By: Gabe Hernandez
UNC and Brown a step above the rest
UNC v. Wisconsin
An early dropped pull by Wisconsin gave UNC an early lead, and they never looked back. Thanks to efficient offense from both the O and D line, Darkside added another dominant victory to their 2019 Nationals résumé.
Cal Poly-SLO v. Michigan
Michigan was able to hang with the Southwest champs for most of the first half, but an SLO surge gave them the edge at 8-5. Relentless pressure in the second half and quick, crisp movement from the SLO cutters gave them the 15-10 win in a game that never really felt close.
Pittsburgh v. Colorado
Colorado surged to an early 4-1 lead which was followed by a run by Pitt to tie it at 4-4. Very little separated the two teams until a Colorado callahan gave them a 10-8 edge over their familiar rivals. Colorado fed off that energy to take a strong 13-10 lead as the game went into crunch time. A 3-1 run by Pitt brought the score to 14-13, but to no avail. Colorado held after Michael Ing dropped a would-be game-tying score to win the game 15-13 and move on.
Brown v. Ohio State
Ohio State was able to play Brown evenly for the entirety of the first half, as neither team ever led by more than one. In the second half, Brown’s D-line offense stepped it up in the efficiency department, running handler weaves for breaks and taking opportunistic deep shots when available. The D-line efficiency ended up being the difference maker as Brown pulled away in the second half to a 15-10 win.
Brown v. Colorado
Similar to their quarterfinal, Colorado broke early to take a 4-2 lead. However, patient upwind offense from Brown gave them the upwind hold, and they broke twice to take the lead 5-4, thanks to a strong zone and handler weave on the turn. The Colorado defense was unable to generate a break in the entire second half, while Brown was getting blocks, taking shots when they were there, and marching up the field when they weren’t. They built a comfortable lead and closed it out 15-10, thanks to strong performances from John Randolph and Mac Hecht.
UNC v. Cal Poly-SLO
For the first nine points of the game, the two teams looked identical. Downwind hold after downwind hold, thanks to efficient offense from speedy cutters and big throwers. It seemed as though neither D line had an answer for the pure speed that was on display on offense. However, an SLO foul call nullified a huck score, and the Darkside defense was able to capitalize on the stopped disc to clamp down on the SLO resets and force a tight throw into the ground. A quick upwind huck gave UNC the first break, and SLO was unsure how to respond. An easy drop and red-zone stagnation led to two turns that were both converted into breaks by Darkside to take half 8-4. Cal Poly was only able to generate one turn in the second half, while UNC seemed to capitalize on every SLO miscue to build a comfortable lead and eventually take the 15-10 win.
The stage is set for an absolute shootout between the top two seeds at the tournament. They split the regular season 1-1, and will each aim to capitalize in a winner-take-all tiebreaker showdown. Brown will look for big throws from Mac Hecht to big cuts from John Randolph, and will continue to implement their dominant handler weave, while UNC will try to defend their national title with excellent spacing on offense and suffocating end-zone defense.