Tomorrow’s finals game promises to be a battle of two completely different styles. We’ll hit you with some top trends to look for in tomorrow’s highly anticipated matchup.
Oregon Will Have to Work Against the Crowd
Everything about them is “go big or go home,” from their field position oriented offense, to their gritty, physical defense, to their on-field celebrations. When it comes down to it, people in the stands either love them or hate them.
This weekend has been very interesting for Fugue, in the sense that they have won by fairly large margins and have not been challenged throughout an entire game. Even when they are down or in a close game, they have taken down top-team after top-team by sticking to their game plan. The quick transition, explosive offense has caused trouble for every team they have faced all weekend long. In fact, Fugue’s closest game in terms of the scoreboard was against Iowa in the semi-finals, and Oregon seized control over the game out of half, cruising to a fairly easy victory against a Saucy Nancy team who appeared to shut down after half.
Oregon’s biggest challenge mentally this weekend was their game against Minnesota, where a North Central home crowd cheered on their Ninja underdogs. Oregon’s four TMFs and aggressive spiking celebrations quickly pitted them against the fans hoping for an upset; but just as Fugue worked it from the reverse brick to score and cruised to a victory, they are in a good place mentally to push against another North Central fan favorite team in finals: Carleton.
Things Aligning for Syzygy
Syzygy is a likable team with a compelling story: team fails to qualify for the championships in 2012, refocuses and comes out dominant in 2013 to face their program’s former coach who took them to the finals over a decade ago.
In fact, this Syzygy team is so likable to fans this year, that there has never been an instance where so many people in Madison, Wisconsin were cheering for Carleton. Their women are spirited, play hard, and have a lot of people pulling for a win, or at least a chance to yell, “S-Y-Z-Y-G-Y GO!” in the stands.
It’s not just their attitude that can get fans behind them. They are connecting on plays that get fans out of their seats. Flannery McArdle’s grabs high in the air over defenders who are in position are exciting. The handler chemistry between Anna Reed, Julia Snyder, Kirstie Barton, and Taylor Want is dominant, with all of those women not afraid to put up a big huck for a receiver streaking deep. Their offense is connecting well, even when the look is rushed or a bail-out option.
Where will they force?
These teams have throwing combinations that really put a damper on any sort of traditional defensive strategy. Reed/Snyder and Bailey Zahniser/Sophie Darch for Carleton and Oregon, respectively, are two of the most deadly combinations in the game today, with years of experience together in big game situations. Forcing deep opens up a huge window for the best throwers in the game to have a field day with their favorite receivers. Forcing under opens up the quick give-and-goes for their explosive, quick handlers. Trapping hard on the sideline allows for huge advantages on break throws. So what do you do? Play zone.
Syzygy’s more traditional zone has some of the tallest players up front, making the over the top throws difficult; however, the hammers tend to be a wide open option crossfield. Zahniser and Darch are not afraid to exploit the hammer look if it is there. Carleton also has a box-and-one, with Emily Buckner as an outstanding defender for Syzygy in that look. However, if they focus too much on Darch on the O-line, there are several other handlers who could fill her role and facilitate movement – or even cutters who are comfortable in that role.
Throughout the weekend, we have seen several different zone looks from Oregon with different personnel filling different roles. Even the same look can look different with different players. Fugue also transitions quite well out of their junk sets, matching up effectively and putting pressure on the big throw in the transition.
Both Teams are Deep and Scary
When either team stacks their lines, they are downright terrifying. If forced to universe point, the world might explode if we see the top seven from each team battle for a victory.
Athleticism and Speed vs. Height and Precision?
The real story is about which style will reign supreme between fast, quick-transition offense or height and precision.
Wind played a factor in both of today’s matchups, but Syzygy’s precision with the disc from their handlers helped them win against a gritty Ohio State squad. In quarterfinals, Want, Snyder, Barton and Reed shredded Washington’s zone nearly every possession they had, thanks to achieving balance between playing small ball, patiently swinging the disc for gains, and attacking over the top with accurate, catchable blades to space. Even when Element chose a box-and-one attack on Syzygy, they were able to drop back another player to replace Snyder or Reed to continue to attack the zone. Oregon’s huck and play D strategy is sure to result in points as it always does, but Fugue’s throwing abilities certainly do not match Carleton’s, even when the person putting the disc is Sophie Darch, who is arguably the thrower with the best field vision in the college game.
Oregon, on the other hand, is short, fast, and has the ability to adjust their game plan to take advantage. In their Wisconsin pool play game, we saw a different Oregon style, where Fugue was content with moving the disc with incredible speed and hitting open hands for the quick movement under looks. This smaller offense allowed them to shred any defense thrown at them, and convert more often. Syzygy’s top tall receivers are looking banged up, and it is a little uncertain if their legs will be fresh enough to hang with the explosiveness of Fugue in transition offense.
Tomorrow’s game promises to be a nailbiter to the finish. Be sure to follow the action tomorrow at 12:00 pm CST, and tune into Skyd Magazine’s coverage during the event!