Day two of Harvest Moon began with overcast skys and 10 mph winds. The rain that was predicted by meteorologists did not come, and spectators turned out to watch the action unfold. As the games played out the teams relative abilities became more and more apparent.
1. Arkansas Plays with Feeling
Matt Jackson is a good player and everyone knows it, but Arkansas will have to rely on more than just one player to succeed; that’s where the supporting cast comes in. While the team returns everyone from last year, those players are still inexperienced and run on excitement and adrenaline. This weekend they were able to keep themselves going, but that won’t work every game. Eventually, all teams have to find a way to finish games against good teams that they have a large lead on. Arkansas might have problems letting teams back into games if they can’t figure that out.
2. Missouri Likes to Rally
Missouri is kind of in the same boat as Arkansas, but with an entirely different problem. Missouri returns a large portion of the team and having three 5th year seniors return gives the MUtants a ton of experience. However, Missouri likes to get behind before they play at their most inspired. On Saturday, Missouri spotted St. Louis two points, and on Sunday spotted Arkansas five.
“We like to [start games] slow,” said captain Matt Francis. “It is a bad habit we have and are trying to overcome.
3. Washington is Missing Key Players and Identity
Losing two All-Region players would hurt any team. But losing Evan Winograd and Joe MacDonald has really hurt the Contrabears. They still have the talent to win games, but the team identity and roles seem to be a little fuzzy right now.
“Things are different. We no longer have stars who can dominate match-ups, but we do have a team full of guys who can run and throw and make plays with the best of them. We just have to step up,” said Wash U captain Jacob Zax.
The Contrabears will definitely have to step up, especially since they appear to be rebuilding after such a strong showing last year. However, I expect that WashU’s coach and captains will rally the team around a common identity and make Washington a tough team by the time the regular season rolls around.
4. Harding Still Gets Tired
Last year Harding made Div. III Nationals by consistently using just eight players, but fatigue became a real problem late in tournaments. This year Harding has made a conscious effort to have an offensive line, defensive line, and several bench lines. That adjustment seemed to make a big difference as Harding strolled into the finals against Arkansas and took a 2-0 lead. The ensuing point was a long one. Harding had several chances to score but ultimately conceded and the defensive line was ineffective for the rest of the game.
Figuring out how to get to the next level might be tricky for Apocalypse, but if they can, they will likely be making noise at Div. III Nationals again.
Just a few photos from Sunday play at Harvest Moon in Fayetteville, Arkansas this past weekend.
Harding scored the first two points of the game, but several unforced errors by Apocalypse allowed Ludicrous Speed to score three in a row to take the lead. The two teams traded points until just before halftime when Arkansas was able to score two quickly and take half, 7-5.
“There were many turnovers by both teams,” said Arkansas captain Matt Jackson. “We just made fewer of them.”
“Arkansas is a very talented, athletic, and quick team. Their tough defense forced us to make too many long throws,” Harding’s senior captain Ryan Rummage added.
After halftime, Arkansas utilized their deeper bench to wear out Harding and pulled away in the second half, 6-3.
“We won that game with our legs,” Jackson said.
Despite losing the game Rummage was still upbeat about how his team performed during the weekend.
“For us to make the finals is a great accomplishment. We played great all tournament long. But in the final, we lost to a team that is more talented and more athletic than us–all the credit goes to Arkansas.” Rummage said.
The championship win by Arkansas is their first ever at Harvest Moon, which is the team’s home tournament.
Early on the score between the Arkansas Ludicrous Speed and the Missouri MUtants was not indicative of the closeness of the game. But that all changed in the second half, and despite a five point early game lead in Arkansas’ favor, Missouri was able to close the gap only to lose in a capped game on ultimate point, 10-9.
The first quarter of the game was dominated by questionable throws, layouts, wind gusts, and Missouri getting impatient turnovers after working the disc down field. All those factors combined meant Arkansas found its self ahead, 5-0.
The second quarter of the game was a bit cleaner as Missouri started to find their groove but still found themselves behind 7-4.
“We have been notorious for our slow starts,” lamented Missouri captain Matt Francis. “We did it against SLU yesterday and we did it against Arkansas today.”
The second half was a very different game as the MUtants started to win the jump discs and Ludicrous started to make the impatient throwaways.
“Underclassmen and upperclassmen made some questionable decisions late in the game and as a team we made some bad hucks and silly drops,” said Matt Jackson, Arkansas’ senior captain.
With Missouri rallying the hard cap was blown and the two teams were knotted at nine all. On the ensuing point Arkansas’ Abe Coffin hucked the disc to a wide open Dominik Fischer who completed a one foot pass for the win.
“We came out flat in the beginning of the game. In the second half we switched some things up and we started to get back into the game. We didn’t give up, we battled back, we ended up at universe point, and we lost,” Francis said.
With the win Arkansas moves on to the finals to face Harding for the Harvest Moon championship