Atlantic Coast Women’s Regionals

2013 College SeriesEvery year, there’s a Region that feels like they just don’t have all the bids to the Championships they deserve. This year, no Region has more room to gripe than the Atlantic Coast. With three strong teams vying for one bid, and challengers lurking in the lower seeds, there should be plenty of drama. The traditional powers of North Carolina and UNC-Wilmington have, since the regional redraw, had to deal with competition from Virginia. This year, Virginia is the favorite, having proven themselves among the elite. However, both other teams have some big wins that show their potential. One bid tournaments tend to be very unforgiving, so teams have to take advantage of every opportunity. Expect fireworks for Atlantic Coast Women’s Regionals in Axton, VA.

Here, by my estimations, are the seedings and pools:

  1. Virginia (VA #1)
  2. North Carolina (CAR #1)
  3. UNC-Wilmington (CAR #2)
  4. Maryland (COL #1)
  5. Virginia Tech (VA #2)
  6. James Madison (VA #3)
  7. Towson (COL #2)
  8. South Carolina (CAR #3)
  9. Duke (CAR #4)
  10. Clemson (CAR #5)
  11. American (COL #3)
  12. Delaware (COL #4)
  13. Appalachian State (CAR #6)
  14. Georgetown (COL #5)
  15. George Washington (COL #6)
  16. Virginia Commonwealth (VA #4)

Pool A: Virginia, South Carolina, Delaware, Appalachian State

Pool B: North Carolina, Towson, American, Georgetown

Pool C: UNC-Wilmington, James Madison, Clemson, George Washington

Pool D: Maryland, Virginia Tech, Duke, Virginia Commonwealth

Pool winners bye into Quarters while the second and third teams in each pool play PreQuarters crossover games.

Pool Play

Pool A

Virginia Hydra, the Atlantic Coast’s reigning Champ, announced themselves in the Region with a third place finish in 2011 before winning it all last year. Now, they’ve become the favorite in the Region to take their only bid. In just a few short years, they’ve become a power, despite roster turnover, indicating a strong program. They have wins over Stanford, Colorado, and Ohio State, but perhaps more importantly, they have wins over North Carolina and UNC-Wilmington. However, they aren’t invincible: UNC-Wilmington beat them 11-10 at QCTU and James Madison played them close at Virginia Conference Championships. This is a team that knows how to compete against the best and can also efficiently close games against weaker opponents. These attributes will be pivotal this weekend. Senior and 2012 2nd Team All-Region selection Mary Kelly is a force in the air for Hydra, with support from junior speedster Theresa Hackett and sophomore stud & 2012 FOTY Alika Johnston (calling this: future Callahan Finalist). They play suffocating defense and will strike mercilessly back once they force their opponents into bad plays. Hydra’s disciplined, aggressive, and well coached. At their best, this is a Semis-quality team at the College Championships.

Alika Johnston is a rising star in the game, and a huge part of Hydra’s continued success

South Carolina Scorch has had a bit of an up and down season so far. While they have wins over Georgia Tech, Georgia College, Duke, and Towson, they also have losses to Appalachian State, Clemson, and Chicago. They have the potential to make Quarters, but they could also turn in a poor showing if they aren’t prepared for the rigors of the Region. Adrienne Turner and Noel Holmes provide the team’s top options and will need to be on their game to help lead Scorch to success.

Delaware Sideshow’s season story begins with Nikki Ross, their all star handler, who has missed the whole season with a ligament tear. For Sideshow, it doesn’t end there. They’ve had ample time to move on and make adjustments. It shows, with blowout wins over American and Yale, and a nice win over Rochester at Garden State III. They posted a few more wins over the field at Colonial Conference Championships, demonstrating they could also make a move to Quarters.

The Appalachian State Nonads played well when they needed to at Carolina Conference Champies, notching a win over South Carolina and playing well in losses to Duke and Clemson. They also have a win over VCU, so breaking seed is definitely possible for them this weekend.

Pool B

UNC-Wilmington Seaweed is playing their best at the right time. While they’ve shown potential all year, their early returns were not what they hoped. They dropped games against Pittsburgh, California, and a blowout loss against Michigan. Along the way, they’ve played some of the nation’s top teams tight, while scoring wins over Virginia, Ohio State, and UC-Santa Barbara. At Conference Championships, they were able to beat UNC to take the Conference crown. To add onto their momentum, Claire Chastain was recently announced as the final member of the Skyd Five Callahan nominees. And honestly, she might be the best women’s player in the county. She’ll be backed up by sophomore Sadie Gosselin, who continues to emerge as a playmaker for Seaweed.

UNC-W superstar and Callahan nominee Claire Chastain with a big bid against UNC’s own stud, Shellie Cohen

Towson Hammertime has been on the rise, going from a team fighting to make Regionals to one that can compete on a bigger scale. They haven’t seen many teams this year quite like the top end of the AC, but have strong games against NYU and scored two wins over American at their Conference tournament. They are 3-1 on the year against teams in their pool. Led by Captain Jordin Fox, they’ll be looking to hold seed and find a way into Quarters.

The American University Dirty Ladies have followed the suit of Towson, developing over the past few years from a team fighting to get Regionals to a competitive team on the scene. Their season got off to a rocky start at Bonanza – though they notched their lone win over Towson – but they rebounded at Garden State, beating Rochester and Delaware and playing well against Cornell. Their losses to Towson and close wins against Georgetown may cause some concern, but there is talent within this group. Senior and U23 Women’s team member Lauren Sadler is one of the region’s top playmakers and defenders. She has help from fellow seniors Jess Wolf and Aly Martori, plus leadership from Coach Shino Yoshen.

Georgetown Huckin’ Foyas have struggled in some regards this season. That isn’t a huge surprise, losing the talented Alisha Kramer, who essentially built the program. However, their close games against American at Colonial Champies give hope they can crack the PreQuarters games. Junior Sue Marie Breeden is a key cog in the Huckin’ Foyas machine.

Pool C

North Carolina Pleiades are not used to being on the outside looking in. Finishing just barely out of reach for another bid for the AC, they’ll need to put on a great weekend to get back to the College Championships, where they made Quarters last year. They know they can beat just about anyone in the country, with two wins over Wisconsin and Central Florida, and additional wins over Colorado and Tufts. Unfortunately, two teams they haven’t beaten are rival UNC-Wilmington, who they fell to 13-15 in the Carolina Conference Final, and Virginia, who they lost to 12-14 at Centex. If they hit a rough patch, like they did at Stanford Invite, it could get ugly, but this is a smart team that is close knit. Coaches Lindsay Hack and Raj Prasad will have them well prepared. FFH All Star handler Shellie Cohen anchors their offense with her arsenal of field changing throws, while cutter Lisa Couper provides downfield speed and shutdown defense. Both are U23 team players. Kendall Beadleson has also stepped up as a playmaking receiver. Pleiades will need all hands on deck to get back to the show for the sixth straight season, as their projected path takes through both UNC-Wilmington and Virginia.

UNC’s Lisa Couper gets up for a grab at last year’s College Championships.

The James Madison Bitchmonkeys were one of the buzzier teams in the region at the beginning of the year. They played their way to the Final of Winta Binta Vinta Fest and went undefeated at their home tournament, Bonanza. Along the way, they got wins over NYU, Penn State, and two over Penn. However, they’d lose seven games at their next two tournaments, taking the shine off. At Conferences, they lost twice to Virginia Tech, a worrisome trend. Senior Victoria Elmore will need to play well and the team will need to refocus coming into a tournament where they need to prove they aren’t outclassed.

The Clemson Tiger Lillies have some potential to break seed at this tournament, but could also find themselves struggling. Their results are mixed bag – wins over Vermont, South Carolina, and Georgetown, but losses against Georgia Tech and Duke – that leave you unsure of what damage they can really do. It will be a tall task to ask them to make Quarters, but this is a veteran laden team that won’t back down.

The George Washington Lady Hippos have had some bright spots this season, but most of those have been close losses. Playing Vermont and Rochester close are nice, but Conference tournament blowout losses against American and Towson, and a pair of losses to Delaware, are disconcerting. Junior Zoe Dorian will be relied on heavily if G-Dub wants to make a splash in Axton.

Pool D

Maryland Helpful Corn has had to adjust over the past few years. The former ruler of their Region, the regional redraw brought over traditional AC powers that have forced Corn to take a back seat. Still, this is a program with a strong history and sense of pride. Their big win over Pittsburgh at QCTU proves they can take out strong opponents, and they’ve lost only one game to an AC opponent (7-13 to UNC-W). Sasha Bugler is one of the premier talents the region has to offer and Jessie O’Conner has proved herself capable against strong competition. Their offense will flow through these two and will need to be pinpoint in order to run with the big dogs.

The Virginia Tech Burnettes have put together a decent resume, but didn’t really enter the conversation until they beat JMU twice at Conferences. Whenever they have had to take on strong squads, they’ve folded (save a win over Cornell), so it was a welcome change. If they can beat Maryland and take pool D, it will give them a signifcantly better chance of making Semis.

Duke Swerve comes into the weekend looking to build on a solid Conference Championships performance, where they went 5-2. Getting wins over Clemson and App State are a nice start for Duke, adding to wins over Carleton Eclipse and Emory from earlier tournaments. I’ve had no success in locating a name, but they do have a particular player – tall, blonde hair – who is a great athlete, able to cut effectively for extended periods of time and make some highlight reel grabs.

Virginia Commonwealth is looking to make Regionals a habit. They finished tied for 9th last year, and lost a lot of their talent with outgoing seniors. They’ve had a year to acclimate to new roles, and brought it together at Conferences to qualify. They have the experience of being here before, so we will see if they can repeat last season’s success with so much new blood.

Predictions

Pool Play

Pool A: Virginia, South Carolina, Delaware, Appalachian State

Pool B: UNC-Wilmington, American, Towson, Georgetown

Pool C: North Carolina, James Madison, Clemson, George Washington

Pool D: Maryland, Virginia Tech, Duke, Virginia Commonwealth

After the dust settles, almost every pool will go to seed. In Pool B, I’m thinking all three teams after UNC-W go 1-2, but this is their point differential results.

PreQuarters

American over Clemson

James Madison over Towson

Virginia Tech over Delaware

Duke over South Carolina

Quarters

Virginia over American

Maryland over James Madison

North Carolina over Virginia Tech

UNC-Wilmington over Duke

Semifinals

Virginia over Maryland

North Carolina edges UNC-Wilmington

Final

Virginia over North Carolina

Final Thoughts

If North Carolina and UNC-Wilmington weren’t playing each other in the Semifinal, they’d have a shot at Virginia. Coming off a game that is almost certain to be a slugfest, it is going to be hard to have the legs needed to run with the #1 seeded Hydra. While Chastain’s talent is unmatched in the region, I think the organization and leadership of North Carolina should be able to make the adjustments needed between Conferences and Regionals. I expect that Semi to be a great game though. It should be a hell of a weekend in Axton.

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2 thoughts on “Atlantic Coast Women’s Regionals

  1. Pingback: Weekend Slate: Regionals Begin, MLU and AUDL Week 2 | Full Field Hammer

  2. Pingback: Up Calls: Bids to Natties, pro ulti, Skyd 5 | Full Field Hammer

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