Presidents Day Invitational: 2012 Women’s Recap

by | February 24, 2012, 12:09pm 0

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This weekend proved another testament to why all ultimate tournaments should be played in California: the beautiful weather set the stage for many high level teams to come together and duke it out. We saw the likes of east coasters Florida and Dartmouth matching up with a flurry of west coast teams. Even Texas showed up for the battle.

Oregon took home the title, and coach Lou Burruss had the following insight, “Things are still very bunched at the top and there is a lot of uncertainty about who is actually the best.  Despite our dazzling finals (which is a bit misleading) we could easily have gotten knocked in quarters by Cal. There is no consistency across the board, games are close or blow-outs with no rhyme or reason.” We’ll have to see if that lasts throughout the season. For now, we’ve got an early season tournament to open our eyes to what may lie in store through May.

Aubri Bishop goes up with a Cal player in the semis - Photo by Adam Lerman

Ore-what? Ore-gon!

The ladies from Eugene walk away from this weekend with heads held high. Minus a hiccup against Washington in the power pools on Sunday, Fugue went undefeated with only 12 players able to play. Sophie Darch, our Spin Ultimate MVP red jersey winner, tore it up with intimidating throws, her backhand hucks being the most notable. Her athletic teammates had no trouble running  down those discs point after point. The finals against Santa Barbara were a perfect example of the kind of game Fugue wants. Their fluid junk zone shut down and confused every aspect of the Skirts offense, and Oregon was able to quickly pick up and move the disc before SB knew what hit them. A final score of 15-2 says it all.

To be fair, a lot of teams had a hard time with Oregon’s zone. It consists of a deep and then a bunch of other players who basically pick a place to be and guard it well. They varied between man on certain players to a three person cup, threw in some flat marks and you’ve got a confusing combination few teams are used to seeing. It’s no surprise then that Northwest rival Washington was the only one who could work through it, giving Fugue their only loss on the weekend in power pools. Listen up, teams, here’s the trick. You can’t play against this defense like it’s the standard 3 man cup, force middle, trap zone, whatever, simply because it’s not. You just have to play. Throwers, find the open space, and put the disc there. Cutters, find the open space, and put your body there. This team will test your trust in your teammates as you stop playing against a defense and put your focus on scoring with your team.

Now about that power pool loss to Washington? Coach Burruss had his own two cents on the matter: “We struggled throughout the game to find anything that would stop them offensively, either man or zone. In the central portion of the game we had several unforced errors that gave them a short field to work with. At 7-11, we switched up our defense to trapping downwind and ran the game all the way out to 10-11.  We had the disc on the upwind endzone to tie and force DGP, but a miscue gave them the disc back and the win, 10-12. So, until the very end of the game, they did pretty much what they wanted on offense.  We made simple mistakes, both in read and execution.”

And about Washington themselves? “UW has lost three games this year: 9-13 vs. Oregon, 12-13 vs. Michigan and 12-13 against UCSB. All three of those teams are top 5 or top 10.  They also beat us, Sonoma, UCLA, Carleton, UBC. They’re legit.” Enough said.

Flywheel's Marisa Mead goes up against D'Vine's Maggie Ruden - Photo by Adam Lerman

Michigan makes a statement

Flywheel’s trip out to California was well worth it – these girls handily won their way to semis, except for an upset against Wisconsin in pool play. They still took first in their pool, and took down UCLA and Cal in their power pool games. They went on to beat Sonoma State in quarters, put up a good fight against Oregon in the semis, and ended up third place over Washington in the 3/4 game to round out their weekend. Not bad for a team with only 10 healthy players. Marisa Mead is proving to be a great pickup for Flywheel, and adds to the stellar handling crew of Paula Seville and Vicki Chang. With cutters Theresa Zettner, Kelsey Delave, JJ Jarik, and Adrienne Lemberger getting open left and right, Michigan showed how well they work together to dominate the coast teams and show up big for the Great Lakes. But really, I feel like mentioning all the players; Carolyn Vlach, Radhika Bargav, and Becky Moore also played big roles for this team, and all the girls are proving that Michigan’s biggest challenge won’t be improving skills or fitness, but maintaining endurance throughout the whole season.

The Southwest

Sophie Darch almost gets a run through D on SB's Kaila Pollart - Photo by Adam Lerman

Santa Barbara had a great weekend, finishing second. They showed some moments of glory, even though they were missing star player Marie Madaras (who was playing at Kaimana). They also showed an equal amount of frustrating play, with turns and drops unacceptable at the high level. The Skirts had an amazing game against Washington in the semis, trailing but trading points until they finally took the lead to win the game. They did fall to UCLA and a got trounced in the finals by Oregon, though two of their big players were sidelined with injuries for that game. Overall, I think we still have yet to see a lot from this team. Don’t forget they got second at Santa Barbara and fifth at Pres Day last year (when they won Nationals), so maybe they’ve truly found the key to winning it all!

Sonoma State had a disappointing finish, ending up 6th. Though, to be fair, top Sonoma players didn’t play the last game, as they were nursing injuries and resting after a hard weekend. Sonoma did open their lines up more than we’ve seen before (Coach Yeager told me he was committed to opening lines for certain games ahead of time) but Ruden and Stickle still got their fair share, as did Cindy Cruz when she was able to begin play on Sunday. I’m sure Yeager and the team were hoping they’d still perform as well, trying to prove SSU wasn’t all about the Maggie Ruden show. However, they didn’t. They lost in pool play, they lost in power pools, and they almost lost pre-quaters to Texas, going on to get knocked out in quarters by Michigan. So Sonoma comes away with some things to think about and regroup. Though, they showed off some new plays as well; we went from the bread and butter OI deep huck at the first opportunity to an impressive inside break huck off a dead disc straight to the endzone. If they could only perfect both plays, they’d be a throwing force that even the best of marks would have a hard time playing against. Hint: dead disc near their endzone? Back them! At that point it seemed like the best chance a team had was to hope they’d miss the throw or force them to readjust.

UCLA and UW vie for the disc - nice jerseys UW! - Photo by Adam Lerman

Finally, UCLA showed up this weekend (but attendance is only worth so much).  They didn’t impress me in their games against Washington or Michigan, and I was pretty disappointed to see them let their power pool game against Cal slip away. Couple all that with a loss against Texas on Saturday to drop them to second place in the pool, and you’ve got a team struggling to find their place in this Southwest battle. They seemed tired and not in sync with their offense. Their defense just couldn’t keep up with teams, who ran their cup into the ground after some swinging back and forth. Maybe it’s because I’m closest to this team more than any other, but I feel as if their marks have always been a weak point, and this year is no exception. I’ve really got nothing much to say about BLU anymore other than I hope they figure something out soon, before things really matter (read: regionals).

Feature photo of  Sonoma State’s Hannah “Muffin” Stickle by Adam Lerman

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