Queen City Tune Up saw some more bracket upsets that were building since Pool Play. The teams picked up their play and showed why they will be particularly strong during the 2012 College Season. Teams who were expected to shine were taken down by teams who were supposed to be having a “building year.” It was an exciting weekend, with many close, hard-fought games. Let’s look more closely at the pre-quarters and quarters matchups.
Ohio State vs. Central Florida
Ohio State beat Central Florida in a match-up that ended up being less close than anticipated. Early on, Ohio State established offensive flow and walked the disc up the field. Though Fever looked rushed near the end zone, they still converted, going up 2-0. When the Sirens answered to make it 1-2, UCF was uncharacteristically quiet on the score. UCF tied it up at 2’s by converting on a high stall blade from Sunny Harris. All weekend UCF completed these sorts of stall-8 and -9 bailout hucks, showcasing the precise throwing abilities of their handlers to create looks when needed. Katie Fox put another high blade over an OSU defender to get UCF’s first break of the game, giving the team their first lead going up 3-2, UCF.
After that, the game was all OSU, who went on a six point run to take half. Fever’s transition offense was quick and incredibly efficient, fueled by athletic receivers, like Kelly Wild, who made ridiculous layout grabs, converting to keep the points relatively quick. OSU continued the run and owned the second half. UCF was notably missing Mariel Hammond, who played quite well for the Sirens throughout Pool Play.
The big OSU win can also be attributed to younger players stepping up for Fever. Freshman Nina Finley showed her dynamic role on the team with her ability to step into the backfield as an effective handling presence all weekend long. When Paige Soper returns healthy at Ohio State’s next tournament in a month, we will be able to see what Finley can bring as a receiver with a huge throwing arsenal.
Pittsburgh vs. Northwestern
On the next field, Pittsburgh squared off against Northwestern in a battle of long, hard-fought points. Danger went up 2-0 after earning a break from a Kelsey DeLave run-through D. DeLave, a standout grad student who came from Michigan, got a jumpstart on learning to play with Danger’s core in the club season with Hot Metal. These extra reps in the college off-season showed, as DeLave effectively meshed with Pittsburgh’s offensive flow to help the team go up early in the game.
Northwestern did not give up and used their strong handlers to strike from the backfield to work it up the field. Gung Ho tied the game at 4’s, but Danger regained composure to take the next two. Northwestern, looking to shift momentum saw a huge layout grab on the end zone line by Sam Thompson, who had a breakout tournament for her team. Carol Li caught the score to bring Gung Ho back within one.
After that play Pitt pulled away and never looked back. Pittsburgh’s handlers worked hard for the Danger offense, finding the disc nearly every other touch. Their ability to move quickly with give-and-gos allowed deep cutters to be viable options, even when clearing to make space. Precise hucks and backhand breaks opened up cutting options for players who were constantly moving to create space. Pittsburgh took the game, winning 13-9 over Northwestern.
North Carolina-Wilmington vs. Tufts
Seaweed traded with EWO early and showed that the Wilmington squad has more offensive discipline than they have shown in the past. Claire Chastain was incredible, but also had a great, athletic handling core to work with. All the Seaweed handlers confidently looked to break the mark and put the disc to space, since Wilmington’s timing of downfield cuts from their vertical stack relied on the handlers’ ability to complete these wide swings on both sides of the field.
But Tufts took control, asserting themselves on O and converting on Wilmington turns. Emily Shields effectively gained huge yards on transition offense, streaking deep with no Seaweed defenders in site. Claudia Tajima and Hailey Alm were able to put the disc far for Shields to run it down, bringing EWO into the red zone. Near the endzone, Tufts’ offense swung at will, and worked very patiently to find a wide open option. Tufts’ experience was too much for Wilmington to overcome, resulting in a 15-10 win for EWO.
Wisconsin vs. Iowa State
Wisconsin took on Iowa State in the first North Central Region matchup of the tournament. Early on Wisconsin ran away with the game. Offensively, Bella Donna was cool and collected, finding open hands at will. On defense Wisconsin turned up the pressure with younger players making plays on Iowa State’s studs. After scoring the first two, Lorraine Guerin kept the momentum rolling with an end zone layout block on Magon Liu. Wisconsin worked it up and Sara Scott found Biz Cook to put Wisconsin up 3-0.
In the first half Wisconsin effectively isolated mismatches by getting Iowa State’s standout defender Becca Miller into the backfield to get her out of the action. Bella Donna sent Brittany Bergen downfield in offensive flow to get the disc as a cutter, taking advantage of rookie defenders. Scott took advantage of Liu’s downfield poaching by coming back for quick resets and give-and-go cuts to quickly advance the disc, bringing Wisconsin one point away from taking half, Wisconsin up, 7-3.
It was not until Bella Donna was about to take half that ISU turned it on. The Cami Nelson/Liu connection worked hard for the O-line to earn the first Woman Scorned break, bringing them back within two. Switching up the D-line proved successful for ISU, since they were able to convert on transition offense. Nelson found Miller in the end zone to tie the game at 7’s. On the next point, Iowa State took advantage of a miscommunication on a swing pass to score their fifth straight point to take half 8-7.
“The turning point for our team today was going down 3-7 to Wisconsin. We played zone and had clean offense moving on in the day,” says Woman Scorned coach Kevin Seiler. Iowa State took advantage of great team chemistry to generate team D’s with their zone and convert in transition. Woman Scorned’s ability to put the disc early, high, and floaty relied on years of offensive chemistry: these women know where their athletic receivers will be cutting and how to best put it to that space. Iowa State completed the comeback for a 13-11 win over Wisconsin.
Tufts vs. North Carolina
North Carolina traded the first two points with Tufts and took advantage of every opportunity in the end zone, with Kendall Beadleson toeing the line to put the Pleiades up 3-2. Tufts’ Claudia Tajima, got open for quick resets and strike cuts to maintain EWO’s offensive flow. Shields continued to initiate the transition offense and generated huge yardage gains. Qxhna Titcomb found Laura Fradin to tie the game at 3’s.
UNC scored again and lined up on D. Pleiades defenders turned up the defensive pressure, resulting on a turn. North Carolina secured the first break of the game going up 5-3. Tufts continued to play tough, fighting to stay in the game, working the Tajima-Hailey Alm-Titcomb connection.
North Carolina took half and kept the momentum on their side. Lisa Couper really broke out during this game, working to keep the offense flowing with in-cut after in-cut. UNC continued to spread out the scores among its athletic, deep roster, taking the game 15-9.
Ohio State vs. Iowa
After taking down Central Florida, Ohio State looked next to Iowa. The teams traded points to open the game. At 2-2 Lauren Franke got bookends against Jen Nowak, scoring deep to put Fever up 3-2. Saucy was looking to regain momentum, but Liza Minor overthrew Nowak for another Iowa turn. OSU quickly picked up the disc, swung to the breakside, and put up a huge backhand huck for another break, 4-2, OSU. Iowa’s unforced turnovers kept Saucy Nancy from converting and Fever took full advantage of every opportunity.
Although she was visibly nursing an injury, Paige Soper returned to play more points during this game than any other game this weekend. Adding her throwing arsenal back to the OSU offense quickened the pace of transition offense and allowed Nina Finley to work downfield as a cutter.
OSU went up 7-3, but Iowa fought back and finally found offensive flow. The Saucy Nancy O-line worked the field laterally to create throwing opportunities. OSU threw a 4-2-1 zone, but Iowa continued to swing well up to the red zone. Chelsea Twohig found Minor on a huge inside forehand break, Minor found Rachel Bradley and brought Iowa within two.
Fever took half 8-5, but Saucy came out hard in the second half. The teams traded points, both showcasing ability to open up downfield looks with lateral movement. Iowa ran some side stack, with Twohig and Minor initiating cuts and looking to distribute quickly. With Iowa up for the first time in the game, Twohig found Bradley with a hammer to take the game 13-11.
Carleton vs. Pittsburgh
Carleton went up early against Pittsburgh, taking advantage of fresh Syzygy legs. Danger looked tired after long, hard-fought points against Northwestern in pre-quarters. Pitt found open receivers, but rushed throws. Carleton played effective defense on Danger’s handlers who initiated offensive flow in previous games.
This was the first game where Syzygy’s handlers easily found open hands on the breakside. Carleton did not hesitate to hit around backhands and inside forehands to continue the disc up field to receivers who moved to the breakside. Syzygy’s defensive pressure overcame Danger’s offense to win 14-2.