By: Anneke Vermaak
Dartmouth upset Stanford 14-8. Verzuh came up with practically every single grab, and the Dartmouth squad never stopped grinding. Where Dartmouth looked confident and poised, Stanford just looked plain tired. Despite some fantastic defensive points, Stanford would lose steam when they had the disc in the red zone and turn it, only to be punished by a hungry Princess Layout.
Texas came out slow, but eventually beat UCLA, 15-10. Texas’ zone offense struggled to start off on the right foot, and even towards the end, they were inefficient. They failed to use the width of the field, and their players were crowded on the trapped sideline. But led by Andrea Esparza, Texas found their footing and cleaned up their offense. Their four-person cup defense overwhelmed UCLA, and BLU slowly fell behind, never to regain their lead.
British Columbia upset Virginia, 15-13. UBC had great fundamentals and were playing good small ball against the upwind zone defense. Virginia gained momentum halfway through when UBC had a pull that allowed Hydra to play on a short field. Then UBC dropped the pull and, again, there was a high-release break backhand, and Hydra broke. However, Virginia ran out of time, and on hard cap, UBC finished the game 14-13.
Colorado took down Oregon 15-11 with scrappy defense and their signature chill offense. They were dialed in for the entire game, and for that, they were rewarded with a spot in semifinals.
Conditions: Dry but windy, 10-15mph upwind/downwind for 11:30 a.m. game
British Columbia (5) v. Dartmouth (2)
UBC started on offense going downwind, where they turfed the first throw. Dartmouth worked the disc up 40 yards, but on an under pass on the end zone line, Naomi Morcilla got a layout D. Unfortunately, the UBC handlers still had some jitters and put a downwind shot to Morcilla for the potential bookends score, but the pass sailed far out of her reach. UBC eventually held for the first score of the game. Dartmouth followed up with a hold of their own thanks to an explosive layout grab from Verzuh before they went on a three-break run, finally scoring upwind. Despite the score being 4-1, it felt like a close game because UBC was pressuring everything. Morcilla and Kaitlyn Harper both had deep Ds against Verzuh, and UBC put on a marking clinic when players had the disc. But for the first few points, the off-handler defender did not trust the mark enough and would get beat upline on a strike cut. While Dartmouth struggled to get the disc off the line, they could rely on their up-the-line cuts to score consistently.
When UBC made their defensive adjustment, they could shut down the handlers completely, and Princess Layout’s was forced to punt the disc, where players like Harper could eat it up deep. But UBC still struggled on offense initially; at one point, they had a turn on a swing in front of the end zone. UBC would also strand their handlers, and none of the six players downfield would be open.
Dartmouth was up 7-2 by the time UBC decided to turn on the burners. To bring the score to 3-7, they had a clean, one-possession upwind point, where they worked it laterally with swings as well as utilizing the breakside space. On their defensive point, they used a zone look to take Dartmouth out of their sidestack where they had Verzuh isolated, but crumbled quickly into person defense because of the good matchups. After a Dartmouth drop, UBC capitalized with backhand breaks and brought the score to 4-7. On Dartmouth’s next offensive point, Zhu hucked downwind to Verzuh where the disc sailed out of bounds, not once, but twice. UBC worked the disc 70 yards upwind, closing Dartmouth’s lead to only two.
Dartmouth took half, 8-6. Out of half, Dartmouth’s offense was stagnant in the red zone, largely thanks to UBC’s smothering marks which forced two turns. But UBC had their own end zone problems; namely, they could not stay patient. Perhaps more fatal, their handler defenders were getting tired and were once again getting beat on strike cuts. Dartmouth was more explosive and was able to keep increasing their lead. They finished the game strong, 14-8.
Texas (4) v. Colorado (8)
Texas finished Colorado 14-12. Or more specifically, Julia Schmaltz finished Colorado. She had all of Melee’s goals in the second half and tallied 10 out of their 14 total goals. Colorado’s Nhi Nguyen had two deep Ds on Schmaltz, but other than that, there was no height on Kali that could compete with Texas’ six-foot-something Schmaltz.
Texas used a four-person cup against Kali, as if Kali was not a self-proclaimed lover of zone offense. But unlike other teams, Texas has players with huge wing spans, which made upfield looks daunting. They were all 5’10” or 6’0” women, and their height made holes in the cup hard to come by. At one point, Kali had no upfield looks and had to dump the disc. Repeatedly. They lost around 20 yards and were suddenly back in Texas’ end zone. They had to work the disc another 70 yards – and they did.
After Kali finally got comfortable working through the cup, Texas switched to a junky zone. Their zone looks did the trick in slowing down Kali’s momentum. Kelsey Bennett and Jessie Chesnut worked well handling together against Melee’s smothering cup, but their team still struggled to gain yards efficiently, especially in the first half. Meanwhile, Shiru Liu and Andrea Esparza had the green light for hucks. Texas’ objective was to slow down Colorado’s pace to an achingly slow one, and then score as quickly as possible. They were much more successful at stretching the field deep and connecting than Colorado, and they took risky shots to do so.
Despite Texas’ sometimes-sloppy play, they could generate Ds and earned themselves another shot at offense. Kali struggled to get Ds, and instead had to wait for Texas to turn the disc. Many Kali players were bidding, but they could not get hands on the disc. Finally, Kali’s inability to defend an unstoppable Schmaltz in the air ended their title-seeking run.
Dartmouth v. Texas – 2:30 p.m.
This game has huge players, both in play and in physicality. The most explosive match up will be between Jaclyn Verzuh and Julia Schmaltz. If there is any other player that rivals Schmaltz’s goal tallies this weekend, it’s Verzuh. It will be a battle of the giants, to be sure. The question is, who will be able to balance risk and reward better? Dartmouth’s Angela Zhu and Texas’ Shiru Liu and Andrea Esparanza are all shooters who like to put up balls for their respective receivers. But this game will be won with good decisions, despite the pressure to make big plays for ESPN.