(written, shot, edited and narrated for Somerville Patch)
It took an extra day to get the lights working at Tufts’ Bello Field, but once it did, the visiting NexGen college all-stars played like it was their home field.
NexGen, led by Harvard’s George Stubbs, took control of the game Tuesday night with a 5-0 second-half run to beat Boston club team Ironside, 15-11.
NexGen was down 10-8 to Ironside early in the second half, but a goal-line stand prevented Ironside from going up by three. NexGen took the disc back up the field, and the University of Colorado’s Matty Zemel found Colorado College’s Nick Spiva in the end zone with a long backhand pass. NexGen then turned on the defense.
“We were playing good defense throughout the half,” Stubbs said. “We started running a little more ‘junk’ in the second half, and we ran off four points in a row where ‘junk’ worked.” Stubbs – one of two NexGen players from a Massachusetts school – said that “junk” is a defensive alignment based around a diamond formation in which players are covered as they move into one defender’s territory. Tufts’ Jack Hatchett admitted that Ironside, which didn’t have several experienced players, had some difficulty solving the NexGen defense.
The University of Minnesota’s Greg Arenson then hit Stubbs on two of NexGen’s next three points, sandwiched around a sequence in which the University of Oregon’s Cody Bjorklund knocked down a pass on defense and then scored on offense.
NexGen’s run turned a two-point deficit into a three-point lead. Ironside would not go down without a fight, with Matt Rebholz throwing his third of assist of the game, this time to Jim Foster (both University of Wisconsin alumni) on a sequence that Ironside controlled from start to finish.
One point was all they could manage, however, before Zemel and Stubbs finished them off, with Stubbs hitting a diving Eric Johnson from Luther College with a low, short-yardage backhand in the end zone for the game winner.
Stubbs and Rebholz each led their teams with two goals and three assists.
The first half was a back-and-forth contest, with no team able to take even a two-point lead through the first nine points of the game. Ironside began with a an upside down, over-the-shoulder “scoober” from Dan Forseter to Misha Sidorsky to go up 1-0, only have to Stubbs hit the University of Wisconsin’s Colin Camp with a long forehand down the near sideline. Camp then threw to Georgia Tech’s Nick Lance in similar fashion to tie the game.
Ironside had some success throwing high passes to Tufts rising senior Sam Kittross-Schnell, who twice was able to out-jump NexGen defenders to come down with the disc. NexGen at-first tried to match Ironside’s length, but eventually switched to short-yardage passes.
“There was a pretty strong down-wind that really carries the disc, and it wasn’t working for us, so we stopped throwing them,” Stubbs said. “Period.”
NexGen’s different offensive strategy allowed Zemel, Stubbs and Camp to go to work, the three throwing for five of NexGen’s seven first-half goals.
Ironside stuck with their long game, however, and scored three straight to take half, 8-6. Kittross-Schnell caught a long pass in double coverage and passed to a wide-open Rebholz to tie the game at six, then after Teddy Brower-Jarus and Seth Reinhardt combined for a score, Brandon Malacek hit Hatchett with a line-drive forehand just over defenders’ heads and into the end zone.
“Our team energy was very high at that point,” Hatchett said, adding: “Everyone on the field at that point was ready to go. Everyone was running hard, and they couldn’t get open. We were forcing them to turn it over, and then after that we were just working harder then them. I think halftime kind of slowed that down.”
Approximately 250 to 300 people attended Tuesday’s game, with between $1,400 and $1,500 collected in donations, according to Ultimate Showcase Series director and organizer Erik Sebesta. Donations (which were also collected Monday, when the game was originally supposed to be played) were split evenly between NexGen’s travel expenses and the Boston Ultimate Disc Alliance’s yout league.
Among the players in attendance were Somerville High Ultimate Players Rory Palmer, Brandon Hamilton, Sam Badot-Fisher and Danny Ly. Palmer said he enjoyed seeing such advanced Ultimate after playing on a still-developing high school squad. He also said he was surprised at how much power NexGen’s and Ironside’s handlers had, something he would like to emulate.
Said Palmer, “I really just want to throw it really far.”