Traditional New England DIII powerhouse programs squared off in South Portland.
October 29, 2015 by Elan Kane in News, Recap with 1 comments
Held this past weekend in South Portland, Maine, The Lobster Pot Tournament provided New England teams with their first opportunity to showcase their fall rosters. Some teams used the tournament to gauge where they stood competitively against regional rivals, while others used the weekend to develop younger players.
It was clear that most teams at the tournament were far from polished, but that all teams were excited for the season ahead. In the end, Bryant stood above the rest, proving that they will once again be a force in the DIII competitive landscape of New England — and perhaps beyond.
In what was ultimately not all that close a contest, Bryant University Craze defeated Bentley University Icehouse 15-9 in the Men’s “A” division championship game.
Craze entered the game having exclusively run a zone defense to devastating effect in a windy semifinal game against Brandeis. As the wind had died down considerably from the round prior, Bentley was able to use over-the-top throws and hucks to expose the four-man cup early in the final, forcing Bryant to quickly change to a man defense.
Working out of both vertical and split stack sets as they had all weekend, Icehouse was able to consistently generate large under yardage. The first half remained relatively even as Bryant took an 8-6 lead into halftime.
The second half was a different story, as the Bryant defense started to take control of the game.
“[Bryant] relied heavily on many of their top players to play both ways, and their aggressive man defense was able to put pressure on [our] O-line,” said Andrew Zaccardi, a senior captain of Icehouse.
At 9-7, a block from Bryant handler Michael Bighinatti set up the assist from handler Alex Kenworthy to Austin Kelson for the break point.
Bryant cutter John-Paul Saggal — who tallied a number of blocks throughout the game — then collected a bookends block and score to increase Craze’s lead to 11-8.
“[They] never took their foot off the gas, and continued to run an effective horizontal stack that opened up the field for their cutters,” Zaccardi said. “[Our] endzone offense scored efficiently in the red zone, but some errant hucks, coupled with good deep defense allowed the Bryant D-line to possess the disc often.”
Craze would go on a 4-1 run to finish the game and end the tournament with a perfect 6-0 record. They rode to the tournament victory on the backs of their veterans, relying on relatively tight lines of experienced players to make plays on both offense and defense.
Icehouse, on the other hand — which had originally been placed in the “B” division and was only switched into the “A” division two days before the start of the tournament — showcased a large, deep squad of contributors throughout the tournament, a testament to the strength of the program they’ve built.
While it remains to be seen if these are long-term strategies for the teams, with the run to finals in Portland, both proved they should remain among the DIII contenders come springtime.
A Tale Of Two Semifinals
Craze had earned their way into the finals by taking down Brandeis Tron 15-4 in the semifinals. Bryant came out hot, scoring the first seven points of the game, using their zone defense in the windy conditions to frustrate Tron’s handlers.
Brandeis finally got on the board and even followed it up with a break of their own to bring it back to 7-2. Unfortunately for them, it was all they would manage before Craze went on another scoring run, putting up six straight points through the half.
Tron demonstrated an ability to break through Bryant’s zone at times, but they were unable to score consistently once they moved the disc past the cup.
Brandeis brought a roster of 32 players and focused on playing open lines throughout the tournament, regardless of the game. Max Zaslove, a captain of Tron, emphasized that the team goal for the tournament was to develop players.
“We have been taking the fall season as it is, which is the fall, and came into this tournament hoping to gain valuable experience against high level competition as well as working on own physical and mental game,” Zaslove said. “We as a team are more focused on process than outcomes and believe it will pay dividends when the spring season comes.”
The other semi proved to be more competitive, as Bentley won a hard-capped game 12-11 against Middlebury. Icehouse was down three breaks late in the game, but engineered a comeback victory behind the play of Zaccardi and cutter Peter Jacobs.
The Pranksters played their top players through the majority of the game, playing both man and zone defense, and were effective on deep looks offensively. Middlebury had large, athletic receivers, and their handlers were able to cut effectively downfield as well. In the end, it wasn’t enough to close out Icehouse.
- 34 total teams attended Lobster Pot — 13 in the Women’s division, 11 in the Men’s “B” division, and 10 in the Men’s “A” division.
- Saturday’s weather featured cold temperatures but little wind. On Sunday wind reached up to 13 miles per hour during the semifinal games, but died down in time for the final.
- The top four finishers in the men’s “A” division were all Division III schools, all from the New England region.
- Maine Ultimate ran a fantastic tournament. The staff were professional, the fields were lined and in excellent shape, and there was a great tournament central complete with merchandise for sale, food trucks, and a trainer.