May 12, 2015 by Ben Sabourin in News, Recap with 6 comments
DISCLOSURE: This post is brought to you by CUT Camp. All opinions are that of Ultiworld. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Ultiworld possible! Note that the author is a player for Neuqua Valley.
The inaugural Neuqua Knockout provided great competition and showed the strength of some of the top high school programs in the country. Saturday’s pool play didn’t yield many surprises, while Sunday’s bracket play provided some exciting matchups.
Jacobs started the day on fire, demolishing Holy Family 13-4; Fryz would do the same later in the day. The Illinois team then took half on Fryz in the second round game, showing great intensity on defense and steady offense, including a couple of big sky’s by James Bongiovanni in the endzone. Though Jacobs won the first half 7-6, Fryz dominated the second half 7-1, forcing errors from Jacobs’ offense and always capitalizing. Edina didn’t give much trouble to any of their higher-seeded opponents throughout the day.
In the first round of games, Neuqua Valley took on Monarch, and Black Ice played De Smet. Both games were quite one-sided, breaks coming quickly and frequently for both Neuqua and Black Ice. The same held true when Neuqua played De Smet and Black Ice played Monarch.
In the second round, Neuqua lost to Black Ice in what was a close game until the New England team managed a game-ending three point run. Black Ice’s zone gave Neuqua trouble early, but NV was able to adjust and find offensive flow after initially conceding a few breaks. Black Ice’s Tannor Johnson and Tim Schoch were consistently open deep, especially on fast breaks, while Neuqua’s Jake Marrapode made great plays in the air.
Lone Peak: The Utah team went 4-2 on the weekend; it was an overall strong showing for the Knights. Their losses came to Fryz (13-4) and Holy Family (13-11). They beat Neuqua Valley and Jacobs on Friday night, and Black Ice and De Smet on Saturday. The loss to Holy Family is a bit strange, considering that Revolution didn’t fare too well against other teams that Lone Peak beat, but may have been due to the fatigue of the Lone Peak players, who played six games in under 24 hours. Overall, the Knights performed very well, and once again proved that they are in the conversation as one of the top high school teams in the nation.
Rest of the Field: All of the non-power-pool pools went to mostly to seed. The exceptions were Pool E, in which none of the teams maintained their seeds (notably Lexington Catholic taking the pool and the first seed, Madison West, dropping to third), and Pool D, in which Pine-Richland took the pool over Fayetteville.
Prequarters yielded few surprises as most games went to seed, with HFC, Monarch, and Memorial advancing. Washtenaw rose out of the lower pools and surprised Edina to set up a quarters matchup against Fryz after a huge first half run including a Callahan. Aside from the lone surprise, the chalk trend continued into the quarterfinal round, with the favored teams all winning by very comfortable margins: the closest scoreline was 12-7.
In the first semifinal matchup, Fryz beat Neuqua Valley 13-4. Fryz nabbing a break on the first point set the tone for the matchup, and Neuqua never seemed to get into the game. Fryz consistently generated turnovers and nearly always capitalized. The deep game was clicking for Fryz and constituted a large percentage of their scores. It would be hard to single out any players on Fryz as being especially influential, as their entire roster played well and stifled Neuqua.
Jacobs and Black Ice played a closely matched semifinal on the opposite side of the bracket. The game was tied at 8-8 before Jacobs secured the win with a three point run. The win showed that when Jacobs play with intensity and fire that they can match up with nearly any high school team. Their defense was stifling and forced Black Ice to rely too heavily on their stars, leading to ill-advised throws late in the game.
Fryz continued their impressive weekend with a dominant win over Jacobs in the finals. They started strong with six consecutive breaks and never looked back. The defensive intensity and pressure forced Jacobs into uncomfortable situations and bad decisions leading to turnovers. Though Jacobs rallied to score five points, the game was always one-sided.
The finals game and many others throughout the weekend were further evidence to the notion that ultimate is a game of runs. Many games were close until the final quarter, leading to some very exciting play both days. Jacobs proved that they are a force to be reckoned with, Neuqua showed their strength as a program and potential for a strong performance at Centrals. Fryz, as predicted, dominated the field and both they and Black Ice foreshadowed their potential for a strong YCC performance this year.
The tournament was an overall success, a good weekend yielding high level ultimate and very spirited play. The camaraderie between teams (spirit circles were frequent) truly exemplified the strong and vibrant community that youth ultimate has.