QCTU Women’s 2013: 7 Stars Line

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Queen City Tune-Up isn’t just a chance for the top team’s to begin marking their mark on the season. It presents an opportunity for the top players to assert themselves. New stars emerge in new roles, players return from injury, and others return more well developed after gaining additional experience. There were a number of talked about players in Charlotte this weekend, but there are only seven on a line, so I was forced to pick the seven that stood out the most. But I’ll show some love to those who didn’t make the list, too.

Without further ado, your first 7 Stars Line presented by Full Field Hammer (obviously, since it is here (man, this is turning into more ado than expected))

Anna Reed (Carleton) is probably the first name you’ll hear about from folks talking about this weekend, and that’s with good reason. She was one of two players that approached the term “unstoppable”. On Saturday – along with partner in crime, Julia Snyder – she showed a vicious arsenal of break throws, particularly an IO flick that works well with Carleton’s vertical stack. On Sunday, her giant hucks consistently got over the top of defenses, even if they knew they were coming. On defense, she put pressure on her girl and generated Ds that she could immediately pick up to get her offense moving. Watch out for this one.

Shellie Cohen (UNC) is the second player referred to in that “approached the term ‘unstoppable'” sentence you read earlier. The book is pretty similar to Reed’s, despite the fact that Shellie is tall and long while Reed is small in stature. Cohen has big throws and the Pleaides deep game was a weapon all weekend. She has the size to catch bad dump throws, forced by being matched up by the opponent’s best defender and it also helps her get off hucks against good marks. The Pleaides captain also showed off some touch with over the top throws against zones employed to slow down her huck game. I also should note that she is a leader. Rarely did 10 minutes go by when I didn’t hear her leading UNC in their signature “Raise Up” sideline cheer. I specifically remember her going through the high five line with her team, jumping up and down and smiling as she excitedly gave respect to her teammates. The video below shows her using her break throws to create scoring opportunities.

Shellie Cohen Highlights

Chelsea Twohig (Iowa) is a fairly well-known name already, making her name in both the college and club scenes. Her performance this weekend was the most complete of any player I saw. Despite showing her athleticism when on defense with nice layout Ds against some of the top players at the tournament, she could flip the switch to offense with a nice variety of hucks and breaks. Chelsea was just as happy to take the swing or the short gainer, though. She appears capable of filling any role on the field. Her playmaking ability – especially on defense – is the kind of thing you want to be there to see. In the video below, she shows off a break throw for a score against Ohio State.

Chelsea Twohig & Liza Minor Highlight

Rebecca Miller (Iowa State) surprised me a bit. I knew of her coming in, but didn’t expect her to stand out the way she did with studs like Magon Liu and Cami Nelson next to her. I was a fool! Miller asserted herself as a defensive dynamo. She isn’t super fast and isn’t big, but can match up with bigger offenders because she can be physical and reacts very quickly. That translates to her cutting after the turn, exposing defenders as soon as she spots a weakness. It fits perfectly into Iowa State’s transition offense. As a trio, she, Liu, and Nelson will be a serious handful for any defense that lines up across them.

Liza Minor (Iowa) is someone I’m thankful to have seen, because I didn’t know about her before. With as much playmaking as Twohig was doing, Minor managed to stand out anyway. Often she was on the receiving end of Twohig’s initiating throws (see video above, where she also gets the D), creating the separation necessary to continue to move the disc right away. That sort of player is invaluable to an offense. When there was a set mark, she wasn’t afraid to leave it in the dust with some nice break throws. She was a big part of Iowa’s run and has a very impressive skillset.

Alika Johnston (Virginia) is a young playmaker coming off a year of elite Club experience with Scandal and who fits in perfectly with her squad. Virginia’s 3-1 Saturday can be heavily attributed to the play of Johnston, who has the speed to get all over the field and get Ds in the under and deep lanes, including help and poach Ds. Virginia, in my mind, thrives on playing hard D and beating you after the turn before you can set, and Johnston is the engine that powers that gameplan. Without Johnston, I’m not sure Virginia wins a game. With her, they finish second in the pool.

Sunny Harris (Central Florida) can be fun to watch or a huge annoyance. She probably wants it that way. That’s because she plays aggressive, in-your-face Ultimate that is just as loud as she is. [Incoming pun warning] Sunny is the right name, because she is the source of fire at the center of this UCF team that breathes life into them. Harris was dropping in transition hucks, making hard upline cuts, and coming back to the disc. On defense, she was happy to grind against top players or patrol the deep position in the UCF zone, where she can command her troops.

Honorable Mentions

Lisa Couper (UNC) very nearly makes this list. She was a dangerous downfield weapon, but just as comfortable behind the disc.

Nina Finley (Ohio St.) had to step into a big role for Fever this weekend, with no Cassie Swafford and limited Paige Soper. Dynamic player, still so young.

Meeri Chang (Michigan) was one of my favorite players to watch this weekend. All quicks and lefty breaks.

Magi Neliu (Iowa State) How am I supposed to pick one of these two? Nelson was everywhere, especially on D, and Liu’s “get open under and then gain 30 yards to the break side” strategy is – shockingly – effective.

Julia Snyder (Carleton) only played one day, but it was a hell of a day.

Claire Chastain (UNC-W) is a player I wish I watched more. You never knew what throw she might make with the disc as she scanned the field, but she also had some huge layouts. You could just tell she’s a boss.

Plenty of players I didn’t get to see enough of to say, so feel free to shout them out in the comments or on twitter. Just to note on Wisconsin and Tufts, who didn’t get any players here, they had a pretty solid top 4 or 5 girls, so one player didn’t distinguish themselves. This gives a picture of some of the East Coast and Midwest stars to watch out for this year. Never to early to start campaigning for Callahan and All-Region…

Up Calls: Recaps, Tourney Results, QCTU (W) 7 Stars

Your heads up for what’s going on in Ultispace:

  • QCTU headlines the weekend, with UNC Darkside trouncing Ohio University in the Open Final and Iowa State Woman Scorned edging Carleton Syzygy in the Women’s Final.
  • Down in Louisiana, LSU defended home turf en route to a Mardi Gras XXVI Championship win on the Open side, over Arkansas, who was also undefeated up to that point. On the Women’s side, Illinois was mostly unchallenged in an undefeated weekend.
  • North Greenville went without a loss at the Turkey Snatch Classic (Open) in Asheville, NC, going home as the Champs.
  • Cal-Poly SLO bested Claremont in the Pres Day Women’s Qualifier, adding SLO Motion to one of the West Coast’s premier slates.
  • As has been noted by both major Ultimate media outlets (impressive), the Puget Sound Postmen scored themselves a big DIII win at DIII Warmup.
  • Early Spring stumbles for both sides of the Michigan Ultimate family, as neither team made the bracket at Queen City, a combined 4-6 record.
  • I spent most of the weekend on the Women’s side, and to give you a little taste, here’s my 7 Stars Line: Shellie Cohen, Liza Minor, Anna Reed, Chelsea Twohig, Rebecca Miller, Alika Johnston, Sunny Harris. Wanna know why? Wanna see honorable mentions? Check back, I’ll have a full rundown.

Up Calls: Welcome to FFH & QCTU Edition

Up Calls will give you a quick heads up and brief thoughts about what’s going on in our Ultimate universe.

  • SkydMagazine gave FFH a lovely shout out in not one, but two Dumps segments. Thanks guys!
  • Skyd also has already gotten up their Women’s Preview by Robyn Fennig, who I’ll have the pleasure of working with this weekend. Their Open preview is said to be out today, might be BJ of No Look Scoober behind that. Always good work. Will update with link when available.
  • Ultiworld also has their Women’s Preview (from UNC’s Shellie Cohen, she knows her stuff) and their Open Preview up to digest. Open calls for UNC, Tufts, MSU, and Michigan to make the Semis, but you’ll have to read to find out how they got there and who Ultiworld thinks will take it all…
  • Speaking of QCTU Open, I tweeted out my abbreviated What I Want to Watch on that side of things: For #QCTUOpen, watching for R1: MSU vs Cinci R2: UNC vs ASU R3: Georgetown vs UVA/PSU vs NC St R4: UGA vs ASU R5: Tufts vs MSU/UNC vs ASU.
  • Thanks for all who took the time to check out FFH’s debut. Please let me know any feedback you have!

I’ll be tweeting out updates, news, and maybe even links to some footage from the weekend, so stay be sure to follow us FFH on Twitter. I’m shouting out some ballin’ ladies as we speak.

QCTU Women’s 2013: What I Want To Watch

Queen City Tune Up has risen to be one of the top tournaments in the country, and the field on both the Open and Women’s sides are full of great teams from the east coast, southeast, and midwest. Here’s a breakdown of the games I’m most looking forward to seeing on Saturday.

Round 1

North Carolina vs. Washington University (Pool C)

Round 1 is tough to find the right match ups, but I’m looking to see how possible upstart 4 seeds do. WuWu had a nice string of appearances at Nationals before last season, where they fell one point shy in the Regional Final. Meanwhile, North Carolina lost some big pieces from last year’s Quarter’s team, but they have the QCTU crown and won’t want to give it up easily. The last time these squads faced off was the same tournament last season and UNC waltzed 15-3. Lisa Couper and Shellie Cohen dominate touches for Pleiades and Lindsay Lang will be helping continue to cultivate their incoming talent. UNC had some struggles at CCC this Fall and I’ll be looking to see if they’ve developed depth. The word on WuWu’s Danielle Blatt is that she’s dangerous with a disc in her hand. This will be a good test for both teams.

Virginia vs. Carleton College (Pool D)

Virginia keeps chugging along, looking to solidify themselves as a year in, year out contender, while Carleton is looking to get back after their streak of Nationals appearances was broken last year. Old blood vs. new blood! Alika Johnston is obviously a stud and her quickness allows to gain short yardage all over the field as well as crucial resets. Virginia made a run last year to Semis in Charlotte and has solid early returns at CCC, Virginia Fusion, and their home tournament, but I feel like the losses of Devon Erickson, Shannon McVey, and Maggie Johns will have a significant impact. Carleton returns their stud duo of Julia Snyder and Anna Reed. Definitely a possible upset and in my mind, the game to watch this round.

Round 2

Michigan vs. Wisconsin (Pool B)

Pool B has a top 3 (Michigan, UNC, and Wisconsin) that could each win the pool and possibly the whole tournament. Both are established programs and have players rising to more prominent roles after the last crop of stars moved on. Callahan winner Paula Seville isn’t the only Flywheel lady gone, as DeLave, Chang, and the super duper lovely Marissa Mead make for big holes to fill. I’ll be curious to see how Bella Donna replaces not just the field-opening break throws of Emilie McKain, but the fire and passion she brought onto the field. They tend to be athletic and physical, giving them an edge at these early season affairs. Upset alert!

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OSU Fever will likely be without the impact play of Cassie Swafford in Charlotte

Ohio State vs. Florida State (Pool C)

For personal reasons, I really want to see this one. As a Southeast coach, I’m very curious to see how Florida State – who seems on the precipice of a breakout and have claimed the #2 spot in the region – stacks up against high level competition. I’m also excited to watch Sassy Cassie Swafford return to the field for OSU [Update: Swafford will likely not play this weekend]. While I expect a deep Fever team that experienced very few losses from last season to control this game, I’ll be watching to see how Megan Reeves and Florida State respond to this challenge. Plus, if Diddy Soper and Reeves match each other up, that’ll be a ton of fun.

Round 3

Georgia vs. Delaware (Pool A)

Southeast bias here. I’m also really high on Dawgma this year. Dominating a matchup like this could really help push them towards high expectations on a national level.

Pittsburgh vs. Florida (Pool C)

Pittsburgh is a team on the rise, adding a veteran presence in former Flywheel playmaker Kelsey DeLave, and capitalizing on Pittsburgh’s awesome youth Ulti scene. Florida is a team that is still searching for their identity this year, but with top talent that knows what it takes to succeed in Jackie Fane and Jenna Dahl. Not only Southeast bias, but in an effort to destroy what tiny shreds of credibility I have, I should also note I tweeted that Pittsburgh’s club team, Hot Metal, was the best looking team at Club Championships. Still pulling for FUEL to help push the SE towards that elusive second bid.p

Florida State vs. Carleton (Pool D)

Same stories as before for both.

Round 4

Dawgma's top talent helps power some strong lines

Dawgma’s top talent helps power some strong lines

Iowa vs. Georgia (Pool A)

There’s no game I’d rather be at this round. Chelsea Twohig is the type of player you make a point to watch, plus Iowa’s a well put together program that doesn’t get intimidated. Georgia has a chance to really prove themselves with a win over a team like Saucy Nancy. Georgia’s top 7 are an impressive group, anchored by the SE’s best woman in Lane Siedor, as well as Emily Lloyd, Hannah Leathers, Margie Quinn, and shutdown artist Julia Fuster. They’ve had years of stability with underrated coach Amble Johnson. Opportunity knocks with this one.

All of Them (Pool D)

Let’s be real: I dunno what to make of this pool. I’m thinking Carleton emerges, Virginia disappoints (though they defy my expectations every time, I gotta stop sleeping on them), but Ohio State proves themselves elite. But what the heck will Florida State do? See, I’m stumped. So a round of OSU vs. Carleton and Virginia vs. FSU should help clear a lot of that up for me.

Round 5

Michigan vs. North Carolina (Pool B)

Usually the most exciting round with 1s vs 2s, I’m actually expecting most 1 seeds to have a pretty firm grip on their respective pools. That is, except in Pool B. These two teams actually remind me a lot of each other, what with their constant restocking of the talent pool and usually some tall handler casually tossing backhand arounds with their size and boosting big hucks. If Pleiades takes care of UCF and has momentum from a win of Wisco, I’d put money on them to snag the pool.

Ohio State vs. Virginia (Pool D)

Ok, contradicting almost everything else I’ve written about this pool, now that I’ve sufficiently disrespected Virginia Hydra, it is safe to assume they will make me look stupid and give Ohio State their first challenge of the day.

I’ll be up in Charlotte, probably helping with Skyd, and possibly armed with a video camera. I’ll also probably stop by the Open side to visit with my boys from Ohio State, Cincinnati, and some other top teams, so tune in for more senseless commentary on who knows what Ultimate goodness.