By: Anneke Vermaak
With no upsets, the first round went as expected. The closest game was between Colorado Kali and Ohio State Fever, which Kali took 14-12. Kali’s zone offense at this point in the weekend is polished; Ohio State attempted zone defense, but Kali put their heads down and ground it out. When there were sloppy points, Kali won the long ones. Against defensive pressure from Fever, Colorado cutters stayed cool and attacked the disc. Gritty Ohio State stayed in the game by staying calm in the red zone and calling their plays. It took their legs a bit to warm up, but out of half, they looked good, earning breaks and connecting on hucks. Unfortunately, Ohio State ran out of time and soft cap ended the game at 14.
The most exciting game of the round was Oregon’s upset of Dartmouth. Fugue was up 3-0 on Princess Layout when Dartmouth fired back with three breaks in a row of their own. Fugue’s Ella Hansen prevented any further slips; she blocked a huck that Zhu put up and was a work horse for Oregon in the backfield. For those asking, “what happened?” there were three things Oregon succeeded at that allowed them to upset Dartmouth. First, Oregon consistently connected on their deep shots. Dartmouth, on the other hand, forced throws in hopes that players downfield would be able to run them down. Occasionally, a bailout throw would find Verzuh in the end zone, but more often than not, the huck was into tight coverage or out of reach. Second, Oregon was scrappier than Princess Layout; it looked like they wanted it more. Fugue players put their bodies on the ground laying out for discs that were two inches off the ground. Third, Oregon adjusted better to what Dartmouth was doing. When the usual suspects of Zhu and Verzuh could connect, Oregon changed up their defensive strategy. They utilized a 2-3-2 zone to contain Dartmouth’s aggressive deep looks and force swings in the backfield. They generated two turns because there were no viable upfield shots.
Oregon took half at 8-6 and never looked back. Dartmouth had several drops at vital times, including one in the end zone. Combined with bailout looks from the handlers, Princess Layout could never gain the momentum they needed after their first string of breaks in the beginning of the game. Oregon got the 15-10 win.
Virginia faced Tufts in the second round of Saturday pool play. It was tied at eights when EWO dropped the disc and left Hydra freshman Blaise Sevier unguarded and streaking deep. The Tufts defense caught up, but Hydra worked the disc in for the goal past Tuft’s smothering pressure.
Hydra’s Brandi Skanes provided highlight reel plays on both offense and defense. As Tufts worked the disc, Skanes had a layout bid for an under throw. She did not quite get a hand on it but, later in the point, succeeded in getting a layout D for Hydra. In general, Virginia stayed cool under the EWO pressure. Another huge play included Skanes scoring Virginia’s game point on Tuft’s Jojo Emerson. Virginia beat Tufts 12-10.
Stanford and Pittsburgh matched up in the third round of Saturday pool play. Stanford had already won the pool and decided to rest Monisha White, but Pittsburgh Danger still took advantage of the opportunity to beat the tournament’s one seed. Danger did not mess around. They got layout Ds and then sent aggressive deep shots. In zone looks from Stanford, they successfully used bladey over-the-top throws and, from there, took away shots, scoring before defenders from Superfly’s cup could catch up to the action. Pitt also played fantastic defense and scored easily via break throws. Specifically, Carolyn Normile was a huge threat as a deep defender, skying Courtney Gegg and putting pressure on every shot that went up near her.
Stanford Superfly also had drops at vital times, including two in the end zone alone, and Danger’s zone was able to contain Superfly near their end zone. Stanford had a few too-casual open-side throws which would turn into Ds for laying out Pitt players. Pitt Danger upset Stanford, 15-12.
Colorado Kali took an early lead against Carleton College, going up 5-1. Carleton struggled to come out with fire and turned the disc over with drops, throws into coverage and missed swings. They also struggled with not cutting each other off on offense. Luckily for Syzygy, they cleaned up their offense and fixed their execution errors, closing the gap. Ultimately, Kali’s offense overwhelmed Carleton College, and Colorado won on double-game point, 12-11.
On the edge of Heritage Oak Park, UCLA faced off against Tufts. It was a low-energy game with a relatively quiet sideline, and in the mid-day, 85-degree heat, the players were conserving their energy. UCLA BLU star player and Callahan nominee Han Chen showcased her hammers consistently against EWO’s zone defense. BLU played good, patient offense while using creative, over-the-top bladey or upside-down throws to overcome Tuft’s zone. In turn, Tuft’s zone offense successfully stretched the field deep with their poppers. Other times, however, Tufts took risky shots, and the UCLA defense punished the decision making of the Tufts handlers. BLU implemented a tactic where the handler defenders poached in the upfield lanes, forcing the EWO handlers to look wide, where defenders like Audree Hsu and Chen would eat up bladey, cross-field looks. BLU was also successful at containing the breakside throws EWO likes to take. Then in person offense, just when EWO started to look smooth, they would end up with a drop just outside their end zone.
UCLA beat Tufts 15-12. Tufts’ underwhelming weekend prevented them from making bracket play.
No upsets occurred in the women’s pre-quarters. Dartmouth battled Michigan, felling Flywheel 15-7. Dartmouth played clean offense, utilizing breakside space and gaining big yards with their under cuts.
Virginia finished Notre Dame 15-9. Like in Notre Dame’s game against Dartmouth, Womb exerted so much energy running down out-of-reach deep shots that their defense suffered. One such deep shot was an around break backhand that floated just out of bounds on the sideline that Julia Butterfield had to pump the breaks on. A similar throw was let off just a few minutes later, and even though she had steps on her defender, she stopped running and shrugged helplessly, saying “I’m not going for that!” Butterfield was tired, and the shots her teammates were putting up were not taking into account teammates’ energy levels.
Texas took care of Carleton College, 14-10. Riddled with calls, the game had a rocky start. There were few points with uncontested plays throughout, and it slowed down the pace of the game. It seemed as if everyone was rattled: the Texas coach, the observers, players, and even the parents. Not only was the game physically sloppy, but both teams made poor decisions with away looks to no one. Texas, however, did not let any of these factors get in the way of them taking the lead. Melee spread the field wide when Syzygy threw zone looks, allowing them to easily find holes in the cup upfield. While Carleton’s defense had improved immensely — thanks largely to Laura Soter, who had two Ds in the same number of points – they struggled to otherwise find their rhythm.
Colorado beat California 15-8. Kali’s signature “slow and steady” zone offense and scrappy plays found them in the driver’s seat. The Pie Queens were unable to contain Kali’s break throws, and when the latter took half at 8-3, they never looked back.