2013 Division III College Championships Preview - Open

Posted: May 17, 2013 11:12 AM

Open Scoreboard

It is hard to imagine that there have only been three USA Ultimate Division III National Championships so far. In spite of its relative inexperience, the field is set for a very competitive tournament in Milwaukee this coming weekend. Although the weather does not look too foreboding (isolated thunderstorms and 12-13 mph winds are forecast), the Midwest is known for wildly unpredictable weather. With a mixed bag of veteran teams looking to avenge past losses and young squads making Nationals for the first time (and everything in between), the best teams are here to play. I’m excited. 

Teams to Watch:

Carleton College-GOP

The defending champions return to the stage this year seeking to continue their dominant streak at Nationals over the past few years. Although not seeded as high as one might expect, I anticipate GOP to make big moves on Sunday (although as a member of a North Central team who got knocked out by Carleton, I am definitely biased). This team has excellent discipline and a variety of versatile players to employ. They run simple set plays but quickly settle into their offensive systems, working unders and dumps all day, taking deep shots when they are open and making zone defenses look silly. Their sideline’s enthusiasm is impressive, storming the field when either teams scores. In addition to their experience at Nationals, GOP gains a big advantage from playing in Midwest weather year round. Check out last year’s game against Puget Sound where GOP’s ability to make short, consistent throws allowed them to outlast their opponents.  Look for Scott Graber (6) and Niko Duffy (22) to facilitate their offense. And keep an eye on D-line handler Matt Godfrey (5) and cutters Sam Rosenberg (90), Brandon Taitt (9) and Rob Yeagle (25) (Petey "Wolfman" Rogers (15) is out with an injury). Oh yeah, and Rhys Lindmark (7) does it all. 


After their disappointing Nationals finish last year and the departure of their NexGen star Tommy Li, Claremont’s image as a dominant D-III school has wavered.  But do not count out the Braineaters. After a fantastic performance at D-III Warm Up, Claremont realized they stack up well against similarly sized schools. They run a methodical horizontal stack that thrives on open unders and strong swings. While the full team presents a serious threat at Nationals, this Braineaters squad will be without an important handful of players due to a conflicting graduation schedule and injury. Instead of understanding those absences as a detriment, the team will ask more of its less experienced players – something they are not afraid or worried about doing. Keep an eye on Devin Drewry (15). When Claremont needs anything, Drewry is their man. With a tough pool play match up against Wake Forest and a potential upset coming from John Brown, Claremont will need to bring their highest level of focus and intensity to every game. 

Wake Forest

After a hard fought Regionals victory, Wake Forest should look to silence any doubters on Saturday. In what seems to be the most level pool at Nationals, the overall four seed will need to bring intensity early and often. Although their season started out a little sluggish, Wake Forest has been able to win most of their games in the latter half of the season and will seek to use that momentum coming into Milwaukee. 


Another first-time team at Nationals, the Amherst Army of Darkness is looking to use the momentum from their sweep of one of the most competitive regions in the country. After a disappointing finish at D-III Warm Up, the team gained a new level of commitment and focus. Their mantra all season has been to play happy, and if they win this weekend, it will be because they were relaxed throughout every game. Look for Stefan Breitling (80) and John Yarchoan (31) to make things happen downfield. With a Saturday match up against a tough Harding team, Amherst is very excited to see what kind of work Taren Goins has been doing. 


After missing out on their region’s sole bid to Nationals last year in a heartbreaking loss to Rice, Harding has plans for Milwaukee. Their results from Regionals and the regular season speak for themselves, sweeping the field at the former and losing only to competitive D-I teams in the latter. With a heavy emphasis on playing all-out defense (players are rewarded with playing on the D-line), expect Harding to earn breaks early and often. Although plagued by sickness and injuries all season long, Harding has demonstrated their composure and skill in their region. Now can they transfer the emotion from Regionals onto the big stage? They will be missing some important players in Milwaukee, but be on the lookout for Taren Goins (28), Tucker Bankston (29) and Nick Doores (13) to make big plays for Harding throughout the tournament. Their game against Amherst should be one of the most interesting during pool play. 

Puget Sound

The UPS Postmen deserve their one seed. It’s that simple. After sweeping the competition early at D-III Warm Up, Puget Sound rolled through the season accumulating only two losses (and one forfeit during the last game on Sunday), one of which was on universe. They run their system with precision and determination, going big when it is open and looking for reliable dumps cuts early. Over the course of the season, they have scaled back their hucks and focused on making truly good decisions, only taking smart deep shots and instead focusing on unders and swings. This program seeks to expand over the next few years with their solid B team and flying to tournaments in order to play new competition. Expect them to win out their pool without much trouble (although Bentley is quite good, and the Postmen will not be able to sleep on them) and advance far into the bracket on Sunday. Jonas Cole (33), Spencer Sheridan (31) and Daniel Mozell (4) will look to facilitate their attack, and Alan Henzy (22), Jack Derham (99) and Sam Berkelhammer (44) will do work downfield.

Stevens Tech

Stevens Tech has developed into a serious contender this year, crediting their success to strict discipline on offense and fiery defense, or as they term it "machines on offense, animals on defense." The Ducks use their playmakers often and well, abusing mismatches with cutters David Johnston (13) and Chris Fairfield (16). Their handlers are Andrew Misthos (5) and Marques Brownlee (82) their defensive stars are Mason Compton (11) and Jon Lee (22).  While still a relative newcomer and untested against out-of-region foes, Stevens Tech might just be the unexpected team that makes a serious run on Sunday. They also got their wish in a match up against Carleton-GOP during pool play. 

Dark Horses

John Brown

With no seniors and a crop of starting underclassmen, John Brown comes into Nationals wanting to make a run. But with a small team and little experience outside of their region, the odds are against them. As in their regional final against Harding, John Brown’s lack of depth proved to be their undoing. However, as a young fiery team, expect an upset from these guys, especially in the relatively weak Pool D against a Claremont team that has struggled to play in the Midwestern conditions in the past. This team has grown immensely over the past two years and will be exciting to watch at Nationals and in the future. Keep an eye out for Andrew Goode (35) in the cutting lanes and Chris Genheimer (8) and Jacob Moore (15) handling for Ironfist. 


Another team going into their first Championships, Brandeis is seeking to make a name for themselves at the national level. After losing to Bowdoin in the game to go last year, TRON came back strong this year and thrashed their old foe to take the fourth and final bid to Nationals from the New England region. Their strategy has focused around "fire and ice," staying fiery on D while remaining calm and collected on offense. In order to win it all in Milwaukee, they will have to play and work harder than ever, but this team seems up to the challenge. Look for Gabe Colton (3) and Victor Zhivich (63) to match up against other teams’ offensive weapons, while Nadav Pearl (17) and Max Zaslove (10) work behind the disc looking for Matt Wiener (36) deep. 

The Rest of the Field:

While none of the remaining teams (Bentley, Lehigh, Middlebury, Rice, North Park, Wesleyan and Georgia Southern) are frontrunners for the title, they all worked hard and earned their spots in Milwaukee. I do not expect a huge shake up of the seeding on Saturday. However, it’s Nationals, so sleeping on any team would be a mistake.

Good luck and safe travels to all the teams and fans heading to Wisconsin this weekend!

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