High school Ultimate is well under way in Pittsburgh. A fall youth league with roughly 10 teams has been created and the second annual Fall PHUL Tournament took place in early October that saw 7 teams kick off their fall season. The fall is also a great time to bring out some of the new players who may interested in playing in the spring.
All of the teams that attended the one day tournament were able to test their ability by playing all 6 of the other teams. With each team showing different strengths and all teams showing a lot of potential, especially among the newer recruits, intensity at the tournament was high. Things picked right back up where they left off in the spring with the exception of Montour (3rd in PHUL last season; 0-6 at Fall PHUL). North Hills (6-0) finished in first place and was followed by Hampton (5-1). Mt. Lebanon (4-2) finished third.
It can be hard to judge a team in the fall as hard work, conditioning and determination during the winter can drastically change a team, but an evaluation of how teams stand in the fall is not bad. Let's take a look at the 7 teams that showed up at Fall PHUL (in alphabetical order):
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Bethel Park: With two players who were part of Pittsburgh Impulse's 4th place finish at YCC's this past summer, Zach Reinhardt and David Macurak look to continue Bethel Park's consistent play in PHUL. After finishing the 2006 regular season with a 6-2 record, the team is one of the underrated teams in PHUL. The only problem that the team seems to face is dedication and commitment as they forfeited games at Fall PHUL because some players did not wish to stay any longer.
Fox Chapel: What a difference a year can make; from PHUL champions in 2005 to a 2-6 finish in 2006. Of course the loss of some great players is cause for that, but Dan Berk and Ariel Altschuler hope to turn their '06 woes into a winning team this spring. The team carried a lot of potential into Fall PHUL, but tough losses to North Hills, Hampton and Mt. Lebanon did not sit well with the team who should use those losses as motivation over the winter and into spring.
Hampton: With a newly acquired coach, David Vatz, Hampton hopes to keep the consistency of being a legitimate contender to win PHUL. After an 8-0 record in the regular season in the spring and an appearance at Easterns, captain Lukas Truckenbrod should be able to work well with Perry Martin, Alex Lamers and Griffin Patterson (all three were part of Pittsburgh Impulse this past summer). Adequate handlers could be a problem with Hampton, but their coach should be able to help fix that problem.
Montour: A surprise team that had quick success in its first year this past spring, Montour learned the game quickly from their coach, Darren Shultz. Undefeated in the regular season this past spring, the team hopes to keep that going this season, but will need to learn the game as their play at Fall PHUL did not look solid. However, Montour is an excellent example to show that it is possible to teach athletic kids the game of Ultimate and they used that last season to carry them into semi-finals. If Darren Shultz is able to teach these kids the game just as he did last season, there is no reason that Montour should not be able to go deep into the playoffs.
Mt. Lebanon: With the play of Julian Hausman and Zach Ehler, Mt. Lebanon should be a serious threat to win PHUL 2007. The consistency of Peter Imler is unmatched in PHUL and only adds to an already strong team. With their 15-14 universe point loss in the last PHUL finals behind them, their improvement and determination to overcome that tough loss should motivate them throughout the season. Mt. Lebanon has always been a consistent team since the creation of PHUL in 2001; and 2007 should be no different.
North Hills: Possessing probably the best handling duo in all of PHUL with Alex Thorne and Ben Funk, North Hills has a legitimate chance to repeat in 2007. Over the summer, North Hills was able to get Nick Kaczmarek to coach them this upcoming season. He is already showing signs of utilizing playmakers Colin Conner and Jeff Olko to create a very tough team to play against. This team, whose players are all juniors, should run deep into the playoffs and qualify for a bid to Easterns.
North Hills Middle School: The second wave of players in North Hills, the middle school team shows you why it's good to start early. With Max Thorne - the younger brother of Alex Thorne - and his friends already grasping the game of Ultimate, North Hills is building quite a program. Their knowledge and skill of the game has already been seen with a 6-4 win over Montour.
This is just a small sampling of what PHUL is going to bring to the table in 2007. There were 18 Division I teams (yes, there is also a Junior Varsity/Girls division) last year and the league is always growing. It's hard to know what to expect from some teams in the spring, especially if they have kept themselves quiet over the fall and winter, but no matter the case, there is always going to be good competition when it comes down to it.
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
Posted by Jay Huerbin at 2:45 PM