2013 HS Northeasterns - Sunday Recap

Posted: May 13, 2013 07:08 AM
Despite the promise provided by yesterday’s double rainbow, Sunday morning at the 2013 High School Northeastern Championship looked quite a bit like yesterday morning, just with more water. The first round was subject to a consistent, but fortunately not terribly heavy, rain. Coupled with yesterday’s precipitation, the fields were definitely wet and getting wetter when the first pull went up.

Twelve teams arrived early for the first round of play in the consolation bracket, and it was clear that, despite the lack of wind, the conditions were making it tough for all involved. Uncharacteristic drops and miscued throws from the slippery disc marked each of the games. However, there were still plenty of spectacular plays on each field. 
Undoubtedly, the game of the round in the open division was the faceoff between Sharon and Fyreburg Academy. FAtal’s athletic receivers were making tough plays, and the defense was strong with great anticipation and intensity. Even with the great plays, Fryeburg found themselves down late in the game. As the time cap ticked closer, FAtal managed to pull back within one at 12-11, just as the horn sounded. After the ensuing pull, both teams turned the disc multiple times. Fryeburg had an opportunity to tie up the game, but Sharon’s tough marks and aggressive dump defense forced a turn on the goal line. A warning-track-power huck followed; after a quick reset pass, the Clams called a timeout. Presumably it didn’t play out as drawn up, but the Clams survived, coming away with the win on a perfect hammer from Uri Starr into the hands of Matt Kravitsky in back corner of the end zone. 
Meanwhile, cheers were continually ringing out from the girls’ division. One of the most spirited teams at this year’s championship was the Maine girls’ combo team, MEGO. The roster included many girls who had never played on an all-girls team until this weekend. By the end of the day on Saturday, many were trying to find ways to join up with other girls’ teams for future tournaments. MEGO often led the cheers echoing from the girls’ end of the field site – support was shown for each good catch made by a teammate, and especially for any goals scored. The team was comprised of many stellar individual athletes that made marked steps toward cohesion with each game. After having scored only three points on Saturday, the team was still excited to play, and their attitude was infectious. They came out on Sunday amped up and positive and came away with a couple of wins.  
Notable Performances – Round One:
  • Luke Jackmauh, St. Johnsbury – strong handler and cutter for the Hilltoppers
  • Wayne Smith, Fyreburg Academy – athletic receiving presence downfield

  • Jessie Nason, Andover – good hands, coming down with grabs in traffic, and maintained poise after the catch
  • Ana Jaramaz and Sarah Schlossberg, Allderdice – both primary handlers for the Ninja Samurai, large portions of the offense run through these two
The second round of the day featured 24 of the teams in this year’s tournament field. On the girls’ side, Longmeadow was forced to bow out of Sunday’s bracket due to an injury, so the field changed slightly. Each of the affected teams was extremely tenable in allowing for the necessary changes, making the adjustment as easy as possible for all involved.
By this time, the rain had died out, and the sun slowly started peeking through the clouds. A welcome change for all the players and spectators.
Haverford came out big against Mt. Lebanon, Saturday’s upstart from the D pool. Linda Morse stood out in a sea of solid players as an unstoppable force, consistently coming up big when her team needed it, either with big throws or improbable grabs. On defense, HUDA joined the bevy of teams breaking out their zone looks. Mt. Lebanon worked the disc well across the entire width of the field with smart decisions and steady handler movement. In the end, Haverford used their athleticism and big game to earn the 13-5 win.
In their match up with Beacon, the MEGO ladies took advantage of their size with big throws often aimed for tall receivers. Beacon was still fired by the intensity of their coach, David Reynolds, as he offered focused help from the sideline. Constantly keeping their heads up and their eyes on the disc earned them several defensive blocks in the throwing lanes. With time and more experience, both these teams will only get better and may soon be real competitors in the region. Maine pulled out their second victory of the weekend in a well-fought game, 10-7.

In the upper half of the bracket, exciting quarterfinal games were ensuing across the field complex at Fort Devens. Newton North and Pennsbury were locked in a back and forth match up where each of the team’s standouts began to truly shine. Newton North has a strong core, made up of Nick Roberts, Mac Hecht and Alec Zabrecky. The trio has great chemistry, with either Roberts or Hecht often looking to touch the disc on every other pass, while Zabrecky is a tireless cutter than brings fire and big playmaking ability to the defense. Hecht is one of a growing number of second-generation ultimate players, and Roberts is a Massachusetts transplant with experience in the perennially successful DiscNW program. Their experience and leadership brings a lot of stability to NNHS. Newton earned consecutive breaks to bring the score to 9-10, but Pennsbury responded with consecutive scores of their own and broke to win 13-9 on a Hecht huck from a power position.
In another nail-biter, Needham pulled out an 11-8 victory over historic favorite Columbia. CHS consistently showed great handler movement and cutter cycling in their horizontal stack, but Needham was winning their one-on-one match ups and showed extreme patience with the disc. On offense and on the goal line, Needham used multiple resets while waiting for an open power cut from the stack. On game point for Needham, team standout Ben Sadok made an impressive layout grab on the sideline to reel in a big huck on the goal line. After an injury substitution, Needham again showed their patience in pressure situations. A short pass in traffic and with good defensive pressure from CHS was completed just inside the end zone to secure the win and a trip to the semifinals for Needham.
In the girls’ division, the tournament’s original one and two seeds, Amherst and Watchung Hills respectively, continued their dominance. Watchung Hills had a consistently loud sideline always looking to help on defense, especially when they pulled out their 1-3-3 zone. The Lady Warriors effectively poached the throwing lanes and cut off any in cuts, making the defense difficult for Stuyvesant to break. On offense, a number of girls stood out as having great field sense and vision. Time after time, they showcased their ability to put great throws out to space, allowing the receiver to run onto the disc and catch it in stride. 
The semifinal brackets shaped up like this:
Open Semifinal Match-ups
  • Amherst v. Lexington
  • Pennsbury v. Needham

Girls Semifinal Match-ups
  • Amherst v. Haverford
  • Columbia v. Watchung Hills

Sidelines were packed and expectations were high for the semifinal match ups, particularly in the open division, and the games certainly did not disappoint. In a rematch of last week’s Amherst Invitational finals, Amherst and Lexington squared off and didn’t leave the fans wanting for anything. The match up also pitted Amherst’s more disciplined, routine style of play against Lexington’s use of athleticism and higher risk, higher reward plays. Throughout the game, Amherst solidarity was steady – players rushed the field after each point, even if the tally ended up on the opposing side of the board, and communication between teammates was very impressive, from reactions to switching offensive sets to calling for discs when a better angle could be had. Lexington brought a more fiery style with big plays on both sides of the disc. The energy was high as the teams waged an evenly matched battled throughout. Lexington’s big three, Dan Bernstein, Zac Gunther and Tannor Johnson, made the offense tick, often looking like a three-man weave with a plethora of other athletic cutters downfield to fill in when the weave broke down. With Lexington up 10-9, Amherst dropped a pull. The Fooligans quickly called a timeout to set up a play which resulted in a break point and the 11-9 lead. After another break, the Fooligans had made it to game point. To add to the suspense, Amherst brought the game back within one at 12-11. Lexington’s big players stepped up again – after a great save of a swilly hammer, Bernstein snagged an errant throw out of the air for the 13-11 win and a finals berth.
Meanwhile, Pennsbury and Needham were locked in a game of trading points. Pennsbury continued to take quite a few shots, giving their athletes opportunities to make big plays. On defense, they used a tough zone with an all-time mark and a three-man wall behind. Although Needham seemed to get more comfortable moving the disc through and over the wall as the game progressed, the teams still traded points, with neither team ever leading by more than two points. Ben Sadok again took charge for Needham. If the offense became stagnant, he was the catalyst, breaking through the cup, using quick give and goes to get the disc moving up-field again. Finally, took half 7-6. The dog fight continued after half with Pennsbury holding a 10-9 lead with the cap approaching. Just after the horn blew, Needham got a huge boost with a big defensive play from Sadok who turned around and threw the score to big receiver Scott Groux to tie the game at 10s and force universe point. After a miscue from Pennsbury, who else but Ben Sadok throws the score to Ryan Sickles to cap off the comeback and clinch their ticket to the finals. Final score – 11-10.
Over in the girls’ semifinals, Amherst was doing what they do best – which turns out to be just about everything. They used aggressive and active marks to force difficult throws and putting beautiful throws out to space to hit receivers in stride on offense. Anticipation was also key. The Canes expect their teammates to make every catch and complete every throw, thus eliminating the common "wait and see" approach. Amherst wasted little time catching up to completed passes, allowing them to keep the disc moving and score quickly. Haverford continued to play their game, utilizing numerous dumps and swings but struggled to take advantage of Amherst’s few mistakes or the turnovers they were able to force. Amherst went on to comfortably win the match up.
Watchung Hills also continued using big plays and their handler-cutter chemistry to control the style and pace of the game. Tough love from their coach seemed to keep them focused on the game at hand and their intensity levels high. Columbia used their big weapons as much as possible as well. Deep shots were frequently put in the vicinity of Kiyomi Taylor, often from junior playmaker Sadie Jezierski who set the tone of points from start to finish with her impressive pulls, confident throws and tireless cutting. Although the margin of victory was sizeable, the game felt closer. Points were often long, and the girls from Sparkle Motion made the Lady Warriors work for each and every point. More parity in girls ultimate is definitely on its way.
In an impressive performance, the Amherst Hurricanes won their fourth consecutive high school regionals title. The Lady Warriors were never intimidated by the Canes historic dominance and did not back down from any challenge throughout the game. Senior Olivia Hampton stood out all weekend for her great decision making, excellent throws and obvious leadership role on the field. She will be a force to be reckoned with at Boston College next fall. 
Despite an increase in the intensity and frequency of gusty winds in the final round, the Canes never strayed from their game plan, executing their offensive sets with great chemistry and flow and some amazing plays from incredible athletes. Angela Zhu, a senior headed to Dartmouth this fall, made her presence known all over the field. If the team needed a play, even with Amherst’s impressive roster, Zhu was the likely candidate to step up. Her pinpoint throws and steady hands kept the offense rolling, often looking deep to any number of fellow standouts including Tulsa Douglas, Zoe Freedman Coleman and Erin O’Connor. The Amherst program certainly looks to be the program to beat for the foreseeable future. 
The open division final was filled with marathon points and tired legs. After the two intense, wire-to-wire battles in the semifinal round, both Lexington and Needham looked to have tired legs going into their seventh games of the weekend. The first point alone lasted nearly half an hour, setting the tone for the rest of the game. With tired legs and the letdown in adrenaline and energy from the intensity of the previous round, both teams had numerous miscues throughout. Lexington managed to come out on top of the first, marathon point for a break and proceeded to rack up four more points before Needham got on the board at 5-1. Needham used their steady handlers to break through the Lexington zone and add a couple more tallies to the scoreboard before Lexington took half at 7-4. The major players on both teams continued to use their skill, but in this match up, time won. The hard cap went on with Lexington on top 8-5. Lexington preserved and pulled out a gritty win, but Needham didn’t give up on any opportunity and earned another break in the final point to make the score 8-6 and claim second place for the second year in a row. 
It was a great weekend of ultimate, displaying some of the best youth ultimate in the country. And some of the best ultimate in the world, thanks to the U.S. National Team’s presence. 
Congratulations to both Lexington and Amherst on their championships! A huge thanks goes out to the countless volunteers who helped organize and run such a great tournament. And thank you to all the players, parents, family and friends who came out to support youth ultimate!

Photos by UltiPhotos.com - Sunday Girls Division



Photos by UltiPhotos.com - Sunday Open Division



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