Phoenix is a fairly young team with a young roster. But captain, Lindsey Hack, doesn’t see their overall youth as a detriment. “A young roster does not have a past. Which means they can live and play entirely in the present.” The disadvantage, of course, is that they may be lacking necessary experience against the toughest of opponents. However, a lack of experience against club women’s teams does not mean a lack of experience in important games. As a prime example their youngest player, 19 year old Shellie Cohen, will have played in three national championships in six months by the time October is done (youth club championships, college nationals, club nationals).
Strengths and Weaknesses
Phoenix tends to start of slowly both in tournaments and in games. This is a flaw that will be punished by the top teams at nationals where breaks are hard to come by. Alternatively, their strength is their mental toughness and their focus on the present point regardless of the score. The team practices their visualization and focus as they would any other skill. “We’ve done a lot of work on our mental approach” says Hack. “Our focus if we’re down two. Our focus when we’re up. When your O-line gets broken, you have a choice. You can start thinking about who’s not playing well– worrying about your playing time–the uncontrollables for you.. Or you can offer encouragement and think about what you are going to do when you get on the field. It’s all about retraining your mind for thinking positively.”
Results and Schedule
The highlight of Phoenix’s season was a very strong performance on their home turf at Virginia Fusion. With wins over Brute Squad, Scandal, and two over Molly Brown Phoenix shows they’re capable of competing with anyone. However, they have yet to play a close game against Riot and have lost to Nemesis twice despite finishing significantly ahead of them at those respective tournaments. What this team will do in Sarasota is anyone’s guess. I expect upsets in both directions in Phoenix match-ups this weekend.
Games to watch
Second round Thursday Phoenix faces off against Ozone. Ozone is seeded 11th but the teams are 1-1 this season. Mike Lawler predicts an upset. Will Phoenix let themselves get beat by this team twice?
Phoenix v. Nemesis. Phoenix is currently seeded above Nemesis, but Nemesis has won this match up both times they’ve me this season. Can Nemesis pull off an “upset” a third time?
Will Phoenix get the chance to avenge their loss to Scandal at Regionals? My bracket prediction has them facing off in the quarters on Saturday. If this happens, it’s sure to be a wickedly fun game to watch.
Photos by Kevin Leclaire (Ultiphotos.com)