This preview and the 2012 College Tour are presented by Spin Ultimate
FUEL was hungry to earn a repeat trip to the 2012 College Championships. After building off of a solid season in 2011, the team reaped the benefits its strong program to make the trip out to Boulder after claiming the Southeast Regional Championship for two consecutive seasons. FUEL co-captain Lyndsey Hearn-Hoover says, “Throughout the season we have been focusing on our chemistry. We lost 10 players last year and had to start a new strategy this year. Our main goal all season was to make it to Nationals for the second year in a row. We knew it would be tough and that it was a rebuilding season but everyone stepped up and I couldn’t be more proud of FUEL. Another important goal was spirit and staying positive. No one was allowed to yell at other players for a mistake. Instead you cheered them on and told them to get the D.”
Replacing studs like Pav Birk was not an easy task for the 2012 FUEL lineup. It did not take one player in particular, but steady improvement from the roster as a whole. Hearn-Hoover describes, “It’s hard to pick just one or two players who stepped up because we have come a long way from the beginning of the season.”
The ability for players to step up from the B team and peak at the end of the season has helped Florida’s team to succeed. “Kyra Catabay played for our B-team last year and has really improved playing on FUEL. Morgan Hartmann has also stepped up a lot. She’s been injured for quite some time and this year she was finally able to play. It’s great to see her on the field again,” adds Hearn-Hoover.
Part of the reason these players have been able to step up for FUEL is the competition the team saw early in the season. Florida traveled to the west coast to see competition from across the country at Pres Day. She says, “My favorite tournament was President’s Day in San Diego. We only had 14 girls there and our goal was to stay positive no matter what happened. Everyone cheered each other on whether they made a big play or turned it over. Our kindred spirits really made the team closer and helped in future tournaments.”
Using the regular season to drive growth, Florida focused on developing depth for regionals, where they would be playing teams they have faced throughout the season. This added depth played a factor in some of the toughest games of the weekend. Hearn-Hoover recalls, “Our hardest game at Regionals is a tie between the FSU game and the finals game against Georgia. The FSU game was really fast paced and aggressive. Wind was more of a factor in the FSU game too. The finals game was more about patience and overcoming a point deficit.”
Winning these difficult games at regionals attests to the team’s mental strength and improved chemistry. She explains, “We’ve grown so much this year from just playing with each other, finding everyone’s strengths and weaknesses, and then using it to our best advantage. This season we worked mainly on zone both offense and defense. It’s really helped in tournaments.”
Building chemistry remains the focus moving into the College Championships. Hearn-Hoover explains, “Our focus now is to stay in shape and just work on our chemistry more. We will practice some basic stuff such as being confident with our throws, knowing when to be chilly, and how to flow better on O.”
The team is excited to showcase what they have building all season long to the teams and fans. “I’m looking forward to facing some of the same teams we faced at President’s Day. We had a really good game against Wisconsin there and would like to play them again,” says Hearn-Hoover.
FUEL is the overall 19th-seed and seeded 5th in Pool C. Florida starts off by playing British Columbia and Michigan on Friday, and plays Stanford and North Carolina on Saturday. With wind in the forecast, FUEL’s depth and intensity may pressure the teams above them. Hearn-Hoover concludes, ““We want to break seed but our main goal at Nationals is to make it into the quarter-finals.”
Players to Watch
- Jackie Fane—Fane is a 3-year co-captain who earned big game experience in 2011. Her field awareness and versatility have helped Florida to two consecutive Southeast Regional Championships and two straight College Championship appearances.
- Jenna Dahl—Dahl, the president of FUEL, may be small, but plays big on the field.
- Shoshana Levi—Levi, a 4-year player for FUEL is a calm, collected player with great field awareness.
- Kelly Prete—1st year FUEL player who brings energy to drive the Florida O with intense cutting.
- Kyra Catabay—1st year FUEL playmaker.
- Kelsey Viars—Viars, another new player to FUEL, leads the team with her aggressive play style that allows her to get the disc.
- Lili Morris—Transfer student who plays anywhere. FUEL relies on her not only as a standout player to make plays on both sides of the disc, but to lead the team’s morale with a level head.
- Lyndsey Hearn-Hoover—FUEL co-captain with defensive tenacity.
Photos by Florida FUEL