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Metro East Regionals Preview: DI Womens

by | April 25, 2013, 1:25pm 2

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After a long winter, sunny skies and warm temperatures are finally descending on the Metro East. Don’t be fooled, this weekend is going to be a bloodbath:

Full Schedule

#1 Seed: Ottawa Lady GG’s

Ottawa, the Metro East superpower, is your #1 seed for this weekend, surprising absolutely no one. This dynasty of college ultimate has been relentless since first appearing on the UPA circuit in 2008, faltering only once in the quest for Nationals. During this six year period, the Lady GG’s recorded only a single loss against any team currently hailing from the Metro East*. Though no results have been as strong as a T-5th finish at 2009 Nationals (back in the hay day of Anne Mercier and Alex Benedict) Ottawa has consistently churned out elite caliber squads year after year.

2013 is no different, as the Lady GG’s took second at Trouble in Vegas and first at Awaken, amassing a 12-1 regular season record. This impressive feat was accomplished despite the loss of Coach Ken Alexander as well as 2012 All-Region players Kathryn Pohran and Tessa Van Leeuwen. Pohran, who has stepped in as the new coach of Ottawa, drives the Lady GG’s towards success in what many consider a rebuilding year. With a strong focus on fundamentals, as well as a large portion of the roster gaining club experience with Stella, Ottawa remains the team to beat this weekend. U23 Worlds members #19 Kaylee Sparks and #29 Vivianne Fortin are the players to keep an eye out for as the singular Canadian team fights for the bid to Madison.

*In 2010, the only year that Ottawa failed to qualify for Nationals, they lost to Maryland twice at Regionals, who is no longer a member of the Metro East.

#2 Seed: NYU Violet Femmes

Standing in the way of a three-peat title for the Lady GG’s are the NYU Violet Femmes. After back-to-back top five finishes at Regionals, the Violet Femmes have burst onto the national scene with an impressive 16-4 regular season record. A second place finish at James Madison’s Bonanza and a tournament victory at the Delaware Classic (which included a 15-1 rout of conference rival Yale Ramona) earned NYU #4 for the end of the season rankings in the Metro East. Unsatisfied, the Violet Femmes  took on all-comers to earn the Eastern Metro East Conference and now sitting comfortably at #2 overall.

Any conversation about the strength of NYU starts with Karen Chalif, whose experience with the elite club team Bent has allowed her to dominate the college game on both sides of the disc. Two of Chalif’s club teammates, Monica Heger and Krisztina Jozsef, coach the Violet Femmes and have helped captains Kristie Wong and Julia Longinotti improve their program into the force it is today. With roughly two lines of players that can heavily contribute throughout the tournament, beautiful weather and a relatively weak Pool B should allow NYU to coast through Saturday play. Cornell being seeded fourth doesn’t hurt either, as the Violet Femmes may be able to avoid a taxing semifinal should things play out to seed.

#3 Seed: Rochester EZs

The Erogenous Zones or EZs from the University of Rochester have put the Metro East on notice with a stunning victory over the Cornell Roses to take second at the Western NY D-1 Conference Championships. Attempting to return to their glory days in the early 2000′s, the EZs earned their spot at third overall and are poised to give the top teams a run for their money.

Like so many college teams in this region, the EZs have stepped away of the traditional player-run style of organization and acquired a coach in club star Amanda Davis (Hot Metal). Outside of obvious strategic gains, Davis brought to Rochester a strong focus on strength and conditioning during the winter and early spring. However, simply adding a coach isn’t the golden ticket…the team and its respective culture need to be ready to work cooperatively with any authority figure, especially if it is an outsider. Having a coach like Davis, someone who has had plenty of individual success as a player, certainly smooths this period of transition as her words hold immediate value and respect.

Fitness and coaching aside, the 2013 EZ roster is the best in recent memory. Sophomore standout Michell Landis, who spent her summer balling with Houston’s Inferno, joins Rochester’s “Big 3″ of Erica Messner, Kathy Haapala and Emily Kraus. This close knit trio of captains have played together for years, recently finishing a run at Regionals with Roc Paper Scissors, the local women’s club team. Watch for Messner to dominate the cutting lanes while the dynamic handling duo of Haapala and Kraus consistently grind defenders into the ground.

It is uncertain whether the University of Rochester will be able to challenge the top teams of the tournament, but if they can escape the low seeded Columbia NYPD and take Pool C, a semifinals finish is definitely attainable.

#4 Seed: Cornell Roses

2004
Sectionals – 1st
Regionals – 4th (2 Bids)

2005
Sectionals – 1st
Regionals – 1st

2006
Sectionals – 1st
Regionals – 3rd (2 Bids)

2007
Sectionals – 2nd
Regionals – 7th (2 Bids)

2008
Sectionals – 2nd
Regionals – 9th (2 Bids)

2009
Sectionals – 1st
Regionals – 5th (2 Bids)

2010
Sectionals – 1st
Regionals – 5th (2 Bids)

2011
Conferences - 2nd
Regionals – 2nd (1 Bid)

2012
Conferences – 2nd
Regionals – 7th (1 Bid)

2013
Conferences – 3rd
Regionals – ?

So close, yet so far.

For most players, especially in the Metro East, Cornell University is a well respected program for Ultimate Frisbee. While the Buds have had success in the Open Division, the Cornell Roses have been so close, yet so far from a ticket to the big dance. With their last trip dating back to 2005, the Roses have played second fiddle to teams like Ottawa for years.

I’ve been told it’s common for teams to lose the game to go before they can win it…so when can Cornell finally achieve Metro East glory?

2013 is their year. Sure, getting 3rd at WNY-1 Conference Championships has set up a semifinals battle with goliath Ottawa, but the Roses have their slingshot in Coach Michaela Dudley. A former North Carolina Pleiade, Dudley has brought about an increased level of in-game tactics and overall Ultimate IQ to a franchise that already preaches fundamentals, intensity and a strong work ethic. Captains Anna Blasiak, Hannah Boone and Sarah Zhao will certainly need to be on their A-game this weekend and will be supported by second year standouts Christine Georgakakos, Rebecca Baldwin and Lisa Levine.

With their showdown against rival Ottawa more likely than not, Captain Blasiak seems ready for the challenge. “Canadian teams play more aggressively, Ottawa included, said Blasiak. “They are more physical, have tighter marks and a solid deep game so we know what to expect when the time comes.”

Quick Hits

Yale Ramona and Columbia NYPD are positioned to threaten the paths of Cornell and Rochester, respectively. With low winds in the forecast, it will be very interesting to see how teams game-plan the 1 vs. 2 pool play games. As late tournament success will probably be reliant on fundamentals and conditioning, a first round bye into quarterfinals becomes a very precious commodity…an emotional loss, however, can lead to mental issues and tired legs in prequarters.

Don’t look past the College of New Jersey Anarchy who tore through competition at the Metro East D-3 Conference Championships. Anarchy breezed through competition and then declined the bid to Nationals, so they will be there to make a big statement.

Though seeded in the bottom half of the field, the SUNY-Buffalo Lorax is a Regionals veteran and can definitely break into quarterfinals. With the 4 remaining founding members of the Lorax (Casey Whitford, Amanda Wach, Jessie Chiello, Kelsey Scanlon) likely suiting up in neon green for the last time, we’ll see how new coach Bida Clark-Bouchard unleashes Mother Nature’s protector in Sarasota Springs.

Feature photo courtesy Ottawa Lady GG’s

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