By: Sarah Judd
Saturday is in the books!
Pool play and the pre-quarterfinals are over, and as we wait for quarters to begin tomorrow, we can reflect on the craziness happening in the women’s division. Upsets were the name of the game in play today.
In an early morning game, Dartmouth, strong and steady, took on Colorado Kali. Dartmouth pulled out a 15-7 win over Colorado, but in a semi-unexpected way. Although Colorado pushed back, Dartmouth demonstrated their depth this morning, allowing their stars to get some rest and highlighting younger talent. Colorado just couldn’t keep up with this hungry, excited Dartmouth team. Dartmouth really seems to be feeling the joy of ultimate thus far this weekend.
At the same time, Tufts EWO earned a 15-9 win over the California-Santa Barbara Burning Skirts. Although Tufts made unforced errors, they still punished UCSB, pulling away to an early lead and dominating from the beginning to the end. Despite offensive throwaways, Tufts’ defensive zone and junk looks were able to force bad decisions or risky throws that allowed them to convert break chances. Hannah Crowley led EWO with an impressive six goals, continuing her dominance in the Tufts offense.
West Chester’s two Saturday games went pretty much as expected. Dartmouth handed them a quick 15-6 loss, and although standouts Lindsay McKenna and Danielle Byers made some great plays, they were unable to out-maneuver Dartmouth’s ruthless defense. In their next game, West Chester held seed, closely taking a 15-12 win over the UCSB Burning Skirts.
In the last game to determine seeding in Pool A, Tufts took on Colorado. Though they both had secured pre-quarters spots, this game would determine their opponent – either Oregon or N.C. State. Colorado came out with an early 5-2 lead and extended that to take half 8-4. Despite Tufts’ efforts, Colorado was able to capitalize on unforced errors and punished the EWO offense. Colorado went on to win 15-8 and secure a much easier path through pre-quarters, facing N.C. State.
Meanwhile in Pool B, Texas took half 8-5 but went on a 7-1 streak to win 15-6 over Michigan Flywheel. Texas started the game with two breaks and kept their foot on the gas for the rest of the round. Michigan was playing intense, gritty defense, but Texas was able to work calmly on offense, and their zone defensive looks forced Michigan to throw small passes that led to unforced errors.
In the same round, California-San Diego got a 14-8 win over Carleton College, but don’t let the score mislead you – it was an intense struggle. UCSD opened with a quick run, leading 4-1 and up two breaks. Carleton answered, going on their own run, scoring four points in a row to lead 5-4. After a couple of long offensive points, UCSD broke to take half 8-7 after three end-zone chances for Carleton. That break seemed to thwart Carleton’s spirit, and UCSD came out of halftime revitalized. UCSD scored six of the next seven points to eventually take the win over a defeated Carleton.
Western Washington lost their two Saturday games against Michigan and UCSD, 15-8 and 15-7, respectively. Although they were fighting, they simply did not have the depth to contend in either game and sealed their fate as the fifth-place team in Pool B.
In the last game of the round, a leading Texas team played Carleton College Syzygy. Texas already had Pool B locked up, and no Carleton victory could have saved them from elimination, so the game had no future effect. That being said, Texas played their starters throughout the game but still fell to Carleton 11-15. Carleton started with a 6-1 lead, and although Texas managed to rally back to within two, Syzygy once again turned on the fire and took the game with a four-point margin. It is unclear whether Texas was tired, not in the game mentally or just not connecting, but it can’t be the momentum they were hoping to build going into quarters tomorrow morning.
Pool C began with a round of upsets, as the fifth-seeded Florida Fuel upset fourth-seeded Whitman 14-11. Florida threw a big trap zone and big deep shots, and Whitman was unable to reset the disc or respond quickly. Both Lauren Bahng and Courtney Testa were huge factors for Florida, together throwing 11 of Florida’s 14 goals.
Continuing the theme of upsets in previously unexciting Pool C, Pittsburgh notched a 13-11 victory over the pool’s number one seed, UNC. UNC came out strong, breaking twice to lead 3-1. They continued on serve until UNC came out on defense with over half their offensive line hoping to break for half at 7-5. Pitt managed to score and then got a break to tie the game at 7-7. UNC took the half 8-7, up a break, but out of half, Pitt immediately got the break back to tie the game again. They traded to 11s when Carolyn Normile pulled full field for Pitt, UNC got stuck in their end zone and frantic, and an errant throw gave Pitt the disc on the end-zone line. Normile picked up the disc and easily tossed it to a receiver, giving Pitt their first lead of the game. Then, with their second straight break, Pitt stalled UNC and threw around their zone to win 13-11.
Less exciting games in Pool C included UBC’s expected win over Florida and UNC’s win over Whitman 14-11. Although Whitman made UNC work a little harder, there was never a point at which the Pleiades seemed in danger of losing the game. UNC’s win solidified Florida and Whitman’s fourth and fifth positions, respectively, in the pool.
UBC and Pittsburgh then played in what ended as another upset to determine final seeding in Pool C. At the start of the game, it was clear that the top three teams were not facing elimination, but seeding into pre-quarters and the bye into quarters were up for grabs. Pitt came out with two breaks early, leading the game 4-2, but UBC returned the two breaks to get back on serve at 6-5. Pitt got two more breaks of their own and took half 8-6. Out of the break, UBC managed to tie things up at 11s, before going on a three-break run to make it 14-11 in their favor. Twice in a row on game point, Carolyn Normile found Sarah Russek in the end zone, keeping Pitt alive at 13-14. A huge layout in the end zone from Haley Grajewski tied the game at 14-14. UBC finally managed to get their offense together to make it 14-15, but Pitt held for 15s shortly before the hard cap horn blew. On double-game point, Pitt got the turn they needed and patiently worked the disc into the end zone to take the game and the top spot in the pool 16-15. This is the first pool win in Danger’s history, and they sealed their spot in tomorrow’s quarterfinals as the top of Pool C.
Pool D, which offered the first upsets of the weekend yesterday, went much more as scheduled today. Stanford started off the day with a 12-7 win over Ohio State; they started with a 6-0 run and never let off the gas. Stanford’s four-person cup was suffocating for the Ohio State offense, and once they forced a turn, Stanford made offense look easy. Stanford took half 8-3, and although Ohio State managed to find a strategy of crashes that pulled the cup in different directions, they never really got any offensive momentum going.
Meanwhile, N.C. State Jaga and Oregon Fugue handed Cornell two more losses – the first a relatively close 14-9, and the second a 15-2 blowout. Cornell solidified their place as the fifth-team in the pool and did not offer much excitement.
The last two games in Pool D also went as expected. Oregon handily beat Ohio State 15-9, ensuring their second spot in the pool. Oregon’s fast movement and small ball, followed by deep shots, couldn’t be contained by Ohio State’s defensive looks. Stanford also handed N.C. State an expected 15-8 loss. Stanford simply played cleaner than N.C. State, and Jäga’s top players, Powell and Robbins, seemed to be fading in the heat of the day. The pool that started the weekend’s upset train ended up sans excitement today, with Stanford keeping their top seed, Oregon regaining the second spot and N.C. State sniping the third path into the championship bracket from Ohio State.
California-San Diego v. British Columbia
With Texas’ win over Pool B, UCSD, the two seed in the tournament, was forced to play UBC (the six seed) in pre-quarters. UBC started with a quick 3-0 run and broke again later (x2) to take half 8-3. Immediately, UBC established their dominance against a UCSD team that has failed to play to their potential this weekend. Although UCSD seemed to pull it together in the second half, cashing in three break chances, it wasn’t enough to offset the intense pressure UBC established in the first half. UBC ended up taking the game 15-11 in one of the more surprising knockouts of the weekend thus far. With the win, UBC advanced to the quarterfinals, where they have the dreaded match up with the winner of Pool A and the defending champion: Dartmouth. Although UBC played with confidence and excellence today, it is unlikely they will be able to stop a Dartmouth team that is +43 in point differential thus far.
UNC v. Michigan
In possibly the least contentious pre-quarter of the division, the North Carolina Pleiades marched to the quarterfinals past Michigan Flywheel. UNC served up various defensive looks, all while maintaining strong, consistent offensive flow. With their poaching defense, UNC caught a couple of early breaks in the game, eventually taking half 8-4. Four more breaks in the second half rounded out the 15-10 win over Flywheel. Notably, North Carolina took this opportunity to demonstrate the depth of their roster – lines included rookies and freshmen, and of their 15 goals, they had 10 different scorers. Jenny Wei shined throughout the game, notching the last two goals to lead her team into quarters. Although Michigan put up a fight in the second half, they simply could not respond to the offensive flow and team spirit of UNC. The Pleiades will be flying high after this win and will face Stanford tomorrow morning in the quarterfinals.
Oregon v. Tufts
After Tufts’ pool play loss to Colorado, they faced a tricky quarterfinal against Oregon Fugue. Fugue broke twice early in the second half, and although Tufts had a chance to tie the game at 7s, an errant throw gave the disc back to Fugue who, instead, took half 8-6. Out of the halftime break, Fugue came out ready to go on offense, while the Tufts core line looked tired. Oregon went on to break three more times, punishing a tired Tufts squad and sealing their own fate for tomorrow. Oregon took the game 15-10, and will face Pittsburgh in tomorrow morning’s live-streamed quarterfinal.
Colorado vs N.C. State
In another less contentious pre-quarter match up, Colorado Kali took on N.C. State Jäga. After their pool play win over Tufts, Colorado’s road in the championship bracket became significantly easier. After trading points to 7-6, Kali broke to take half 8-6. The goal seemed to finally break down the core Jäga line that propelled the team through pool play. Kali broke again out of half and ran away to a 15-9 win. N.C. State seemed tired as Kali showed their depth and endurance. Kali will face Texas tomorrow morning in the quarterfinal round – an unexpected rematch of last year’s semifinal in which Texas came away with a 14-12 win. But 2018 is a new year, and there’s no doubt these regional rivals will play another exciting game tomorrow.