodeo involving Texas, North Carolina-Wilmington and Arizona.  At the Stanford Invite, Arizona and Wilmington topped Texas, while Wilmington won against Arizona.  Texas' depth and experience could prevail, leaving newcomer Arizona to go toe to toe against the gritty and emotionally volatile Wilmington Seamen for the final pre-quarterfinal spot.

Seven to Watch

  • Eli Kerns (California-Davis Dogs): U23 Mixed Team member and Club Championship finalist Eli Kerns has been a central figure in the Dogs' return to the show.  His quickness, throws and poise will comprise powerful parts of the Davis attack.
  • Tyler Degirolamo (Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur): It goes without saying that the top five Callahan nominees (Degirolamo, Will Driscoll, Dylan Freechild, Brian Hart and Jimmy Mickle) all deserve watching in Madison.  But Degirolamo, with speed, size and skill, has led the Open Division in goals at the last two College Championships.  The stage is set for him to claim another scoring title (if not another national title, as well!).
  • Christian Johnson (North Carolina Darkside): If anyone can challenge Degirolamo for the tournament scoring title, it's Ring of Fire veteran Christian Johnson.  The U23 Open Team member's speed and endurance empower him to consistently gain yards of separation in the cutting lanes.  Many teams will be hard-pressed to find a defender that can mark him well for an entire point (let alone an entire game).
  • Khalif El-Salaam (Washington Sundodgers): The Northwest School has turned out another prime performer in freshman Khalif El-Salaam.  This Junior Worlds veteran, U23 Mixed Team member and Portland Stags player presents a springy match up issue for Washington's opponents.
  • Mike Ogren (Central Florida Dogs of War): The always level-headed Mike Ogren is the heart and soul of UCF's offensive unit.  Though he shares the team spotlight with giants Mischa Freystaetter and Mike Hickson, Ogren has his own well-rounded skill set that helped him earn a spot on the U23 Mixed squad and UCF its second consecutive regional title.
  • Tim Morrissy (Colorado Mamabird): "Air Tim" has hops.  Watch for him to be a primary cutting force on Colorado's offensive unit.
  • Tom Coolidge (Wisconsin Hodags): On a team full of NexGen veterans and Callahan nominees, Coolidge's defense stands out as particularly impressive.  If the Hodags are to defend their home turf well, they'll be looking to him to generate turns and break opportunities.



Harvard   Red Line came into the national discussion in the latter half of the regular season with finals appearances at Centex and New England Open.  After avenging a Conference Championship loss to Tufts in the regional semifinals and proceeding to win the New England regional title, the Harvard squad appears to be peaking at the right time.  Should Red Line be able to keep its momentum train rolling, look for Piers MacNaughton to lead his team into meaningful championship bracket games in Madison.


Upset Alert

College13 Carleton CUT O 500x500   Admittedly, this may be too gutsy a call, considering that CUT usually manages to pull things together in time for the Championships.  However, there is something about this year's team that seems to lack the prestige and confidence of CUT teams past.  CUT's display at College Easterns revealed cracks in its traditional mental toughness.  Mix in the loss of freshman standout Jesse Bolton and a tough pool to fight through, and this national powerhouse could be making its earliest exit since 2009.


Games to Watch

Colorado Dartmouth  

Colorado Mamabird v. Dartmouth Pain Train
Saturday, 12:30PM

Colorado will be hungry for revenge from College Easterns, and Dartmouth will be hungry to prove its worth at the Championships.  The winner of this match up likely finishes second in Pool A and earns a more favorable pre-quarterfinal match up against a Pool D team not named Texas, who beat both Mamabird and Pain Train earlier this year.

College13 Carleton CUT O 500x500 Harvard  

Carleton Ultimate Team (CUT) v. Harvard Red Line
Saturday, 2:30PM

If the preceding games in Pool B play out to seed, this game will decide who finishes second and third in Pool B.  The loser of this match up will likely have to face either North Carolina or Central Florida in crossover play, and neither Carleton nor Harvard want their seasons to be on the line against either regional champion; Carleton lost to Central Florida at College Easterns, while Harvard lost to North Carolina at Queen City Tune-Up.


North Carolina Darkside v. Central Florida Dogs of War
Friday, 2:30PM

Like their potential opponents, Carolina and Central Florida would rather rest than play an elimination game against Harvard or Carleton.  It should be especially fun to observe strategic adjustments from respected coaches Mike DeNardis and Andrew Roca as their teams fight for the Pool C crown and a quarterfinals berth.

UNCW Arizona  

North Carolina-Wilmington Seamen v. Arizona Sunburn
Friday, 12:30PM

Is newcomer/returner Arizona for real?  Will Wilmington keep its composure in a game with championship bracket implications?  Expect the Seamen to aggressively defend their third seed in Pool D and Sunburn to seriously compete for a championship bracket berth.

Inside Look

  • Arizona Sunburn returns to the College Championships for the first time since 2008, when Johnny Bravo veteran Joe Kershner won the Callahan Award.
  • Georgia and the North Carolina-Wilmington Seamen return to the College Championships for the first time since 2010.  Prior to that year, Jojah had not missed a College Championships tournament since 2004.
  • For the second year in a row, the Southeast Region is sending a first-time College Championships qualifier to the tournament.  After beating Florida in the backdoor game-to-go, Florida State DUF earned a Championships berth for the first time in the program's history.  UCF, the reigning Southeast Region champion, was a first time qualifier in 2012.
  • The last time the College Championships were held in Madison (2010), the hometown Wisconsin Hodags failed to advance to the championship bracket.
  • The last three champions of Warm Up: A Florida Affair (Florida in 2010, Carleton in 2011, and Pittsburgh in 2012) have gone on to win the College Championships.  Wisconsin, the second overall seed, won Warm Up earlier this spring.
  • Minnesota Grey Duck is the first College Easterns champion to fail to qualify for the College Championships since the 2009 Middlebury Pranksters.
  • North Carolina Darkside and defending national champions Pittsburgh En Sabah Nur will be the only teams to finish 2013 without losses to any non-Championships qualifier.
  • Oregon enters the tournament as the top seed for the third time in four years.  Since returning to the Championships in 2010, Oregon has finished progressively better, making pre-quarterfinals in 2010, quarterfinals in 2011, and semifinals in 2012.
  • 16 of the 38 men on USA Ultimate's U23 Worlds teams will compete at this year's College Championships.
  • 10 of the 14 men on the 2013 NexGen roster will compete at this year's College Championships.