Friday, May 11, 2007

2007 Pennsylvania State Champs Preview

Pennsylvania has experienced unparalleled growth over the past few years. With three operational leagues - PHUEL, PHUL, and CPHUL - PA for the first time had to institute a bid allotment per league process. Philly took 7 bids, Pittsburgh 8, and Central PA sent one team.

Both Philly and Pittsburgh have teams with national travel schedules and impressive wins over established big name programs. The road to the finals will be a dogfight for sure, but that wont stop us (me) from speculating as to how the tournament will turn out.

Let's break it down pool by pool....

Pool A
Haverford High
Fox Chapel

The rundown: Look for Pennsbury to nearly cruise through this pool. All the other teams are very talented. Haverford is running on a 9-1 season at the moment, Montour has a very capable coach in PA SYC Darren Schultz, and Fox Chapel has consistently remained in the top 5 of PHUL for the past few years, however Pennsbury is just too athletic, and too fundamentally sound to be stirred by the competition. The dogfight will be for 2nd place in the pool between Haverford and Montour, ranked 8th and 10th respectively. But with the format of the tournament, for the state championship only first place matters.

Player to watch: Noah Saul, Pennsbury - recently committed to UNC, seems like he has been playing in PHUEL forever because he has been good forever. Last year's state champs he was very injured with a left leg swollen beyond belief and virtually coached his team to a win. With him on the field it should be a hell of a show.

Pool B
North Hills
Council Rock

The rundown: I had the privelige of watching North Hills and Mt. Lebo play last night in the PHUL Championships in Pine Richland stadium, so for this specifically i can name names (look for a recap of PHUL and the championship coming from Jay in the next few days). Alex Thorne and Ben Funk will hold things down handling for North Hills as they, similar to pennsbury, move through their pool. I dont know much about Allderdice or Moon except that Dice lost to North Hills early in the season 5-15, and since then North Hills has traveled to Georgia to play against the best. The strength of schedule will help them here. Wildcard in the pool is Council Rock. From what i know a very young team with a bunch of height and talented athletes. If there were to be an upset in this pool it will come at the hands of Council Rock using their physical advantages over north hills. However, the smart money is on Blaze.

Player to watch: Alex Thorne - selected as MVP of finals with 6 goals and 3 assists, the offense runs through Thorne. He is quick, he throws are spot on and his leadership on the field keeps the offense moving like a well oiled machine. Oh yeah, and he's a junior.

Pool C
Mt. Lebanon
North Penn
Cardinal O'Hara
Pine Richland

The rundown: Mt. Lebanon is coming off a frustrating loss to North Hills thursday night where they couldnt get their offense to click. Look for them to enter states with a purpose and a new desire to prove themselves. Led by Julian Hausman's handling skills (monster flick huck) they have the potential to do some damage in semis. Pool play shouldn't be too much of an issue for them, but North Penn is another PHUEL dark horse. Lebo is a very senior heavy team, they only have three losses on the season (North Hills, Hampton, and Paideia) no other team has scored double digits. O'Hara is a solid team as well but lacks a certain depth of throwing skills to make them dangerous for the #1 spot. They, Pine Richland and North Penn will likely be duking it out for #2

Player to watch: Julian Hausman - committed to Pitt, a solid handler, tall and athletic. With more throwing threats he certainly will become a cutter, a dominant presence on the field. He's the guy on Lebo that will require your best defender.

Pool D
St. Joe's Prep
Lower Merion
Boiling Springs

The rundown: By far my favorite pool for obvious conflict of interest reasons, and the fact that you have a #4 and a #5 seed duking it out for the chance at a state title. Ill start from the bottom of the pool, Boiling Springs is a bit of an unknown here, they havent played outside CPHUL, which traditionally (since it started less than 3 years ago?) has been the weaker of the three leagues. But they also have losses within CPHUL, i have a hunch that they will be a very good matchup for Lower Merion who is seeded 11th overall. LM lost a ton of seniors last year to solid college programs and has struggled a bit this year to rebuild, even with their solid b-team from the previous year. With their solid coaching of Paul Minecci though they will undoubtedly reclaim a certain swagger of years past. However, it wont happen at this tournament, in their previous meeting Prep beat LM 13-3.

Now the top two - Hampton and Prep. Both are tall teams, both are athletic teams. Both have played top national competition in Pennsbury and North Hills. Prep has their senior prom the night before, so they are relying a little heavier on underclassmen (John McCabe, Austin McCabe) to play their first pool play game(s). Prep will be there in force though for the match up, and game, of the day at 2:15. Hampton is a very junior and senior heavy team, but so is Prep. Hampton will benefit from their tougher schedule, with only two losses this season - North Hills and Princeton High School. Lebo was the only team to score double digits on them in the rest of their spring season. Prep is also very senior heavy though, graduating 9 four-year players after this year. For both teams it seems, this is the year for them. A culmination of 2-3 years of training and practice, it will be a dogfight. My prediction? The seedings are correct, but upsets are the theme of Prep ultimate at state champs. I won't predict a winner but instead that the point differential will be less than 4.

Player(s) to watch: too many. You need to watch this game if you go to the tournament. On Prep- Joe Kruse (U. of San Diego), one of the fastest high school ultimate players you will find, Matt Paparone (Delaware), Tom McCabe and Greg Owens, both over 6' will hold down the sky for prep while Jim Ionata and John McCabe calmly handle. On Hampton Lukas Truckenbrod Cody McInnis, and Dan Gurwin will hold things down with a cast of role players all with big game experience.

Game of the Day: Prep vs. Hamton without a doubt. 4 vs. 5 for a chance at a state championship. Tons of great players, big names, there will be tons of bids, solid throws and all the other hype and hooplah that is the finest of high school ultimate. Two spirited teams, great players.

All in all it will be a spectacular tournament. The smart money is on North Hills and Pennsbury meeting in the finals for an epic showdown. My prediction is that Pennsbury will have the athleticism and the big game experience and long season to take home the trophy. It will be a close game, and an exciting game, but Philly will take home the state championship for the 4th straight year.

(2006: Pennsbury, 2005: Wissahickon, 2004: Wissahickon? CB East?, 2003: Mt. Lebanon?)

2006 PA State Champs Score reporter
2007 PA State Champs Score reporter
2007 Team matchups

If you can or would like to fill in the gaps for my preview, feel free to comment.


Anonymous said...

On Hampton, look for Perry Martin, Griffin Patterson and Alex Lamers to control the air. All three played on Pittsburgh's Impulse last season.

CPHUL was formed 2 years ago. State College won the first year and competed in States. This year, Boiling Springs took the crown in what was considered an upset over State College. They lost to Fairfield in an earlier game. Fairfield is a talented team of younger players that had a dissapointing showing at the finals tournament, but be on the lookout for them, Boiling Springs and State College to duke it out next year.

There are reports that Boiling Springs may not be able to attend this weekend and another team (either CPHUL or PHUEL) may be taking their spot.

- Justin Burdett
CPHUL Commissioner/founder

jayhuerbin said...

McCabe, Hampton has their Prom on Friday (tonight) as well and the afterprom runs well into the middle of the night. After afterprom, the team is hopping into cars (and I believe some might be flying) and driving all the way to the fields.

Not looking for excuses, but just saying Pittsburgh is a little bit farther from the fields.


Anonymous said...

McCabe, way to hype up Prep. Nice bias :)

McCabe said...

i thought i heard that about Hampton, didnt want to bring it up if it wasnt true then.

should be an even more equal matchup then.

any hampton readers out there, drive safe to philly, seriously, no ultimate game is worth your life dosing off on the turnpike. be careful.

as to the bias, i mentioned it, for anyone who is wondering what the hell is going on here i started the team at prep a few years ago, i love em. but they have some real talent, and hey the seedings dont lie its going to be a 4/5 matchup to the tee.

its just that i know more names from prep so i can give a more specific preview. unfortunately i havent seen hampton play this season, but i have absolutely no doubts that they carry as many athletic players as prep, its really going to come down to who wants it more i think.

excitement brews. god damn i wish i could be there.

hey everyone, click on some ads so we can buy a PlayUltimate jet and fly to all these games. swear to god i'd give up to the second updates if we could have a PlayUltimate jet.

until then though...

jayhuerbin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jayhuerbin said...

Who cares about bias? I think if an entry is written well enough to cover almost all points, then there is nothing wrong with a little bias, especially if you admit it. It's the people who deny having a bias, but still show it, that I have a problem with.

I'm pro-Pittsburgh, but even smaller than that I want nothing more than to see my former team (Hampton) succeed. Friendly wager, McCabe?

Fantusta said...

As the third writer covering this, and the third player who started the third team in this pool... if we're gonna go with bias, watch for LM to upset you both : - p -- their prom was last weekend, so they're fully recovered already!


jayhuerbin said...

Haha. That's kind of cool that the three of us have our former teams playing in the same pool.

jayhuerbin said...

I have midday results from Hampton's teams:

Hampton 13 - Montour 10
Hampton 13 - Cardinal O'Hara 3

Hampton girls 1 - Pennsbury girls 13 (Hampton got lost and had points assessed and no warmup)
Hampton girls 2 - Cardinal O'Hara girls 13

jayhuerbin said...

Hampton over St. Joe's 13-6
Pennsbury over Hampton 15-10 in semifinals.

North Hills over Lebo 15-10 in semifinals.

Pennsbury vs. North Hills in finals tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Pennsbury beat North Hills in a fairly intense game in the finals 15-13, North Hills showed some heart by putting in two more goals at 14-11, but Pennsbury just grinded it out.