North Central Women’s Regionals Preview

2013 College Series

It may be poetic justice that the hottest region in the country was going to have snow on the ground for their Championship tournament. The North Central Region hijacked five bids to the College Championships, producing some of the top talent in the country. I’m surprised there hasn’t been an Ultiworld discussion over whether or not they are collectively stronger than the Northwest this season. The rise of Minnesota adds a lot of firepower and the mercurial highs and lows of Wisconsin’s season leaves you wondering what they will bring to the table should they be on the fields in Madison. The number of bids and the collection of top talent saps some of the excitement out of it, but seeing how these teams stack up against one another in Northfield, MN Cedar Falls, IA will be fun.

Here are the seedings (by my estimation) and pools:

  1. Iowa State (WNC #1)
  2. Iowa (WNC #2)
  3. Carleton (WNC #3)
  4. Minnesota (WNC #4)
  5. Wisconsin (LS #1)
  6. Wisconsin-Eau Claire (LS #2)
  7. Northern Iowa (WNC #5)
  8. Nebraska (WNC #6)
  9. Luther (NC-III #1)
  10. Wisconsin-Milwaukee (LS #3)
  11. Winona State (WNC #7)
  12. Minnesota-Duluth (WNC #8)

Pool A: Iowa State, Minnesota, Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Northern Iowa, Luther, Minnesota-Duluth

Pool B: Iowa, Carleton, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Winona State

Pool winners play in Championship game and have locked up a bid. 2nd/3rd in each pool make the 2nd place bracket (winning their first game in this bracket locks up a bid). 4th/5th start in the 5th place bracket, losers from first round of 2nd place bracket drop down, and this is the final bracket with a bid. Last in each pool is eliminated.

Pool Play

Pool A

Iowa State's Becca Miller lets go of a sharp high release backhand

Iowa State’s Becca Miller lets go of a sharp high release backhand

Iowa State Woman Scorned comes into the Regional tournament the #1 seed, after trailing the region most of the season. To me, this never seemed a talent issue. Their coaches, the Seilers (Kevin and Lana), have had them building depth all season, not really concerned with margins of victory; just four of their wins came by 6 or more in the regular season. This allowed them to develop their young players, like freshmen Britnee Grimshaw, into solid contributors. The Four Horsemen of Scorn (I’m testing this out) – Sarah Pesch, Magon Liu, Cami Nelson, and Callahan nominee Becca Miller, all U23 selections – give them top end talent to match up with anybody, so don’t let their scores fool you. Even with an open rotation, they’ve beaten Tufts, Ohio State, and Carleton, championship-level opponents. Their vicious transition offense chews up yardage very quickly, with Pesch anchoring behind the disc. Nelson and Miller give them arguably the country’s best defensive pairing, and Liu is an elite playmaker. They went undefeated at Conferences, beating Iowa, Minnesota, and Carleton, and will look to do the same here.

Minnesota Ninja Ultimate has burst onto the scene this year, to the surprise of nobody in the know. The region has been sensing the rise of the program, who played well versus Iowa and Iowa State at last year’s Regional tournament. The buzz proved justified, with Midwest Throwdown serving as the breakout tournament. Their season has wins over three out of four of the other top teams in their region (they’re 0-1 vs. Carleton), as well as wins over UCF and Santa Barbara, and a strong Centex showing against Tufts. This deep team gets contributions from two sets of sisters: the DePalmas, Natalie and Emily, and the Regans, Emily and Greta. Downfield monster and U23 selection Sarah Meckstroth, Captain Andrea Crumrine, and 2012 FOTY Mindi DiPaola add more firepower to their arsenal. Both Crumrine and Natalie DePalma are 2012 2nd Team All-Region picks. With Coach Pat Niles running their show, the Ninjas are fully capable of breaking seed and being a 2nd seed in a College Championships pool.

Wisconsin-Eau Claire Sol has proven themselves a growing and regionally competitive program. In another region, without such impressive top end strength, they would be a team in the mix. However, in the North Central, they are a darkhorse. They’ve had strong performances in losses to Minnesota, Iowa, and Florida State, while taking Ws over Wash U and Emory. They’re an athletic group with good chemistry that allows them to excel in the inclement weather of the region. Brit Gartner anchors their offense, which may be at it’s best when she’s getting a generous amount of touches. She’s supported but veteran receivers Mariah Dorner, Estelle Taquet, and Emy Marier. If they catch a tired Minnesota or wildly inconsistent Wisconsin at a low point, maybe they can pull a shocker.

Northern Iowa Pandamonium will be looking to get a boost from being the hometown team, since the field site change, and to break seed. They’ve consistently gotten comfortable wins over the teams below them at Regionals, but have struggled to compete with teams above them. Their best win is over Missouri. They’ll need to push their game to a new level this weekend on home turf. Watch out for returning 2012 2nd Team FOTY Danielle Sweet to make an impact.

Luther Freya will be fighting to put up some good results and continue success from their Conference Championship weekend. They went 6-2 at NC-III Conferences, getting some big wins. They lost a weather-challenged 4-6 game at Southerns against Minnesota-Duluth. The end of Saturday this weekend will offer a chance for some revenge.

Minnesota Duluth will have a challenging weekend ahead of them, if their regular season results are any indication. They have some close losses and have a win over a FSU-B team that made Regionals. The caliber of team they will see this weekend, however, could make it hard for them to put up a ton of points. They have a win over Luther and a close loss to Winona State, so they will get some chances to come away with wins.

Pool B

Iowa Captain Anna Pritchard extends for a grab at Conferences

Iowa Captain Anna Pritchard extends for a grab at Conferences

Iowa Saucy Nancy is the top seed in the pool and their results are those of one of the nation’s top teams. They have lost just one game out of region – a close game against Colorado – while besting the likes of Ohio State, Tufts, Georgia, and Virginia. “We are the strongest region,” claimed Captain Liza Minor, backed up by Iowa’s 8-5 record against the other top four teams in the region, “it will be a tough battle for each and every bid spot.” Nancy may be the region’s deepest squad, with top end talent like Chelsea Twohig and Minor, who are both versatile studs. Behind them, Bekah Hickernell, Jen Nowak, Audrey Erickson, and Anna Pritchard provide additional high quality depth. Of the teams I’ve watched this year, they also seemed the most comfortable with a variety of different looks on both offense and defense, giving them to ability to adjust to their opponents’ weaknesses. Iowa is the reigning champ of the North Central, and to them, that means something, Minor explained, “We still want to prove ourselves the best of the pack.”

Carleton Syzyzgy has put together a strong regular season for themselves that shows they have to be considered in the Regional title discussion. They have a pair of big wins over Virginia and wins over Ohio State, Central Florida, and Stanford. They’re kryptonite has been Iowa State, who beat them in the game to go last season and whom they are 0-3 against this season. Fortunately, Iowa State is all the way over in Pool A. They’re 2-0 against Minnesota and 2-2 against Iowa. Certainly, with senior handler Anna Reed, the team’s lone returning All-Region selection, they are capable of winning the pool. Reed has arguably the most explosive set of throws in the country. The talent around her, like veteran handlers Julia Snyder, Taylor Want, and Kirstie Barton, plus high impact cutters Grace Quintana, Flannery McArdle, and Marley Hartman-Filson, keeps teams from focusing on shutting down Reed while allowing Carleton to apply defensive pressure.

Wisconsin Bella Donna has shown us a little bit of everything this year. Their opener at Queen City had highs (a win over Virginia) and lows (and 6-9 loss to UCF). Midwest Throwdown saw them get whipped by Minnesota, lose to Kansas, and fall to Iowa, but they still took home a win against Northwestern. Then came Stanford Invite, where they rolled through some of the nation’s elite, slamming British Columbia & North Carolina, beating Washington, Stanford, and Santa Barbara, and coming within two points of beating Oregon in the Final for an undefeated win of the tournament. Hype and buzz shot up, but came right back down when Centex handed them losses to Santa Barbara, Stanford, and North Carolina. The ceiling here is very high, but they also have the potential to disappear against top talent. When things are working for Bella, it is often because majestic All-Region handler Rebecca Enders is calmly taking complete control of the pace of the game. She has a stable of athletic cutter/defender combos in Al Ellis, 2012 All-Region selection Biz Cook, and high flying Sara Scott. Anna Shanedling and Sydney Dobkin help Enders out around the disc. Coach Alex Snyder, one of the top vets in the Women’s club circuit, has had them running in rotation-specific lines this season, and it’ll be interesting to see if their roles are more defined and chemistry clicking because of that.

The Nebraska Cuddle Raptors are a team that is on the rise. In their three years competing in the Series, they’ve made it to Regionals twice. After not making it last year, they come in this year as the 8th seed. They’ve done well against their non-elite in region competition, but have some questionable losses, too. They’re a loud, spirited, high energy bunch led by Captains Emily Lander and Kathleen Lovgren. The Raptors are tall and athletic, able to snag discs and win hustle plays, and are happy to go horizontal when called for.

Wisconsin-Milwaukee Black Cat Women’s Ultimate is coming into Regionals after a very strong Conference Championships showing. Their regular season results left something to be desired, but this is after the team set out to take on tougher competition this season. However, at Lake Superior Conferences, they were able to win almost every game on the way to a third place finish. They will need to play confident and aggressive to break seed this weekend, relying on the play of Taylor Koehling and Heather Anhen.

Winona State Bad Monaz already have some wins over the regional opponents they will see this weekend and it could be important for their chances. Their 12-9 Champies win over Minnesota-Duluth shows them they can compete this weekend, but it will be hard to expect them to make an impact in such a strong field.

Predictions

Pool Play

Pool A: Iowa State, Minnesota, Wisconsin-Eau Claire, Northern Iowa, Luther, Minnesota-Duluth

Pool B: Carleton, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nebraska, UW-Milwaukee, Winona St.

Championship Final

Iowa State over Carleton

2nd Place Bracket Quarters

Wisconsin over Minnesota

Iowa over Wisconsin-Eau Claire

2nd Place Bracket – Semi & Final

Iowa over Wisconsin

Iowa over Carleton

5th Place Bracket

Northern Iowa over UW-Milwaukee

Nebraska over Luther

Minnesota over Northern Iowa

Wisconsin-Eau Claire over Nebraska

Minnesota over Wisconsin-Eau Claire

Final Thoughts

Alright, so that was confusing. Iowa State, Carleton, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota wind up your top five in that order. Iowa State, to me, is the best team in the region. Other teams might be deeper, but they’ve worked hard to develop their back end enough to keep up. Meanwhile, the Four Horsemen are unguardable. Even if a team holds them down, the Seilers will find ways to take use that group more effectively.

Iowa and Carleton are such a close pair, as their 2-2 record indicates. Carleton’s height and downfield play could mean trouble for Iowa. I’m curious who the weather favors: Iowa’s disciplined zone play or Carleton’s height and strong handling group? I think they split, like they have this year and like they did at Conferences.

I like Minnesota over Wisconsin in a general sense, but Snyder and Wisconsin’s experience can help them beat Minnesota at this point. It feels like a crapshoot when you’re prognosticating the Bellas.

It is hard to call – these teams have beaten each other all year – so this feels like guesswork, but rest assured these teams will emerge battle tested and ready to take on the country’s best.

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Up Calls: Bids to Natties, pro ulti, Skyd 5

Let’s just jump in (College Series brief recaps at the end):

Headlines

  • Skyd announced their Wild Card candidates for the Skyd Five Callahan nominees, their shortlist of top players. On the Women’s side, UNC-Wilmington’s Claire Chastain was chosen. On the Open side, Texas’s Will Driscoll was chosen.
  • Brodie Smith’s China Trick Shot video is attracting some attention. Honestly? It was super awkward, but that’s just me.
  • Skyd’s also collecting – and updating – this Callahan videos page. Who needs RSD? Shouts out to Reddit though.
  • Know some kids who wanna play Ultimate? Nike Ultimate camps, offering overnight and day camp.
  • Here are you College Championships Qualifiers. Skip this if you wanna read more detailed stuff below: (Open) Texas, Colorado, North Carolina, UNC-Wilmington, Pittsburgh, Ohio, Cornell, Oregon, Washington, Illinois; (Women) Virginia, Texas, Ohio State, Ottawa, Northwestern.

MLU Scoreboard

  • PHI Spinners @ NY Rumble: The usual suspects were at it in this one, with Hirranet, Murray, and Shull turning in strong Spinners’ stats. Chris Mazur put up a fight for the Rumble, with Ben Faust turning in a nice first half and Jonathan Cox picking up slack in the second. It wasn’t enough for NY, Spinners win, 19-17.
  • BOS Whitecaps @ DC Current: Lots of hucks in the first half of this one, but tight all the way, 11-11 at half. Peter Prial made a great debut for the Whitecaps, involved in a lot of plays. Boston wins, 20-19.
  • POR Stags @ SEA Rainmakers: Seth Wiggins was putting on a clinic in Seattle, filling up the stat sheet. It was 7-7 as the teams neared half, but Seattle scored a pair for 9-7, and rolled from there. Rainmakers win, 18-12.
  • SF Dogfish @ VAN Nighthawks: The Nighthawks would spend the first half trailing, but take the lead twice in the second half. With under a minute to go, a hammer tied it at 17s. San Francisco would work the field, call a timeout, and bury the game winning score with 6 seconds left. Dogfish win, 17-16.
  • VAN Nighthawks @ POR Stags (Sunday): After trading their way up to 5s, the Nighthawks would get a little breathing room, taking half 12-9. Despite Ben Lohre and Ben McGinns solid outings, they could never get it closer than two from there.. Nighthawks get the W, 21-17.

AUDL Scoreboard

  • ROC Dragons @ PHI Phoenix: The Phoenix’s home opener saw them get out to an early lead. Over time, the Philly team would just overwhelm the Dragons. This team is not a fluke. Phoenix wins, 26-14.
  • TOR Rush @ NY Empire: Isaiah Masek-Kelly (3G, 2A), Jeff Lindquist (5G, 2A), and Cameron Harris (6A, all second half) led the way for the visiting Rush, overcoming the Husayn Carnegie show that is the Empire. Lots of layouts from him, but Rush win, 22-14.
  • DET Mechanix @ CIN Revolution: Saturday’s rain in Cinci kept this to a low scoring affair – and even stopped the game for roughly 30 mins – but could not stop the road team from stealing a win. The Mechanix move above .500, Detroit wins 15-11.
  • WC Wildifre @ IND Alleycats: A really tight first half in this one, but the Wildfire trio of Brodie Smith, AJ Nelson, and Geoff Serednesky proved too much, with a big run late in the game to open it up. Wildfire win, 25-15.
  • MAD Radicals @ MIN Wind Chill: The visitors played a tight one and emerged the winner of the first game in this classic rivalry. Madison wins, 22-20.
  • ROC Dragons @ DC Breeze (Sunday): An exciting game for a Breeze team hungry for their first win and the Dragons on a back to back after being severely shorthanded by Regionals eating up a lot of their roster. The teams went to OT, where the Breeze’s TJ Ryan caught a score with 4 seconds left to force sudden death double OT. The Breeze would pull it out with a score from Justin Solis, Breeze win 26-25
  • CIN Revolution @ WC Wildfire (Sunday): Brodie Smith had a dominant first half for the Wildfire, but the Revolution D-line would not quit, keeping it close. However, the Wildfire closed hard, winning the 4th quarter 7-3, making a Windy City win, 23-16.
  • TOR Rush @ NJ Hammerheads: The Rush took a 20-9 lead into the half. The Hammerheads – ME Regionals taking some of their talent – actually won the second half, but moral victories don’t get you into the playoffs. Rush win, 29-19.

USAU College Series

A brief Saturday recap/Sunday preview can be found here.

Women’s

  • Atlantic Coast Regionals was one of the more dramatic weekend tournaments. Virginia, after playing just 32 points in the Quarters and Semis, came into the Final fresh. North Carolina played 49 points coming into, a little over half a game more. This was in large part because Pleiades had to go through rival UNC-W, who they beat 15-13, in the Semi. However, the Carolina women fought and kept it very close, demonstrating what a quality them they (and by extension, UNC-W) are. They’d fall 12-15. Virginia advances to the College Championships.
  • Metro East Regionals was no easy region. The top four seeds all made their into the Semi, though Rochester took a strong push from Princeton, 14-12. Both Semis were good games, Ottawa beating Cornell 12-10 and NYU topping Rochester 14-12. It was a blow for blow Final, but Ottawa keeps the status quo with a very tight 11-9 win. Ottawa advances to the College Championships.
  • Great Lakes Regionals despite Purdue and Notre Dame’s Semis runs, this Region sort of all seemed like it would going to come down to Michigan vs. Northwestern. The two top teams in the Region battled it out, and Gung Ho gutted out the win, 15-12. Northwestern advances to the College Championships.
  • Ohio Valley Regionals is a Region that belongs firmly to Ohio State Fever. I said in my preview that “anything less than dominance is not an option.” Well, they delivered. Fever never gave up more than 4 points. Pitt’s first round 11-10 win over Penn might have taken some of their energy away, but rolled in the Semifinal. Fever won the Final, 15-1, a hell of a statement. Ohio State advances to the College Championships.
  • Southeast Regionals…was rained (well, lightning’d, actually) out and postponed until next weekend.
  • South Central Regionals saw the surprises of Saturday give way to more expected results Sunday. Colorado and Texas both made Semis, along with a strong Colorado College squad and a determined Texas A&M team. Neither could keep up with the Regional powers, setting up a rematch of Saturday’s Pool A top end. Melee took half 8-6, and Colorado wasn’t really able to close the gap, leading to a 14-9, Texas win. Texas advances to the College Championships.

Open

  • Atlantic Coast Regionals worked out with the teams you’d expect, but not in the way you might have thought it would. Virginia Tech would upset UNC-Wilmington, 15-14, in the Semifinal, to get a shot at North Carolina. North Carolina had no trouble with Burn. UNC-Wilmington would fight back to the backdoor game to go and get their rematch on VT. Vengeance is a dish best served with your season on the line, and the Seamen got it, 15-6. North Carolina and UNC-Wilmington advance to the College Championships.
  • Great Lakes Regionals was perhaps the most up-for-grabs of any Regionals. The top four seeds all played their way into Semis unscathed, and finally got down to business. Michigan knocked out Eastern Michigan and Illinois surprised Michigan State. Despite expectations for Michigan to finish strong, Illinois broke through with a healthy roster, winning 15-12. Illinois advances to the College Championships.
  • Metro East Regionals went to the status quo on the Women’s side, but would the men suffer the same fate? The #1 seed Cornell Buds would beat Queens-Kingston in Quarters, Princeton in Semis, but run into a talented and gutsy UConn team in the FInal. UConn was no match, Buds roll 15-6. Cornell advances to the College Championships.
  • Northwest Regionals went to Oregon, no question. They showed they were in another class. But with a second bid up for grabs, Saturday’s effects creeped into Sunday’s results. I can’t help but think Whitman – who struggled in pool play, and had to play an additional two games Sunday – was at a significant disadvantage going into the Final against Washington. Washington takes care of business, 13-11. Washington advances to the College Championships.
  • Ohio Valley Regionals had the potential for excitement, but was mostly expected to go one way. And it did. Ohio nearly upset Pitt in the Final, but Pitt put together a strong second half to take the Region. Ohio played Penn State, who put down Cinci, in the game to go, and controlled the game, 15-5.
  • Southeast Regionals has been postponed. Stay tuned.
  • South Central Regionals went to Texas, 15-12, over Colorado, but with a second bid up for grab, the story continued. Texas A&M, who lost in Semis, fought their way through Kansas and Missouri to get back to the game to go. Facing Colorado, who knocked them out of the championship bracket, they came to play. However, Mamabird proved the stronger, winning 15-11. Texas and Colorado advance to the College Championships.
  • Northwoods Conference Championships saw Minnesota beat Carleton 13-8 in the Final. Wisconsin-Mankato and Minnesota-Duluth also qualify for North Central Regionals.

Weekend Slate: Bloody Sunday (Regionals Pt.1)

Here’s a special update to tell you what we’ve got on tap for tomorrow – who’s in, who’s out – at the Regionals tournaments taking place.

Women’s

  • Metro East Regionals is through PreQuarters. Tomorrow morning, we have Quarters, with: Ottawa vs. SUNY-Buffalo, Cornell vs. Connecticut, Rochester vs. Princeton, NYU vs. Yale. A potential Ottawa/Cornell Semifinal should be exciting, but watch out for Princeton against Rochester.
  • Atlantic Coast Regionals is through PreQuarters. Of the #1 seeds, only North Carolina saw any challenges today. Also, I was right about Duke, wrong about Maryland. Quarters matchups: Virginia vs. Towson, Maryland vs. James Madison, North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech, and UNC-Wilmington vs. Duke.
  • Great Lakes Regionals hasn’t updated scorereporter, but I know both Michigan and Northwestern went undefeated, asserting their dominance. When I looked, scorereporter had Northwester and Michigan both in Pool B, so this is a new development.
  • Ohio Valley Regionals had some upsets, with Penn State beating Carnegie-Mellon and Pool B winding up with three 2-1 teams (Pitt, Case, and Penn). Ohio State was dominant. Quarters are: Ohio State vs. Ohio, Case Western vs. Carnegie-Mellon, Penn State vs. Penn, and Pitt vs. West Virginia.
  • South Central Regionals was an exciting (also cold and rainy) one. In Pool A, Texas smoked Colorado 11-4. Pool B was crazy. Mysterious Missouri State wound up winning the pool, 4-1, with a lot of very close games. Their one loss was to Colorado State, who finished 4th. Wash U and TAMU go 3-2, and make the bracket. Quarters are: Texas vs. Colorado State, Texas A&M vs. Kansas, Colorado. vs Wash U, Missouri State vs. Colorado College. Can Missouri State continue their run all the way to the Final? They’d have to beat Colorado. I had Colorado College as my surprise performer. Lots of opportunity still here. Only one bid available.

Open

  • Atlantic Coast Regionals was a double elim bracket, so there isn’t much left for Sunday. Virginia Tech upset UNC-Wilmington 15-14 in the Semifinal, meaning we will see North Carolina vs. Virginia Tech in the morning. Winner goes to Nationals and will likely be the first team to punch their ticket. Also notable: George Mason, in their first Regionals, knocks out Maryland, 16-15. Maryland is out, losing again on double game to John Hopkins, 17-16. Backdoor Quaters are Virginia vs. James Madison and Appalachian State against UNC-Wilmington.
  • Great Lakes Regionals saw all the top seeds go undefeated, but only one pool go to seed. Quarters tomorrow are: Michigan vs. Indiana/Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan vs. Michigan-B (!), Michigan State vs. Chicago, Northwestern vs. Illinois.
  • Metro East Regionals isn’t fully reported, but all the top seeds go undefeated. Dark horse SUNY-Buffalo loses their first three games and is eliminated. Quarters are: Cornell vs. Syracuse/Queens-Kingston (I think), Princeton vs. SUNY-Albany, NYU vs. Stony Brook/Yale, and Connecticut vs. Rutgers.
  • At Northwest Regionals, Pool A went to seed, while Pool B saw the surprises. Top seed Whitman drops two games, while the fifth team, Boise State, is 3-1. Washington is 4-0. Each team has a pool play game in the morning, except Oregon and Washington, who are in the frontdoor Final. If Whitman struggles against Boise State, they may be eliminated before the backdoor bracket begins.
  • Ohio Valley Regionals saw what we expected: Pittsburgh and Ohio take care of business to get to the Final. Carnegie-Mellon and Kenyon play in a backdoor PreQuarter, with the winner playing Penn State. Ohio State plays St. Joseph’s/Penn, with the winner playing Cincinnati.
  • South Central Regionals had the always exciting double elim bracket, with two bids. The Final is set as Texas and Colorado. Kansas rallies from a first round loss to make backdoor Quarters. They’ll play Texas A&M and Missouri plays North Texas.

There’s plenty to watch tomorrow to see who will be taking their act on the road to Madison.

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.

Metro East Women’s Regionals Preview

2013 College Series

The Metro East has had trouble generating much buzz this year. Their top teams haven’t seen much national competition, leaving their full strength a bit of a mystery. Make no mistake, these ladies will be fighting tooth and nail to be the one to leave Saratoga Springs as Metro East Women’s Champions. The Ottawa Lady GGs are the evil empire of this region, again taking the #1 seed, and have been to the College Championships for five of the past six years. Since the regional redraw, Ottawa has not only won the region, but barely been pushed. You can’t help but see a parrallel with the Open division, where Cornell is the perennial power that nobody seems to be able to take down, even with contenders targeting them all year. As we ask each year, is 2013 Metro East Women’s Regionals the year someone takes Ottawa down?

With 15 teams, it gets a bit complex, but here’s seedings (by my estimation) and pools:

  1. Ottawa (WNY #1)
  2. NYU (EME #1)
  3. Rochester (WNY #2)
  4. Cornell (WNY #3)
  5. Yale (EME #2)
  6. Columbia (EME #3)
  7. TCNJ (ME-III #1)
  8. Hofstra (EME #4)
  9. Princeton (EME #5)
  10. Hamilton (ME-III #3)
  11. SUNY-Buffalo (WNY #4)
  12. Syracuse (WNY #5)
  13. Central Conn St. (EME #6)
  14. Connecticut (EME #7)
  15. Cornell-B (WNY #6)

Pool A: Ottawa, Hofstra, Syracuse, Central Conn St.

Pool B: NYU, TCNJ, SUNY-Buffalo, Connecticut

Pool C: Rochester, Columbia, Hamilton, Cornell-B

Pool D: Cornell, Yale, Princeton

The first place team from each pool will bye into Quarters while the second and third teams will play PreQuarters crossovers.

Pool Play

Pool A

The Ottawa Lady GG’s takes their familiar place at the top of Region. A familiar face will be leading from the sideline in former GG’s stud Kathryn Pohran, their current coach. They have just one loss on the season – a 4-12 flop against Pacific Lutheran in the Trouble in Vegas Final – and have only had double digits scored on them once in their wins. The last time they played a nationals-level team was at the 2012 College Championships, where they lost every game. However, they’ve already beaten two of the other pool #1 seeds in close games at Western New York Conference Championships. They have no reason to feel anything but confident coming into the weekend. They are still armed with high level talent, with two U23 Canada team members in Kaylee Sparks and Vivianne Fortin, backed up by both 2012’s 1st and 2nd Metro East FOTY Hannah Dawson and Romy Proulx, respectively.

Ottawa works through a Cornell zone at Conference Championships

Ottawa works through a Cornell zone at Conference Championships

Hofstra Flying Dutchmen comes into the weekend with a less than stellar record. However, they have beaten some of the teams they’ll see this weekend, including a win over TCNJ earlier the season and a dominant 10-2 victory over a solid Princeton team at East Metro East Conference Championships. Those are the kinds of performances they’ll need to repeat to make the bracket and compete with the Region’s best. They showed they could last year with a Semifinal appearance.

Syracuse Fox Force Seven was actually one of my favorite little quirks coming into Conference Championships. They were essentially a blank slate. A glance at their 2-5 record doesn’t tell the whole story. Look at these scores! They played a strong game against Cornell, falling 9-10 (after losing by a point in scrimmage a week prior). They beat SUNY-Buffalo 10-6, but then lost to them 6-11. Basically, I’m still not sure what to make of them. Could they spoil someone’s Regionals? Should be fun to find out.

Central Connecticut State Blue Barracudas could be in for a tough weekend, but they are one of the few teams that has already seen Ottawa. Sure, they got beaten soundly in that game, but could that give them an edge that allows them to keep up with the top seed? After getting blown out in virtually every game at Conferences last year, they are probably excited just to have grown so much.

Pool B

The NYU Violet Femmes have been gearing up for this all year. Their year has been focused on developing depth, strategy, and execution specifically designed to have them at their best at Regionals. While I’m betting their hungry to get a crack at an Ottawa team they believe they can beat, they know better than to look past anyone. Captain Julia Longinotti noted “There are a lot of teams vying for that one bid…we are focused on us.” Karen Chalif, a 2012 2nd Team All-Region selection and Bent player, is the team’s leading playmaker, but she’s not alone. “We are an incredibly deep team,” added Longinotti, citing that as the team’s biggest advantage this weekend, “The stats are spread out so much [with] roughly half the team.” Their big rotation should keep them fresh for the bracket Sunday. The Femmes have shown the capacity to dominate, with their only struggles this year coming at Garden State. They have to be the favorite to steal the bid from Ottawa.

The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) Anarchy is on a roll, coming off an undefeated and unchallenged weekend at Metro East D-III Conferences. They came in the five seed, but didn’t let that deter them from working the field over, showing they aren’t afraid to be an underdog. They have a win against a solid Hofstra squad and played Carnegie-Mellon tight. They’ve also been blown out by Columbia and St. Mary’s College. There’s potential here for a darkhorse.

SUNY-Buffalo Lorax is a veteran squad that doesn’t have great regular season results, but piques interest. They played Ottawa tight at WNY Champies, which is a good way to attract attention. It is hard to tell what we will get from them with so little background, but this is a team that is experienced and won’t shy away from tough games.

Connecticut has had a fairly short and challenging season. They’ve seen some fairly strong competition, but not fared well in those games. It may have helped prepare them for the type of play they’ll see at Regionals, but their results so far don’t leave room for the highest of expectations.

Pool C

The Rochester EZ’s head up this pool after their upset showing at WNY Conferences, where they topped Cornell 10-9 and earned the 3rd overall seed at Regionals. Earlier in the weekend, they were beaten by Cornell and struggled against Ottawa, so there are still doubts about their ability to compete consistently with top teams all weekend. The top end of their roster is strong, competitive, and experienced, and former Rutgers standout Amanda Davis has stepped in to coach. With some All-Region caliber talent, there’s no reason they can’t battle with the best.

Columbia NYPD could be scary from the 2 spot in this pool. They came into the College Series with one loss on the season, and big wins over Hofstra, Brown, and TCNJ. Their EME CC’s performance was a surprisingly weak one, dropping four games, including two against Yale. They’ll need to rebound if they want to be impactful on Sunday.

Hamilton is a team I can’t profess to know much about. Limited results and D-III Conferences just doesn’t tell us much. The games they’ve won, they’ve typically won big, and their losses tend to be close. That profiles out as a scrappy team capable of putting their opponents in tough positions and putting the onus on them to play mistake-free Ultimate…but to be real, that’s just guesswork. Who knows what they’ll bring to the table?

Cornell-B Thorny Roses will be doing what they can this weekend. In some cases, that’s quite a bit. They played Rochester very tight at Garden State III, losing by just a point. Lesson is: don’t expect to waltz in and out of a game with this team.

Pool D

Cornell Wild Roses have high expectations coming into this weekend. They’ve played a lot this season, seeing a variety of teams at four tournaments before the Series. They notched good wins over Penn and JMU, and played well against NYU and Penn State. At Conferences, they took down Rochester once before eventually losing to them in the placement rematch. They’ve got strong coaching which preaches good fundamentals. Standounts ininclude Captain and Callahan nominee Hannah Boone, a former FOTY who dominates the air, and budding stud and 2012 2nd Team All-Region player Sarah Zhao. Their Conferences matchup against Ottawa was a 9-12 loss, and having seen each of the other top teams, they might be the best prepared team in the Region to win it all.

Yale Ramona seems to have finally hit stride. They lost just one game at Conferences, a close and wind-effected 5-7 loss to NYU. Their regular season had some stumbles, but all it takes is to play well at the right time. They have to feel confident they can make Quarters.

Princeton Clockwork Orange may have suffered some letdowns at Conferences. The Clockwork ladies had a nice regular season, suffering only two losses and to solid teams. At Conferences, however, they got blown out by Hofstra in a puzzling loss. After going the D-III route last year, where they tied for 13th at the Championships, they are eying the D-I Championships. I saw them earlier this year, and Julia Yue was dominant in the cutting lanes. Hannah Vasquez returns for them as well, another capable goal scorer. The question will be if they can step up defensively further down their roster.

Predictions

Pool Play

Pool A: Ottawa, Syracuse, Hofstra, CCSU

Pool B: NYU, SUNY-Buffalo, TCNJ, Connecticut

Pool C: Rochester, Columbia, Hamilton, Cornell-B

Pool D: Cornell, Princeton, Yale

PreQuarters

SUNY-Buffalo over Hamilton

Columbia over TCNJ

Princeton over Hofstra

Yale over Syracuse

Quarters

Ottawa over SUNY-Buffalo

Cornell over Columbia

Princeton over Rochester

NYU over Yale

Semifinals

Ottawa over Cornell

NYU over Princeton

Final

NYU over Ottawa

Final Thoughts

Maybe I’m a sucker for an underdog. Maybe I like that the Femmes read the blog and RT FFH. Maybe I’m just patriotic. Or maybe it is that this Lady GG’s team doesn’t feel quite like those past. Those teams had some of the best women’s players in all of Canada; not college women’s, just women’s altogether. I could be underestimating them because they lack for buzzy wins, but I feel like their current path could lead to closer, longer, more involved games than they are used to, while NYU may have an easier road. I also am oddly bullish on Princeton, but I like a team that has had some success and have doubts about Rochester’s overall strength.

 

Weekend Slate: Regionals Begin, MLU and AUDL Week 2

The thrill of Regionals Weekend(s) is (are) here! Not only that, but we’ve got proultimate going on. Let’s look around:

MLU

  • PHI Spinners (1-0) @ NY Rumble (0-1)
  • BOS Whitecaps (1-0) @ DC Current (0-1)
  • POR Stags (0-1) @ SEA Rainmakers (1-0)
  • SF Dogfish (1-0) @ VAN Nighthawks (0-1)
  • VAN Nighthawks (0-1) @ POR Stags (0-1) (Sunday)

All of these teams are still finding their chemistry and their way around the pro fields, save the Spinners. However, Week 1 gave us lots of close games. The DC Current seem like a team with a lot of offensive firepower, but failed to display it against the Spinners. They’ll to correct that. Can someone cover (read: back) Jeff Graham? And Prial too? Vancouver & Portland take on the league’s first back to back, which proved pretty impactful in the AUDL.

AUDL

  • ROC Dragons (0-2) @ PHI Phoenix (0-1)
  • TOR Rush (2-0) @ NY Empire (1-0)
  • DET Mechanix (1-1) @ CIN Revolution (1-1)
  • WC Wildifre (1-1) @ IND Alleycats (1-1)
  • MAD Radicals (1-1) @ MIN Wind Chill (1-1)
  • ROC Dragons (0-2) @ DC Breeze (0-1) (Sunday)
  • CIN Revolution (1-1) @ WC Wildfire (1-1) (Sunday)
  • TOR Rush (2-0) @ NJ Hammerheads (1-0) (Sunday)

The back to back proved to be the Achilles’s heel of the AUDL, claiming three victims and nearly taking down a fourth in Toron’o. The Hammerheards hope to capitalize where the Phoenix faltered. The Madison/Minnesota rivalry continues into the Pros, which should be very exciting. We’ll also get a better look at the Phoenix and Mechanix. The Breeze will look to rebound from a pretty abysmal start, catching a winless Rochester on the backend. That’s one they need to show up for.

USAU College Series

Women’s

For more extensive coverage, check out FFH’s Regional Previews from the home page or by clicking the Region (AC and ME coming soon).

  • Atlantic Coast Regionals is widely regarded as having been “screwed’, with three high quality teams vying for a single bid. #1 seed Virginia has asserted themselves all year, but North Carolina and a peaking UNC-Wilmington team (and Skyd 5 Callahan nominee Claire Chastain) will have other ideas.
  • Metro East Regionals is another one bid region in a region that has historically been dominated by #1 seed Ottawa. However, #2 seed NYU has been building all year for this opportunity, and #3 seed Rochester and #4 seed Cornell see that bid as theirs. This one calls for drama.
  • Great Lakes Regionals continues the one bid trend, but who the favorite is isn’t as clear. Can #1 seed Notre Dame defend their spot, or will traditional powerhouses #2 seed Michigan or #3 seed Northwestern restore order?
  • Ohio Valley Regionals is…no, I’ll let you guess how many bids. Did you say one? You got it! You could probably say the same to #1 seed Ohio State, as dominant a favorite as you’ll find this year. They’ll aim to destroy #2 seed Penn, #3 seed Pitt, and all other comers.
  • Southeast Regionals…was rained (well, lightning’d, actually) out and postponed until next weekend. This could severely impact the strength of the teams and throws things into a bit of chaos. We’ll have more next week. For the record, they have two bids, not just one.
  • South Central Regionals features #1 seed Colorado taking on a bevy of challengers, from up and coming #2 seed Texas A&M, mercurial #3 seed Texas, and underseeded Colorado College. With just the one bid, there’s no room for mistakes in Kansas City.

Open

  • Atlantic Coast Regionals is a two bid tournament with two definite favorites in North Carolina and UNC-Wilmington. They have plenty of teams capable of putting their backs to the wall, like Maryland and Georgetown. Plus, its a double elim bracket!
  • Great Lakes Regionals has plenty of intrigue, with a single bid and cases to be made for a few teams. Most of these teams have something to prove, with nobody having a dominant season. Old blood Michigan looks like the slim favorite here, but is Eastern Michigan for real? Is Michigan State peaking? Has Illinois been hiding? Put up or shut up in Rockford.
  • Metro East Regionals has been the Cornell show, and this is another year where everyone is saying “We’ll get you this time!” Cornell hasn’t exactly blown anyone away, so maybe UConn, NYU, Princeton, SUNY-Buffalo, or Queens-Kingston can finally do it?
  • Northwest Regionals is lead by heavy favorite Oregon Ego, but they have a second bid for everyone to fight over. Whitman and Washington have emerged as the teams to beat for that second bid.
  • Ohio Valley Regionals is pretty much like AC Regionals – two bids, heavy favorite, second favorite, and a few challengers. Pittsburgh is expected to win one and Ohio has been very effective in region. Carnegie-Mellon, Ohio State, Penn State and Cincinnati all see Ohio and see a team they think they can beat.
  • Southeast Regionals has been postponed. Stay tuned.
  • South Central Regionals is a two bid show with three teams everyone has their eye on. Colorado may have separated themselves, but Texas and Texas A&M also have potential to take the bids. Double elim bracket. Side note: For some reason, I like Oklahoma. Wouldn’t be surprised to see them do well.
  • Northwoods Conference Championships are finally happening! Will Minnesota and Carleton even try against each other?

South Central Women’s Regionals Preview

2013 College Series

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:

  1. Colorado Kali (RM #1)
  2. Texas A&M Stacked (TX #1)
  3. Texas Melee (TX #2)
  4. Colorado State Hell’s Belles (RM #2)
  5. Missouri State (OZ #1)
  6. Kansas Betty (OZ #2)
  7. Colorado College Lysistrata’s Tools (RM #3)
  8. Washington University WUWU (OZ #3)
  9. Texas Christian University Horned Frogs (TX #3)
  10. Saint Louis University Ladies Ultimate (OZ #4)
  11. Rice Miss Red (TX #4)
  12. 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.

Pool Play

Pool A

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.

Colorado Kali's offensive line will need to be solid in a one bid South Central Region

Colorado Kali’s offensive line will need to be solid in a one bid South Central Region

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.

Pool B

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.

Predictions

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

Quarters

Colorado over Wash U (closer than expected)

Colorado College over Texas A&M

Texas over Missouri State

Colorado State over Kansas (extremely close)

Semifinals

Colorado over Colorado College, behind a strong second half

Texas over Colorado State

Final

Colorado over Texas

Final Thoughts

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.