March 24, 2013 by Charlie Eisenhood in Recap with 4 comments
WILMINGTON — The Sunday morning competition at Easterns wasn’t ultimate; it was a war of attrition.
Teams woke up Sunday morning to heavy rain, wind, and fields that looked more like lakes than grass. With the ugly conditions, games were more about field position and smart defensive strategies than skill.
The weather acted as a major equalizer, and the top teams struggled to get separation from their opponents. The consolation games were canceled after one round.
#4 Pittsburgh took on #6 North Carolina in the quarterfinals, a rematch of their matchup in pool play at the Stanford Invite, a game Pitt won on universe despite UNC leading for the majority of the game.
This matchup was basically the reverse. Pittsburgh moved the disc well against UNC’s man defense early in the game, and jumped out to a 4-1 lead. But North Carolina switched to zone and Pitt, accustomed to easy disc movement, tried to continue that by working it through the cup and not looking for deep shots.
But the wet and windy conditions made the disc hard to handle, and drops let UNC back into the game. Darkside would go on a seven point run, taking them from a three point deficit at 6-3 to a 10-6 lead. Pitt finally took a shot to Tyler Degirolamo and scored, but the gap was too big to cross.
Pitt got some breaks back to pull within two at 12-10, but the weather made it very difficult to score upwind and UNC pulled away to the 15-11 win.
#10 Central Florida jumped out to an early lead over #1 Oregon and managed to withstand a furious comeback to win on double game point, 14-13. The game was not pretty: UCF’s strategy was to pick up the disc and huck it as far as they could on nearly every possession. Oregon followed suit, making it a “huck and hope” battle.
UCF’s big men — Mischa Freystaetter and Michael Hickson — were dominating the sky in the first half, giving them possession near the endzone and putting UCF up by five early. Oregon’s Aaron Honn started to take over in the second half, helping Oregon claw back from 11-6 to tie the game at 12s. The teams traded out in the wind and UCF moved on to the semifinals.
Colorado vs. Wisconsin. A classic matchup that both teams love to play. Historically, they’ve met deeper in the tournament, but that doesn’t remove the intensity.
#15 Colorado simply handled the conditions better than #3 Wisconsin and jumped out to an early lead; Wisconsin couldn’t fight back. Colorado closed it out with an impressive 12-8 win.
Both teams said after the game that they don’t consider it a telling result of the true relative strength each team, since the conditions were so bad. But it was the biggest win of Colorado’s season — a big confidence builder as they reached semifinals at a tournament for the first time this year.
#9 Minnesota continued their undefeated hot streak at Easterns with a 12-10 victory over host team UNC-Wilmington. The teams were lucky to play on turf, making footing much better. But it didn’t make the game any less sloppy.
Drops and throwaways were a constant presence, as the game got increasingly chippy as Wilmington looked to fight back.
Ultimately, Minnesota was able to maintain their slim lead, aided by the wind, to finish with the 12-10 win.
Minnesota continued their success early in games with a fast start against Colorado. They would extend their lead, overpowering Colorado with much better possession and decision-making, to finish with the 15-8 blowout win.
Colorado’s Jimmy Mickle didn’t have the same impact on the game as he had earlier in the weekend, but Minnesota’s stars dominated throughout. Greg Arenson scored his team’s first three points, continuing his dominant play on the weekend.
Josh Klane added a handful of assists and led Minnesota to the easy win.
Colorado hurt their cause with a lot of execution mistakes, despite an end to the rain and much less wind. Drops killed them, giving Minnesota lots of chances to punch in breaks.
The sloppiness of the first round found its way into this game.
Central Florida took on UNC in the second semifinal, the first game of the day that was exciting. The wind was still a big factor, but it died down at times, allowing the strong handlers from both teams to make big throws in both directions.
UNC struck first, with Tristan Green firing a full field backhand huck to a streaking Christian Johnson for the 2-1 lead. Green came through big again on the next point, hitting Charlie Schaffner deep for the first break of the game.
UCF’s Michael Hickson started to make his presence felt with two straight assists, getting his team even at 3-3.
The rest of the first half was all Central Florida. UCF’s big men Hickson and Mischa Freystaetter were making huge plays on both sides of the disc, taking UCF into halftime up 8-3. UNC’s zone defense wasn’t slowing down the UCF offense at all.
But North Carolina’s defense came out strong in the second half, something it has shown the ability to do all weekend. After a Freystaetter score made it 9-5, UNC would go on a tear, rattling off five unanswered points to come roaring back into the game. Michael French had a huge block at 9-7 to give UNC a short field, really seizing the momentum for Darkside.
Jeremy Langdon would finally stop the bleeding for UCF after a long point to tie the game at 10-10. His big contribution wouldn’t come until the end of the game, however.
Christian Johnson and Mike Ogren, both U23 Team USA players (Open and Mixed, respectively), traded huge layout scores. Johnson grabbed the trailing edge on a disc that looked out of reach for his; Ogren just kept his body inbounds on a big dive towards the side of the endzone. Those scores made it 11-11.
Two points later, UNC had a chance to score but dropped the disc in the endzone, giving UCF a chance to march back up the field. They would do so, getting their first break since the first half to make it 13-12.
After UNC scored to tie it up, the time cap made it a double game point.
Schaffner would get a deep block when Freystaetter couldn’t come up with the grab. But as UNC started to move down the field, Langdon got a full extension layout on an upline cut to give UCF a short field and an easy score to win it 14-13.
UCF now faces a rested Minnesota in the finals.