Weekend Slate: Conference Championships, Part II

Another week of Conference Championships! Here’s what’s what:

Atlantic Coast

Carolina

Women’s: After weather postponed them, these teams are chomping at the bit. Six spots are up for grabs among the eight teams. UNC-W Seaweed and North Carolina Pleaides will battle for the top spot, but the excitement will come from behind them. Clemson, South Carolina, Appalachian State, and Duke could fall into most any combination.

Metro East

Western New York

Open: #1 seed Cornell, the team that just won’t go away, will once again have to defend their honor against opponents targeting them. #2 seed SUNY-Buffalo is their top challenger, but Cornell won their NEO matchup 13-7. With five bids for these eight teams, there might not be any pressure here, though.

Women’s: #1 seed Ottawa is a heavy favorite, and probably the favorite in the Region, to take one of the six bids available. Cornell and Rochester have solid results, but how about mysterious Syracuse? They’ve played one tournament, where a total of two points were scored against them, although they forfeited a game. Could they make noise?

New England

Greater New England

Women’s: The potential excitement of this one is diminished by the eight team/eight bids love-fest. Seeing how Dartmouth and Vermont stack up is interesting: Dartmouth has played higher level competition but Vermont has seen more Ws; their only common opponent is Texas, who beat Princess Layout 12-11 and Vermont 13-5. Don’t sleep on Brown.

Hudson Valley

Open: Connecticut has made themselves the favorite in this three bid Conference of five teams. Don’t be surprised to see #3 seed Yale perform well. They have some solid wins this season so far.

Northwest

Big Sky

Women’s: There are only three teams here, but a single bid up for grabs. BYU has a 13-7 win over Irvine while Utah lost to that some Irvine squad. Utah lost to PLU by less than Montana did. Otherwise, we don’t know much. One day tournament. Let the drama begin.

Cascadia

Open: Nine teams will vie for five bids in what could be interesting. #1 seed Oregon shouldn’t have trouble, though #2 seed Oregon State took them to double game earlier this year. Oregon State isn’t in the clear, as they lost to #3 seed Victoria earlier this season. It has been a long time since Victoria had seen competitive play, so that may affect their game. #4 seed Washington has had a tough year where they have yet to meet expectations, and #5 seed Western Washington and #6 seed British Columbia are capable squads.

Pacific Coast

Women’s: Last year’s two Championship Finalists, plus two of USAU’s top 10 ranked teams, begin their journey to the Championships. There are five bids for the eight teams here, so only #4 seed Victoria – who some are a bit skeptical of, after great early season results and a quiet second half bolstered their rankings – is really at risk here. Victoria had no trouble with #6 seed Oregon State last time they played (11-2 W), but I expect #5 seed Western Washington to be much improved. Not sure how hard the top three (#1 seed Oregon, #2 seed UBC, and #3 seed Washington) will even go at one another.

Ohio Valley

East Penn

Open: With four bids, #1 seed Penn is a clear favorite, having won their past two tournaments. #2 seed Millersville fell to Penn 11-15 in their last matchup at Millersville’s home tournament Final. They’ll be out for some revenge.

South Central

Rocky Mountain

Women’s: An interesting setup in Boulder, where four teams go straight into a bracket with a backdoor to compete for three bids. It seems really unlikely that anybody besides Colorado-B will be left at home.

Southwest

Desert

Women’s: Out in the Desert (that sounds so epic), just a single bid is at stake for four teams. #1 seed Arizona State is the favorite, with a better record than #2 seed Arizona, and some extra wins vs. common opponents (UCLA, UC-Santa Cruz). #3 seed Northern Arizona holds a head to head win over #4 seed New Mexico.

SoCal

Open: Eight bids, 11 teams. Not a ton of drama.

Weekend Slate: Conference Championship Previews

This weekend differs from most, as Conference Championships kick off the Series all over the country. Some teams bid situations have them looking comfy while some favorites can more or less walk through this tournament. Some Conferences will be dog fights. For some teams, this is their biggest tournament all season, with Regionals being an accomplishment their whole season has been building to. With so much action and so many different setups, here’s a special Weekend Slate talking D-I Conference Championships everywhere.

Note: So I didn’t get to finish this but it soon won’t be relevant so, here’s what I’ve gotten to. For the Southeast Women’s, I’ve down each Conference in detail, so check that from the blog homepage.

Atlantic Coast Region

Carolina

Open: Six out of nine will move on to Regionals, but it is strong group. Anchored by hyper competitive rivals, North Carolina Darkside and UNC-Wilmington Seamen, it stays competitive with Clemson, Appalachian State, NC State, South Carolina, and Duke all battling for the last four spots.

Women’s: Six spots are up for grabs among the seven teams. UNC-W Seaweed and North Carolina Pleaides will battle for the top spot, but the excitement will come from behind them. Clemson, South Carolina, Appalachian State, and Duke could fall into most any combination.

Colonial

Open: Eight teams battle for five bids in what is one of the most competitive Conference Championships year in and year out. Maryland and Georgetown are the favorites, but Delaware and George Washington are creeping on a come up. Will Towson and Hopkins take the fifth spot…or my alma mater, American University come through when it counts?

Women’s: With six bids available, only two of eight will be left out. Maryland is the definite favorite, lead by FFH-fave Sasha Bugler, and George Washington and Towson will both be aiming for the upset. How will Delaware finish a season that started disastrously? How will American hold up?

Virginia

Open: Only a few years ago, Virginia was the favorite of their titular Conference, but now they rest behind Virginia Tech and strong favorite, JMU Hellfish. This could turn out to be one of the least exciting Conference Champies, with five bids and five teams that look above the rest (the aforementioned trio plus William & Mary and George Mason).

Women’s: Virginia Hydra is the heavy favorite, but the battle for second should be interesting. JMU has lost just one game this year – a blowout at the hands of Virginia – but Virginia Tech’s resume is strong as well. The fourth place spot is the final regionals bid, so keep an eye out.

Great Lakes Region

Eastern Great Lakes

Women’s: Six bids are for grabs to Great Lakes Regionals. After an inauspicious start, Michigan ended up with results that make them to the clear favorite. #2 seed Notre Dame, #3 seed Michigan State, and #4 seed Purdue all have notable wins against good teams this season, like Kansas, Wash U, and Florida. They may have the potential to make a move on Michigan.

East Plains

Open: Perhaps due to the crazy weather this year, these teams have seen very little of each other. #1 seed Indiana has a significant head to head win vs. #3 seed Notre Dame, but otherwise, nothing of significance. The top four seeds are definite favorites to take the four bids.

Illinois

Open: Seven of nine will take bids to Regionals, sucking some of the drama out, but nobody wants to be the two left home. Illinois looks to be the heavy favorite, but after that, the next four or five teams could get all sorts of mixed up.

Women’s: Eight teams fighting for six bids, but the top two teams are a cut above the rest. They’ll likely be saving the fireworks for Regionals, but Illinois has put together a strong season – including winning Mardi Gras – that got them the #1 seed over Northwestern. Watch out, as one of these two is a very possible candidate to steal that Great Lakes Nationals bid.

Michigan

Open: With only three bids for the five teams here, this is a Conference tournament with plenty at stake. Michigan finished the season strong and is the favorite as the #1 seed, but Michigan State and Eastern Michigan are both going to bring it. WMU and CMU will be looking for the kind of upset that will impact Regionals greatly.

Metro East

Hudson Valley

Open: With only three bids for five teams – four of which seem strongly in contention – this could end up exciting. #1 seed Connecticut has put up mixed results against solid competition this season, but #4 seed SUNY-Albany has the most momentum coming in. #3 seed Yale took some tough late game losses at NEO, so we will see if they rebound.

Metro New York

Open: Seven teams with only six spots! Drama abound! Top four could all be Regionals relevant and looking to making a splash there, so their fight for seeding will be important. Princeton, Columbia, NYU, and Rutgers are seeded as listed, and Rutgers could be one of the country’s strongest #4 seeds this weekend.

Eastern Metro East

Women’s: There are seven bids in the mix for these ten teams. The top three (Princeton, Columbia, and NYU) have a combined seven losses all season (four of those are NYU’s), so the action among them should be exciting as each eyes a rare chance to go to Nationals. They’ll want to up their odds at Regionals any way they can.

Western New York

Women’s: #1 seed Ottawa is a heavy favorite, and probably the favorite in the Region, to take one of the six bids available. Cornell and Rochester have solid results, but how about mysterious Syracuse? They’ve played one tournament, where a total of two points were scored against them, although they forfeited a game. Could they make noise?

Open: Next weekend!

New England

Metro Boston

Open: Of the seven teams in attendance, only one won’t qualify for Regionals. Every team in this Conference has spent their season racking up wins, but are they prepared for one another? Harvard and Tufts are the 1-2 combo here, but they won’t want to show their hands too heavily before Regionals, where they’ll battle Dartmouth for those Nationals spots.

Women’s: There are…uh…. eight bids for the six teams? #1 seed Tufts is big time top dog, but #2 seed Northeastern and #4 seed Harvard had strong Centex showings, particularly Northeastern. Still, dunno what these teams will bring with Regionals already in their travel plans.

North New England

Open: Three bids, four teams. Means a bracket with a backdoor, so anything could happen! Vermont is the favorite here. Should be fun.

South New England

Open: Four teams, four bids. #1 seed Brown and #3 seed Williams have both been notables this year. Can #2 seed UMass make any waves? Or will everybody take it easy?

Greater New England

Women’s: Next weekend!

North Central

Lake Superior

Open: Eight teams line up to take a shot at five bids, but isn’t it really seven teams for four bids? You gotta like Wisconsin as a lock. UW-Milwaukee seems to be a clear #2, but maybe they can at least push Wisconsin? I can’t see anybody else taking these spots.

Women’s: This Women’s have five bids, like the guys, but nine teams, so maybe it’ll be tougher. Similar to their Open side, they have a clear cut #1 in Wisconsin and a clear cut #2 in Eau Claire. Can Sol upset an inconsistent Bella Donna squad?

Northwoods

Open: Next weekend!

West Plains

Open: I believe all six of these teams are ready to go to Regionals, bids in hand. Northern Iowa may have something to prove, though. They play with a chip on their shoulder. I’ve seen some Iowa State talk on the web. Can they back it up?

West North Central

Women’s: The six bids that some combination of these ten teams won’t be the thing to watch here. Four Nationals-level teams will get a chance to jockey for Regionals seedings. Iowa State, Carleton, Iowa, and Minnesota make this the strong Conference in the country. I’m expecting fireworks.

Northwest

Big Sky

Open: With an 11 team field, it could get ugly in the fight for the five bids. #1 seed Whitman will be tough to beat. #2 seed Washington State’s win over Gonzaga is one of the few in conference matchups we’ve seen so far. There are precious few games at all in most of these teams recorded histories, so it is hard to predict which way any of it will go.

Women’s: Next weekend!

Cascadia

Open: Next weekend!

Pacific

Women’s: Next weekend!

Ohio Valley

Ohio

Open: After the field site flooded, this tournament has been moved, so don’t be surprised to see some drops. Right now, seven bids for 11 teams. With a second bid to Nationals on the line at Regionals, a lot of teams are sensing opportunity. Ohio is a very (perhaps too much so) confident squad, but Ohio State, Dayton, and Cinci are right there. Case Western is coming over a great showing at Chicago Invite, with wins over Michigan State, Oregon State, Iowa, and Missouri. Don’t be surprised if they crash the party.

Women’s: Every team will be given the chance to go to Regionals before even competing here. Ohio State also probably doesn’t fear any of these teams are Regionals, so it is likely they’ll tune up. Case has a win over JMU, but not much else.

Penn

Women’s: There are 10 bids for the eight teams here, so someone gets two bids! Why don’t these Regions have 10 team Regionals like they make the Southeast? Or maybe they do and it just isn’t listed that way? All evidence suggest Pittsburgh Danger to roll through this on their way to Regionals, but Penn State and Carnegie-Melon have put together plenty of Ws in recent tournaments.

East Penn:

Open: With four bids, #1 seed Penn is a clear favorite, having won their past two tournaments. #2 seed Millersville fell to Penn 11-15 in their last matchup at Millersville’s home tournament Final. They’ll be out for some revenge.

West Penn:

Open: The top three look pretty solid to take 3/4 available bids. We will have to watch how the final four teams match up. #4 seed Shippensburg has some solid wins this year – including over #6 seed Indiana (Pennsylviania) – which makes them the favorite for the 4th bid.

 

Southern Appalachian Women’s Conference Championship Preview

The region’s largest Conference features the Southeast’s top Dawg as well as some of the other strongest squads. Many of the region’s top highlight reel players will be taking to the beautiful fields of Statesboro to fight for one of the tickets to Regionals, and the best places in the pecking order. The heavy favorite will be UGA’s Dawgma, and some of the drama will be missing with GCSU, one of the most dangerous teams in the Southeast, going to D-III. However, it is hard to tell how Georgia Tech, Tennessee, and Emory will shake out, and history says they’ll be playing each other very tight.

The Setup

Seeding

  1. Georgia
  2. Georgia College
  3. Georgia Tech
  4. Emory
  5. Georgia State
  6. Tennessee
  7. SCAD

Format

Things will be a bit unusual, as two one of the eight seven teams are going to D-III (GCSU), so there are really six teams vying for four bids. A late drop by another team that was headed D-III altered the format from two pools to a round robin. The D-III situation won’t be a factor till everything wraps up. The seven teams will play in a single pool, with four games and a bye Saturday and two more pool games Sunday. If you place top two in the round robin, you get a bid, and will play in the Final, with the loser of that dropping into a backdoor. The third and fourth place finishers from pool play will compete Sunday, with the winner locking up a spot and playing the backdoor 2nd place game. The loser of the 3/4 game will fall into another backdoor game for the final bid spot.

The Teams

The Favorite – Georgia Dawgma

Georgia Dawgma is the easy favorite in the Conference. Their only game against SAPP competition is a 13-5 FWC win over Emory, but their performance on the national stage certainly puts them a head above the rest. Amble Johnson’s comfort level with his team has reached a maximum in his 5th year with Dawgma. They have veteran leadership, talented young players, and the best top end and depth in the Conference. It’ll be a tall task for anyone to challenge them, even with them protecting themselves for Tupelo. However, we’ve seen them let games slip away from them before, so they’ll have to execute to come away unscathed.

The names are familiar at this point. Lane Siedor, Hannah Leathers, Emily Lloyd, Julia Fuster, Margie Quinn, Courtney Farrell, Katie Franchot, Anraya Palmer, and Kate Hines form a nasty rotation of talent that can put opponents through the ringer without exhausting their legs. It seems unreal, but I feel like Emily Lloyd has flown under the radar this season as more people find out who Lane is. Make no mistake about it, she might be the best cutter in the Southeast. Margie Quinn and Courtney Farrell both have become not only reliable resets, but playmakers in their own right, who can find their athletic cutters with impressive throws. I’m not sure what their health situation looks like – they always seem to have some variety of maladies – but I expect they’ll be nursing a few wounds that will open their rotation some.

The Challengers

Even if they are going D-III, Georgia College Lynx Rufus might be the second best team in the Conference and in the top half of the Southeast as a whole. They run a small 9-10 person rotation, but the talent level within that small group is high and they have great chemistry from their time with one another. They’ll find and expose a matchup whenever they get the chance and will utilize quick disc movement to put opponents on their heels. Marissa Hicks leads this group, a dependable cutter and strong defender who is able to grind out matchups. They don’t always get it done in the prettiest fashion, but they do get it done better than almost everybody they face.

Georgia Tech Wreck would love to score a signature win on their way to Tupelo. They fell a point short of beating Florida at Music City, possibly recalling memories of their Classic City Classic performance, where they fell to Florida by a pair and South Florida by a point. They’ve won more close games than they’ve lost and seem poised to make a move. Leah Tsinajinnie still supplies them with a large percentage of their offensive firepower, with her hucks and breaks, but they’ve put the pieces around her to defend well and rest her. Captains Xenia Wirth and Lily Ponitz are both downfield threats, while Donnya Adjari and Sandhya Srivatsan frustrate opposing cutters. Ashley Brown and Cate Woodhurst give them the additional throwers necessary to punch in short field and fast break scores.

Still looking to push over the hump, University of Tennessee Screw will bring their hard nosed play to Statesboro looking to notch the necessary wins to culminate in a Regionals berth. They took a short roster to Florida Winter Classic and played good games versus South Florida and Williams. However, they struggled at Music City and have displayed inconsistency this season. Rachel Smith is the anchor for this group, a combination of height, speed, explosiveness, and big throws that make her a uniquely difficult matchup. She’ll be aided primarily by Elodie Kruk, who leads their speedy cutting group to get downfield on fast breaks or after Rachel’s initiating cuts.

It has been a long season for Emory Luna, sporting a lot of hard knocks from their 2-13 record. Taking on a very competitive regular season, Luna hopes their challenging competition has best prepared them for not just Conferences, but Regionals as well. They tend to spread out their downfield playmaking with cutters Abbey Hewitt, Meg Harris, Ariella Faitelson, and Caroline Pearson, but a lot of Emory’s offense flows through the hucks of Zina Stavitsky and break throws of Nellie Ochs. They’ve had some impressive performances, but have been hamstrung by consistency issues. If the Luna ladies bring the pieces together in Statesboro, they could do a lot of damage.

The Longshots

The growth of recently formed Georgia State Vixen could finally payoff for them this Series. They were able to push teams all season long at Queen City Tune Up Open, T-Town Throwdown, and Freaknik. With Coach Michelle VanHandel – and some help from her friends – they’ve been polishing their game. Victoria Thompson’s soft break forehand shines in their vertical stack, her veteran handling skills driving their offense upfield. Molly Snipes provides one of the Regions fastest downfield targets, making her a threat to force the turn and immediately strike. Irene Tsinajinnie and Hae Sin continue their upward trends, helping navigate zones used to slow down Thompson and Snipes, while utilizing nice upline cutting in man situations to keep things moving. Their struggles against Regional and Conference opponents are the only things holding me back from putting them as a Contender; they can compete with the teams above them, but doing it all weekend long is a tough ask.

One of two newer squads, the ladies from Savannah College of Art and Design come to (what I believe to be) their first Conference Championships, and have not only gotten in some games already, but seen success. They’ve notched a win over FSU-B and one over Florida-B. They have struggled against the tougher competition in the Region, so expect them to be focusing on trying to play tight games, win hard points, and scoring an upset somewhere.

The other newer squad is Armstrong Atlantic, who I admittedly know almost nothing about. Haven’t seen them, haven’t heard much about them, and only know that they are going D-III and won’t get to, because sadly, they dropped out. Maybe next year, kids!

Predictions

Let’s test my ability to be objective:

Georgia and GCSU finish top two, Georgia wins Conference. Georgia Tech, Emory, and Georgia State take the other bids, in that order.

  1. Georgia
  2. GCSU (D-III)
  3. Georgia Tech
  4. Emory
  5. Georgia State
  6. Tennessee
  7. SCAD

Florida Women’s Conference Championship Preview

What the Florida Conference lacks in quantity, they make up for in quality. The conference features two of the Southeast’s brightest national contenders, but it isn’t all top heavy. Behind Central Florida and Florida State are two more of the region’s best teams in Florida and South Florida. With five bids to regionals, the pressure isn’t really on, yet these teams want to not only build momentum for the next level in the Series, but also want to be in the best position for success in Tupelo.

The Setup

Seeding

  1. Central Florida
  2. Florida State
  3. Florida
  4. Florida-B
  5. South Florida
  6. Florida State-B

The Format

A round robin for bracket placement will result in all six teams having a shot on Sunday. The top two seeds will get byes into the Semis.

The Teams

The Favorite – Florida State Seminole Ladies Ultimate Team

The question of who the top team in the Conference is probably won’t be answered until Regionals, but for the favorite in Gainesville, Florida State’s 2-0 record vs. Central Florida wins the day. After putting together one of the strongest years their program has ever seen, they fell just short of earning a third bid to the College Championships for the SE, but as Coach Matt Childs explains, “Ultimately, if you’d told me in January that the Southeast would have 2 bids to Nationals, I’d be ecstatic.” With the bid situation almost guaranteeing them a Regionals berth, the focus is all on that tournament. Champies, for the Seminole Ladies, is about preparing themselves to top out UCF, Florida, and company, developing and honing strategies to counteract their top opponents. Childs also wants to make the easiest road to a Nationals bid as possible, adding, “I would like to finish at least 2nd at conferences so we can avoid playing Georgia in the Semis.”

While FSU’s game has grown more versatile and their roster deeper, it still feels like their offense is operating at its best when Megan Reeves (#17) is shooting up the line and putting up a huge huck. Sarah Clark (#7) has emerged as a big time target for Reeves and her fellow handlers. However, it may be Lauren Collins (#22) that ends up impacting their game the most. No longer is she just a tall and rangy receiver. In part due to her time with mixed club team Sabre Corp, LC has developed fantastic disc skills, in addition to a shutdown defender able to match up with the region’s downfield elite. Add in giant throws from SJ Campbell (#3) and the young, versatile talent of Kristin Lloyd (#10) and you’ve got a product that is capable of winning more than just the Conference.

The Challengers

No contender in the region is closer to being a favorite than University of Central Florida Sirens. Almost all of us know the story of the 2012 Sirens, who dominated the region, an unquestioned favorite to take the lone bid to the College Championships, who fell short when it counted. Their road to redemption begins here, where they will look to defend their Conference crown. UCF’s regular season has been stronger than Florida State’s, but the two have seen each other twice, and both times, FSU won. Florida State is 5-5 against common opponents while UCF is 4-5 and both of the head to head FSU wins were at the early season Florida Winter Classic. I wouldn’t blame anyone who’d put their money on the Sirens. I imagine they’ll be taking a similar approach to FSU’s, meaning, should they see each other, they won’t be full throttle; the coaches from both squads are looking to gain the strategic advantage without showing their opponents their hands. However, both of these are passionate teams, with Captain Mariel Hammond adding, “Our approach will be to take these games like every game is the final game to go to Nationals. We need to bring that fire and intensity every game.” Once the pull goes up, both squads may have trouble holding back.

Central Florida maintains some aspects of last year’s dominant squad – namely, the effectiveness of their zone play. They are an aggressive defensive group that will battle in the air and hustle to spots to close windows before the offense can hit them. That attitude carries over to their fast break and handler-cutting heavy offensive looks. Sunny Harris (#23) is the lively centerpiece behind the disc and in the back of their zone, while Mariel Hammond’s (#12) forceful cutting, with the help of Amy Price (#3) propels their downfield offense. Katie Young (#9) and Samantha Fox (#26) have become huge parts of the Siren disc movement and their contributions are critical to the team’s offensive success. However, their leadership is quick to praise their depth. “Our team has been bit by the injury bug at several key positions,” explained Coach Joe Tilley. He was seconded by Young, adding “[Injuries] forced us to trust those 2nd year players and rookies with field time, and I think it has paid off tremendously.”

It may be a down year for Florida FUEL in many people’s eyes, but smart teams know not to look past them. They’ve seen Georgia three times, Central Florida twice, and Florida State once, and most of those games were close. They’ve been going up against tough competition all season at QCTU, Music City, and Centex. The Regional title, if it were a belt, would still be wrapped around their waist. Jenna Dahl and Jackie Fane are still two of the region’s most dangerous handlers and Morgan Hartmann is plenty capable of getting downfield to catch their hucks and breaks. Their primary zone looks put their best players in position to move around, confusing offenses and forcing turns.

South Florida Scalleywenches is the last team really in the running. Tall Teal Dabney might be the first thing you notice, with her big pulls and over the top throws attracting attention, but Tessa Walter is the player to watch. As their primary handler, the team needs her breaks and reset cutting to help their offense when the deep game isn’t working. She has a number of viable targets, and with Dabney, MK Stephan, and Morgan Brazel, they tend to win a high percentage of battles in the air. Coach Jordan Knoten has them running a zone that puts the 6’0″ Dabney and her lengthy wing span right in front of throwers and their athletes downfield to eat up whatever floats past. This squad has been nipping at Florida’s heels this season and this tournament might be the perfect time for USF to strike.

The Longshots

Florida-B Diesel and Florida State-B finish out the grouping here. Diesel’s put together a solid year, with no B team they played keeping it close, and nearly beating Alabama. Meanwhile, FSU-B’s squad has two wins on the year and both were blowouts. Both of these teams have seen plenty of games and one of them will get to extend their season.

Predictions

Florida State over Central Florida in the Final. South Florida upsets Florida for third place. Florida-B takes the last bid over FSU-B.

  1. Florida State
  2. UCF
  3. USF
  4. Florida
  5. Florida-B
  6. FSU-B

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