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Flight A, Round Two: Texas escapes a close scare while Middlebury rebuilds momentum and Creighton rolls
By Josh Mansfield

Texas 90* – James Madison 60
Creighton 150* – Richmond 20
Michigan State 110* – Illinois State 60
Middlebury 180* – Columbia 40

After a resounding 210*-0 win against Columbia College Chicago, University Texas appeared to be unprepared for the adjustment they needed to make against a physical James Madison University team. After going down 20-0 in early minutes, Texas quickly subbed in beater and captain Tate Kay and keeper Luke Meissner who were able to bring them back to a 40-30 lead. James Madison did their best to slow the game down and stay in-range, however, once snitch came on pitch, Texas unleashed their dual threat Jack Wang/Kay set, and James Madison was unable to regain control at all after 17 minutes, ultimately falling to a snitch catch in a 90*-60 loss.

“Out the gate our main goal was to focus on maintaining control so that we could dictate the pace of the game” said James Madison president Claire Kinsey. “Texas is a tough matchup, so feeling like we had nothing to lose, our goal was to give them a game they weren’t expecting, and we think we were able to do that.”

In the rest of the pool, Middlebury College rolled off a resounding win against Columbia, leaving them at 1-1 and keeping their bracket hopes alive. Meanwhile, Michigan State University was able to keep their hopes alive with a snitch range win over Illinois State University. Illinois State and Columbia are now 0-2 and will face each other in the third round of flight play to try to pull a win out of day one.

Meanwhile, Creighton University continued to cruise with their second 100+ point margin in flight play. This leaves them 2-0 and fated to matchup with Texas to determine the flight winner.

“This is the most athletic and cohesive team we’ve brought to nationals in our three years attending,” said Creighton Coach Curtis Taylor, further emphasizing that the squad included 12 first-year players. “A day one matchup with Texas sounds like the perfect start to get the mindset ready for a day two that brings that same level of competition.”

Flight B, Round Two: Harvard sneaks through to go 2-0; LSU and Virginia Tech stay alive
By Josh Mansfield

Harvard 120* – Florida 110
Mizzou 130* – Boston 30
LSU 100* – West Virginia 70
Virginia Tech 130* – Arizona 30

While all eyes have rightfully been on Harvard University to win this flight, round two gave them a scare as they narrowly surpassed the University of Florida to win 120*-110. Harvard is coming into Cup as the most improved team this season in The Eighth Man’s Elo ratings, but despite spending their regular season in the South, Florida entered nationals within the top 10 most improved teams in the country, riding a 15-3 record. The enigma that was this Gators team poked its head out of the swamp in this game, riding a 20-point lead into snitch on pitch that they were unable to extend.

“I think our improvement on the team starts from a strong recruiting and a good showing for where the team was at nationals last year,” said Nick Zakoske, Florida coach. “We have really changed philosophies this year. Last year we maximized the team we had, but this year we’ve ran multiple defenses and have lots of different pass-heavy offensive looks.”

While Florida’s pass-heavy offense was able to take advantage of Harvard’s 2-2 zone looks, ultimately, the game was sealed once Harvard beaters Michael Chenevey and Cassia Larson were able to lock down control before snitch release. A quick catch by seeker Leo Fried got Harvard out of the game and, fortunately, onto their 2-0 matchup vs. University of Missouri, guaranteeing them a spot in bracket play.

Meanwhile, MIzzou was able to quickly and efficiently dispatch Boston University in a 130*-30 game, guaranteeing them a bracket spot and a matchup with Harvard in the flight final.

“We came out strong and showed how lockdown our chaser defence can be,” said Mizzou Captain Ben Schlueter. “Our goal is to go undefeated in our flight and we think these matches set us on the right path to beating Harvard in the next round.”

In the 0-1 matchups, Virginia Tech was able to handedly put University of Arizona out of range to set up a 1-1 matchup vs Boston University for a spot in bracket play. Meanwhile, LSU stayed with West Virginia University to a 40-40 game upon snitch release. After a drawn out snitch-on-pitch performance, LSU seeker Stefan Matthews was able to catch to seal the 100*-70 win. LSU will face Florida in the third round to determine which team will move on to bracket play.

Flight C, Round Two: Rochester teams stay alive
By Ethan Sturm

Maryland 160* – Miami Ohio 50
Texas State 170* – Penn State 60
Rochester 60* – NCSU 40
RIT 110* – Baylor 70

Flight C has officially made way for the much-hyped 2-0 matchup we were all hoping to see, as the University of Maryland and Texas State University easily made their way to the climatic match with out-of-range wins. Meanwhile, a pair of Northeast teams clung to life with snitch-range victories, earning themselves a chance to advance to bracket play in round three.

While Miami University Ohio hoped to provide Maryland its first challenge of the tournament, the Terrapins came out with hard-hitting play, led by the physicality of John Sheridan and Mack Morgan, to all but shut down the opponent’s offense. Meanwhile, Miami Ohio’s defense did not seem prepared for the athleticism Maryland threw at them on the opposite end, grabbing goal after goal against both zero and one-bludger sets. TJ Generette led the team with five goals, and also put the game away with a grab.

Texas State had a similarly easy time taking care of Penn State University, with their often sporadic offense firing on all cylinders in this one. Penn State started the game in a man defense, and Nick Ed could not miss, scoring from distance on five straight possessions early. The Nittany Lions made adjustments, but it was too little too late, and the Bobcats were able to expand a 90-40 lead at 18 minutes into a more decisive result late.

The first elimination match of the flight was a physical affair, as neither team was able to put many points on the scoreboard throughout. Sam Hauser’s point defense for the University of Rochester was unassailable, and he alone stopped multiple goals with massive open-field tackles. Justin King, returning after missing much of the season, was also a game-changer, scoring two of the team’s three goals in no-bludger situations. Hauser put the game away quickly with a grab, giving Rochester life and ending NCSU’s season.

The other elimination match was equally tense, as RIT struggled to break down the Baylor zone while Baylor University equally struggled to create anything offensively against RIT’s physicality and athleticism. With snitch-on-pitch, the two teams traded goals until a snitch catch put RIT through to the next round with their tournament life intact.

Due to the rules of pairings, all four matchups for round three are already set. Maryland and Texas State will play to decide who wins the pool, while the last two spots will be decided by Miami Ohio vs. RIT and Penn State vs. Rochester.

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