By Nate Sexauer, Assistant Captain of Ohio University
In an ambitious move for a first-year NCDA team, Pitt kicked off its legacy with a home tournament, something few league teams can claim to have done. Welcoming them into the fold on a brisk October afternoon were Kent State, Akron, and Ohio University. How did each team do? Let’s take a quick look.
Why not start with the hosts? For a freshly minted team, Pitt made their lofty ambitions known. While they only garnered one point from the affair (coming against Akron), they flashed sparks of great potential. Led by Katie Milliken, who deserves high praise for organizing both a team and a tournament in time for the start of the season, the team showed off a lot of very strong arms and extremely agile players. Of course, Pitt still suffered from pure lack of experience, something Ohio can relate to. That is something that can be obtained solely through time and travel, however. The raw talent is definitely there, so look for Pitt to make an impression early and often.
This weekend, Kent State continued to show why they are one of the most underrated teams in the league. Their team carried themselves on their immense amount of talent and their pure experience. Albert Deperro and Ryan Hinman were notable standouts in this tournament. The team easily handled most of what the other teams threw at them (literally and figuratively), with the exception of Ohio, who gave them a bit of trouble. However, with their full roster, they would most likely have put up even more points. This team looks slated for a highly successful run this season.
Although lacking in the number of members they brought, Akron put forth a strong showing in Pittsburgh. Adam Pfiefer and his crew, in typical fashion, were a feisty team that challenged everyone they played. Notably, they hung in against a surprisingly strong Ohio club, eventually squeezing out a tough overtime win. Other than that, this is a fairly consistent and solid group of players, who have proven time and time again that they aren’t afraid to go up and challenge anyone. If Akron can continue to win close matches, even while down players, they should look to make a large jump in the rankings this year.
For Ohio, this tournament likely represented a turning point for the young club. While Caleb Arnold and Zach Howman’s team’s win against Pitt was surely satisfying, the Akron game seemed to be the more important one. The second half against Akron rendered zero points for either team, and led to an intense overtime matchup. Even against Kent State, Ohio held them to two points, and it looked as though they would win one had time not expired at a crucial point. However, their talent is still lacking due to limited experience and a large experience gap. The team seems to have turned a corner with a large crop of new players. Hopefully, this can translate into more wins.
Nate Sexauer, Assistant Captain of Ohio University