with contributions by Melissa Witmer
Day 1: Pool Play
The women’s division wasted no time getting going with Traffic facing Capitals in the first round on Thursday. The first half of the game was fierce battle as the Capitals big throwers matched Traffic’s quick short passes and Capitals took the first half 8-7. At halftime, Traffic’s coach Jeff Cruickshank predicted a one point win for one of the teams. He was probably happy to be wrong as Traffic pulled away in the second half and won 15 – 11. Definitely an impressive with for Traffic. After the game we interviewed Kira Frew of Traffic:
The other exciting game in the first round was Ozone / Riot. Lane Siedor got huge in the air to take the game to half for Ozone Two years ago Ozone had given Riot everything they could handle in the first round with Riot winning 15 – 13 – would 2011 give us a repeat of the 2009 battle? Indeed. Riot won 15 – 13 again, with Shannon O’Malley playing out of her mind in the second half. Riot survived the test and would have another game that close until the finals.
Ozone has to recover from that game quickly, though, as their next opponent, Phoenix, wasn’t exactly a pushover. Led by Lindsay Hack, Cate Foster, and Leila Tunnell (and coach Tully Beatty), Phoenix is a dangerous team. This second round game may have been the most exciting game of the entire tournament with Ozone pulling out an amazing 17-16 win. From memory, there were two turnovers in the last 10 points as both teams put on an incredible show. For Ozone, the players that you expected to have big games did – Katherine Wooten and Liz Duff, and there were also huge contributions from Lane Siedor, Maggie Jackson (with a ridiculous grab in the back of the endzone to go up 16-15), and a few really heads up goals from Lauren Childs. We gave away a pair of Skyd/Breakmark Playmaker shorts to Meredith Leahy for sick play all game. Her interview at the end of day 1 is here:
Other exciting 2nd round games on Thursday were Brute Squad avenging two regular season losses to Nemesis (final score 15 – 11). Wonderful and consistent play from Brute Squad’s Maureen McCamley who just makes everything look so easy.
In pool B, Showdown came out strong with two breaks. Conversely, the defense of Cara Crouch on Showdown’s O line wouldn’t allow the Capitals to convert on Showdown mistakes. It was a battle all the way but in the end Showdown earned a huge win against the Capitals (final score 15-13). Showdown had not traveled to as many tournaments this year as they had in the past, but they showed they came to play with this win. Counting the loss to Brute Squad at NE Regionals, Capitals had now lost three games in a row and were out of the power pools.
The game of the third round on paper was Scandal / Molly Brown. The first two rounds had been relatively easy for both teams (each gave up only 13 points in two games). Scandal dug themselves a big hole first half and looked like Molly Brown was going to run away with the game. It wasn’t until they were down 10-6 that they decided to make a game of it by cleaning up the unforced errors on offense and by generating turnovers on D with a stifling four person cup. Scandal pulled out the 16-14 win.
In the C pool, thanks in large part to some ferocious Riot D, Phoenix looked really out of sync and lost a rough game 15-8 and with two losses looked to be out of the power pools. But…
The surprise game of the third round was RevoLOUtion vs Ozone. Ozone had already played two long games and faced a RevoLOUtion squad that had battled hard against Phoenix and Riot. The refused to back down against Ozone’s pressure as Phoenix gathered on the sideline to watch the unexpectedly close game. Both Kami Groom and Robyn Fennig looked incredible for RevoLOUtion. Groom had a couple enormous blocks on Ozone hucks that kept RevoLOUtion in the game. RevoLOUtion eventually pulled out a win 17-15. This loss unfortunately effectively ended Ozone’s tournament as they were eliminated from the Friday power pools and carried a loss on their record into the lower pools. The Skyd interview with Kami Groom is here:
Day 2: Power Pools
That Ozone loss to RevoLOUtion was a gift to Phoenix who ended up in Friday’s power pool and took full advantage. They seemed to finally find their form in the game against Brute Squad taking half 8-2 and despite some stronger play from Brute Squad in the second half, Phoenix easily advanced to the quarters.
The big game in this power pool, though, was Riot / Fury. Riot came out swinging in this game and took advantage of a few early Fury mistakes to jump out to a 5-1 lead. Riot looked amazing in this game and refused to let Fury back in. Even with Fury bringing incredible defensive pressure, Riot passed every test, avenged the loss at NW Regionals, and assumed the #1 seed in the tournament. This power pool finished (1) Riot, (2) Fury, (3) Phoenix, (4) Brute Squad.
The second power pool featured Traffic, Scandal, Molly Brown, and Showdown. Traffic was the story of this pool. They looked in complete control against Molly Brown, winning 15 – 11 and then they just dismantled Scandal 15 – 6 to charge into the quarters undefeated.
The first round Scandal v Showdown matchup was the game to watch in this pool. The game was close all the way with Scandal’s zone frustrating the Showdown offense and limiting the effectiveness of Cara Crouch and Christina Contreras as the go-to cutters of the Showdown O line. Showdown gave it everything they had against Scandal, but lost in the third 17-16 game in the women’s division.
The intense first round game took a lot out of both teams. Scandal struggled mightily in the next round against Traffic but Showdown kept fighting in an attempt to avoid the third round crossover game. In another battle of a game against Molly Brown they came up just short (final score 15-13). Full of sound and fury but signifying no upsets, this pool finished (1) Traffic, (2) Scandal, (3) Molly Brown, and (4) Showdown.
The crossover games on Friday featured a Brute Squad / Capitals rematch from NE Regionals. Showdown faced RevoLOUtion who won the G pool with a great 15 – 13 win over Nemesis (avenging the loss in the finals of Central Regionals). Showdown took care of Revolution 15-10 and Capitals got an early break against Brute and managed to stay in front the rest of the game, eventually winning 15-13.
Day 3: In the bracket
In the quarters, Riot kept their momentum from the power pool going with a 15 – 5 victory over Showdown. Not much to say about this game – Riot looked amazing. Fury seemed to shake off the loss to Riot (Georgia Bosscher arriving for the Saturday games didn’t hurt!) and took down Molly Brown 15 – 6. Despite the lopsided score, the play of Kath Radcliff and Enessa Janes was impressive. It still is a complete mystery that Janes was overlooked on the national team two years ago. After this game Skyd filmed an interview with Fury’s Emily Damon and coach Matty Tsang from Fury:
Capitals and Traffic matched up in one of the other quarter final games. This was a rematch of the opening round game on Thursday as well as Canadian Nationals. Capitals came out on fire. They looked nothing like the team that lost to two games on Thursday and ended up out of the power pools. Their offense was tremendous with amazing hucks from Malissa Lundgren leading to some great goals and relentless pressure D from the whole team causing all kinds of problems from Traffic. Capitals were up 7-2 before you even blinked. They eventually walked off the field with an incredibly impressive 15 – 7 win that set up a rematch of last year’s finals in this year’s semis. After this game Skyd interviewed Kristin Lawrin of the Capitals:
The remaining quarter final game was a rematch of the Mid Atlantic regional final in which Scandal came out on top. Gritty man-to-man defense by an athletic Phoenix team had Scandal flustered. Overall Scandal looked to be playing in slow motion against an energetic and loud Phoenix team. Phoenix jumped out to a big lead. It wasn’t until partway through the second half, down 10-6, that Scandal launched what they hoped to be their second unlikely comeback of the tournament (see first day’s Scandal v Molly Brown). Finally getting more chances to set their zone, Scandal was able to make Phoenix work a bit harder but it was really some astonishing plays by Opi Payne and Manu Argilli that brought Scandal back into the battle. Unfortunately for Scandal, their come from behind strategy wouldn’t work a second time and Phoenix was able to avenge their Regionals loss while advancing to the semis.
After the game Skyd interviewed Clare Chastain as well as Leila Tunnell and Tully Beatty about the win:
(sorry the sound isn’t so good in the second interview)
For the history buffs, the results in the quarters left the semis with two things that may have never happened before in the women’s division. First, a team that had not been in the power pools was in the semis, and second, one of the power pools had no one in the semis.
The first semi featured Fury and Capitals. Fury handlers Nancy Sun, Emily Damon, and Alex Snyder looked robotically unperturbed by the Capital defense. Capitals had a good game but Fury was clearly in control the whole way (final score 15-10).
The second semi was a rematch of the Riot – Phoenix pool play game that Riot had won 15 – 8. Unfortunately the story of this game is probably the injury to Kathryn “Smalls” Lawson of Riot. We missed the injury while swapping out a portable cell phone battery, but on our return to the the field she was being examined by a trainer and was in a walking boot on the sidelines during the finals. Her play in the tournament had been astonishing with a couple of great points as deep deep in the semis. This was a really unlucky injury for Riot. On a more positive note, Riot’s great play continued and they came away with a 15 – 9 victory. After the game Skyd interviewed Drew Johnson from Riot:
After an exciting tournament with several phenomenal games, the finals was probably what most people thought it would be – Riot vs. Fury.
The game started out with both teams taking some chances in the wind which resulted in a lot of turnovers. Both teams still seemed to be searching for their form when the game was tied at 4-4. Fury seemed to find their game first, though, and after an impressive run they took half 8-4. One great benefit of this game being live streamed was that the viewers had a chance to see some incredible play by Liz Penny and Alex Snyder of Fury. They’d been absolutely dominant all tournament, and now everyone watching got a chance to see two of the best players in the game playing at the top of their game. Incredible plays all around, but it was Fury’s Manisha Darayani who earned herself a pair of Skyd/Breakmark Playmaker shorts with a ridiculous nearly shoulder height layout D on a huck to the endzone. The NexGen crew reported that this game would likely give them the longest highlight reel of the tournament and that’s not a surprise.
Out of half Fury extended the lead to 10-4 and it looked like they were going to run away with it, but Riot showed why they are such a great team and fought back with everything they had. Eventually they got the game to 13-11 and 14-13. You had to be super impressed by the play of Shannon O’Malley and Sarah “Surge” Griffith during Riot’s run – they are both great leaders who played amazing ultimate in the second half of the finals.
However, this was Fury’s day, and they closed it out 15-13 for their 6th championship in a row and 8th overall. It was a hard fought finals, and must have been quite a satisfying win for Fury.
Thanks from Skyd to Mike Lawler and Melissa Witmer for their excellent work at the Club Championships.
Feature photo of Octavia Payne by Brandon Wu (Ultiphotos.com)