Sadly, as you may have already seen, we did some damage to ourselves this weekend. Up until today, our right hand looked (and felt) broken at least to a certain extent. While the swelling has gone down, the signs of some kind of deep bruising have gone up. Pain is at a minimum so we’re going to pound this write-up out. Apologies to anyone who wanted more in-depth coverage and specifically to Jojah, who was kind enough to invite our services, not expecting us to be debilitated by the end of Saturday.
We’re going to do things a little bit differently than usual since, by now, you surely know how the tournament turned out.
Much to the chagrin of any Gator Haters out there, Florida looked pretty strong this weekend. However, UF certainly did not look untouchable.
While Florida looked strong, they certainly didn’t look unstoppable. They were challenged in Pool Play by Virginia and South Carolina. UVA forced the Gators to take a nailbiting double game point victory home while USC kept the game close at 12-10.
The last time the Gators saw Night Train on the field was last season and the boys from Charlottesville suffered a 13-7 pounding at the hands of the eventual National Champs. The Gamecocks took an even heavier beating two seasons ago at Florida Warm Up, getting thrashed by UF 13-1.
Needless to say, Florida is missing Brodie Smith and Chris Gibson. However, the Gators look athletic all over the field and names like Nathan Sage and Glenn Lenberger are going to be commonly spoken over the course of the season.
Whatever meaning we take away from the close games on Saturday for Florida, we have to take away some meaning from the blowouts on Sunday. Alabama never stood a chance and the Gators took home a 15-7 victory in quarterfinals. Texas closed the gap at the end of the game to make its semifinals loss look respectable at 15-10 but UF held up to a 7 point lead at certain points. Finally, in Finals, Virginia looked to be on its heels a lot more than the score shows. However, Night Train did better than most teams at forcing Florida into hucks that the Gators didn’t like. Unfortunately, when your team is athletic enough, margin for error on throws gets a lot larger.
As we say in the video (and others have said already) this seems to be a minorly different team when it comes to sportsmanship. However, we heard plenty of complaints about Florida calls. You can take both of those viewpoints for whatever you’d like.
This is a strong team up and down the roster. Cole Sullivan, Alex Hill and Alton Gaines are not going to create the mismatches all over the field that Brodie Smith and Chris Gibson did. However, UF showed that it was ready to use the bottom half of its roster when necessary and that bottom half showed that it was capable of making plays when called upon.
Anyone who is surprised by UVA’s finish clearly wasn’t familiar with Night Train’s roster from last season and which players carried over into this season. Virginia graduated very few players and the advent of The Virginia Squires along with other valuable club experience indicates that UVA should have high hope for this season.
Virginia started off the day on a pretty sour note. According to the Twitter feed that was updating UVA’s status all weekend, a dispute about the time cap led to a double game point victory for South Carolina without either teams being aware of end of the game. Night Train apparently used its bye to collect itself afterwards and rolled Georgia Southern and Tennessee in the next two rounds. The momentum carried over into the final round as UVA received on double game point against Florida. Though Virginia didn’t pull out the win, it surely was a turn around game from the opening round.
Virginia’s style of play is clearly dependent upon players who buy into the system and are multi-faceted in their skill sets. Though Matt King and Jim Boley are typically behind the disc, Night Train’s cutting style allows for other players to fill in at the handler spot. UVA also attempts to leave the middle of the field wide open for cutting space. This worked well for them all Sunday as they rolled former Regional rivals Georgia Tech and Georgia in prequarterfinals and quaretefinals, respectively.
However, when UNC-W came knocking, things got a little shaky. Virginia commanded a three score game for most of the game but when the Seamen brought their straight up/Clam defense to the field Virginia began to struggle. UNC-W forced its way back into the game and eventually tied things up at 10-10. Night Train put itself together in time to score two straight as that hardcap went on just before the final scoring huck went off, giving UVA the 12-10 victory.
We have to admit that we were very surprised to see Texas do as well as they did. That being said, TUFF showed that if Colorado thinks that it is going to walk to a Regional championship in Region 3, it has another thing coming.
TUFF really wasn’t challenged at all throughout bracket play. This, doubtless, was in large part thanks to the play of Will Driscoll. Driscoll will clearly be key player for TUFF this year and his summer with Doublewide obviously put him in a position to affect play this season. His height and quickness makes him a tough matchup for any team. Obviously, the teams in Pool D had some difficulty matching up with him and the rest of Texas’ roster as no one got within 3 of Tuff the whole day.
In the quarterfinals Texas handled upstart James Madison fairly easily but clearly ran into a wall when it finally met a team that could match up with it athletically, Florida. Florida’s defense put the brakes on the Texas attack and UT was out of the game early.
Texas is athletic and will challenge teams with its height and team discipline. As we mentioned in the preview, watching its vertical stack in action is a thing of beauty. It appears that last season is by no means the norm for TUFF.
The Seamen were the team that we actually had the biggest questions about coming into the tournament. Especially since coach Greg Vassar told us team leaders Jarrett Bowen and Stephen Bender were not going to be in Athens for the weekend. Imagine our surprise when they showed up on Saturday morning. It’s our theory that he was sandbagging us but the fact remains that Wilmington proved it was going to be a tough matchup with season.
Wilmington certainly seemed to suffer from a lack of calming leadership on the field during pool play. The Seamen played tight games against teams that they probably expected to beat soundly. We can certainly speak for LSU’s matchup with UNC-W when we say that the Seamen were making plenty of unforced errors during pool play. As a result, they squeaked out wins against LSU and JMU but recovered in time to manhandle Michigan State.
UNC-W’s relatively easy win over South Carolina in the quarterfinals didn’t teach us much that we didn’t already know about the Seamen. They are still a cut above the rest of the NC/SC section but perhaps not as much a cut as they were last season. In the semifinals against Virginia, UNC-W lost a key regional matchup but also showed some lack of poise on the field as UVA jumped out to an early lead. However, just as they showed some lack of poise, they showed just as much fight, breaking out a tough to beat zone and clawing back into the game only to see UVA steal it away again at the end.
Wilmington will probably take away plenty of things to improve on from this weekend. Unfortunately for its Regional opponents, we have no doubt that under the leadership of Vassar and Tully Beatty, the Seamen will be much improved come springtime. The team has plenty of assets, using them was its only obstacle this weekend.
We’ll have the rest of the field recapped tomorrow. For now, we don’t think our hand can take much more. Thanks for your patience and we hope you enjoyed the video.