As many of you know the 2012 Emen headed down to Charlotte, North Carolina this past weekend for our first tournament. Queen City Tune-Up historically attracts some solid competition from up and down the east coast so we were psyched to take the field for the first time this spring against some new teams.
We came in seeded 1st overall, in a pool with North Carolina - Wilmington, Virginia, Penn State and Cinncinnati. Conditions on Saturday were rough to say the least. The temperature hovered around 40 degrees for most of the day, but felt much colder due to wind chill. Weather reports said that winds reached 40 mph at times on Saturday, never really dropping below 20 mph. The impact of the gusts was felt in pool play games. In the first game against Cinncinnati it took a while to find our feet, but we pushed through and got a few breaks late in the first half. Although we took the lead, we had some trouble defending against their huck and play D mentality causing a closer game than we had hoped. In the end we pulled out a 10-8 win and looked forward to the next game against Virginia. Facing last years National qualifiers out of the Atlantic Coast region, we came out a bit stronger. The offense started to click and the D stepped up and generated turn after turn. Again we battled through the wind for a few breaks and took the game 10-6. After a lunch time bye we faced Penn State, with the wind still whipping. Our opponents relied heavily on a zone D, which handlers Alex Cooper and Eric Shaw made quick work of. On defense we shut down their cutters early and made strong use of the turnovers we generated en route to a 13-5 victory. Our final game of the day pitted us against the #2 seed in our pool UNC-W. With winds blowing as strong as they had all day, the game became an upwind downwind battle. UNC-W broke twice out of the gate and we never were able to climb back, losing 9-7 on the hard cap.
We ended the day on Saturday with a 3-1 record, placed second in our pool.
We started Sunday bright and early with a pre-quarters match up against North Carolina State. The weather looked to be a little bit more co-operative on the second day, with winds coming down to a tamer 15ish mph. Though the morning was chilly, as the day progressed it warmed up a bit, mimicking conditions that we will likely see come series time in New England. In the Pre-Quarters match up we came out with precision and intensity that we had struggled to find on Saturday. Nick Adolph started the day off with a layout D and the tenacity continued from there as the D-line ran off break after break against NC State. Downfield defense was excellent and patience with the disc was the name of the game as we rolled to a 12-3 victory. In the Quarterfinals we faced Regional rivals Dartmouth for the first of what will likely be a number of matchups this spring. As always it was a hard fought game against Pain Train. We traded early as both teams tried to establish offensive consistency and aggressive defense. Dartmouth got the first upwind break midway through the first half on a series of upline cuts but our offense answered back and put the defense back on the field. Things started to click and late in the first half the D-line strung together a chain of breaks to give us an 8-5 lead.
In the second half we continued to pressure their offense, while converting our opportunities on with the disc. We managed to push through another break, although they broke back to end the game. When the hard cap went off the result was a 14-11 victory and a trip to the Semifinals.
In the Semifinals we faced off against Ohio Valley contenders Ohio University, who had battled by Michigan in their Quarterfinal matchup. In a minor twist, our field location changed to a less protected field that was much more susceptible to the wind. Though the change was not a huge factor, both teams had to adjust their styles a bit to fit the weather. Ohio was a very fast team that moved the disc quickly and precisely. On defense they ran a tight zone to pressure our handlers, coupled with a few points of man defense. We traded early in the first half with both teams doing a good job of valuing the disc on offense. Our D-line began to generate turns, however, thanks to solid marks and lock down cutter D from Jack Hatchett, Robby Perkins-High and company.
Our combination of offensive consistency and defensive intensity proved to be too much for Ohio as the first half went on, leading to an 8-4 Tufts lead at halftime. In the second half Ohio started to click on offense a bit, utilizing their deep game to score a few points. At the same time our offense continued to handle their defensive looks, working the disc down to the goal line and hitting the open looks in the end zone. After trading points for a while, the D-line grabbed another break, and the hard cap horn went off soon after. The final score was 14-8.
In the finals we got the opportunity to avenge our loss to UNC-W from the day before. With winds at a much tamer level the game would prove to be a much more skilled affair than the previous matchup, with both teams running consistent offensive looks rather than hucking downwind and playing defense.
Though both teams had a bit of trouble taking care of the disc early in the game, we traded points to start the first half. It would be our D-line that would put up the first breaks. Will Wong and Eric Wilburn anchored a patient handling corp and Cenzo Vitiello and Lloyd Olson worked hard to keep the disc moving downfield. By making the most of the turnovers that our defenders generated we were able to establish an 8-3 halftime lead.
In the second half we traded points up to 10-6, at which point UNC-W got their first and only break of the game. From then on out it was all Tufts as the offense held on the ensuing point and the D-line ran off 4 breaks. Nick Adolph and Carter Thallon played great man defense down the stretch and, as always, Piers Macnaughton defied all laws of physics when making plays downfield on offense. After Will Wong called a timeout on the goal line Lloyd Olson broke free to the cone for the winning break. The final score was 15-7.
After the game Piers Macnaughton was awarded the Skyd Magazine MVP award by No Look Scoober's Bryan Jones. All in all it was a solid weekend, highlighted by great play on both sides of the disc on Sunday. Although the conditions were challenging on Saturday we stuck it through and played Tufts Ultimate, improving every step of the way. Now it's back indoors to prepare for Centex and Easterns in mid-March.
(Photo credit for all the pictures in the post goes to Miller Yoho. A big thanks to him for getting some great shots of the weekend)