2012 College Championships: Best of Women’s

by | May 31, 2012, 3:49pm 0

Co-written by Adam Lerman and Ryan Thompson and presented by Spin Ultimate.

Tufts Qxhna Titcomb (Photo by Brian Canniff - UltiPhotos.com)

Biggest Surprises:

  1. Tufts: The talk of the tournament was upstart Tufts, who started as the 16th seed overall, but ended up tied for 3rd after an inspired run to the semifinals. Aside from attending the Stanford Invite missing several key players, Tufts did not play elite competition before Nationals. But at the Championships, Tufts improved in every game after a poor first half against Virginia, with the veteran leadership of captains Claudia Tajima and Hailey Alm and coach Josh McCarthy setting the tone. This team played incredibly smart ultimate on offense and defense, playing to their strengths and forcing opponents to adapt or fall. With their experienced underclassmen (Emily Shields, Mia Greenwald, and Qxhna Titcomb) and few graduating seniors, they won’t end up on this list again next year.
  2. Ohio State: Entering the tournament as the 5 seed in their pool, Fever opened strong with a 15-8 win over Sonoma State, led by the play of Paige Soper and Cassie Swafford. After a 16-14 loss to Oregon, Ohio State regrouped with a dominating 15-6 win over Wisconsin, clinching a place in prequarters. In the first real wind of the weekend, Ohio State continued their strong play, winning 12-10 to knock out an Iowa State team many people had picked to win the championship.
  3. Texas: Texas made it to Boulder by the slimmest of margins, beating Washington University 15-14 to claim the South Central’s only bid. Entering pool play as the #4 seed in Pool A, Melee knocked off Sonoma State, Oregon, and Ohio State to win the pool and take the overall #1 seed headed into the quarterfinals.

(Photo by Brian Canniff - UltiPhotos.com)

Most Exciting Games:

  1. Washington-Tufts: After Tufts went up 4-1, Washington stormed back to lead 8-5 at halftime. Washington appeared to be in control of their semifinal, with a 12-9 lead at the soft cap horn. But Tufts broke twice to tie the game at 13-13. On universe point, an uncharacteristic red zone turn from Lucy Williams gave Tufts the disc, and Tufts worked it down to the goal line. Claudia Tajima missed an open Emily Shields by inches, and seconds later Leah Fury was bombing a backhand to Margo Kelly for the win.
  2. Oregon-Iowa: Close the whole way, this quarterfinal game came down to Iowa receiving on universe point. In a sloppy point with each team having more than a few possessions to win, Oregon gritted out the win with Jesse Shofner finding Bethany Kaylor to send Fugue to the semifinals.
  3. Michigan-British Columbia: The Thunderbirds started out strong in this game, going up 7-4 on Michigan early by virtue of their strong dump defense and Michigan’s inability to string together passes from cutters to cutters. But Michigan roared back and took the lead in the second half, going up 13-11, before an inspired UBC run had them up 14-13 and pulling to win. After Catherine Hui got a great D early in the point, UBC turned it, Michigan overthrew a huck, and then Crystal Koo hucked to Hui who ran past two defenders and caught the disc on the goalline. An aggressive fake sent her mark to the ground, and she found Rena Kawabata to take the win 15-13.

HM: Texas 13-12 over Sonoma State, Wisconsin 14-13 over Texas, Oregon 16-14 over Ohio State, Iowa State 14-13 over Ottawa, Michigan 14-12 over Stanford.

Best Single-Game Team Performances:

  1. Washington against Oregon: Sometimes everything goes exactly according to plan. Taking advantage of nearly every Oregon miscue, Washington opened up an 8-3 halftime lead. After a small Oregon run to start the second half, Washington made the necessary strategic adjustment by switching to a four-person cup. Element rolled the rest of the game, finishing on a 7-1 run to win 15-7.
  2. Texas against Oregon: In the most dominating team defensive performance of the tournament, the Texas defenders took away nearly everything against the tournament’s #1 seed. With a high-possession offense and several huge plays from Sarah Levinn, Texas won comfortably, 15-10 putting themselves in position to win the pool.
  3. Tufts against North Carolina: When teams have a night to prepare for their quarterfinal opponents, you can expect some personnel-specific defenses. Tufts executed their defensive gameplan against Lindsay Lang and Shellie Cohen perfectly, with great straight-up marks from Hannah Garfield, Hailey Alm, and Michaela Fallon on UNC’s two big throwers. UNC resorted to desperation hucks and lacked any kind of offensive flow. At the other end, Tufts shredded UNC’s zone repeatedly behind the popping of Emily Shields and Qxhna Titcomb and the handling of Claudia Tajima. The game slipped away from UNC towards the end of the first half and Tufts never looked back, taking it 14-9.

Best Single-Game Individual Performances:

  1. Sarah Levinn (Texas) against Oregon: Levinn started out with a few big layout blocks, then won jump ball after jump ball, as Texas upset the tournament’s #1 seed 15-10.
  2. Catherine Hui (British Columbia) against Michigan: Hui was everywhere in this one, getting big D’s deep and on in-cuts, and being the go-to deep option even when ostensibly “covered.” She repeatedly ran past defenders, and with the score tied 13-13, she had a ridiculous sky of two Flywheel defenders and 5’9” teammate Hannah Epperson, leading to the go-ahead break.
  3. Emily Shields (Tufts) against UNC: Shields was masterful in this quarterfinals victory, as she found every hole in UNC’s zone and quickly continued the disc down the field to the other cutters. She was the link between handlers Tajima, Alm, and Garfield and the endzone, helping Tufts run out to a 14-9 victory.

HM: Lucy Williams (Washington) against Oregon, Danny Karlinsky (Washington) against Oregon.

A sweet line-toeing Oregon layout. (Photo by Brian Canniff - UltiPhotos.com)

Adam’s All-Tourney Team (strongly biased towards players who led their teams deep into the tournament):

  • Shellie Cohen (North Carolina)
  • Sarah Davis (Washington)
  • Jesse Shofner (Oregon)
  • Cassie Swafford (Ohio State)
  • Claudia Tajima (Tufts)
  • Chelsea Twohig (Iowa)
  • Lucy Williams (Washington)

Ryan’s All-Tourney Team (limited to players I saw in action, sorry Pools A and B):

  • Shellie Cohen (North Carolina)
  • Sabrina Fong (UCLA)
  • Catherine Hui (British Columbia)
  • Rebecca Miller (Iowa State)
  • Kathryn Pohran (Ottawa)
  • Claudia Tajima (Tufts)
  • Lucy Williams (Washington)

All-Underclassmen Team:

  • Shellie Cohen (Sophomore, North Carolina)
  • Lisa Couper (Sophomore, North Carolina)
  • Sophie Darch (Sophomore, Oregon)
  • Alika Johnston (Freshman, Virginia)
  • Michela Meister (Sophomore, Stanford)
  • Jesse Shofner (Freshman, Oregon)
  • Qxhna Titcomb (Freshman, Tufts)

Top 5 Handlers:

  1. Sabrina Fong (UCLA)
  2. Lucy Williams (Washington)
  3. Claudia Tajima (Tufts)
  4. Paige Soper (Ohio State)
  5. Lindsay Lang (North Carolina)

Top 5 Cutters:

  1. Cassie Swafford (Ohio State)
  2. Claire Desmond (California)
  3. Rebecca Miller (Iowa State)
  4. Jesse Shofner (Oregon)
  5. Sarah Levinn (Texas)

Top 5 Defenders:

  1. Catherine Hui (British Columbia)
  2. Janel Venzant (Texas)
  3. Mary Kelly (Virginia)
  4. Sarah Davis (Washington)
  5. Anna Almy (Oregon)

Best Fantasy Performances (+20 cutoff)*:

  1. Claire Desmond (California) +39 (7 games) 5.57/game
  2. Lisa Couper (North Carolina) +35 (6 games) 5.83/game
  3. Rebecca Miller (Iowa State) +35 (7 games) 5.00/game
  4. Mary Kelly (Virginia) +28 (6 games) 4.67/game
  5. Kirstin Gruver (Washington) +28 (8 games) 3.50/game
  6. Catherine Hui (British Columbia) +27 (7 games) 3.86/game
  7. Cassie Swafford (Ohio State) +26 (6 games) 4.33/game
  8. Liza Minor (Iowa) +25 (5 games) 5.00/game
  9. Jessica Langr (Iowa State) +22 (7 games) 3.14/game
  10. Anna Almy (Oregon) +22 (8 games) 2.75/game
  11. Georgina Tetlow (Humboldt State) +22 (6 games) 3.67/game
  12. Shellie Cohen (North Carolina) +21 (6 games) 3.50/game
  13. Jesse Shofner (Oregon) +21 (8 games) 2.63/game
  14. Tessa Van Leeuwen (Ottawa) +20 (6 games) 3.33/game
  15. Rena Kawabata (British Columbia) +20 (7 games) 2.86/game

[spreadsheet 0Aq-c07pVK7nkdHRjckVaZWRndUlMVjJ5cDNpdE1IR1E 600 300 ]

*Unsurprisingly, the four worst fantasy performances came from players who played in the Oregon-Michigan semifinal: Sophie Darch (Oregon) -24, Bailey Zahniser( Oregon) -24, Marisa Mead (Michigan) -21, Katie Weatherhead (Oregon) -21.

Best Uniforms:

  1. Oregon blacks.
  2. Texas whites and blacks.
  3. Ohio State reds.

Worst Uniforms:

  1. British Columbia both jerseys. (Just look at this.  -Ryan)
  2. Washington gold on purple. (I did not enjoy trying to figure out numbers in the UW-UBC prequarter. -Adam)

Adam’s Favorite Photos:

  1. Oregon players celebrating after their win over Iowa, Coach Lou Burress celebrating with Bailey Zahniser and Sophie Darch.
  2. Washington’s Sarah Benditt can’t toe the line against British Columbia. Turnover.
  3. Texas’s Julie Paik with a game-saving layout D on universe point against Wisconsin.
  4. Aubri Bishop with a sick layout catch D against Wisconsin in Oregon’s first game of the weekend.
  5. Texas’s Diana Charrier comes up with an unconventional block against Sonoma State.

Incredibly Premature 2013 Finals Prediction:

  • Adam: Ohio State over Oregon
  • Ryan: Oregon over UNC

Feature photo of Washington’s Amanda Kostic by Christina Schmidt (UltiPhotos.com)

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