Iowa State Woman Scorned prevailed over the elements and the rest of the competition at Midwest Throwdown in St. Louis last weekend. Saturday’s conditions were brutal, with cold temperatures and wind typical of early March in the Midwest. All but one field in the women’s division was oriented to play with a strong crosswind, and many teams struggled to play a full game.
On Saturday, Iowa and Ohio State looked the sharpest when it came to working the disc in the wind. Both teams’s players had no problem with the weather and won all of their games decisively (though Iowa came out on top in the fairly close game). In pool B, Iowa State went undefeated, but not without some close games with Washington University and Central Florida. Central Florida went winless on Saturday, and clearly played a different game than the rest of the Midwestern teams. In the end, the difference in playing styles led to their downfall—while most teams were hucking for field position, the Sirens were working it up. They would have benefitted more from having Schermerhorn in the handler position more, especially in their game vs. Iowa State. Knocked out in the crossovers by Missouri State, the Sirens got pushed to the 9th place bracket.
Sunday was warmer and considerably less windy. While we saw the teams dominating in zone O and zone D most successful on Saturday, this was not the case on Sunday. It’s likely that had the weather been much how it was on Saturday, Valparaiso could have made a stronger fight for semi-finals in their game against Northwestern. From what both teams showed Saturday, Valpo looked cleaner and more intense. The Chicks Hucking Discs moved the disc effortlessly in the wind, winning easily over Colorado in their D1/D2 crossover. And as opposed to Saturday, Central Florida had no problem on Sunday, winning by large margins all day to take ninth.
The usual North Central suspects were in finals, featuring Iowa vs. Iowa State. Magon Liu and Sarah Hoistad played well for Iowa State, especially on O, though were making plays on both sides of the disc. Cami Nelson was coming down with hucks, but not making a ton of plays like you would expect. All of their players were playing well, they made few mistakes, and Woman Scorned was not relying on just one or two people to make plays. Iowa State’s strategy to develop players last season surely will pay huge dividends for them this year—their depth and skill with the disc is intimidating when they are on. Iowa’s handlers, though confident in the wind, did not appear so in the finals. Big players for Iowa were making uncharacteristic mistakes, and Iowa State was able to capitalize on them, moving the disc quickly off of transitions. Bekah Hickernell and Jen Nowak played well for Saucy Nancy, making some precision hucks to speedy receiver Audrey Erickson. The two teams will surely face off about a half dozen more times before the end of the season, and we’ll keep an eye on Iowa to see if they can even the score.
One of the most exciting games of the day, Missouri State vs. Valparaiso in the 5th Place Bracket Semis, was a much better game than the score indicates. The teams battled back and forth, but in the second half, Bearly Legal was able to pull away. Missouri State, though they lost in the 5th Place game to Ohio State, is an early favorite out of the South Central. Clearly relying on zone O and D as their strength, their players all have phenomenal disc skills. What may hurt them is their extremely small roster of about twelve players. Depending on the weather, it’s hard to pick in a Missouri State vs. Washington University matchup—if it’s windy, Missouri State has an advantage, because all of their players have confidence in the wind. If it’s not, Missouri State will not be able to contain Kami Groom of Washington University.
Another Division-III favorite, Grinnell, showed that they are a force out of the North Central. Grinnell looked great in the wind on Saturday, moving the disc quickly and effortlessly. They will be a top team, especially in the wind. Drake, another North Central D-III team, looks to be a particularly strong team in nicer conditions. Ibex runs a fast, high powered offense—and I would give the edge to Drake in the North Central if the wind is under 15 mph. They are big, quick, and make a lot of plays.
Taking Points from the Weekend:
-The top teams in the North Central are above the rest of the competition here and can play both in the wind and when it’s nice out
-Valpo is the real deal in Division-III. If they can improve their efficiency in man-to-man offense by May, they are the favorite going into the post season.
-Don’t count out teams like WashU and Northwestern: they’re coming off some good games and their top players are huge for both teams
Feature photo of Iowa’s Bekah Hickernell looking upfield against Illinois. (Photo Credit: Madison Kennedy)