Thursday, April 17, 2008

More on Paideia Cup, boys

Saturday morning, it rained and there were a couple of lightning delays that set the schedule back by about an hour. The temperature grew warmer throughout the day as the fields dried and the sun escaped from behind the clouds.

Greg Arenson of Hopkins, as you may have heard, was brought to the hospital after colliding with an Amherst handler in the first game of the tournament. The Amherst handler had made an up line cut into the endzone and Greg made a bid to defense the disc. He remains in the hospital in Atlanta today with hopes of returning to his home near the Twin Cities as early as Sunday. Thank you to everyone for the kind words, thoughts, and efforts -- especially the Paideia community, who have been tremendously generous and accommodating. Greg, his family, and the Hopkins community are so very thankful.

Saturday games were a bit sloppy early with the rain and likely early-tournament jitters.

Seattle and Amherst both made statements, comfortably defeating Paideia and Hopkins, respectively. Amherst was very methodical and deliberate on offense. Hopkins seemed to shutdown cut after cut and get multiple D's on almost every point, but were obviously struggling on offense being outdoors for the first time, committing numerous throwing and catching errors. Paired with the Amherst defense, Hopkins wasn't able to reach the endzone often, while the Canes, behind the big throws of their sophomore standout Jonah Herscu, fought hard against some tough defense with poise for each score.

After watching North Hills defeat Seattle, it's obvious they are the most fun high school team to watch. Collin Connor and Ben Funk are so creative and active on the field, you never want to take your eyes off the field for fear you might miss some crazy blade or a squirrelly cut through the cup followed by a gorgeous huck.

Anthony Nunez is doing a superb job with the Columbia team. Every handler on that team seems to have a poster-perfect forehand that they can release faster than they can blink. It often looked like they were unaware that there was a mark on them, with some ice cold, but casual breaks and hucks. And on D, they lay out as much as any team in the country on any level -- and somehow seem to be back on their feet and on the mark before they even finish sliding. Early on, it looked like Columbia was on the easy path to the finals.

Hopkins pulled it together a little bit in the third round, keeping up with Columbia until late in the game. You could see that they had made some adjustments to playing outdoors, but still, Columbia's offense and defense looked pretty unstoppable.

North Hills then secured the 1 seed from the pool in a 2-point victory/battle with Paideia. These two teams match up very well and it's a very fun comparison watching them play, as one team is aggressive and a little crazy at times, while the other is relatively conservative and by the book. While North Hills probably has the more talented and deeper team, Paideia's identity, size, and style makes it a little bit harder for NH to play their game.

Unfortunately, I didn't get many details about the Columbia-Amherst game, but obviously a 16-15 win to take the 1 seed was probably the game of the tournament. Seeing Columbia after the win, they didn't seem too overwhelmed by it. I assume their coach gave them the "we have a whole day left, this victory is nice, but tomorrow's what counts" talk.

Heritage put up a good fight against Hopkins. Hopkins had led by several points most of the way (7-3 @ half), while Heritage slowly fought their way back to the game to tie it at 13-13. Though Heritage was on the losing end, the fight back into the game probably helped them win the next universe opportunity they had against Grassburn the next day.

The next morning, Hopkins quickly took care of Nashville and their aggressive hucking game, with an exciting game winning point that included a 60 yard huck and layout catch for the score by their 4'10" junior high kid. The Paideia-Heritage game was a little bit slower, going all the way to the time cap, with Paideia on top.

I foolishly predicted Columbia would run Seattle into the ground, but that's because I had never seen Matt Rehder play before. On the very first point, a beautiful huck with a bit of draw by Columbia looked to be floating easily into the hands of a receiver racing to the endzone when Rehder kicked it into another gear, made a 5 foot high horizontal dive, and got just enough of the disc to send it off course and out the back of the endzone. Jaws dropped and he was just getting started. By the end of the first half, he would have two more layout D's, one being a catch-D underneath on a receiver he wasn't guarding. Later, he caught a high floaty huck that looked like it could have been 13 feet off the ground, while everyone stood around waiting for it to come low enough to start thinking about jumping for it. Seattle was far from the all-day-all-Rehder show, however, as they scored the three points during which Rehder was on the bench. Still he scored about 7 times in the game and was everywhere on D. Columbia in this game, for the first time in the tournament, looked rattled. Throws began missing targets and easy catches weren't made. I think they felt overmatched and lost a bit of focus. Seattle wisely smelled fear and poured it on.

On the neighboring field, North Hills was putting together their own highlight reel, with handlers cutting deep, blades jumping over and past the wings, and threading low releases under the arms of the cup.

The finals was much less exciting than the semis. Whether it was fatigue, or that the wind had picked up, both teams seemed content to let their offense control their destiny -- well, with the exception of Rehder, who once again was a one-man highlight reel. Again, he scored close to half the points and got a couple big layout Ds. And of course, Seattle took home the cup. They did a great job making it out to Atlanta and the tournament was better because of it.


Anonymous said...

I'd like to hear from some of the Seattle kids, since they saw a bunch of Easterns teams and are relatively unbiased?

After playing Heritage, North Hills, Columbia, Paidiea, Grassburn and seeing Amherst, who wins Easterns?

Anonymous said...

I am not from seattle, but I was a part of the tournament (for Hopkins), After seeing an unreal amount of high school talent, I would have to stay that easterns could go anyway of Columbia, Amherst, North Hills, and Paideia.

Columbia- Super athletic, and maybe the only true possesion team at P-Cup, barely turned it over, and would bait, and convert on D after D.Really a fun team to play, and a very strong competitor in the east.

Amherst- Really nice team, with text book offense, I would say that the Tiina Booth Dynasty will continue with a strong finish and a run at an eastern championship.

North Hills- Wow, by far the most creative team at P Cup, they play unconventional, and that is why they are so good. No one in the east has yet to figure out their formula, and if someone doesnt it looks like a North Hills Easterns.

Paideia- My favorite games of the weekend involved Paideia. After seeing the battle between North Hills and Paideia, all doubters about Paideia were silenced. The Paideia v Hopkins game also showed that the team doesnt rely on individuals but a team effort. Paideia will make a run at easterns.

Asa Gotlieb # 23 Hurt

Anonymous said...

I'm from Seattle, I'd say North Hills would win Easterns by a longshot--they were definetly the most talented team we played. Colombia was very skilled as well, but they cracked under the pressure of us going on a run, and don't have the same skill that Ben and Alex from NH have.

Anonymous said...

Pennsbury all day.

Anonymous said...

2008 Easterns is completley up for grabs,but why not up for the defending champions? This is not going up due to the horrible comment before this and also is not coming from a Pennsbury player,but how arent these kids considered in the mix. They defeated North Hills and Columbia in championship games and took it last year. They Also have one solid junior worlds player,Isaac Saul. I know they may have a bad rep, but since they were not allowed into Paideia they are suddenly not a contender for the eastern champs! I beleive they have a strong shot as well.

Good Luck to all.

Anonymous said...

by your reasoning Paideia will beat you guys by 13 points in the final.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Yeah, Pennsbury has probably 3 worlds players in Elijah,Issaac, and Chez they all started either freshman year of Hs or earlier.. The entire Saul family layed out of the womb so by that reasoning another Pennsbury's got some fuel in the tank for some years.


Anonymous said...

Who is Chez? Last I knew they had Isaac who is a worlds player, beaches who is close to a worlds player, and Elijah who is a good player but not a worlds player. They have a young roster and will def put up numbers against some big teams, but might not have the experience that other teams have over them.

So I say do not count them out, but they still have to grow a lot as a team.

My money is on North Hills vs Woodside finals.


Anonymous said...

haha you can not be serious...beaCHES....CHEZ! CHEZ! CHEZ! CHEZ!...come on guy only one of the filthiest players on the east side. Never have i ever seen someone sky so many people day after day...getcha mind right

Anonymous said...

If Bechis got invited to the worlds tryout, he probably would have made it. He is a freak athlete with probably one of the best attitudes I have ever seen, complete workhorse and never opens his mouth, truly lets his game speak.