The 2014 College Tour and this recap presented by Spin Ultimate.
Power Pool E: Oregon (4-0), North Carolina (3-1), UCSB (4-0), Texas (3-1)
Power Pool F: Washington (4-0), Victoria (4-0), Michigan (3-1), Whitman (3-1)
Pool G: California (2-2), USC (0-4), Florida (1-3)
Pool H: SDSU (1-3), Harvard (2-2), Arizona State (0-4)
Pool I: UC Davis (1-3), UCSD (2-2), Sonoma State (0-4)
Pool J: UC Santa Cruz (1-3), UCLA (2-2), Cal Poly (0-4)
As the wind started to make a presence, more teams began throwing different zone looks. I focused on two 1v3 games, UCSB vs. Cal-Berkeley and Oregon vs. UCLA to get a look at the one seeds’ first real challenge.
Oregon vs. UCLA: The first half was hotly matched due to a combination of early miscues for Oregon’s offense and UCLA Blu grit. It was back and forth until Oregon got 2 breaks into half to make it 8-6. Jesse Shofner was a dominating force for Fugue’s offense with her flick and backhand hucks. She threw a beautiful flick huck to Dre Fontenot, another standout for Fugue, to take half. Oregon was able to disorient UCLA’s offense with their multiple defensive looks, including a junk defense and man force middle. Their zone was a variation of 2-3-2 with lots of switching that they consistently held until 25 yards out. UCLA was led by handler Michelle “Chip” Chang, who had many improbable layout grabs. and is a grad student transplant from UCSD. Also notable, was their cutter Kelcie “Apollo” Ralph, another grad student who always caught the disc whether it was intended for her or not. Oregon won 14-9.
UCSB vs. California: This game was also close in the first half. It was tied at 5-5, but then UCSB pulled away with 3 straight breaks to take half. Both teams threw varying zone looks for some points, UCSB used a 3 man cup and Cal used a 4 man cup. Standouts for UCSB included play from Lisa Pitcaithley, who was able to equally handle and cut successfully depending on the situation. Noelle Neason had a great day, using her speed to always get open at the right times for LIsa and laying out when she needed to. Danielle Murray on Cal was an important piece for their offense, and threw several assists. UCSB won 12-8.
The wind stayed consistently strong enough to make zone defense seem appealing for most.
UCSD vs Arizona State: In this 3v4 matchup, I got a chance to see the host team and the small-rostered Caliente ladies. Several points were long, high-turnover points that wore down ASU and were facilitated by continual zone looks from UCSD. High performing players on UCSD included handlers Chelsea “Rogue” Herrmann and Katrina “Tikka” Kalantar. ASU has a lot of athleticism but not a lot of numbers, and could benefit from different defensive looks to make it harder for offenses to score. Their notable players were senior Rosa Franklin, who the disc mainly ran through, and excellent zone handlers Katlyn Kaiser, who threw accurate hammers, and Kelly Payne. Cynthia Thomas made several athletic grabs was able to use her speed and jumping ability to get points for ASU. UCSD won 13-4.
Harvard, the only 5th seed that went 2-2 and finished 3rd in Pool C, was able to come back against Michigan and bring the final score to 11-8 after being down 8-2 at half. They are continuing to work on their mental game and focusing on what their team can do instead of which team they’re facing. Eliza “Pepe” Pugh had a strong day playing as a solid handler with a good IO break throws and hucks that were often thrown to Pin-Wen Wang for scores.
In this round, the 2v3 matchups occurred, and all 2 seeds prevailed.
Across the pools, I’ve been seeing a lot of poachers that sit in the open side lane on a horizontal stack when the disc is in the middle or break side of the field. Most teams have been swinging right away to the poached handler. In order to not have the poach effectively stop offensive flow, teams should think about other ways to pull the poach away. For example, the middle handler can cut upfield towards the break side while another cutter cuts towards the newly opened space for a 10-15 yard gainer, as opposed to the 0 yard gain an immediate swing gets.
Texas vs. UCLA: UCLA has been playing hot, and making their opponents work hard to win. On Texas, Kayla Ramirez is a speedster. She plays fierce man defense, and the rest of the team followed suit. Their tight man defense on the dump caused UCLA to hold the disc longer and disrupted their flow, including several high-stall count hucks. On offense, Texas runs a vertical stack and uses their all-around athleticism, especially Kayla and Diana Charrier, to advance the disc. Texas won 10-8.
Despite exciting, tightly contested first halves in the 1v2 matchups, no upsets occurred, and all 1 seeds kept their top dog status.
UCSB vs. UNC: This game was close during the first half until UCSB broke 3 times in a row to make it 7-4. They took half at 8-5. UNC has been giving a different zone look with a flexible cup that resembles a clam in the middle and a normal cup on the sidelines. Diana Lam has been doing a lot of work for them, as I often saw her catching a score thrown by various handlers. Kendall Beadleson also had some fantastic grabs. UCSB won 12-9.
With the power pools set, we’ll get to see some rematches. I can feel how much the original 2 seeds are hungry to upset the 1 seeds. The top 2 finishing teams in each power pool will be sitting pretty while the bottom 2 are left to play another game to earn a spot in quarters. Tomorrow’s results will be highly telling of which team will win in finals come Monday, because the winningest teams gain the greatest advantage.
Jesse Shofner wins MVP of the day. Her quickness and ability to direct cutters to the right spot while executing the perfect throw is impeccable. Brownie points: She threw a pinpoint 30-yard hammer to a deep streaking receiver for a score. (It got called not in, but my eyes saw quite the opposite.)