This recap and the 2012 College Tour are presented by Spin Ultimate
The weather was quite hot down in Arizona this weekend for one of the most competitive regional tournaments of the season. Humboldt proved their wins at the NorCal CC weren’t flukes and secured a bid, leaving last year’s champs Santa Barbara out of the running for the National title. Emotions were running high as rumors of unspirited play and interference from Open teams played havoc on teams’ mental games. At the end of the day, the tournament was as expected: incredibly fun and completely crazy.
- Cal – the Pie Queens were the only team to go undefeated this weekend. This team has developed some amazing chemistry on the field. Having someone like Claire Desmond on your team doesn’t hurt, but you still need the rest of the team to support with consistent throws and intense defense. With the majority of their players healthy this weekend, Cal was ready to crush, their want and determination showing in every game. Congrats to the Pie Queens – they’ll be sitting pretty at Boulder!
- Humboldt – Humboldt State has come a long way in the past few years, especially over the course of this season. Having flown under the radar all season, the Hags broke out at sectionals taking first in NorCal. Many outsiders considered that a fluke, but Humboldt knew different – they were out for a spot to Nationals and they are, indeed, an excellent team. They have amazing consistency, they will capitalize on turnovers, and they have one of the best deep games of the Southwest teams. Unfortunately, their reputation precedes them: their aggressive and risky plays coupled with some questionable calls made them a team that others didn’t enjoy playing against. Yet what some of the Hags apparently lack in spirit (it’s definitely not the whole team) they make up for in skill. There’s no two ways about it – Humboldt really is that good. In fact, one of the best games I saw them play was against Davis, who had requested observers. There were no bad calls in that game, and they played their best. Conclusion? Observers make play more fair, fun, and high level. After defeating Davis, Humboldt was riding the high of having secured their spot at Nationals and took down UCLA, then Sonoma State to win second place in the Southwest Region. We have to wonder which Humboldt we’ll see in Boulder: the team with fair play and ferocity, or one that will use every advantage possible to win?
- Sonoma State – Sonoma State lucked out with a 3 way tie on Saturday after losing to Stanford 11-10 when UCLA beat Stanford by a small margin, setting them into the finals game early Sunday afternoon. After barely losing the finals game to Cal, D’Vine went on to get crushed in the last game to Humboldt with unforced mistakes from top players. Perhaps therein lies the weakness of D’Vine – running your game through a few players in such heat will prove difficult at the end of the weekend. Lucky for Sonoma State, Nationals is built to rest legs. With just a couple games a day, don’t expect this weakness to matter in Boulder, no matter what the weather. Sonoma State makes it to the College Championships for the first time in their five year career.
- UCLA – BLU started off a bit shaky, losing their first game in pool play to Sonoma State. The 11-7 final score doesn’t reflect the intensity of that game – UCLA came out with one of the best defenses I had seen all weekend, and the first successful junk zones we had seen them throw this season. They’ve got some talented rookies with legs that carry through the heat to run in their cup, and their heads up deeps snag any errant discs. On offense, Sabrina Fong dominated as usual, and BLU used their numerous talented receivers to take advantage of the deep game. Many of UCLA’s younger players have come in to their own this season helping deepen their roster, and it was surprising to see them lose to Humboldt in the 3/4 game and end up fourth. Unfortunately for BLU, Humboldt’s consistent deep attacks and the lack of significant wind probably was a lot of trouble for what must have been a very tired zone. Still, UCLA returns to Nationals after a year off, and ended the weekend proud. With a month to fix up all their little mistakes, expect BLU to be a real threat at Nationals despite likely low seeding.
- Stanford – Superfly easily had the hardest run to get to the show. They had to face the Burning Skirts in the game to go to the game to go and pulled out by one point (but more about that later). Their loss to Davis in pool play was unexpected for Stanford, but welcomed by UCLA. Instead of playing a contentious game against Humboldt, UCLA got to play Santa Barbara; in that game, BLU came back from a 13-10 deficit to win 14-13. Humboldt then got to face Davis instead of BLU to secure a spot, a much easier game for them than one against UCLA would have been.
Davis found themselves in the 2/3/4 bracket Sunday morning facing Humboldt State after taking down Stanford the day before, with a clear shot at a Nationals spot. However, Humboldt played the best we had seen all weekend. Huck after huck was brought down, and almost all of their layouts ended up in completions. Davis looked just too tired to keep up – Humboldt’s hunger was that much stronger, (a hunger that carried them all the way to second place) and Davis dropped to play San Diego State.
The San Diego State/Davis game was a tough loss for Davis. After losing a lead, the Pleiades lost their chance to go to the Championships 13-9 to a tough San Diego State Team. Davis is a team that has capitalized on their athleticism and skilled throwers. Unfortunately, SDSU is incredibly aggressive, their determination showing through their lack of apprehension to lay out and get up in the air for low percentage grabs. It paid off for them in the game to go to the game to go, as they ran away at the end. Another point to note that was out of both teams’ control: the SDSU men’s team lined the side of the game, cheering on their women. Unfortunately, the cheering turned to heckling, and then downright rudeness. The Davis women were incredibly shaken up as the Federalis taunted their calls, and the Pleiades even had to call over the TD to ask the men to stay off the field after scores (which, to be fair, they respected). Top it off with a harsh comment to a crying Davis player after the loss (something like “I’d cry too if I lost like that”) puts into question the spirit of the SDSU Open team. The Davis women definitely feel as if this affected their game, and it makes one wonder if the four point loss could have ended up the same without the factor of the Open team. Still, SDSU played incredibly well regardless of outside factors, and moved on to the game to go.
On the other field, Stanford was busy trading points with Santa Barbara. The Burning Skirts had just lost a 3 point lead (13-10 game to 15) against UCLA and lost their guaranteed spot to Nationals. It was incredibly challenging for them to move on to the next round against one of the toughest competitors they’d face at Regionals (especially while the equivalent game was Davis vs. SDSU), and Stanford had just beaten Santa Cruz 13-5. It’s hard to say what went wrong – both teams played spectacularly knowing what was on the line, but at the end of the day, Stanford took the final point 11-10 and moved on to play SDSU. It’s possible that the Skirts couldn’t recover from the loss of Alicia Thompson (looked like a knee injury), or that their same starting line just didn’t have it in them at the end of the day. It was too hard to watch last year’s National Champs after that loss, but I hope the Burning Skirts remain proud of their year. These girls had an incredible season, improving tournament by tournament after a shaky start, and this reporter has nothing but the utmost respect for Santa Barbara and their ultimate program.
As the game to go was observed, anyone who was not a player or coach (or media!) was asked to step back far from the sideline. This kept the SDSU men to a respectful cheer level, which pumped up their women significantly and kept the game fun and spirited. SDSU took the first few points and held the lead, as Stanford had just come off that tight game against Santa Barbara and looked quite tired. But soon, Superfly began to play their high level game, capitalizing on every turn. The Gnomes (previously known as Cha Chas) were also hurt by a few midgame cramps that kept some key players out, and fell behind too much to catch up. Stanford stayed pumped up, starting many of their points asking each other “are we ready to win this point?” and answering together, “yeah!” Superfly snagged the spot they had single-handedly earned this season and will be heading to Nationals with a 15-7 win.
Feature photo by Kyle McBard (UltiPhotos.com)
Kyle McBard from Ultiphotos was on site this weekend. Check out some sweet pics here.