This article was contributed by San Francisco Fury coach Matty Tsang.
While I have been busy this year trying to ensure that the women’s division has the same boring result as years past, I would have have to say that this season has been the most interesting in a lot of years. With a lot more parity we have the potential for some interesting results at this year championships.
Fury and Riot are 2-2 on the season with the last 3 meetings being won by 2 or less points.
Riot, like last year still plays in weird clothes, is loud and is still the fastest team in the women’s ultimate. Notable losses: Miranda Roth, Liz Duffy, and Jen Wilson. Gained Nora Carr, Hana Kawai, Keeley Dinse, Hannah Kreilkamp. Also picked up Callie Mah and Lindsey Wilson but they have been on IR all year. Their speedy handler defenders will mismatch most teams, and their goal scorers will test your depth. The loss of Rohre Titcomb is huge. Her handling skills are formidable, but she has, hands down, the best pulls in the women’s game.
Fury is still arrogant and humorless. This was another transition year. I thought we were done transitioning after 2009 when we lost 12 players, but this year we turned over 9 players from the previous year’s squad. Gained Alden Fletcher, Castle Sincrope, Nicky Bloom, and Kristie Bowen. (New pick-ups Dre Romano was lost to a season ending injury, Claire Desmond was lost to the romance of Italy.) We’re even younger this year and I don’t understand half of what anyone is saying. And the music the kids listen to – so many curse words.
Traffic might be the second fastest team out there. Cutter mainstays Jen Kwok and Candice Chan have been joined by newcomer Rachel Moens, who has great throws and a big wingspan. Ashlee Davidson and Cat Hui have developed into impact players on the cutting line. Amy Hodgins, Kira Frew, and Michelle Ng are anchoring the handling line. Coach Jeff Cruickshank has been full-time with the team this year. With a disappointing performance in the finals of Canadian Nationals, you’ve got to figure this team is hungry to peak in Sarasota. It’ll be interesting if this team meets Riot again in Power Pools or Semi’s or Finals (god forbid!) Having beat them 3 times this year, you know they’ll be confident in their rematch. Oh yeah, Traffic also has an 11 year old playing with them named Mira, she’s real good.
The Canadian Champions
Capitals. So they lost to Brute at Regionals… If they had won they would have been seeded 2nd. Now they’ll probably be seeded 21st or something. Rumour (that’s how they spell it in Canadia) has it that captain and handler Danielle Fortin isn’t playing the series and neither is superstar Alyson Walker (on my top 7 all world team). Most likely wherever they end up, Caps will be underseeded. This team is deep with talent. They are a big, physical team. Hoody and Lundgren anchor the handling line. Alison Flyn is the Cruickshank of women’s ultimate – well maybe not since she’s not a lefty and not from western Canada, but regardless, like Shank she’s got filthy throws. Cavallaro, Paterson, Roderique, Kidd, Guibord blah blah blah. Oh yeah Anne Mercier too, she’s alright. Semi’s, and finals last 2 years at upa’s, quarters at world’s in Prague.
The Brutes Mess Up Seeding
So what about Brute then? They beat the Caps, what does it all mean? Probably means that Brute should have gone to Canadian Nationals… Lost VY, Arker, and Betsy Calkins to ACL. No more Vivian Zayas. With Rana, Kathy Dobson, and Hana Kawai gone from the cutting line, captain Christie Kim, and newcomer Laura Bitterman have filled their spots. Dom “the bomb” Fontenette is still playing. Probably second most senior (in experience) women’s player after Shar Stuht of Safari. Then Jana Krutsinger from Molly Brown, and then Angela Lin from Ozone. Is this right? Can we get some skincare product to sponsor this? Johanna
Neumann also returns.
Scandal is legit. Johanna Neumann and coach Nate Miller are gone. But they gained Manu Argilli (on my top 7 all world team). Manu was Fury’s MVP last year and has been also Fury’s top fantasy stat getter for the past 4 years (blocks, goals, assist, minus turns). She hasn’t had a lot of time with the Scandal, but if they figure out how to mesh her with the team, she’s a game changer. Opi Payne is real fun to watch. Jenny Fey is a tall and mobile handler. Allison Maddux is money. Scandal moves the disc fast. If they can increase their offensive efficiency with out losing their aggressiveness, they will be dangerous.
Chicago, Brown, Phoenix
Nemesis. Handler Kelly Johnson’s play is a fiery as her hair. I always know what Coach Phil is thinking because I can hear it from three fields over. It’s Akira that I am worried about. It’s always the quiet ones… I don’t trust the quiet ones.
Molly Brown got some of the the old Rare Air handlers back (Leah brooks, Leslie Schein) to join a vet handling crew of Kath Ratcliff and Jana Krutsinger. Enessa Janes is back in the women’s division to reclaim her title as the best athlete in women’s ultimate. With veteran experience, athletic cutters, and Coach Catt Wilson, it seems that this team has the ingredients to make a run at natties. Plus I hear Michelle Ng is going to run a div III women’s skill’s clinic during MB’s bye on Friday.
Phoenix’s Lindsey Hack and Leila Tunnel got a nice thing going in North Carolina. With speedy defenders like Kelly Tidwell and Cate Foster, this team doesn’t give up and Coach Beatty always has his team primed to make a run late in the game. Not sure what I enjoy more, watching Leila’s throws, or hearing her sing the the national anthem mist of the Sarasota morning. Both are sweet.
Looking at the win/loss records this year it looks like 11 teams have a legit shot at making quarters. (Will the South rise again??) And probably 6-7 teams can make semi’s. It will be interesting to see how teams like Nemesis and Scandal who did quite well last year will handle this year with perhaps higher expectations, but with different personnel. It’s nice to see the geographical diversity in the top 8.
Oh No, UNO
Finally a word about UNO. UNO came to ECC this year and beat Riot and Fury. This is a team that we’ve tried to emulate over the years, both in style of play and in terms of mental toughness. Back in the day, offenses tried to emulate the possession oriented Boston teams by dumping and swinging and taking what the defense was giving. Nowadays it seems like so many offenses are try to play uptempo with quick disc movement. UNO does this better than anyone. When it’s clicking it’s beautiful to watch. Quick pinpoint short passes lead to big hucks that hit receivers in stride.
UNO’s captain Aimi Sogabe is in Vancouver for 6 months and is playing with Traffic, and Rie Yonehara, UNO’s O line cutter, a versatile thrower and goal scorer, is playing with Safari.