2014 HS Northeasterns - Saturday Recap

Posted: May 9, 2014 12:55 PM

Saturday May 10, USA Ultimate hosted the 2014 High School Northeastern Championships at Wainwright Sports Complex in South Portland, Maine.  16 boys’ teams and 12 girls’ teams traveled from all over to attend.  Many teams had 8-9 hour drives after school on Friday, and another team team traveled by plane to Boston and then drove to Maine.  These teams were met with immediate rain, which led to slick, wet games to start the day, and muddy jerseys.  By 1 p.m., the clouds parted and a beautiful Maine day broke out for the bevy of high level ultimate players.

Girls' Division (Schedule)

One of the pool play games that caught our eye was Watchung Hills (2) versus Lexington (7).  Watchung Hills went up big: 9-3 in the second half.  Lexington is a solid squad and Watchung was using a front and back poaching man defense on the reset handlers and zoned around the stack.  This made it very difficult for the Lexington handlers to reset the disc as they basically had a two person cup and were playing excellent dump defense on the reset handlers.  One of the Watchung Hills coaches, about their trip from New Jersey said, "we drove 7 hours last night after their AP Tests, education first."  Love it.  They arrived in Portland around midnight.  After Watchung Hills won 13-3, the teams engaged in a spirit circle which broke into a very well constructed cheer sung by Lexington.  There was excellent spirit at the end of a hard fought game.

Fryeburg Academy played Cape Elizabeth in crossover.  It was 3-3 in a matchup of Maine High School Girls’ teams.  Cape was running a 1-3-3 zone defense.  It was a long point running on 10 minutes and Victoria Szalontai, an exchange student from Germany, played chase in the zone the whole point for Cape Elizabeth’s defense.  Remarkably, this is her first time playing Ultimate.  Hannah Babcock ended up running down a huck and the Cape Girls took a 4-3 lead.  Fryeburg settled down, and had the legs left to win the game on universe point.

Pool A played to seed with Amherst Regional dispatching both Pennsbury and Falmouth with smooth and efficient offense, showing off their patented easy offensive flow.  There was constant motion, with no one stopping cutting until the point was over or there was a stoppage.

Pool B Watchung Hills looked very strong in their pool besting both Lexington and local team Cape Elizabeth.  Watchung is scarily deep, with every girl that entered the game having the look of a seasoned vet.  They have great height and their handler play is terrific.

Pool C Vermont’s BFA Fairfax broke seed, going 2-0 in pool play and upsetting Pioneer Valley in a hard fought round 3 game, winning 11-8.

Pool D Amherst JV held seed in their pool, looking just as smooth and savvy as their varsity counterparts, and playing a smart yet attacking style of offense.  Fryeburg Academy broke seed with a 8-2 win in a first round game against New York City’s Stuyvesant HS.

There was an excellent sense of spirit throughout all the games.  I am impressed by the growth of the high school game in just 5 years.  These girls play at such a high level at a young age.  It is great to see people playing to win and doing it the right way.

Boys' Division (Schedule)

Arriving at the fields, you see a huge complex with food trucks and nice, soft, lined grass fields as far as the eyes can see.  Maine Ultimate, in conjunction with USA Ultimate, came prepared to host what to date is their biggest tournament. 

Pittsburgh’s Hampton HS arrived by plane into Boston then rented cars to attend the event. Hampton found themselves in a pool of death with Amherst, Middleton, and last year’s Maine HS state champions, Cape Elizabeth.   The 4 seed versus 5 seed match-up saw Amherst face Hampton in the third round for pool supremacy.  Down 6-4, Amherst got a layout D on a hanging disc, but Hampton’s Mike Larkin came from across the field to save possession for his team and leading to Hampton taking half 7-4 with momentum on their side.  Amherst came out in the second half determined to get back in the game.  Their tough defense and smart offense brought the score back to a 10-10 tie.  On universe point, Amherst marched the disc up the field and hit an up the line handler cut for a score and the victory 11-10.  This was a very hard fought match, a lot of big lay out bids, a very fun game to watch.

Pennsbury, another boys’ division team who traveled from afar, took a 9 hour bus drive from the Philadelphia area to complete their trek.  They are mostly student run with a couple recent alumni serving as coaches now.  I had a nice conversation with their coach and you can see the seeds of ultimate being planted at Pennsbury.  They had great uniforms, and were a fast team that charged hard down on pulls.  Pennsbury played Maine Ultimate’s number one high school boys team in the first round: Falmouth.  They traded points all the way to 8-8, until Pennsbury wore Falmouth down for the 10-8 win.  Falmouth Head Coach Dylan McPhetres said, "We haven’t seen competition close to this thus far this year.  There are some really good kids here and we are playing great!  That is how good I think Pennsbury was, I was very impressed with their game.  I’m proud of how are players played."  It is incredible to see the level of skills and talent in both divisions; determined Ultimate players playing to win in a spirited way.

Pool A played to seed but not without Lexington being tested a couple times, but in there end their closest game was 13-9 win over Stuyvesant. 

Pool B played to seed as well.  Needham from Massachusetts and Columbia from New Jersey got tangled up in a great game round 3.  Needham ended up winning 12-9.  Columbia’s Zack Cincotta, at 5’6", was a bullet on the field for Colombia.  When things were going Columbia’s way Zack was usually in the middle of it.

Pool C is the only open division pool in which a team broke seed.  Masconomet, from Topsfield, MA, defeated Pennsbury 13-10 to win the pool.  Local team Falmouth had a tough day, losing three close games: 13-7, 10-8, and 12-10.  Falmouth led by current Rising Tide player Andre Clement were fighting for every point, playing their brand of hard cutting, disc flying, laying out all over the field ultimate.  It is a joy to watch our local boys be challenged by some of the best high school teams in the Region.

Pool D was the most hotly contested pool, with two 11-10 games: Hampton and Amherst, and Hampton and Middletown.  Middletown played pretty throw-and-go handler style offense, and laid out for everything on defense.  Hampton, who logged the most miles to get there, also played the most points in the pool.


In the Girls’ Division it appears that Amherst and Watchung Hills are destined for a finals match up.  I have to admit Watchung Hills was the most athletic team I saw all day.  That said, Amherst is so efficient that they often times make it look easy with their efficient attack, great poise, and grace.

The boys’ division is wide open this year.  Everyone I have talked to sees a Lexington repeat, but I see a lot of hungry, well conditioned, battle tested teams looking for a shot at the title game.  Whoever comes out of this will have earned it because there is a fight to the finals set up with eight very tough teams still standing.

It was a great day after a wet start, and I for one can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow.  The weather is calling for 70 degrees, so don’t forget your sunblock.  As I was leaving the venue I stopped and asked Maine Ultimate’s President Rich Young for a quote about his organization’s first time hosting an event of this scale, he replied, "Maine, the way Ultimate should be!"  

Photos by UltiPhotos 

Boys' Division (Highlights)

Girls' Division (Highlights)


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