Gulf Coast Women’s Conference Championship Preview

The story of the Gulf Coast has been one of growth. Unfortunately, the rest of the region may not get a true look at it until next season. The Conference will have only a single bid to Southeast Regionals. While in the past, many of these developing teams may have had trouble competing at that level, that doesn’t appear to be the case this season. A number of teams have stepped it up, and having a single bid gives almost no room for error, so this tournament has the potential to be very exciting.

The Setup

Seeding

  1. Tulane
  2. Auburn
  3. Alabama
  4. Vanderbilt
  5. LSU
  6. Miss St.
  7. Ole Miss

Format

With 7 teams and 1 bid, the teams will play a round robin over two days. If there is an undefeated team at this point, that team will take the bid. If there is not, a four team bracket will be played out.

The Teams

The Favorite – Tulane Muses

Last season, Tulane Muses struggled with the stronger teams in the Region, but came into this same tournament, and dominated their Conference competition… on Saturday. They would, however, lose 9-10 to Auburn in the game to go and miss out on a shot to go to Regionals. This year, their strong fall results showed everyone the Muses were planning take it to a new level. Tulane’s only recorded performance is a 5-2 showing at Tally Classic, where they beat Alabama, South Carolina, and GCSU while taking a beating from Florida State and a loss to Notre Dame. They haven’t lost a game to a Conference opponent and have been one of the region’s top squads. Saturday’s performances will be pretty influential.

This is a team that can score very quickly and use their deep game to open up the field and the scoreboard. If you’re not careful, teams will find themselves down three or four without knowing what hit them. Stephanie Hurtwitz’s upline cutting and dynamite flick hucks mesh perfectly with their downfield speed. If Mallory West is healthy, they get even scarier, as she and Hannah Mellman can work with Hurwitz to decimate defenses in a hurry.

The Challengers

The Auburn Tiger Lillies are a team I still feel like we don’t really know. They had a solid T-Town Throwdown, putting the Region on notice that they wouldn’t be a pushover. At Tally Classic, they’d go 4-3, but what was of note was a 7-11 loss to South Florida and a 9-6 win over GCSU. They would lose a later game 0-7 to South Florida, perhaps cause for concern. However, Auburn has demonstrated that teams taking them lightly could end up regretting it. Last year, they upset top seeded Tulane 10-9 on Sunday to knock them out of contention. They may get their shot to do the same this year and to head to Regionals for the second straight season. Katie Cuson is at the center of their attack, acting as a steady reset and firing hucks.

A rising program that I expect to keep growing, Alabama Ramma Jamma had a strong fall season that had them looking primed to be a favorite in the Gulf Coast. However, their spring results were disappointing, going 2-5 at a windy Flick’n Nuts and losing their Tally Classic games against good competition (7-10 vs. Tulane and 7-9 vs. South Carolina). In addition, they beat Rhode Island 13-4 – the same score Auburn beat them by – and nearly were upset by Florida-B. The 7-10 game against Tulane shows potential for this team to bring it when they need to, which may be the exact attitude they need to make their move at GCCCs. Abbey Sedlacek’s prowess as a handler opens up the field for them, while Megan Wojick does a bit of everything for them, taking on tough matchups, throwing breaks, and making big bids. This is a team that plays tough defense and has the athletes to challenge deep. If their windy tournament schedule has polished the throws of their second and third handlers and cutters, their offense could become scary quickly.

The reigning champ of the Gulf Coast is Vanderbilt VUDU, who went 5-2 at this tournament last season. This year, they’ve managed a 4-3 record from Music City Mash-Up, where they beat LSU 11-10 and Tennessee 11-9. They topped Harding, who nearly upset Georgia Tech and who beat LSU, and gave a close game to a Rice team that beat LSU, Harvard, MIT, and nearly Florida at points during the season. They could actually be the team in the best position to challenge Tulane and once again take the throne.

The Longshots

LSU could very nearly fall into the above category, but their season’s results are just a little too marked with red for me to take them. Their head to head loss to Vanderbilt was a one point affair, but they struggled against Rice and Vermont. They fell to Georgia Tech 6-9, as well. They do have a 12-5 win over Mississippi State and a 10-6 win over Indiana that show positive signs. The depend heavily on the play of University School of Nashville grad Allyson Lutz, who has some monster throws she can put up in bad conditions or against even strong marks. LSU would need to be playing their best Ultimate all weekend to steal the bid.

Mississippi State Night Mares has had a tough year, still experiencing the growing pains of a newer program. They notched a win over Hendrix earlier in the year, but fell 5-12 to LSU. Katy Fuqua leads this group, and putting up strong games against LSU and Ole Miss will go a long towards instilling confidence for Night Mares.

Ole Miss Hotty Toddy is in a similar situation to their in state rivals, MSU. Still a growing program, they have few results to look back on, but have started hosting their own fall tournament. They’ll be looking to improve on last year’s performance at this tournament, where they struggled offensively against more experienced opponents. Marielle Oestermayer is a player to watch on the roster, and she’ll be a focal point for them offensively.

Predictions

Tulane goes 6-0, surviving a couple of scares. Everyone laments bid situation and the team leaders band together next year to vow to get in more sanctioned games by hosting tournaments, leading T-Town Throwdown and an Ole Miss spring tournament. Next year’s Regionals has 3 Gulf Coast teams.

  1. Tulane
  2. Auburn
  3. Vanderbilt
  4. Alabama
  5. LSU
  6. Mississippi State
  7. Ole Miss
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