2013 College Championships - Saturday Open Recap

Posted: May 26, 2013 01:21 AM


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Hometown Heartbreak & Upset City

While the final rounds of pool play were largely unsurprising, three of the four lower seeds upset their higher-seeded opponents in the pre-quarterfinals.  When the dust settled, hometown favorite Wisconsin was shockingly eliminated from championship contention.

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Pool A

  Oregon   Colorado   Dartmouth   Gerogia   Washington  

1A: (4-0)

2A: (3-1)

3A: (2-2)

4A: (1-3)

5A: (0-4)


Oregon was dominant in its pool victory and continued to get contributions from across the board.  Particularly impressive was Will Watkins’ intelligent first-throw poach block and subsequent score that put Ego up 6-3 against Dartmouth. Oregon never looked back from there, cruising to a 15-10 victory.  Ego appears to be one of the top three remaining title contenders.

Dartmouth struggled against Colorado’s junky zone when the wind picked up, and put up less of a fight than anticipated.  Mamabird earned the second spot in this pool with a commanding 15-8 victory over Pain Train.

Pool B

  Wisconsin   College13 Carleton CUT O 500x500   Harvard   FSU   Cornell  

2B: (3-1)
  Carleton College

1B: (4-0)

3B: (2-2)
  Florida State

4B: (1-3)

5B: (0-4)


The highly anticipated Harvard-Wisconsin match up (also known as the Marsh Bowl, because Pride of New York star Jack Marsh played for both teams during his college career) lived up to its billing, with the teams going on runs and trading leads to the very end.  Harvard’s side stack, maintained by First-Team All-Freshman honoree Mark Vandenberg and First Team All-Region honorees Jonah Herscu and Piers MacNaughton, was clicking in the first half and propelled Red Line to 5-3 and 8-7 leads.  In the second half, Wisconsin’s defense won the day.  The Hodags earned an early break to gain a 9-8 lead, and at 11-10, an Andrew Meshnick hand block on MacNaughton vaulted the Hodags toward another break that put Wisconsin up 12-10 before finally claiming the13-11 victory.

Immediately after grinding out a 12-11 victory against Cornell, a Florida State team that had so far put on underwhelming performances found life in its final pool play game against Wisconsin.  Disciplined offense and aggressive defense led DUF to a surprising 8-7 halftime lead.  Once again, the Hodags called on their defense in the second half, and Meshnick, Tanner Marshall and Dan Stuligross all racked up impressive blocks that contributed to the Hodag break effort.  The Hodags started the second half with a 4-0 run and withstood a late Florida State surge (inspired by First-Team All-Region honoree Chris LaRocque) en route to a 15-13 victory.  No one expected Wisconsin to have to exert so much energy in its final pool play game.

Carleton appeared unchallenged in its decisive victories over Cornell and Harvard.  CUT, too, got contributions from across the board and looks poised for another title run.  Nick Stuart did not play in their game against Harvard, but James Adams and other young players filled his defensive role well.


Pool C

  UNC   UCF   OU   UCDavis   Luther  
  North Carolina

2C: (3-1)
  Central Florida

1C: (3-1)

4C: (2-2)

3C: (2-2)

5C: (0-4)           


Carolina Darkside got closer to finding its stride today, stopping the tournament’s most prolific scorers, Ohio’s Mitch Cihon and Connor Haley, from beating their defense.  Darkside also survived a match up against a pesky California-Davis squad to finish second in the pool.

Central Florida, having secured the Pool C crown with a solid victory over Luther, rested its top players in their loss against Ohio.  The Dogs of War will need those fresh legs come Sunday morning for a deceivingly dangerous quarterfinal match up against Dartmouth.

Pool D

  Pittsburgh   Texas   UNCW   Arizona   Illinois  

1D: (3-1) 

2D: (3-1)
  North Carolina-Wilmington

3D: (2-2)

5D: (1-3)

4D: (1-3)


Wilmington was prepared to pull off the upset of the tournament in their morning match up against Pittsburgh.  A dangerous play from Alan Gruntz led to a shoving match, Pittsburgh yardage penalty (thanks to PMFs assessed for shoving after play stopped) and Wilmington break to take half, 8-7.  Until that point, Wilmington had found some success by rolling pulls to a sideline before establishing a trap zone.  In the second half, however, Pittsburgh came out bigger and better, going on a 7-0 run that ended in a 15-9 victory.  Marcus Ranii-Dropcho and First Team All-Region Honoree Trent Dillon were instrumental in En Sabah Nur’s unrelenting break train.  Pittsburgh rested its starters in its loss to Arizona, but En Sabah Nur appears to be the final legitimate title contender remaining, along with Oregon and Carleton.

Texas’ Dillon Larberg and James May dove for consecutive layout blocks in TUFF’s first point out of half against Wilmington.  Texas converted that break opportunity to go up 9-5, and with the tone set early on in the second half, TUFF was able to maintain control for a 15-10 victory.


Though Dartmouth had been maintaining a small lead throughout most of its pre-quarterfinal, Texas appeared to be gaining momentum late in the second half.  Down 13-12, Texas’ Chase Cunningham and Michael Hays tallied blocks and gave TUFF a chance to tie the game.  But Scott Sottosanti had other ideas, as he laid out to block a swing pass intended for Will Driscoll – Dartmouth won that point to go up 14-12.  Two points later, Dartmouth ran its characteristic offense with long, sweeping strike cuts that culminated in a Dan Rosengard up-line goal and a 15-13 victory for Pain Train.

Wisconsin, propelled into the pre-quarterfinals by its stingy and relentless defense, generated five turnovers throughout their game against Davis but was unable to convert a single break opportunity. The Dogs’ offense, led by First Team All-Region honorees Nathan White and Eli Kerns, did a remarkable job of maintaining proper spacing, making it difficult for Wisconsin defenders to have any chance at helping out in the lanes.  Davis connected on all but one huck in the second half, and the Dogs’ accuracy and aggressiveness proved too much for the Hodag defense to contain in what ended as a 15-11 victory for the Dogs.  It will be challenging for Davis’ offense to perform as efficiently against Oregon as it did against Wisconsin.

The only offensive performance more impressive than Davis’ in the pre-quarterfinal round came from UNC-Wilmington.  The Seamen offense committed just one turnover and did not get broken en route to a 15-11 victory over Colorado Mamabird – a victory that shares the same exact score and field location as the Wilmington win over Mamabird in the 2010 College Championship pre-quarterfinals.  Luke Hancock, Trueman Nottingham and Tommy Lamar executed exceptionally well for UNCW’s offensive line.  On the Seamen defensive line, Mark Evans broke marks en masse, and Xavier Maxstadt and Robert Goode established quick-strike capability that Mamabird struggled to contain.  Wilimington again rolled pulls out of bounds to set trap zones on the sidelines to their advantage.  That trap zone forced Colorado’s final turnover, in addition to others earlier in the game.  Wilmington will face Carleton on Sunday morning.  The last time these two teams met, Wilmington eliminated Carleton from tournament championship contention (Easterns 2013).

North Carolina’s zone and poachy looks slowed down the Harvard pull plays and side stacks that were so effective against Wisconsin.  The last time Carolina met Pitt in a quarterfinal round was in a rain and mud-soaked affair at College Easterns earlier this year, where Carolina gritted out a 15-11 victory.  So long as there isn’t another mud bowl of a field Sunday morning, Pittsburgh should advance to one of the ESPN-streamed semifinals.



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