Virginia is for Layouts saw the biggest convergence of up and coming Division-I and cream of the crop Division-III women’s Ultimate teams across the country. Pool play featured some highly anticipated matchups that will surely affect seedings at the Division-III College Championships in Appleton, Wisconsin in May.
Pool A was by and large the closest match between teams. Grinnell surprisingly went winless, falling in two back-to-back nailbiters against Smith and Mary Washington. The Smith/Grinnell game went to universe after the Sticky Tongue Frogs battled back with several consecutive break scores in the second half. The last point was exciting, and Smith LunaDisc was able to pull out the win. Smith is the real deal in 2012. For people who think Smith is just about Amber Sinicrope, think again: LunaDisc’s roster is filled with many talented players. I saw multiple players making layout plays on O and D, maintaining possession through some extreme contact, and putting up impressive throws. They read the disc well, and have many offensive and defensive looks. Even so, James Madison won the pool fairly decisively, demonstrating their next level way of strategizing and ability to control the game. Teams in the Atlantic Coast cannot overlook JMU.
NYU saw victory in Pool B. The Violent Femme’s game against the Wellesley Whiptails was closer than the score indicated, with huge defensive plays made during the numerous marathon points between the teams. Wellesley has some serious potential this year, and I’m not just saying it because I had the pleasure of guest coaching their team. Their roster is full of young raw talent and some skilled returners from their post-season run last year. Offensively, they have the firepower and disc confidence that could make many Division-I teams envious, with the ability of nearly every player to put the disc 35+ yards accurately with both forehand and backhand throws. American has some athletic girls who are well-coached—if the Dirty Ladies are able to put it all together by the time the post-season rolls around, they may be able to earn a bid to Regionals.
William and Mary upset Pool C by beating the one-seed, Georgetown, who was missing their standout Alisha Kramer, shutting them out to start the tournament in a 13-0 win. West Virginia has shown vast improvements since their last showing at Winta Binta Vinta Fest in late January. Their handlers have fantastic throws, and they have one of the most athletic receivers that I saw in the entire tournament (sorry ridiculous girl in the red hat, I forgot to ask you for your name after we played you, but you are ridiculously athletic!).
Carleton College-B showed that they are still THE Division-III team to beat. Winning their pool, Eclipse was able to improve upon their lackluster performance Midwest Throwdown two weeks ago, with calm collected Eclipse offense, both in zone and against man. Williams made their official spring debut without two of their top two players. La WUFA’s game will surely improve once they are able to add Williams 6’3” basketball standout, Claire Baecher, as a receiver, and Rachel Kessler, a stud on both sides of the disc. Even so, Amy Darling was breaking marks left and right as a handler, and Nikki Wise was dominating downfield with layout D’s and great plays on O.
In bracket play, the top two teams, James Madison and William and Mary, are two of the best teams you may have never heard of if you are from outside the Atlantic Coast. The finals game was closely matched, as both teams made plays on both sides of the disc. James Madison, able to edge out William and Mary in a 9-8 victory. Carleton-B, after losing in semis to JMU, received a forfeit win over NYU in the 3rd place game.
Meanwhile, the 5th place bracket featured two of the most hotly contested games of the weekend. Smith came off a huge win over Williams in 5th place semis, the first victory that LunaDisc has ever had over La WUFA, carried momentum into the 5th place game to beat West Virginia. Wellesley, though they lost in the 7th place game to Williams, seemed to dominate the pace of the game, effectively slowing down La WUFA’s huck-and-run offense. These teams should meet again in Conferences, but this match-up will surely change with the return of Baecher, to whom the Whiptails have no answer.
Virginia-B won the B-division, falling to Grinnell in the 13th place game. Surely the outcomes of this tournament will help coordinators at the national level to accurately seed the competition in Appleton later this season.
Smith LunaDisc partnered with Without Limits to put on one of the best events in the history of the women’s college division. Held in Axton, Virginia, the event helped to provide meaningful opportunities for teams to be matched with guest coaches, who represented some of the best players from the college and club divisions that he sport of ultimate has ever seen. Seeing the great synergy between players, teams, and guest coaches alike, really helped to promote the sport. I had the honor of coaching at the event (go Whiptails!) and helping out with a skills clinic session. From my knowledge, this is the single largest outreach event ever carried out in the history of women’s ultimate. The organizers should be truly proud of the outcome, as it has helped dozens of programs to develop and grow, giving direction not just for the 2012 season, but for their programs as a whole. This experience remains unmatched in my experience, and I hope that it happens again in the future!
Here’s an interview with Smith’s Sinicrope: