We’d like to start off by introducing a new contributing writer for Monup. Everyone meet Jonathan Neeley. Neeley is a player for UVA Night Train and a talented writer who wants to help the Ultimate scene grow and plans to do so via writing. He’s going to be helping us out in the coming weeks with our Nationals previews both from the perspective of a journalist and a player.
We handed out superlatives for Sectionals and here we are doing the same for Regionals. Neeley is also providing some perspective on superlatives.
Aguilar – Virginia – Enough can’t be said about Night Train’s performance at Regionals. I’m not sure about this and if I’m wrong I’d love for someone to correct me but as far as I know UVA was never down more than a break throughout the entire weekend. That’s continued dominance over a long period of time. Anyone who rolls into Nationals look for an easy win over Night Train is in for a sad, sad surprise.
Neeley – Virginia – Alright, so I’m more than a little biased here, but I have to agree. No one doubted that Virginia was ready to put up a strong showing, but no one really expected them to tear through the competition on the way to a dominating Regionals win. Except, of course, the 23 players on the Night Train roster. As everyone knows by now, this team is the real deal. Expect big things from them in Columbus.
Aguilar – Clemson – I like to imagine this scene as what the Joint Chiefs practices look like. I enjoyed playing Clemson when I did this season and, for whatever reason, they stuck out to me as the one team that I watched this weekend that I had no negative impressions left from.
Neeley – The Region – I actually have no team to nominate. Instead, I would like to commend each and every team that I saw throughout the weekend, as each team in the region demonstrated an unprecedented level of class, poise, and sportsmanship. That each team I encountered contributed to such an atmosphere in a region that was extremely competitive is a testament to the Spirit of the Atlantic Coast Region as a whole.
Aguilar – NC State – There really isn’t much doubt about this one. The Wolfpack came from out of nowhere to steal a bid to Nationals from the one team that everyone thought was going. I saw a post on RSD talking about how Regionals is a war of attrition and the poster couldn’t think of any team that had won two hard games on Sunday and went to Nationals. Quite obviously that poster does not play in the AC and is not familiar with NCSU’s run on Sunday. 14-12 over William and Mary, 15-8 loss to Georgia, 14-13 over UNC-W and 14-12 over Florida. If there ever was a gauntlet to Nationals, that would be it.
Neeley – NC State – Given that NC State has some big time players whose experience with Ring of Fire certainly prepared them for clutch situations, we all should have seen this coming. The thing is, we did not. Amidst a regular season that was hallmarked by Florida’s dominance, Georgia’s inconsistency, and Virginia and UNC-Wilmington’s impressive place among the national field, NC State was overlooked. Big kudos to Wolfpack for taking care business.
Aguilar – Florida – I would be lying to you if I didn’t tell you that one of the biggest draws to driving up to Charlotte was to see the No. 1 team and, probably, the No. 1 player in the nation in action. It was dissapointing to see Brodie Smith and the Gators to go down like they did. As much excitement as it made for, and as happy as I am for the Wolfpack, it would have been nice to see Florida at the level that it played at all season.
Neeley – Florida - If you were to define dominant, you might start with two regular season losses and finals wins at Trouble in Vegas, Stanford Invite, Huck Finn, and Sectionals. While its performances since winning it all in 2006 might make this season seem almost passe, many had Florida pegged to be playing on Monday in Columbus. No one, and I mean no one, saw this coming. It is interesting, in my opinion, that some of the sentiment surrounding Florida’s losses to Georgia, Virginia, and NC State in the game-to-go revolves around this disappointment, something I see as an affirmation that the Gators are college Ultimate’s most polarizing “hate ‘em or love ‘em” team since Irates of the mid-1990s.
Aguilar – NC State’s N! … C! … STATE! N! C! STATE! after the game-to-go victory – I almost cried once on the Ultimate field. It was at Clemson’s home tournament this last season when, after a layout score by a teammate, I happened a glance at my own sideline to see some of the guys come running on the field with looks of pure joy on their faces. Unbridled joy in guys that are usually way too cool to show it is one of the best things about sports. If you were anyone that wasn’t associated with Florida’s Ultimate program, the Wolfpacks yells of jubilation last Sunday were enough to send tingles up your spine.
Neeley – Jojah’s Amazing Grace – The cheer of the weekend has to go to Georgia’s Sunday morning rendition of Amazing Grace. We had heard lore of the Bulldogs belting out the gospel classic on championship mornings, but to witness it live gave us chills are are still reverberating. The song itself reminds us how incredibly blessed we are by the greater good that is this game, and Georgia’s tradition embodies a contagious love and respect for teammates and opponents alike.
Aguilar – Florida – This picture encapsulates everything that I love about Florida’s uniforms. My biggest problem with many college Ultimate uniforms is just that no one other than an Ultimate team would wear them. Florida’s uniforms, well, I could see UF’s varsity soccer team walk onto the field wearing something like this. That embedded Gator on the side and back really sets the whole jersey off as well.
Neeley – Florida – Hair styles aside, Florida looked great. They achieved a professional look with designs that were clean and basic but still managed to be eye catching. Other jersey props go to Virginia’s grays and NC State’s whites, and, while I may be the only one in this corner, UNC’s new baby blues.
Please welcome Neeley to the Monup team and to the teams that got looked over for a Monup Superlative, well, at least now you have something to aim for next season. Our All-Region team should be out tomorrow.