2015 D-III College Championships - Men's Day Two Recap

Posted: May 17, 2015 06:43 PM


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Franciscan University Fatal claims their first title at the 2015 USA Ultimate Division III College Championships in just their second year as a team.

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With a strong team effort, Fransican University Fatal earns an undefeated season.

Entering the weekend, Fatal had not yet lost a game. They leave just the same, winning the 2015 USA Ultimate D-III College Championships in just their second year as a program. While Sunday proved to be more of a test for Fatal than any day of play had been this season, they stayed the course and won the tournament.

In the finals, Franciscan met Brandeis Tron. Brandeis also entered the game without a loss in the tournament thanks to a stifling zone defense that helped them rack up wins. On offense, they were able to call their shots and often found the connections they were aiming for. Franciscan, meanwhile, had beaten every challenger by using their fast offense to their advantage. Often, this meant exploiting lapses in the defensive coverage of their opponents.

But what helped set Franciscan apart in this particular game was their defense. Playing a tight man defensive set, their players limited the options Brandeis had available to move the disc, often forcing them to throw into less-than-ideal situations. Even when Brandeis found players they thought were open, Franciscan racked up layout defensive blocks. Early in the game, Fatal set the tone by leaving their feet and making plays horizontally. All game long, that trend continued and helped Fatal establish a lead they would not relinquish.

Still, Brandeis Tron played a phenomenal game. That same zone defense they had been running throughout the weekend gave Franciscan offense trouble. While their offense didn’t perform with the same consistency it once had, flashes of what seemed like effortless points kept them in the game. The play by juniors Daniel Krigel and Hansen Yung, along with graduate student Stephen Gross, was a continuation of their hard work all weekend long as they drew the toughest assignments on offense and often crossed over into covering the best of Fatal on defense.

For Franciscan, it was their seniors and a cast of young talent that helped them control the disc and win the game. The two seniors, Stephen Wilson and Patrick Flanagan, helped their team retain control of and move the disc in key moments. Meanwhile, John Paul Bort was often seen scoring for the Franciscan offense after receiving picture-perfect hucks from freshman (and fellow Cincinnati Holy Family Catholic alum) Dominic Schuster or junior Tommy Koch. While these players stood out for Franciscan, their open lines helped to showcase their depth in what became a strong team effort.

A key difference between Franciscan and their opponents all weekend was their reliable disc skills. In what became a windy final day in Rockford, their ability to work the disc in both upwind and downwind situations assisted them greatly. Regardless of the player or situation, they were always confident and able to move the disc to their target. What became especially impressive was their upwind hucks, which often created opportunities for their defensive line to score and break their opponents.

Throughout the tournament, and again in the final game, the team was reminded of their inspiration and the resilience it instilled in them. Tragically, teammate Neal Albert Rylatt passed away from leukemia in May 2012. His nickname, "Fat Al," inspired their team name, and his initials and number were on each of their jerseys. With the tournament being held in his hometown of Rockford, Ill., it was clear that his memory helped spur the team to victory. Fatal captain Tony Bort, soon after winning the championship, said that their season, their tournament and their championship victory was for their friend.

What started with 16 teams, ends with one team that did not lose a game on the season. Each team gave it their all and should be extremely proud of their effort. As teams consistently told me all weekend, there was not an easy opponent, and that’s the way the D-III College Championships should be.

All-Tournament Seven

Over the course of the weekend, these seven players were consistently performing at a high level for their team and making spectacular plays on the field. Each stood out not only offensively, but defensively as well, acting as important factors in their teams’ various degrees of success.

  • Hansen Yang - #5, Brandeis Tron

  • Jacob Garfinkel - #36, Bryant University Craze

  • Anders Berglund - #67, Carleton College GOP

  • Alex Gruver - #34, Claremont Colleges Braineaters

  • Tommy Koch - #77, Franciscan University Fatal

  • Dominic Schuster - #22, Franciscan University Fatal

  • David Abbott - #7, SUNY-Geneseo Snail

Random Thoughts

  • Well done to the tournament staff and volunteers who kept the field site moving through the windy, and sometimes rainy, conditions this weekend. In my first experience in Rockford and at the Sportscore Two field complex, it was clear USA Ultimate made a wise choice in hosting it there.

  • Georgia College had an impressive Saturday but fell victim to Bryant University in the gusty quarterfinals. They had a lot of success with their zone defense and used their deep roster to their advantage. With only one senior and graduate student on their 2015 roster, Disconnected is poised for even bigger success next season.

  • Pool D ended up sending two representatives to the semifinals, and each of the teams had a similar journey once there. Bryant University came from behind to beat Georgia College in the quarterfinals and then lost on double-game point to regional rival Brandeis. And SUNY-Geneseo just did not want to make things easy on themselves. Yesterday, they came from behind to not only qualify for the championship bracket but win their pool. Today, they came from behind to beat Claremont Colleges in the quarterfinals and staged an epic comeback that fell just short against eventual champions Franciscan. The defensive effort by seniors Mitch Harris and Matthew Rybak helped them game in, game out.

  • Next season’s D-III College Championships are in Winston-Salem, N.C. With many of this year’s qualifiers, including the champions, boasting a strong stable of youth athletes, the field could look eerily similar next season.

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