This preview and the 2014 College Tour are presented by Spin Ultimate.
This weekend marks the opening major college tournament of the year, hosted by the always marvelous UNC Pleiades and located at Ramblewood Park in Charlotte, NC. Boasting nine teams in attendance that competed at the 2013 College Championships, Queen City Tune-Up is a sure-fire chance get an initial look at the top contenders in the nation.
These women’s teams from all over the US are traveling to carve notches into the proverbial door frame; the furthest origins being Orlando, FL, Boulder, CO, Northfield, MN, and Hanover, NH. The general consensus is that everyone is coming in with high expectations, and looking forward to giving veterans and rookies alike a solid opportunity to begin forming team cohesion in the face of stiff challengers.
Most will find solace in this weekend’s weather forecast, which shows highs of 52/54 degrees and a bearable lows of 36/29 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Luckily, it looks like wind won’t be a major factor, and we’ll hope that the 30% chance of rain will hold off on Saturday.
Astute fans will notice that the seedings follow last year’s results. One difference is that Ohio State sits atop as the #1 seed over last year’s finalist Carleton College. The other top seeds include Tufts and Virginia, both of whom tied for 5th at the Championships. However, teams cannot control their seeds, so they will be focusing on controllable ways to get into the championship bracket on Sunday. Fortunately, I got a chance to hear from some of the teams, so let’s get to discussing the differing approaches of some of the squads for QCTU.
Time for Combat
It’s time to put on the combat boots. These teams are going into this weekend guns blazing and seeing where they stack up when they play their best. All teams attending have great aspirations for their team, but some have chosen to lay down their cards face up. It has been said by one of my experienced coaches that the team wins Nationals is the team that improves the most throughout the course of the season. Certainly a few of the teams showing up have this goal written down somewhere. What better way to do that than to play at your highest level right from the get-go?
Teams ready to put up a fight: Ohio State, Virginia, Central Florida, Florida State, UNC-Wilmington, Dartmouth.
Time to Expand
Every coin has two sides. It’s certainly required that to win big games, a team needs a couple standouts. But what about the rest of the team? They add an important dimension called depth. These teams are the ones that want to outlast their opponents on the 3rd round on Sunday (or the 3rd day of Nationals). This weekend is all about player development from top to bottom, and getting a first, true glance at their whole 2014 roster in real-game situations, whether it’s because the cold has kept them trapped inside or because they want to boost team morale.
Teams staying on the holistic path: Carleton, Tufts, Iowa State, Georgia, Kansas, Northwestern.
Players to Watch
Veterans on the prowl
Cassie Swafford, Paige “Diddy” Soper, Caitlin Harley, Katie Backus (OSU).
Julia Snyder (Carleton).
Mia Greenwald, Hannah Garfield (Tufts).
Alika Johnston, Theresa Hackett, Sarah Hansen (UVA).
Sunny Harris, Mariel Hammond, Kalah St. Pierre, Stephanie Williams, Alexa Wood (UCF).
Cami Nelson, the sophomore class (Iowa State).
Lane Siedor, Hannah Leathers, Kate Hines, Jennifer Farrell (UGA).
Caitlin Fitzgerald, Kate Eshelman, Kailee Karr, Jenni Corcoran, Nadine Rowe (Kansas).
Megan Reeves, Kristin Lloyd, Skylar Taggart, Lisa Fitto, Natalie Burke, Lari Ferriera (FSU).
Jana Hollis, Sadie Gosselin (UNCW).
Ellen McGrath, Jenny Li, Alex Chudler, Christina Sur, Stephanie Wang (Northwestern).
Abby Leibowitz, Patricia Neckowicz, Katy Peake, Eva Petzinger, Emily Eisner, Angela Zhu (Dartmouth).
Rookies on the loose
Alaine Wetli (OSU). Shelby Spence (UCF). Erin Chun (UGA). Grace Roth, Jordan Alonzo (Kansas). Zoe Dorian, Klara Calderon-Guthe (UNCW). Jess Hoffman, Alex Hu (Northwestern).
Any team that wants to compete at the highest college level certainly has already mapped out what they want accomplish and the steps it’s going to take to get there. Queen City Tune-Up promises to be the first stepping stone to achieving them, which is why so many talented, competitive teams signed up. No matter what the specific reasons are that each team is coming to this tournament, whether it’s to win every point or have each player make substantial gains, or a little of both, rest assured that QCTU is worthy of attention. So for this weekend, pull up a chair on the sidelines of whatever winter pickup game you’re at, make sure you’re wearing a parka (the polar vortex is still afoot!), and start refreshing that twitter app.