by Andy Marmer | February 18th, 2013
This past weekend, six more tickets to Kissimmee were punched as No. 5 University of California Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA), No. 8 Silicon Valley Skrewts (Mountain View, CA), No. 20 University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA), No. 42 the Lost Boys (Lomita, CA), No. 41 Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, AZ), and No. 132 Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ) qualified at the Western Regional Tournament.
Recap: UCLA captured the Western Regional Championship with a dominant showing in Roseville, CA over the weekend. The Bruins turned in a perfect 6-0 performance over the course of the tournament, with each of their wins coming outside of snitch range. In pool play, UCLA turned in a point differential of +680, allowing just two goals in three games. In their first contest, the squad from Westwood decimated their opponents from the other side of Los Angeles, the Oxy Doxies (Los Angeles, CA) from Occidental College, 310*-10. They similarly cruised over the Hollywood Harpies (Los Angeles, CA) 230*-0 and Northern Arizona 160*-10 to enter bracket play as the top seed.
In the quarterfinals, UCLA overcame ninth-seeded Santa Barbara Blacktips (Santa Barbara, CA) before facing cross-town rivals USC in the semifinals. UCLA and USC have a longstanding rivalry, both as institutions competing in the Pac 12 conference and as being two of the first teams in Los Angeles, located just 15 miles apart. Prior to their meeting in Roseville, they had played twice this season, with each team taking a contest. USC won the first meeting of the year, 100-80 in October, with UCLA avenging the defeat last month 150-40. UCLA made it two in a row against their rivals in the semifinals with a 140*-30 victory. The Bruins knocked off the Lost Boys in the championship 130*-60, sealing their first-ever Western Cup.
While UCLA cruised into the title match, things did not go nearly as smoothly for their opposition, the Lost Boys. After an undefeated and dominant pool play performance that saw them turn in a +630 point differential in four matches while allowing just three goals, the Lost Boys ran into trouble in the quarterfinals. In their first match on Sunday, the Lost Boys narrowly snuck by two-time defending champion Arizona State, winning 60*-50. Their semifinal match against the Skrewts was similarly tight, but the Lost Boys prevailed 100^-60*. In just their first full season of existence, the Lost Boys turned in an exceptionally strong performance and earned a trip to the World Cup.
A moment is necessary to discuss Arizona State. In my column on Friday, I wrote off their chances to make the World Cup based on their poor performance in the fall against Northern Arizona and their lack of tournament experience. Since that column was posted, I have heard from multiple Sun Devil supporters who urged me that perhaps I had overlooked their squad. I can confirm that was in fact the case, as they proved more than capable of handling elite competition. After falling to the Lost Boys in the quarterfinals, they vanquished Stanford University (Palo Alto, CA) 120*-10 and the Blacktips 70*-10 to earn a World Cup berth. Due to a forfeit by Northern Arizona in the consolation finals, Arizona State took fifth on the day. The Sun Devils still do have a ways to go to join the elites of the region as they fell twice to USC, once 120*-80 in pool play and again in an official exhibition match 160*-50.
Northern Arizona was the other World Cup qualifier that surprised me. In my prediction column from Friday, I initially picked them to earn the final World Cup spot, with only a gut feeling on which to base my opinion. However, after further thought, I vacillated and went with Utah Crimson Fliers (Salt Lake City, UT) based on the latter having twice beaten the Northern Colorado Golden Griffins (Greeley, CO) while the former lost their only contest to that same squad. After falling to USC in the quarterfinals, Northern Arizona qualified for the World Cup with wins in the consolation bracket over the aforementioned Crimson Fliers 140*-40 and No. 7 University of California Berkeley (Berkeley, CA) 80*-40.
The biggest disappointment of the tournament has to be UC Berkeley. Although they entered ranked in the top-ten nationally, the Golden Bears failed to advance to the World Cup. Although their ranking may have been a bit of a misnomer, as they had previously only defeated the Skrewts (by 20 in September), Stanford and their B-team the Golden Snitches (Berkeley, CA) in official games, they still had a good shot to book a trip to Florida. Unfortunately, their loss to Northern Arizona took away that chance.
The Silicon Valley Skrewts and USC both performed as expected over the weekend. Although considered a favorite entering the tournament, USC can be forgiven for only making the semifinals and being blown out by UCLA. The Trojans faced by far the toughest pool, which included Arizona State, seventh-placed finisher Blacktips, and University of California Riverside (Riverside, CA). Although they won all of their matches, because of the toughness of their opponents, USC did not have nearly as high a point differential as the other undefeated teams, and they also had to exert themselves more in their games than future foe UCLA. The Skrewts also performed as expected. They easily won their pool with a +500 point differential, and were eventually knocked out by the Lost Boys in the semifinals in an evenly fought match.
Overall, numerous Western Region teams look strong heading into the World Cup, with all six teams as contenders to advance out of pool play. While it will ultimately depend on the draw, I can very realistically see the Lost Boys, Skrewts, and USC advancing to bracket play at the World Cup, and I believe that UCLA very well may be a contender to win it all.
Winners: UCLA (absolutely dominant), Lost Boys, Arizona State, Northern Arizona, Blacktips (will qualify if the West is given an added spot)
Losers: California, USC (excusable, but they will still be disappointed for losing to UCLA)
Rocky Top Rumble
Recap: Florida State University (Tallahassee, FL) captured the Rocky Top Rumble hosted by Tennessee Tech University (Cookeville, TN).
The Seminoles went 5-0 on the day, beating Miami University (Oxford, OH) in the finals 80*-20. The Seminoles were led by strong seeker play and a stubborn defense; they managed all five snitch catches on the day, and surrendered just four goals en route to the victory.
Miami, who finished 13th in the Midwest Regional, went 5-1 on the day, while QC Carolinas (Winston-Salem, NC), who finished seventh in the Mid-Atlantic Regionals and thereby earned a World Cup spot, finished the day with a 1-3 record. QC Carolinas fell twice to the University of Southern Mississippi (Hattiesburg, MS) and once to Miami.
Tennessee Tech took third in the tournament while Southern Mississippi took fourth. Many of the teams that participated will travel next to the South Regional Tournament in Augusta, GA, which begins on March 2.
Winners: Florida State, Miami
Losers: QC Carolinas