May 4, 2014 by Charlie Eisenhood in News, Recap with 4 comments
LONG BEACH – UC San Diego secured a Nationals berth this weekend at Southwest Regionals with a 15-10 victory over defending Regional champion UC Davis.
UCSD used a balanced offensive attack and stifling man defense to put Davis in an early hole that they would never relinquish. After going down 2-1, UCSD scored five straight, using a junk to man transition defense to force the disc into the hands of Davis’ less talented role players.
“Every game this tournament, we came out firing,” said captain Trevor Purdy.
That run would prove to be decisive, as UC Davis never got back within two. Davis’ offense steadied in the second half, but they were unable to take advantage of anything except a goal line turnover by UCSD’s offense.
“I honestly believe that if it was one game, we’d beat them,” said UC Davis coach Kevin Cissna. “But they’re a really deep team, and that’s really to their advantage. We had to run a lot of the same guys out there and we got tired.”
Eli Kerns – the likely 2014 Southwest Player of the Year – and Nathan White were standouts all weekend and in the finals. Both made some enormous plays, particularly on the defensive side of the disc. But playing nearly every point in the finals and most of every game at Regionals drained their legs.
“They have a few top guys,” said Purdy. “They have other good players to make it this far, but we are a really deep team. And I think it showed on those other guys.”
Kerns still played spectacularly, finishing with six assists and two goals.
“Eli’s the best player on that field,” said Cissna. “Hands down. And what he did to get the team to this point, and what he did in the finals, deserves some recognition.”
He was unable to do everything, however. Other players got flustered by tight marks and good dump defense, and Davis turned it over frequently on resets.
“We put them in a lot of high stall situations,” said UCSD captain Nick Smith.
UCSD got contributions from up and down the roster, highlighted by Jesse Cohen (4 goals, 1 assist), James Lai’s (1G, 3A) and Cody Kirkland’s (3A). But it was perhaps the defense that was most impressive.
Particularly, Paul Morimoto played great defense to limit Kerns.
“He was phenomenal, making everything Eli had hard,” said Smith.
UCSD really showed their depth, especially earlier in the tournament, and it enabled them to simply play harder and faster than Davis in the finals. They are a confident group after their third tournament victory in the Spring.
“I think the Squids are looking to make some noise,” said Smith. “I don’t think there’s anyone in the country we can’t beat.”
UCSD finished the regular season ranked 13th in the country and will likely get a seed in the higher part of the bottom half.
What is perhaps most incredible about UCSD’s run is that they nearly lost in the semifinals to California when Smith dropped the pull on double game point. But a tight endzone set forced Cal’s Chuck Cao into a high release push pass that Purdy attacked for the block. They marched down the field and scored to advance to finals.