This coverage is presented by Spin Ultimate
The 2013 College Championships opened up with a great first day of play, as the contenders started to separate themselves from the pack and the rest of the teams battled hard to finish in the top 3 and extend their season for at least another game. With two games each today, no team is truly out of contention, but teams like Georgia that finished 0-2 have quite a difficult road ahead of them. Without further ado, here’s our pool by pool breakdown and individual game recaps.
#1 Oregon (15) – #8 Wisconsin (9)
Fugue gained early momentum with fast, efficient transition offense. Oregon did not look deep very often, rather choosing to hit open hands quickly. Bethany Kaylor played particularly well for Oregon, generating D’s and helping fire the transition O with assists. Wisconsin had numerous unforced turnovers in the first half. Offensively, their throws stretched the field wide, seamlessly dropping cutters back to handle and sending handlers upfield to take advantage of poaches. Drops and rushed red zone decisions hurt Bella Donna, who were down 3-8 at half.
The second half was a different story, with Bella able to trade and go even with Oregon on scores. Amelia “Forty” Cuarenta notably picked up her play, looking to spark the Bella O with layout grabs and convert off of her hand blocks on D. However, the big half-time deficit was too big to overcome and Bella ended up falling to Fugue 15-9. –RF
#12 Stanford (15) – #13 Minnesota (9)
#8 Wisconsin (13) – #13 Minnesota (15)
This game was full of momentum changes, as well as intense D and interesting offensive decisions. Bella Donna came out hard in the first half, controlling the pace of the game. Sara Scott’s precise throws were finding receivers deep and under, and Lorraine Guerin shone on O, filling cutting and handling roles for Bella Donna. Al Ellis brought some needed offensive spark with her layout grabs and around break throws to keep offensive momentum in Wisconsin’s favor.
Ultimately, the Ninjas were able to fight back and win the game, largely in part to their ability to convert on transition O. Natalie DePalma hit Sarah Meckstroth deep point after point, while Bella defenders could not shut her down. Natalie Foshag’s defense helped to give Minnesota opportunities to score, while Wisconsin struggled to stop Minnesota’s newly confident offense. –RF
#12 Stanford (12) – #17 Northeastern (13)
Stanford went up 6-4 early on a relatively jittery looking Northeastern team. However, the Valkyries regrouped and came out a different team, increasing the defensive pressure on the Superfly offense and ultimate taking half. Kate Flood played particularly well offensively for the Valks, getting up and over Stanford’s Michela Meister deep to keep the Stanford zone spread out. Northeastern scored five unanswered points to go up 9-6 before Stanford could stop the bleeding.
Stanford fought back to tie the game and force a universe point scenario. Stanford generated a turn and worked it to half-field. Meister let a backhand fly, and the wind caught the inside edge bringing it out of bounds. Northeastern worked it back to half field and put up a floaty huck of their own. Becca Ginsburg reeled it in after two Stanford defenders and a Northeastern teammate misread the disc. Northeastern completed the upset over Stanford to win 13-12. –RF
#2 Carleton (15) – #18 Northwestern (8)
Syzygy started the day off with a strong win against a feisty Northwestern team. Taylor Want was nearly flawless in this game for Carleton, with 4 assists, 1 goal, 2 Ds, and no turnovers in the first half. Northwestern hung tough and only went into halftime down 6-8, and Lien Hoffmann had at least one fantastic layout D in the first half. But Carleton was too deep and too strong, and Syzygy ran away with it in the second half, winning 15-8. –RT
#7 British Columbia (15) – #14 California-Santa Barbara (11)
In one of the most exciting games of the first round, a deep and quick British Columbia team met a Santa Barbara team led by their two superstars, Lisa Pitcaithley and Alicia Thompson. UBC couldn’t stop Pitcaithley without using two defenders, and that left wide open players for Pitcaithley, Thompson, and Kaila Pollart to hit. Pollart repeatedly broke the tough defense with great inside-out forehand dump throws to Pitcaithley (and vice versa), and Santa Barbara drew first blood with a break towards the end of the first half. But UBC broke back twice to take half 8-6 as short field turnovers plagued UCSB as they have all season.
In the second half, a valiant effort from Thompson and Pitcaithley (along with some great athletic plays) were not enough. British Columbia tore through Santa Barbara’s zone, with Crystal Koo hammering and blading to Rena Kawabata and Amira Maddison, who then switched sides of the field extremely well and kept the Santa Barbara defenders chasing the disc while UBC made great throws out to space. Koo had five assists in the second half, and while Pitcaithley had three goals and one assist, it wasn’t enough as UCSB continued to drop easy passes and miss easy throws. UBC takes it, 15-11. –RT
#2 Carleton (15) – #7 British Columbia (13)
In a tight first half, both Carleton and British Columbia kept switching up their defenses, playing various zones and poachy defenses to test the other team and trying to find some weakness to exploit. British Columbia couldn’t stop Marley Hartman-Filson, who repeatedly boxed out Rena Kawabata and went up strong to corral some dicey deep shots from Anna Reed. British Columbia moved handler stopper Gera Stancheva onto Taylor Want, trying to take her out of the game. Carleton eventually settled on a very tall cup of players like Flannery McArdle (6’0″), Emily Buckner (6’0″), and Briana Rick (5’11”). But Crystal Koo would not be deterred, and she threw an unbelievable number of crossfield hammers and blades to Amira Maddison, who ran the disc down the field with Catherine Hui.
Julia Snyder was fantastic for Carleton on offense, repeatedly finding McArdle for breaks or goals. Towards the end of the game, Kirstie Barton threw some fantastic backhand breaks, including one past Hui to set up a goal. This game was always close, with neither team getting more than a two point lead down the stretch. Up 13-12, British Columbia had the disc on the goal line three times and threw three heartbreaking turnovers that they wish they could have back – a Koo hammer D’ed by Snyder, a Kawabata goalline toss that was just a little too early, and a Koo high-stall blade that was easily blocked. Carleton would score to tie it at 13s, and then Grace Quintana got a crucial point block in the cup that lead to an easy score to give Carleton a 14-13 lead and break British Columbia’s spirits. Carleton would break to win on a long point after Barton’s high-stall hammer was snagged by Snyder in traffic, who finished the game with a crossfield flick to McArdle, 15-13. –RT
#11 Georgia (11) – #14 Santa Barbara (15)
After letting UBC pull away late in their first game, Santa Barbara came out fired up against a Georgia team playing their first game at Nationals in seven years. Georgia looked nervous and jittery, rushing throws near the endzone and sloppily throwing swings out of bounds. They showed none of the defensive sophistication that British Columbia did, stubbornly trying to guard Lisa Pitcaithley one-on-one with Julia Fuster and Emily Lloyd and failing. As a a cutter or a handler, Pitcaithley was unstoppable – at one point she ran past one defender and layed out fully horizontal past another to reel in a throw from Alicia Thompson in the endzone.
Santa Barbara took half 8-3 and it looked like the game was out of reach, but Georgia made a valiant run in the second half, scoring four in a row at one point to bring it to 7-9. But Santa Barbara continued to isolate their strong and fast cutters like Pitcaithley and Noelle Neason out of a side stack and broke several more times to put the game out of reach. Hobbled star Lane Siedor had an up and down game for Georgia, throwing several turnovers but also leading the team in assists. But Santa Barbara managed to rein in some of their turnovers and ride their stars on their way to a comfortable 15-11 “upset” victory. –RT
#11 Georgia (12) – #18 Northwestern (15)
The game between #5 seed Northwestern and #3 seed Georgia was on upset alert from the beginning. Georgia had already fallen to the #4 seed in the pool, UCSB, earlier in the day, and Northwestern was slated as a possible dark horse in the tournament. Both teams came into the game with fire and energy, though early on, it looked as though Georgia had the game well in hand. The deep threat was simply too much for Gung Ho to handle. Margie Quinn was rocketing hucks from the handle position, and cutter Hannah Leathers kept receiving the disc in the middle and immediately putting it deep to open receivers. Behind their deep game and the heroics of Emily Llyod– who was at times simply sensational with layout grabs, mean skies, and quick cuts— Dawgma took half at 8-5.
But Northwestern just wouldn’t go away. They made the appropriate adjustments to their man defense and ramped up their intensity. And quite frankly, Lien Hoffmann took over the game. The two time All-American and Callahan nominee was nearly flawless in all aspects. Her defense was relentless, her throws were crisp, and there was no denying her the disc. She would often receive the disc every other throw before putting perfect passes to her awaiting teammates. That is not to say that Northwestern did not play an all-around team game. They key to this victory was every member fulfilling their role, and Hoffmann’s teammates did just that. The handles worked it up the line with Carol Li unleashing massive hucks and Angelina Kim making key break throws. Katie Raynolds and Jess Mueller were aggressive on both sides of the disc, streaking deep, making contested grabs, and playing all out on defense. With tons of supporters and a lot of focus, Northwestern was able to take down Georgia in a 15-12 victory. –KG
#6 Ohio State (15) – #15 Central Florida (12)
Though there was minimal wind, both teams played zone throughout this game. Behind the strong play of Sunny Harris, Central Florida kept the game close, as Ohio State took half 8-7. In the second half, Central Florida’s tight rotation began to catch up to them, and an array of scoobers and hammers from Paige Soper and their deep roster allowed Ohio State to take the game 15-12. –AL
#10 Virginia (15) – #19 Whitman (10)
This was the meeting of two very athletic, scrappy squads whose handles know how to find space and whose cutters know how to locate the disc. In the latter stages of the game, the Whitman cutters were especially effective at burning their defenders on the force side and up the line. Their junk zone, at times, caused problems for the more experienced Virginia team. Overall, the game was characterized by long points with many turns. Neither offense was particularly polished, but Hydra was better at using more of the field, and with many tall grabs from cutters in the middle, UVA kept the disc alive and moving down the field. The game seemed closer than the final score indicates, but in the end, UVA proved to be too much for the rawer Whitman squad, and they took the game by a score of 15-10. –KG
#3 Iowa State (11) – #6 Ohio State (15)
I wrote a lot about both of these teams in my preview of Pool C yesterday, and at the start of the game I really thought that Iowa State was going to prove me wrong and turn a corner with their defense. Woman Scorned gave Ohio State, and Paige Soper in particular, fits with their tight handler defense when they played their stars both ways early on. But Cassie Swafford took over, throwing or scoring Ohio State’s first four goals. And their stars playing both ways may have taken a toll on Iowa State’s offense, as they trotted out less than ideal offensive lines that turned the disc over early on as Ohio State took a 6-3 lead that they never relinquished.
When Iowa State’s offense was working, it was very pretty. Camille Nelson and Magon Liu had some fantastic connections, but Iowa State could never get the kind of defensive pressure on Ohio State that it would take to force turnovers and get breaks. When Iowa State’s offense turned it over, they struggled just like their D line. Soper made some great catches on floaty dump throws, and Freshman of the Year Nina Finley was everywhere on offense for Ohio State, cutting and handling depending on the other personnel on the field. Ohio State ran deep into their bench, getting contributions from at least 14 players. Ohio State closed it out with a great forehand huck from Soper to a streaking Katie Backus for the win, 15-11. –RT
#10 Virginia (10) – #15 Central Florida (15)
UCF came storming into this game. A hard-fought opening game with #6 seeded Ohio State seemed to endow the Sirens with a fresh confidence and intentionality. They played loose and poised on offense, urgent and intense on defense. Virginia, on the other hand, came into this game looking a little complacent after their relatively easy victory over Whitman. The UCF zone forced some uncharacteristic drops from UVA early, and Hydra quickly found themselves down 1-4. Virginia was not about to go away that easily, however, and they were able to settle down and get more comfortable with the UCF zone as they game went on, finding ways to get around the UCF zone. After UCF took half 8-6, Virginia was able to make a run that tied the game at 10s. Alika Johnston was essential to UVA’s offensive success, following the disc all over the field to receive immediate dumps and slicing the defense with her low release IO flicks. Katrien Hinderdael was also key, acting as a fourth handle that received the long swings and quickly got the disc up the sideline. Finally, Theresa Hackett made ridiculous grabs in both the Whitman and UCF games. Taking advantage of many times when deep deep Sunny Harris got sucked too far in, Hackett and fellow cutters were busting behind the defense was for easy receptions.
Nevertheless, 10 is all the points that UVA would get. UCF made sure to do the little things right. They were expert in their decision-making and solid in their execution. Although she struggled with her deep defense in the middle stages of the game, Sunny Harris was phenomenal in that position when it really mattered, getting crucial Ds– sometimes in the midst of numerous cutters– in the deep space. She was also the primary distributor on offense, throwing an IO flick for the winning score. Other sirens with standout performances was cutter Mariel Hammond, who caught the winning score with a long layout grab; Alexa Wood, who was always the first to get down all the pool every time; and Shayna Brock, who was a cutting machine in the middle. With these forces at work, the Sirens were able to pull the upset with a final score of 15-10. –KG
#5 Tufts (15) – #16 Texas (12)
Tufts came into Round One with a plan of winning the field position game. Ewo played flat marks against the Texas handlers and force repeated swing passes that gained minimal yardage. On offense, Claudia Tajiama and Qxhna Titcomb put up hucks within the first few passes. Even when the Tufts hucks didn’t connect, Texas was forced to work the length of the field. Tufts was fully in control to start the game and took half 8-5.
In the second half, Texas displayed a defensive intensity that had been missing early. Diana Charrier’s defense on Tajima slowed down the Tufts offense, and hucks from Shereen Rabie and Kayla Ramirez allowed Texas to bring the game back to a 12-11 deficit. They weren’t able to get any closer, as hucks from Tajima and Titcomb connected to extend the Tufts lead. At 14-12, Texas’s junk defense was unable to slow down Tufts. Tajima quickly found the holes, eventually throwing a break to Laura Fradin for the 15-12 win. –AL
#9 Washington (15) – #20 Ottawa (10)
Ottawa looked poised and confident with the disc, working the disc well against Washington’s “zone for five throws” look. Attacking quickly in the transition to man, Ottawa sent their athletic receivers deep to get the huge advantage of yards. Ottawa’s offensive efficiency was a huge reason why they were able to stay in the game with Washington for most of the game.Element’s offense connected easy to cutters moving away from the throwers to downfield space. Amanda Kostic and Barbara Hoover’s connection on offense threatened deep every offensive possession, with Hoover being practically unguardable deep as a receiver. Even though Ottawa would often be in position to get a D, Washington’s athletic receivers consistently got up and over the D for the score. UW’s zone was susceptible to quick give and go’s, which Ottawa took full advantage of. Ultimately, Ottawa did not switch up their defensive strategy, forcing forehand for the game. Washington came out on top, 15-10. –RF
#4 Iowa (15) – #20 Ottawa (9)
After trading the first few points, Iowa seized control and did not look back. The Gee Gees, still sticking to man-to-man forehand strategy, did not challenge Iowa’s efficient O-line, who used Liza Minor and Jen Nowak in every possession. Saucy went deep into their roster and gave a lot of new players some play time in the big win. –RF
#9 Washington (14) – #16 Texas (11)
Washington opened the game with the Amanda Kostic show. Hucks, hammers and then more hucks and hammers, with Barbara Hoover on the receiving end of most of them. Element’s zone forced dozens of passes that barely advanced the disc, leading to short fields for Washington’s offense. Though they didn’t play the most efficient red zone offense, Washington created enough opportunities to take half 8-5.
Some big defensive plays from Diana Charrier and Kayla Ramirez kept Texas in the game. Ramirez found herself both throwing and running down hucks that brought the game back to a 12-11 Washington lead. Washington held the ensuing possession on a huck from Lucy Williams to Hoover. After a Texas drop, Alysia Letourneau found Alexandra Taipale with a high-stall scoober for the 14-11 win. –AL
#4 Iowa (15) – #5 Tufts (13)
In one of the most anticipated games of the weekend, Iowa Saucy Nancy and Tufts Ewo did not disappoint. All-Americans and Callahan contenders Chelsea Twohig and Claudia Tajima faced off, with Twohig using her fantastic mark and great handler defense to really take Tajima out of her game. This game was also close throughout, and with Tajima being blanketed by Twohig, on offense Tufts looked to Hailey Alm, Michaela Fallon, Qxhna Titcomb, and Laura Fradin. Notably, Tufts’ top cutter, junior Emily Shields, is out for the weekend with a meniscus injury – meaning every Tufts cutter was being guarded by a slightly better defender than they would otherwise face with Shields in the lineup.
Iowa’s defense started to take its toll halfway through the second half, as Titcomb and Tajima started to tire after playing almost every point. With Tajima still under Twohig’s spell, Tufts’ offense started to sputter as their cutters tired and their throwers started to put discs slightly too far. Iowa forced Tufts backhand and funneled them into the open side lane, and for most of the game Tufts was able to work it down the force sideline repeatedly. But the as the pressure mounted and the turnovers increased in frequency, Twohig and Liza Minor still looked fresh and confident, burning their defenders, aggressively taking space, and breaking the mark well to switch the field and change the angles.
Tufts held on to a slight one break lead at halftime, after Tajima got a fantastic layout D on Minor and immediately hucked to Alm. But Iowa broke out of half to even the score at 8s, and then Iowa went on a three point run down 10-11 to go up 13-11. Both teams switched matchups frequently on turnovers, with Twohig switching on to Tajima, Titcomb switching on to Nowak, and Tajima taking Minor. But as the game dragged on, Nowak took advantage of Titcomb tiring and really started to attack the deep space well and receive hucks from Twohig and Minor. Anna Pritchard and Beckah Hickernell broke the mark and swung the disc well, forcing Tufts to chase their women around the field. Twohig and her teammates utilized hammers very effectively at the endzone, and at the end of the game, they were able to hold on to their lead when Mia Greenwald tripped while guarding Twohig, leaving her with no mark. Twohig ripped an inside-out backhand huck to the opposite corner to Alison Vandegrift, who called timeout on the goal line. After the timeout and another great swing, Pritchard hit Nowak in the front corner of the endzone to seal the game, 15-13. –RT
Recaps by Ryan Thompson, Robyn Fennig, Adam Lerman, and Kami Groom.
Feature photo of Michela Meister and Sarah Meckstroth by Alex Fraser (Ultiphotos.com)