This article and the 2014 College Tour are presented by Spin Ultimate
Tournament play is all about making adjustments. It’s about continually progressing, point by point, game by game. Every team came to play, disregarding any notion of the concept of seeding, which was decidedly different than yesterday’s Pres Day Invite turnout.
Oregon falls to UCSB
It’s 5-5, after Sophie Darch throws the score to Beth Kaylor, a common connection. UCSB receives the pull, but quickly loses possession. Shortly thereafter, Noelle Neason gets a point block on Jesse Shofner, and it’s off to the races. Lisa Pitcaithley goes upline, receives the disc in the power position, and immediately throws an accurate 30-yard huck to Neason for the score. In a quick huddle, Shofner emphatically makes a defensive point about the force while her team closely listens.
The game had grit. Both teams put the pedal to the medal, showcasing speed, agility, defensive plays, layouts, various defensive strategies, hucks, and break throws. It was a steady back and forth match, like a never-ending Adv-40 tennis point that would determine who would win the 3rd set. Since the first point that I started watching at 4-4, Oregon never took the lead, and UCSB was never up by more than 2 points, which only happened once.
Oregon threw their version of a 2-3-2 defense a couple times, but I was more impressed by their man defense. They made smart matchups, frequently putting Alex Ode on Pitcaithley, Shofner on Neason, Dre Fontenot on Joy Kang, and Sophie Darch on Kelly Gross. They even generated a break to tie it at 9-9 by guarding the dump tightly and disrupting handler flow between Gross and PItcaithley, causing a short field turn and score thrown by Beth Kaylor to Fontenot. Oregon’s offense was also starting to come together since I last watched them in pool play on Saturday. On one particular point, Shofner was a workhorse. She continually made cuts downfield in their horizontal stack in order to create space. Four cuts later, her work paid dividends, and she finally received the disc on a 20-yard gainer, immediately followed by her catching the score on an upline cut thrown by Kaylor.
UCSB isn’t a deep as Oregon, and they certainly don’t have as big of a roster. However, they were just as successful at generating turns on defense and advancing the disc on offense in their horizontal stack. They were able to use the versatile Pitcaithley both as a cutter and handler. At 12-11, she got huge and caught the score under pressure. On another point, she caught a big gainer on an in-cut and threw a speedy 40-yard huck to diving Kang for the goal, after it looked like Oregon was going to generate a turn from their man defense that was stifling their movement. Neason and Kang consistently got open and were able to continue to move the disc downfield to other solid cutters. Gross filled an important handler role in zone and man defense situations.
More stirring of the pot
There were several other close games in the power pools. Washington was able to hold onto their 1 seed in their pool after a tight match with Victoria, barely pulling out an 11-10 win. After beating Oregon, UCSB also had to fight to win against Texas, only winning 13-12.
In all of the lower pools, the 1 seeds did not advance to pre-quarters. Instead, all of the 2 seeds advanced: USC, Harvard, UCSD, and UCLA. But the lower seeded teams didn’t stop there. The hometown UCSD ladies knocked out Michigan, 15-7, and UCLA defeated UNC, 13-11. Katrina “Tikka” Kalantar of UCSD had a fantastic performance, racking up at least 9 Ds and assists. Texas and Whitman were able to hold onto their spots in quarters, defeating Harvard 15-9 and USC 15-7, respectively.
On to quarters
UCSB, Victoria, Oregon, and Washington all advanced to quarters without having to play in pre-quarters, a huge advantage that saved their legs and gave them the day off starting at 12:30pm.
The Match-Ups (showing original seed):
(4) UCSB vs. (7) Whitman
(3) Victoria vs. (8) Texas
(1) Oregon vs. (10) UCSD
(2) Washington vs. (9) UCLA
The two games to watch will be Victoria vs. Texas and Washington vs. UCLA. Both Victoria and Texas have been displaying massive amounts of athleticism and hucking power. The team that wins will be the team that successfully executes their deep game. Washington has been lackluster in their offensive efficiency, especially against Victoria, and will need to step up to UCLA, who has proven all weekend that they don’t give any team, specifically Oregon and Texas in pool play, an easy go ahead.
Feature Photo – Alex Fraser – Ultiphotos.com