As time grows closer to Nationals, let’s take a step back and look at all the East Coast schools and their seasons so far. The following teams are: James Madison University, Towson University, Penn State University, University of Maryland, and University of Virginia. We asked respondents from each school these questions about how they felt their season has gone and general knowledge about their clubs.
1. Who is your OT6? (please include if they are a captain, rookie, etc).
2. Anything notable go well for you at these tournaments? Anything you need to improve on?
3. Any changes for your team heading into the spring semester?
4. Which tournament are you most excited for this spring?
5. What team would you most like to play?
6. Do you have any rising players on your team you’d like to give a shoutout?
7. How will your team do this spring?
8. Please list 3 players you think should be on AA and womens AA (not including your team).
9. Please list 1 rookie youve been impressed by (not including your team)
10. Please give us your thoughts on 1 team ranked above you and 1 team ranked below you.
James Madison University (9-3)- Nick Spear.
OT6- Nick Spear (C), Evan Eschenburg, James Turner, Nick Foss (R), Trent Shaffer, Patrick Kaczmarek/Kurt Lanetti.
2. JMU had up and down showings at tournaments this year. To start off at Maryland Madness, they nearly lost to Towson, got taken to OT by UVA, and then thrashed by PSU 5-2. and then two weeks later, came back with a dominating performance at Towson, beating Towson, UMD, and UVA by a 13-1 margin. Followed up with most notably their performance at the Pink Out beating Ohio in OT, handling GVSU with ease, and then losing to Akron of all teams on that schedule.
3. JMU thrives by dominating teams with their overwhelming talent and shows no lack of confidence to prove it. As is often the case, JMU is one of the top 2, if not the most athletic teams in the league. To add, this team is almost entirely made up of upperclassmen who’ve been through everything including being inches away from the championship game last year. Their struggles often stem from lack of organization and overconfidence which can lead to inexplicable dropped matches like their games vs PSU and Akron this year. The Dukes seem to underestimate opponents they do not think are a challenge. We see when they take matches seriously, vs Ohio and GVSU, they can and will beat anyone. However, can they stay focused with their foot on the gas for a full day or weekend of games? Only time will tell.
4. Outside of nationals we were most excited for our home tournament, BEAST, held on January 28th. This is one of the few times a year that we can play in front of our fellow friends and family and we look forward to showing them what our team is about.
5. We are looking forward to playing Michigan State. MSU is one of top 5 teams we haven’t played yet and it would be a great opportunity to see where we stack up.
6. Joel Froyen is a new member of our team that we’re really excited about. He’s cracked our top 12 in a couple tournaments during the fall semester- his first semester on the team. We think he can be a key contributor come April.
7. “We have the potential to beat anyone in the NCDA. The goal is to bring the first NCDA title back to JMU.”
8. PJ Antalek from Akron, Ben Smart from gvsu, and Alex Jonauskas from Ohio.
9. Marty Gold from PSU.
10. Loved playing against Ohio at the pink out. Enjoyed the competitiveness and intensity they brought and think that level of energy helped bring the best out in us as well. I think Towson should be ranked a little higher and expect them to move up in the rankings throughout the spring. If they can fill out their last few roster spots and develop some depth, they still have the top tier talent to make some noise.
Penn State University (8-4)- Mason Blanchard.
OT6- Mason Blanchard (C), Cloud Tapia-Manon, Hunter Stewart, Zach Taylor, Marty Gold (R), Joey Tiger/Ian Robb/Zach Eck.
2. It’s difficult to really understand where this team stands. At each of their first two tournaments, they either won 4 games convincingly or lost in a similar fashion. At Maryland, they dominated the whole East Coast including #3 JMU 5-2. However, when they went to Pink Out, the opposite happened. 4 losses with only one being close, an OT loss to GVSU. Some of their results were especially poor, such as the 6-0 loss to Ohio. The Nittany Lions rounded out the semester with a well played 4-2 win over UMD at home to give them a winning record.
3. Penn State thrives on an unorthodox, chaotic style which can catch opponents off guard if they try to match their energy. This team also shows a great blend of younger players, experienced leadership, and great levels of athleticism. Their strengths are also their weaknesses. When put against strong, organized, opponents, they can get dismantled in a somewhat embarrassing fashion. This squad needs to be able to adjust a little bit better when they face adversity from opponents. So far, Penn State has not been able to be able to stay disciplined and come back from deficits. For a squad that has their sights on a semi final appearance, some adjustments will need to be made.
6. Ian Robb #88, Ian has truly begun to step into a leadership role on the team in his second year. Ian has a great sense of the pace of the place, as well as the energy and skill to execute solid solo throws and counters. Ian’s athleticism and voice make him a rising star on the PSU Dodgeball team. Marty Gold, Marty joined the team late last season and was therefore unable to attend Nationals. Had Gold been in Western Michigan he could have won Rookie of the year. Marty is known for his precise ball placement paired with tremendous speed making him a deadly accurate gunner. Alfredo Jimenez #12, Alfredo, who is also in his second season, has solidified his spot as a clutch player with his catching ability and awareness. In regards to catching, his catches have turned the tides in many PSU games that eventually led to victory. Alfredo’s offense has also greatly improved from his first season and can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the NCDA.
7. “We didn’t like how we left last semester. Penn State is hungry and ready to make some noise”
8. Nick Spear JMU, Ben Smart GVSU, Adam Butz UMD, Womens: Nicole Cutich, Vanessa Hudson, Elly Schipfer.
9. I haven’t noticed too many top rookies yet, but I’ll be on the lookout this semester.
10. We have not had the chance to play Wisconsin Platteville yet and we would love the opportunity to do so. Bowling Green is a fun team but they belong below Penn State in the rankings.
Towson University (2-3)- Garrett Abbott.
OT6- Nate Urlock, Garrett Abbott (C), Eric Madsen, Grant Hines, Scott Wilson, Tommy Mollen.
2. For Towson’s usual high expectations, this fall semester has been a disappointment. They have shown the ability to top lower ranked opponents, but struggle against stronger teams like Penn State or JMU. To add, this team missed out on Happy Valley Throwdown which could’ve been a big opportunity to show off improvement. Towson always plays well as a team which this fall was no different. The Tigers are organized and well captained which allows them to be competitive despite having a less talented team than this team is used to. As alluded to above, this Towson club does not have the usual dominant talent which led them to be National Champions back in 2019. Especially with Kyle Strong graduating last fall, they need someone to step up and fill that void. This team is rebuilding so if those impact players cannot come from the veterans currently on the squad, Towson will need a strong recruiting class to meet their lofty expectations.
3. Towson is really a mystery at this point, even those on the East Coast do not really know what to expect from this team. Since they did not making it out to BEAST, hopefully, Towson can get to WAR or another big tournament prior to nationals to make some noise and boost their rankings.
4. We are hoping to have a home tournament and are obviously excited for that to be able to have our families and friends come out and support. Always a great time when you have people there to support.
5. We are looking forward to seeing our fellow east coast teams as usual. Always a great, fun, and competitive atmosphere with them. Would also love to seen some other teams we haven’t play yet hopefully.
6. The past few seasons due to covid we lost a lot of people (our older guys) and recruitment opportunities over those 1-2 years. This year we were able to pick a few new guys one being our freshman Ben Tarnosky. He came to a tabling event and kept coming back to practices and you could tell he really fell in love with the game. He was excited to play and even more excited to learn the game and improve. The seniors are also looking great this year.
7. In the spring, I think we are just gonna continue to work hard at what we do best and play our game. Make sure everyone’s healthy and definitely continue to work close with our younger guys and hopefully pick up some more eager young players to join us for the ride; considering we lost a few seniors due to fall graduation. I think all in all no matter what happens this spring we are all proud of our organization and are just a bunch a guys that love the sport and are looking forward to finishing strong.
8. Trent Shaffer (JMU), Adam Butz (UMD), Evan Eschenburg (JMU) Womens – Nicole Cutich (Akron), Vanessa Hudson (Kent), Elly Schipfer (Miami).
9. Nick Foss (JMU).
10. Penn State is a team we’d like another shot at. They caught us early in the season when we were still figuring some stuff out. I think we’d play really close with them and hopefully come out with a win. UVA and UMD are both underestimated teams by a lot of the country. They both have a fair bit of talent and can catch teams off guard as they get more experienced. I am sure the NCDA will share these thoughts come nationals.
University of Maryland (5-6)- Connor Engel.
OT6- Connor Engel (C), Adam Butz, Zach Demos, Caleb Dixon, Max Pagella (Rookie), Chris Duchak/Nathan Walls.
2. In the Fall Semester, this Maryland team made some significant strides since last season. They have a top 3 of Engel, Butz, and Demos which can rival any team in the league’s best players. The rest of the squad has made strong progress as well shown by their ability to compete vs higher ranked teams. The Terps had tight battles with Towson and PSU which came down to the final few minutes. However, the major leap into a top ten squad simply has not occurred at the moment. When organized, Maryland plays very well as a team which some star power sprinkled in. There have been glimpses of a squad which can make the final 8 at Nationals. There is a bit more depth than last year and numerous players picking up the game quickly. The Terps do struggle if any of their top players get out early and cannot get caught back in. To compete with the best, they’ll need all hands on deck and everyone to contribute. The supporting cast of this squad struggles at times with consistent production and only shows flashes.
3. UMD needs to focus on taking the next step in their progression as a team and finally finish off a couple of these close games versus high ranked NCDA teams. Rumor has it they’ve been working on some new strategies to get this done and we will see what they can put together as there will be plenty of opportunities whether it be at BEAST, WAR, Nationals, or elsewhere this spring.
4. UMD is very excited to be traveling to Akron for the WAR tournament. Being on the East Coast, we don’t get to play many Ohio and Michigan region teams unless they travel eastward, so we are very excited.
5. The matchup we are most anxious for is Towson. As our main rival, there is always excitement placed on the next UMD-Towson game. We haven’t played them since September, and our team has really grown as a unit since that meeting. Being able to play them this semester after so many months off, should really bring out the best in both schools. I’m excited to see who walks away from it with the W.
6. Adam Butz, #9, is really becoming an incredible player to watch on the court. As an assistant captain in only his sophomore year, he is able to command an entire side of the court, picking off opponents with pin-point accuracy. As the fastest thrower on the Terp squad, he is quickly making a name for himself on
the East Coast. He is stepping in as a leader this year and we are all very excited to see how far he goes in the All-American discussion.
7. “The Maryland Terrapins looked to jump in the rankings from the BEAST tournament and continue throughout the semester. Led by excellent coaches and captains, we know what changes need to be made and we are working on that. We saw improvements against PSU, and as we continue to improve this semester, we know we will be making a name for ourselves at Nationals.” -Capt. Connor Engel.
8. Mens – Cloud Tapia Manon and Hunter Stewart from PSU, Kyle Strong from Towson. Womens- Vanessa Hudson, Nicole Cutich, Elly Schipfer.
9. Nick Foss (JMU).
10. As our main rival, Towson looked good this past semester, but with rumors of thrower Kyle Strong not returning this spring semester, I wonder how the Towson Tigers, now led on the court by Nate Urlock and Eric Madsen, will shake out at the end of the semester. I think that Virginia is an underappreciated team this year. In our last meeting with them, they really seemed to come together and look really deadly, taking a commanding win 3-1 over us. In their
first tournament of the year, they sent JMU to OT. They may not be most powerful team, but Cole is able to push the team to pull out some important wins.
University of Virginia (2-8)- Cole Faggert.
OT6- Cole Faggert (C), Nick Wells, Alex Zuch, Wyndham White, Ben Kelly, Thomas Mossburg.
2. The fact that UVA is going strong as a club means this semester is a success. Going from not playing a game for a year to nearly knocking off powerhouse JMU in their first tournament was a shock to many. Although they are not necessarily racking up the wins, this is a young team that will learn the game with experience. This one of the most athletic teams UVA has ever had, which will help them compete against squads with more NCDA experience. This is definitely a team that will be a surprise to many come nationals.
3. The next step from UVA needs to come in the form of knocking off one of these higher ranked teams at full strength. They picked up a win over a short handed UMD at Border Battle and will have plenty of opportunities for some wins at the BEAST.
4. We are excited about nationals. We haven’t been able to attend in recent years, and we are looking forward to being able to showcase our talent.
5. We are excited to face new teams, whether we haven’t faced them in recent years, or they are new to the organization. It is interesting to see the variety in playing style and strategy.
6. Freshmen Grady Holmes and Phil Mascia are dynamic and talented players that will certainly continue to improve as the season goes on. Look out for their success in both offensive and defensive play.
8. Mens – Evan Eschenburg (JMU), Nate Urlock (Towson), Adam Butz (UMD) Womens – Vanessa Hudson (Kent), Elly Schipfer (Miami), Alexis Schultz (Akron).
9. Nick Foss (JMU).
10. JMU has a lot of talent on its team, and is showcasing its ability to play with schools outside the East Coast. With clean play, they are one of the best teams if not the best team in the league. We are optimistic about and eager to see how Kent State does going into this semester.