Colorado and Wisconsin had another great matchup in the MLC finals.
November 11, 2014 by Matt Reese in News, Recap with 5 comments
COLUMBIA — For the second straight year, Colorado Mamabird walks away as Champion of Missouri Loves Company after handling Wisconsin 13-10 in the finals on Sunday afternoon.
Colorado was the better team, both offensively and defensively. An early break gave them a two point lead and they never looked back.
Up 2-1 early in the match, Colorado’s Stanley Peterson made an incredible defensive play — laying out on the mark to block a backhand attempt from a Wisconsin handler. Mamabird was easily able to convert their second straight break.
When these two teams play, though, it is a battle.
“Playing Wisconsin is always a great match for us,” said Colorado head coach Brent Zionic. “They gave us our most challenging game in pool play at Nationals last May, so I think a lot of our guys were fired up to compete with them again. Even though the personnel on the field has changed, the relationship between our teams has not.”
The Hodags did all they could to fight their way back into the game. Facing a 5-2 deficit, Wisconsin started to make some plays. After an offensive hold, junior Ross Barker skied two Colorado defenders to come down with a huck to bring the Hodags within one. The next point, Brian Novotny laid out for a block, and then caught the bookends score to convert the break and tie the game at 6-6.
Colorado, though, showed great poise, as they did throughout the tournament. Now going upwind, their offense smoothy worked the disc and scored without any hiccups to take half 7-6.
Mamabird took control of the game in the second half. Receiving to start, they marched down the field, using nearly every player and about 20 throws before junior Mark Rauls caught the score on a lightning quick up-line cut.
Wisconsin had no answer for Colorado’s offense, and failed to convert any breaks in the second half, something particularly impressive for Mamabird when you consider their roster was composed of 50 per cent rookies and “B team” players.
When it mattered most, to no one’s surprise, Peterson provided the veteran leadership Colorado needed to close out Wisconsin. What was surprising, though, was that he did so with his offense rather than defense.
“The secret is out on Stanley, who I would play on every point if I could,” said Zionic. “He of course relishes his role as a defensive stopper, but he is more than capable of playing two ways. We wanted to see some others players try to step up at MLC, and resting Stanley on our offensive line was our approach while he recovers from his ankle injury.”
If Colorado considered this weekend to be “resting” Peterson, the rest of the country should be worried. He was a force all weekend on both sides of the disc: consistently open and showing that he had better throws than you might expect from a defensive specialist. It was a beautiful, full-field huck from Peterson that gave Colorado a 10-7 lead and essentially ended the game.
For Wisconsin, the offense made too many mistakes to beat a talented Colorado team.
“We got a little too anxious to score quickly,” said head coach Hector Valdivia. “I think we had five turnovers on hucks. We got out of our offensive sets too soon and it hurt us. We liked how our defense played but we need to continue to work on staying in our offense to improve.”
Still, the Hodags showed their potential in this early season matchup.
Captain Craig Cox had a great game as a hybrid cutter and handler, throwing four goals in the loss. Barker made a number of athletic catches and was clearly Wisconsin’s biggest deep threat all weekend. Barker torched Texas A&M in the semifinals, with three of his scores coming from junior captain Avery Johnson. Perhaps even more encouraging for Wisconsin is that they played very well this weekend despite missing a number of players for various reasons.
The talent and athleticism is certainly there for Wisconsin to get back to the top of the Division, something Valdivia expects from his team.
“We’re Wisconsin,” he said. “We play to win the championship every year.”