The last East Coast tournament of the year took place last weekend on April 1st in Charlottesville, VA at the University of Virginia (UVA). A three game round-robin took place between UVA, James Madison (JMU), and Maryland (UMD). While this may not have been the largest tournament, each game had some interesting takeaways.
Game 1: UMD vs UVA (4-1)
From early on, you could see which team did not play a tournament since January and which team is in top form. UMD dominated the game in a 4-1 win in which UVA did not score a point until late. Early on in the season, these teams were viewed as equals by some, however, it appears there is a significant separation between these two squads. This can be partially attributed to UMD traveling out of region and getting the opportunity to face new teams at the WAR in March. From that expereince, that young Terps team was able to learn what needed improvements they needed so they can be at their best come Nationals. Besides a few big plays here and there, UVA seemed disjointed as a team. The Cavaliers have the athletes to get some big wins at Nationals, but they will need to play more as a unit than they did this game if they are to turn some heads.
Game 2: JMU vs UMD (3-2)
Now, this one was by far the best match of the day. We saw a ton of highlight plays, momentous runs, and even an intentional balls over that worked out for the Terps to tie the game up. JMU took the first two points with a fair amount of ease leading us to believe it would be the same old matchup. However, UMD came out strong with a nothing to lose mentality led by captain Adam Butz and a breakout performance from Rookie Adam Rodriguez to take the next point leading to a 1-2 halftime deficit. Point four also went to the Terps after some weird plays and late game unexpected throwing heroics from UMD’s top catcher, Caleb Dixon, which tied the game at 2 with 10 minutes left. Although JMU did end up finishing them off in a 3-2 win, this is a great step in the right direction for Maryland as last time we saw them at Akron a month ago, they were far from at their best. For the Dukes, a close game vs UMD is not what they wanted at all. JMU was looking for a tune-up verse much lower ranked teams and some extra experience for their younger players, not a down to the wire matchup.
Game 3: JMU vs UVA (4-1)
JMU righted the ship in their last game of the day with a no sweat 4-1 win over UVA. This matchup went pretty much as expected for the Dukes. One big performance on the day from JMU was freshman Noah Conyers really taking control of the left corner cementing himself as someone who should be an All Rookie contender as well as an elite centerpiece for this squad to build off of. As alluded to earlier, its hard to tell if UVA is not improving as much as the other teams or just losing early season steam. First tournament of the year, they took JMU to OT and had a close 2-1 loss to UMD. The Cavaliers appear to be far from competing with their two neighboring East Coast counterparts this season. While this may be attributed to playing so much that the other teams figured them out, UVA will need some strong practices in the next week to round into the team that meets their potential at Nationals.