Presented by Spin Ultimate
There I was, sitting in the Austin airport, thinking of how fantastic this weekend has been. My first time at Centex (and Austin!) did not disappoint -the competition, atmosphere, BBQ and dance-off were just as great as I expected.
There was so much amazing action this weekend it’s hard to pin down the top stories. The top teams duked it out and had some surprising upsets. Divions II and III had a lot of drama as well, with hardly any pools holding to seed. Stars like UCSD made it to just out of the top 20, while Georgia had a hard weekend, only winning one game against Division III Kansas. PLU brought it against Texas A&M and crossed over in to the Division II brackets. Results like these are what make Women’s Centex one of the most important, and thus, competitive, tournaments of the regular season.
The Southwest Comes out of the Weekend with Five Bids
Who would have guessed that we’d see the Burning Skirts in the finals? In their impressive performance this weekend, they acted like a completely different team than we’ve seen in the rest of the season, with pumped up energy on and off the field. In their Sunday morning game against Texas, they showed consistency and determination to overcome Texas’ superstar line-up and offensive prowess. Santa Barbara’s handler movement translated quickly into points as their cutters fighting hard for under cuts. Therein lay their downfall in the finals against Iowa State. The wind picked up and ISU threw a confusing zone, making the patient swinging the Skirts are so good at, incredibly difficult. It took too long for the Skirts to decide to take more offensive risks, and the game just got away from them. Yet, the Skirts need to come away from this weekend proud—second place is a fantastic finish for them, and they have proved to the college scene that they deserve to be seen in Boulder this May.
UCLA also played incredibly well, besting Cal 11-10 in the Quarters, yet going down to UCSB in semis. While BLU is probably disappointed with that loss having beat SB earlier this season, they weren’t playing the same team they saw at Pres Day. They then ended up losing to Michigan in the third place game, down and looking too tired to keep up with Flywheel. However, BLU has been one of the most consistent teams we have seen this season, regularly placing in the top 4 in every tournament they have been at. Such play turns out to benefit the Southwest, who are looking to have 5 bids after strong performance.
Another strong Southwest team showed up this weekend: Stanford Superfly ended up 10th, a great result for this perennial Nationals contender that has seemed to struggle all season. They ended up losing a well played game against UBC in quarters, but went on to beat Central Florida and UNC before losing their last game to Texas. Still, Stanford’s results propelled them in to the top 20 in the USAU rankings, earning a fifth bid for the Southwest. Superfly should be proud as they potentially single-handedly earned themselves a bid to Boulder – a successful weekend in Austin.
The Atlantic Coast
After going undefeated on Saturday, earning the first spot in Pool A, UNC had a surprise loss to Virginia to start Sunday, the first spring season loss to Hydra since 2006. Unfortunately for the Pleiades, big player Lindsay Lang being ill was too much for them to cope with. After half of Sunday’s first game, Lang was able to return yet was visibly sick; unfortunately, her team couldn’t pull it off without her. They finished up 11th , a disappointing result for, until this weekend, a team that was easily the top out of the Atlantic Coast region.
Hydra also had a fantastic weekend – their defeat of UNC is not just some fluke. Though Lang was sick, it still took the prowess of the Virginia team to bring it together against the rest of the tough UNC roster. And that wasn’t the only tough game in which they came up on top. They defeated a much-improved UCSD, put up 10 points on Michigan, and won a close game against UBC 10-9. They ended their weekend with a 9-11 loss to Wisconsin to take 6th. This team has grown over the season, they’ve tightened up a lot of the unforced turnovers we saw at QCTU, and got better at using the depth in their roster. Virginia has proved that they can put up lots of points against good teams, and are poised to cause some upsets come Regionals.
Women Scorned Show Hell Hath No Fury
The Centex winners did not disappoint; Iowa State was one of the most fun teams to watch in Austin. With a roster full of amazing throwers and cutters who make getting open look easy, Iowa State rolled through the weekend. They had a few close games, barely beating UCF in pre-quarters 11-10 and UBC in quarters 12-10. They put up points early against Michigan that Flywheel couldn’t recover from, and won the game early 14-10. They spent the time resting, gathering strength for their finals game against Santa Barbara, a rematch of the 15-7 ISU victory in pool play the day before.
The finals proved to be much of the same, and Iowa State came away with the 15-8 win. The Burning Skirts’ patient offense consisted of a lot of swinging the disc, handler work, and horizontal movement. The wind picked up enough so that ISU’s zone could do work, forcing SB to throw so much that they had the opportunity to pick up stray discs and put enough pressure on the receivers to cause drops. When the Skirts opened up their deep game and took some riskier shots, the Women Scored deeps were ready to snag the discs out of the air. SB looked turned around time and time again as hucks came early from ISU handlers, their receivers not hesitating to streak deep. Pesch, Gapstur, and Hoistad seemed to shred marks as Liu, Bosco, and Miller aggressively attacked on offense. But even shutting down these main players wasn’t enough, Women Scorned’s roster is full of athletic and talented girls ready to pick up where their teammates are covered. Perhaps the smaller than normal roster helped bring these girls together, but by the end of the tournament, their offense came flawlessly. Iowa State came away with the win, and co-captain Magon Liu was awarded the Spin Ultimate MVP Red Jersey for her outstanding contributions to the women’s game. She even gave us a hint for shutting down her high-release backhand breaks: “Just don’t force me forehand!”
On the flip side, the second team out of the North Central had a worse than expected weekend in Austin. Iowa ended up losing three games on Sunday by just one point: first, to Michigan, then North Carolina, then to Central Florida. We expected more out of this dominant team, but I’m mainly slightly confused about the timing of the pre-quarters game. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but watching the tweets come out, it looked as if Iowa and Michigan took hard cap before most games had even come to soft cap (I was watching Texas vs. SB at the time, and saw that Iowa had lost). Now taking hard cap, and losing by one point, I wonder if it was incorrect time management by the coaches (and if they’re kicking themselves now) or if there was some other explanation. Either way, Michigan was walking to their quarters game before the Texas game was even at soft cap. Iowa could have likely taken Virginia and we could have seen a rematch of the Midwest Throwdown finals. Alas, we’ll have to wait until regionals to see that matchup again.
Wisconsin also showed up big for the North Central, winning their pool on Saturday but falling to second place Santa Barbara in quarters. Still, a fifth place finish for Bella Donna is highly indicative of how far these girls have come. From the many losses they’ve seen this season to only two losses to top teams at Centex (and an undefeated weekend at Keystone Classic, for that matter) and a fifth place finish, Bella Donna is looking to be a big player at not only North Central regionals, but also in Boulder.
Texas, Texas, YEEHAW!
Their cheers were heard all across the fields. Gotta give it up for the Texas teams – those girls (and boys – what up, Tuff!) were up early setting fields before even warming up, and then played their asses off. I got a chance to watch them closely in their pre-quarters game against Santa Barbara. Their horizontal offense is one of the best I’ve seen, and their players are incredibly athletic. Unlike other teams that display unforced turnovers in the ways of drops or turfed throws, Texas’ handicap seemed to be overthrowing their cutters. Yet, it didn’t seem as if the girls downfield were to slow, rather that the throwers need to work on putting more touch on their deep shots. That being said, Co-captain Sharon Tsao took home a pair of our Playmaker shorts for her amazing work done Saturday. Though they lost a Pres Day rematch game to UCLA, and went down to top teams from the Atlantic Coast and Southwest, Melee had some great last games, finishing 9th overall. A few tweaks to their throw and Texas will have no trouble sitting at the top of the South Central region. (Shoutout to Janel Venzant and Emily Andolino for making our stay in Texas most enjoyable!)
Division II Highlights
- UCSD had a great Saturday, defeating Rice to take the first seed in their pool. Perhaps the heat just proved too much, as they were unable to take Virginia in their crossover. However, the Virginia matchup saw a younger player emerge: Watching the Psychos on the sidelines with ex-Air Squid and current Tuff member Danny “Didj” Broberg was insightful – we both couldn’t stop talking about how impressive Katrina “Tika” Kalantar was playing. Her heads up D and smart throws are showing a promising future for UCSD. On the flip side, the veteran players seemed to be having a poor weekend. A few too many drops and misthrows from Brittany “Agave” Cabriales and Michelle “Chip” Chang led to some close losses, especially in their Sunday game against USC. All that being said, if the Southwest indeed retains 5 bids going in to Regionals, Psychos have enough time to work on some technique to have a good shot at the fifth spot to Boulder.
- Wisconsin Eau-Claire may have lost their pool, but they won the Dance-off!
- James Madison also had impressive pool play, being seeded fourth and finishing second. Like San Diego, they lost to USC by two points, but finished the weekend by defeating Georgia, Illinois, and Rice.
- Speaking of Georgia…Dawgma has been struggling this season, and their performance at Centex was unfortunately no exception. They’re a team with such promise yet simply can’t deliver on their potential quite yet. They seem slower to grow this season than other teams, and only having one close win against strong Division III contender Kansas shows that this won’t be Georgia’s year.
- USC and Claremont both ended up third in their pools, yet found themselves in semis (and the finals for Claremont) of Division II brackets. These are great results for teams that used to be more dominant, but were weakened by roster turnover in recent years. While we don’t see either of these teams taking a bid to Nationals (pretty sure UCSD will beat USC at a future matchup), these teams are building strong programs that will lead to success in future seasons
Division III Highlights
- Jeni Arbuckle and I spent Saturday morning at the Division III fields – the teams definitely showed that drawing a roster from a small school doesn’t mean that there will be lower quality play, and it was fun to watch B teams show just as much energy and excitement as their respective A teams.
- Kansas easily won their pool play games and moved on to play Georgia in the crossover to Division II. Unfortunately, Dawgma was too much for the Bettys to take on, and Kansas had to then face Texas A&M, who had dropped from Division II after losing to PLU. While they lost that game 15-5, Kansas’ strong play is promising for them to make a lot of noise at DIII Nationals.
- North Texas had a great game against South Florida in pool play – both teams showed athleticism, but too many drops let USF take that game. North Texas went on to face PLU in a game better than the 15-6 results indicate. For her stellar play that anchored her team’s offense, Blake “Bam” McGlaun won a pair of Skyd Playmaker shorts from Breakmark.
- PLU succeeded in being the only team to win their crossover with Division II Texas A&M, letting them move up into that bracket. Their intensity fired them up and carried them through that tight game as they caught up time and time again to A&M, finally putting away the game 14-13.
Photo Gallery by Adam Lerman
Don’t miss Adam Lerman’s awesome video highlight of Women’s Centex as well: