Here are the rest of our Sunday recaps. We must say that this was, far and away, the best tournament that we have ever been a part of. It had all the drama and excitement that we could ask for along with excellent organization and logistics. The Ultimate and weather were beautiful and if someone can promise us that every AC College Regionals will play out like this one, we’ll be there forever.
The Bulldogs were the story of the day yesterday as UGA managed to beat Regional rival Florida at the end of the day in order to take the No. 1 seed going into Sunday’s play. The crucial question would be, could they hold seed?
Georgia opened against Tennessee and started slow. The Vols managed to rip off several breaks on Jojah and even held a multiple point lead at one point. However, the Bulldogs burned one of their timeouts and slowly staved off UT’s momentum and managed to fight to a 15-11 victory.
UGA followed that performance up by meeting with NC State. While the Wolfpack would later be the Cinderella team of the whole tournament, NC State just didn’t have it together against the Bulldogs and Jojah ran away with the game. UGA took an early lead and only built on it throughout the course of the game, finally winning 15-7.
While this secured a bid to Nationals for the Bulldogs, it did not secure a Regional title, something that no current Jojah player has to his name.
However, one team stood in the way. Unfortunately for UGA, it was Virginia. Night Train played an unstoppable game and beat Georgia 15-10. The UVA offense was in high gear and it appeared that the Bulldogs stalled on a certain level.
“(Losing to Virginia) just shows that we’ve got a lot of work to do,” senior captain Peter Dempsey said. “There’s at least one team in the nation that is significantly better than us.”
However, the Bulldogs won’t go home unhappy, according to Dempsey.
“It’s nice to finish any weekend with a win,” Dempsey said. “We’re going to Natties though, that’s about as much as you can ask for … In a couple hours I don’t think anyone is going to be thinking about (not winning a Regional title). They’re going to be thinking about the good weekend we had on the whole.”
Jojah brought its full, healthy roster to Regionals and it was the first time the Dawgs could claim that all spring. It showed in Jojah’s results as the UGA finished second in the Region, broke seed and made itself a path to UPA Nationals. Now, Dempsey says, Georgia is moving past this weekend’s action and focusing on the task at hand, winning a national title.
“We’re going to take a week or so off and let our bodies recover,” Dempsey said. “Then we’ll be back at it and trying to finish strong in four weeks.’
Night Train created somewhat of a perplexing situation throughout the weekend. While UVA had the weekend that contained the least drama and the least intrigue but were still the most fun team to watch on the weekend.
Night Train showed that it was the most complete team by rolling through its pool play and crossover on Saturday and demonstrated that it could put together a performance throughout of that level throughout the whole weekend on Sunday. Rarely was a game ever in doubt for Night Train, as its margin of victory averaged out to be just over 5 points per game. Those three wins came against three teams that were talked about as Nationals caliber teams before Regionals. North Carolina, Florida and Georgia.
It’s hard to explain what it was that made things click for Virginia even senior captain Robert Runner wasn’t sure how things shook out the way that they did but it may have something to do with the fact that UVA’s ten seniors have been playing together for four years and have built a cohesive unit inside of the team.
“Everyone looks to the seniors,” Runner said.
North Carolina and Florida did not stand much of a chance against UVA’s team. Night Train dispatched UNC in quick fashion and then hopped on top of Florida 4-1 to open the game. While a casual onlooker may be quick to give credit to Night Train’s undeniably quick and crisp offense, Runner points towards defense as the key to UVA’s success.
“I think in general our season has been defined by our defense,” Runner said. “Once we get the O-line off, our defense is going to take over.”
The sad thing is, there truly is just not much to say about Virginia’s performance at Regionals. The words, dominating, perfect, flawless and exceptional all come to mind but that doesn’t make for a very exciting read. Runner recognizes that there is more work to do but we think that Night Train should take at least a day to bask in the glory of winning a Regional title that very few teams in the Nation could win. It would be hard to talk Runner into any of that though, as his thoughts have already transitioned into what to do next.
“We’re definitely going to keep training,” Runner said. “We went to Vegas and saw a couple of teams that are going to be there, so we’re going to prepare for that and see how everything goes. Hopefully we’ll continue to have a fun ride.”
(ed’s note: Nothing makes us more angry then when a sports reporter goes into the losing team’s locker room after a championship game or elimination playoff game and asks someone how they are feeling. How do you think they are feeling you moron? Probably pretty bad now that you mention it. Nor do we think that immediately following a loss is the best time to force someone to reflect on what it is that led him or her to that loss. For that reason we decided not to talk to a representative from Florida. So please take the following as information based on some facts and some of our own heresy and opinion.)
The Gators seemed like their regular selves after sleeping off a loss to Georgia at the end of the previous day. In fact, we were quite excited at the prospect of UF getting another shot at UGA as, surely, it would give the Bulldogs its best shot. However, that was not to be.
UF dominated UNC-W by a score of 15-6. As far as we could tell the game was never really close and Florida pretty much played the type of game that it wanted to play and was used to playing.
However, after that game, the honeymoon was over. The Gators came into their next game, against Virginia, and were simply outclassed. UVA utilized a defensive strategy of taking away UF’s top options and forcing the Gators to go to their fourth and fifth options. Apparently it worked at Night Train built a 4-1 lead up early that UF just couldn’t recover from. The Gators finally lost by a count of 14-9.
The game that probably did Florida in, in terms of its Nationals hopes that is, was its succeeding game. The Gators faced off against Tennessee and the Vols fought long and hard. It took just about everything the Gators had to make it through Tennessee and into the game-to-go.
When it came time for the final game of the weekend. UF just didn’t have the legs to make it to the finish line. They matched up against NC State for most of their contest but finally the Wolfpack just outran the Gators. NC State pulled out a 14-12 victory after the soft cap was put on and sent Florida home for the rest of the season.
We have plenty more thoughts about Florida that we look forward to sharing with you, but we’ll save those for later.
We believe that it’s pretty clear who will win our “Cinderella” superlative from AC Regionals. The Wolfpack were truly not talked about prior to Regionals as even a remote possibility to make Nationals but they gutted it out when they needed to and they needed to often.
William and Mary battled hard as the No. 5 seed on Sunday and took the Wolfpack to universe point but NC State pulled out the victory. Then NC State went into its game against Georgia knowing that a win would mean Nationals, while a loss meant a long road to Columbus. The Bulldogs had more drive and sent NC State to the backdoor bracket by a score of 15-7.
“After we lost to Georgia we were very dejected,” Bowres said. “A bunch of our guys said, ‘You know, if we’re not going to Nationals, we want to lose the next game.’ We got down to UNC-Wilmington and we said, ‘You know, ‘F’ that.”
And “F” it they did. The Wolfpack battled back from an 8-6 halftime deficit and put UNC-W down on double-game-point, 14-13.
Then came their game against Florida, which you can read a full recap of here. However, suffice it to say that Bowres was proud of his team and its performance. He noted one key difference between his team in Florida, inexperience. Rarely is inexperience a positive thing but the Wolfpack threw everything and everyone they had at the Gators and they came out on top.
“Nobody on our team has ever been to Nationals,” Bowres said. “So we got our chance. I mentioned yesterday that I thought one of our strengths was our numbers and I think that’s what won it for us today.”
Suffice it to say that NC State had the most dramatic “playoff run” of any team that we have ever seen. Not only did it have the difficulty of recovering from a devastating loss, but it battled through two universe points, the team that beat them for the North Carolina Sectional title and, finally, the No. 1 team in the nation before getting to the promised land.
We’re very excited to see where things go for the Wolfpack from here.
We must be getting on our way now. We’ll have more information on the rest of the day later this evening and probably photos as well. Our photographer took some brilliant pictures over the course of the weekend and we encourage you to support him and peruse his wares when he has them posted on the Internet. We also regret to inform you that our video camera, which we were borrowing, was relegated to other uses. Therefore we are not able to bring you video highlights. Hopefully we will find a way to do this in the future.