Perspective dictates how one would view the season the South Central, as a whole, has put together. For some, they see the single bid to the College Championships, Colorado’s Centex results, and Texas’s Music City performance. For others, they see Texas A&M’s Conference Championship win, Kansas’s Midwest Throwdown victories, and Texas’s Centex rebound. It is a tale of adversity and of opportunity. Dramatics aside, tensions will be high in Kansas City, MO. Colorado is the early favorite going into the weekend, having proved themselves capable of being one of the nation’s elite, but a few teams are nipping at their heels. A few more teams may be unlikely to win the bid, but have what it takes to spoil it for someone else. The South Central is historically volatile, with four different teams having played in the past two Finals.
Here are the seedings (by my estimation) and pools:
- Colorado Kali (RM #1)
- Texas A&M Stacked (TX #1)
- Texas Melee (TX #2)
- Colorado State Hell’s Belles (RM #2)
- Missouri State (OZ #1)
- Kansas Betty (OZ #2)
- Colorado College Lysistrata’s Tools (RM #3)
- Washington University WUWU (OZ #3)
- Texas Christian University Horned Frogs (TX #3)
- Saint Louis University Ladies Ultimate (OZ #4)
- Rice Miss Red (TX #4)
- North Texas Envy (TX #5)
Pool A: Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Colorado College, Saint Louis, North Texas
Pool B: Texas A&M, Colorado St., Missouri St., Wash U, TCU, Rice
Teams must make the top four of their pool to qualify for the Championship bracket.
Without a doubt, Colorado Kali is the favorite at this tournament, but by how much is up for debate. They only have one elite win this season – 15-13 over Iowa at Centex – but almost all of their losses have been close, and all are against nationals-level competition. They are undefeated IR, going 11-10 over Texas, 15-9 over Texas A&M, and 12-10 in the Rocky Mountain Champies Final against Colorado College. Those tight games may be cause for concern, but the Colorado leadership is using it for motivation, with Captain Megan Good telling me, “We’ve had close games this season…it will be exciting to play [those teams] again this weekend”. Kali had a down year last year, finishing 5th at Regionals, but expectations are obviously different with their talent level. Senior Amanda Good is the star of the show, but her supporting cast includes the very talented senior Megan Cousins (both are U23 team selections), as well as Christina Mickle and Natalie Plaza.
Texas Melee has proven to be one of the nation’s most enigmatic squads. After an undefeated January win at Houston Antifreeze (where they beat both Rice and A&M), they lost 10 of their next 16 games, including games against Illinois and San Diego State. Since then, they are 11-3, including a victory against Pittsburgh and a blowout over Colorado College. A 6-10 loss to A&M at Texas Conference Championships cost them and does still give reasons to wonder what Melee will really do. Their 11-10 loss to Kali from Pres Day shows they are capable of competing with the top of the region. They’ll need strong weekends from senior veterans Kayla Ramirez and Diana Charrier, along with downfield playmaking from senior Sharon Tsao and sophomore Lauren McKenna, to win the bid.
The Kansas Bettys could be a dangerous team from the three seed. A strong Fall foreshadowed some good results in the Spring, most notably their 10-6 win over Wisconsin in the unpleasant weather of Midwest Throwdown. At that same tournament, they lost 10-15 to Iowa State and by two to Notre Dame, respectable results. However, they struggled at the Chicago Invite, where I’ve heard they were very short on bodies. Their two Saturday morning losses at Ozark Champies (12-14 to Oklahoma and 8-10 to Wash U) also demonstrate that they are susceptible to lapses in play. With so little room for error in Kansas City, they’ll need to find the consistency they’ve lacked. Kat Songer was one of the best handlers I saw at Midwest Throwdown, but she’ll need support from her Betty teammates if they want to break seed.
Colorado College Lysistrata’s Tools (or Strata) is probably the most underseeded team coming into South Central Regionals. Strata has wins over Northeastern, Whitman, and Florida State. They played to within two points of Colorado at their Conference Championships, but also fell to Colorado State in a placement game. That followed a first round matchup with CSU that they won by only a point. They were a point away from making the game to go last year, after winning the Region outright in 2011. They have a penchant for playing tight games, though they don’t always come out on top. With five Pool Play games, that could be a dangerous habit, but this is also exactly the kind of team that could get hot – riding the dynamic play of senior Captain and former Junior Worlds player Taylor Kanemori and tall receiver Lisi Lohre – and play spoiler.
Saint Louis’s season lacks for big wins, but a strong Conference Championships showing means they have momentum going into their biggest test. They are 0-3 against the field at Regionals, but none of those games were blowouts. If the breaks fall their way, they could upset a team looking ahead a bigger fish.
North Texas opened the season with an undefeated tournament win at Big D in Little D, and followed that up with a 4-3 record from Music City. Their Centex and Conference tournaments weren’t ideal, but they played to within a point of Texas. In fact, they’ve only lost two games by more than 5, even against stronger competition. Don’t expect them to roll over for anyone.
Texas A&M Stacked has been a team on the rise. The prospect of coming in the #2 seed has to be exciting. At last year’s Regionals, they broke seed in a major way, going undefeated Saturday and making it to Semis on Sunday. While they struggled at Midwest Throwdown, dropping a 10-11 game to Saint Louis, they are coming in hot from Conference Championships, where they upset Texas 10-6. Earlier in the year, they beat Michigan and lost to Texas 8-9. In reality, it is hard to predict how well they’ll perform Saturday, particularly against Colorado State, who seems roughly their equal. If they’re playing well, that almost certainly means senior Captain Brittaney Abney is cutting up a storm and continuing the disc downfield for them. It could also spell trouble for the traditional powers of the region.
The Colorado State Hell’s Belles have a season very similar to TAMU’s, having notched a big win in the winds of Midwest Throwdown (10-7 over Northwestern), but struggling against tougher competition at Stanford Open. Their Conference Championship win over Colorado College bodes well and breeds confidence. They are a gritty and hardworking team that is capable of winning long points. If you’re turning the disc over against them, Sarah Stamper has the playmaking throws to make you pay for it. Seeing them battle with Texas A&M should be interesting.
Missouri State Barely Legal is a bit of a mystery. Their only results before the Series are from unsanctioned Mardi Gras, where the went 6-2, with both losses to Illinois and no notable wins. However, at Ozark Conference Championships, they went undefeated, not even playing tight games. If they are peaking coming into the Series, they can catch the inconsistent teams above them napping and take advantage.
Wash U WUWU’s season has been a disappointment, when you look at their results. They took on a brutal tournament schedule, with QCTU, Midwest Throwdown, and Centex. Their best result is a 10-11 loss to Iowa State. However, this does mean they are battle tested, having competed against some of the top teams in the country all year. This probably helped them beat Kansas on Saturday at Ozark CCs, but they did also drop games to Kansas and Missouri State. The offense flows through senior Captains Danielle Blatt and Katie Walker who can use strong throws to work the disc to the break side effectively.
Texas Christian University’s season has been successful, with a nice W-L record, but they haven’t faced many strong teams. On the few occasions they have, they haven’t been able to keep up. You get the sense that their record shows who they are pretty well and while they don’t get blown out often, they also haven’t demonstrated a high ceiling. That makes it tough to predict them to break seed.
Rice Miss Red’s highlight for this year has to be winning Division III at Centex. Taking down MIT, Harvard, and USF in a row was pretty impressive for the growing program. They also have a close loss to Florida to their name. Unfortunately, they are 0-3 vs. TAMU (with none of those close) and were racked by TCU twice at Conferences. I feel like this is a team that could surprise, but those TCU losses do not engender confidence that they’ll get any wins in pool play.
Pool A: Colorado, Texas, Colorado College, Kansas, Saint Louis, North Texas
Pool B: Colorado State, Texas A&M, Missouri State, Wash U, TCU, Rice
Colorado over Wash U (closer than expected)
Colorado College over Texas A&M
Texas over Missouri State
Colorado State over Kansas (extremely close)
Colorado over Colorado College, behind a strong second half
Texas over Colorado State
Colorado over Texas
I like the strength of Pool A, in part because I like the big game experience Colorado, Texas, and Colorado College bring to the table. While I think Colorado State and Texas A&M are both capable, I’m not sure they have the dependable playmakers that those other three do. Texas has been playing better lately and they do have the horses to outrun opponents if they can keep their heads on straight. Look for Rice to break seed if they play out placement games. In the end, I don’t think it’ll be easy for Colorado, but I do feel confident they’ll emerge from the Region unscathed.