Presented by USA Ultimate
Noticeable Trend 1: Field Position?
I was shocked at how few teams punted for field position. Very few of the Women’s games were close during pool play, which was a direct result of the number of turns near the upwind endzone. I will comment on the PLU/Carleton-Eclipse game in Pool D. Carleton worked the disc up multiple times in a point and turned it on the upwind goal line. PLU’s handlers did not look to send a receiver streaking downwind for a huck. This was not an exception, this occurred throughout the entire day.
Lou Burruss wrote a really compelling article awhile back that really justified my approach to the game, emphasizing the importance of field position to college women’s. One thing I took away from that article was that the likelihood of scoring decreases with the number of passes completed (as well as the likelihood of scoring on the first possession). He makes great points about field position, and has defined the way I look at the game when playing in the wind.
There is no point in messing around with the disc in 40 mph winds—punt it and play D. Get the disc as far away from the endzone that your opponent is trying to score.
Noticeable Trend 2: Lack of Zone Defense
I was equally shocked about how few teams played zone defense despite having 40 mph winds. Even some of the more top tier teams, like Elon, really struggled with zone. The teams with good zone O and zone D prevailed in the conditions in Appleton.
If the bracket plays out to seed and Valpo matches against Bowdoin in semi-finals, I would like to see how Bowdoin handles a solid zone defense. Even though Valpo will be losing some players tomorrow, I am not sure how Bowdoin will handle a team like Valpo. Bowdoin relies heavily on one handler—if Valpo shuts her down, can other players step up in the wind?
Relying on one key player, again, is not unique to Bowdoin. Across the board it is a huge trend in Women’s Division-III game. Few teams in the field of teams here this weekend have junk sets. If a team were to run a zone and one on team that relies on a top-player to run the offense (i.e. Bowdoin v. Claremont in the Open Division), I am unsure if some of the teams could make the necessary in-game adjustments.
- Stonehill: The Turtledoves secured a bid out of a really challenging region, but failed to bring a strong roster to the most important tournament of the season. This team came out of nowhere towards the end of the season, which was well-earned. I question the decision to attend without most of their key players. Other teams in the region, like Williams or Smith, declined bids or chose to go Division-1 because they knew that Division-3 Nationals conflicted with graduation. As a result, they played without the most talented players in their roster and were shut out by two teams, Valpo and St. Olaf.
- Truman State: When I first met the TSUnami captains at the Without Limits Captaining Clinic at Grinnell, I was excited to see them develop. Their captains really thought about the game at another level, and watching them improve all spring has been exciting. This is a team that has consistently improved every single tournament they played; this trend was showcased today as the team annihilated the competition in Pool C, aside from Valpo.
- Carleton Eclipse: Eclipse might be the most fundamentally sound team from top to bottom from what I saw today. In the wind, they exercise patience and can move the disc quickly when the opportunity is there.
Feature photo by Brandon Wu (UltiPhotos.com)