Southeast Women’s Regionals: Recap and Reacts

The culmination of an exciting season in Southeast Women’s, Regionals finally took place this past weekend. There were a lot of uncontrollables that took the teams away from the ideal: a postponement that left a lot of teams scrambling to find ways to keep their rosters flush, rains for the days leading up leaving the fields soggy & muddy, a shockingly beautiful Saturday morning, followed by a chilly and drizzling Sunday that kept the fields waterlogged, and a seven team format that made pool play a two day round robin. Making the best of a weekend that is built up, prepared for, and fantasized about all year is its own sort of mental game. Seven teams had to win that one, and beat the best teams in the region (that could attend), and claim whatever glory awaited them.

For those who haven’t checked them, UltiPhotos has some fantastic shots from the weekend, done by the talented Christina Schmidt.

Recap

A great weekend was not without flaws for Georgia Dawgma. This team showed up with their full roster and a cadre of fans in tow, a nice advantage to combat the battle vs. uncontrollables. They beat Florida and Florida State by six a piece, and rolled out early enough against Central Florida in the Final that they folded. Essentially, when they played the top ranked teams, they played very well. For a team with aspirations for the big show, that is an important trait to demonstrate to yourself. Central Florida kept it close in Pool Play, and while Georgia came out 9-7, the game was a 5-5 battle where Georgia could never really separate themselves. It is tempting to say this is more a reflection of the Sirens than Dawgma, but two other games give pause to that: Emory and Georgia Tech. Saturday’s battle with Emory was one of the tournament’s most exciting games. Emory went into high gear and Dawgma had to recollect to keep from letting it get out of hand. They took control, and didn’t relinquish it, but they came close, winning 13-11. A similar pattern played out in Sunday’s sluggish conditions, going down early, taking the lead, and then not putting away a weaker Georgia Tech team; this game, however, was irrelevant to standings, so not sure how Georgia approached it. The focus should definitely be on this team being the best in the Southeast.

A Georgia parent (the father of 7SL’s Emily Lloyd) bailing water out of the #1 field endzone. It was that sort of Sunday.

In contrast, the Central Florida Sirens put on a consistent performance, beating the lower seeds solidly, but really having to fight the other top teams. Against Florida State, they actually played catch up most of the game, trading after going down early. However, with the game at 9s, they made a three point run to end it. They would then go down early to Florida, 0-3, on Sunday. Now, this game, like UGA’s against GT, didn’t matter really, and the Sirens would take half 7-5 and win 9-6. They were overpowered by Georgia in the Final, an intense game quickly getting out of their reach. Against Florida in the game to go, UCF would win 13-5, but the game was closer than that score reflects – a common theme on Sunday – with a few breaks falling the Sirens’ way. Still, you can’t take away that this team proved themselves the second best team in the region and their only losses were only to the one team probably stronger than them.

This weekend’s results were a surprise to most, but not to Florida Fuel. They were confident they could beat the top teams in the region, and opening with a double game point loss to Florida State, while disappointing, was also proof of that. They set a great tone for their weekend. The Georgia game didn’t go as they would have hoped, but they didn’t look totally overwhelmed either. They took care of business against Tech and didn’t falter when they ran into Emory coming off their Georgia game. The only real surprise was Sunday morning, where a terrible case of the dropsies rendered their top end players unable to get any traction against a capable VUDU squad. The Vanderbilt game came as a definite shock and put FUEL in danger of missing the bracket. However, things worked out in their favor, and they took advantage. Whatever issue they had in the Vandy game infected Florida State for their backdoor Semi. FSU went up 3-1, with some of the fresh legs of their studs having just arrived that morning, but from there, the Seminole Ladies just couldn’t keep it together. I’m not sure what happened at such a crucial game, but they fell apart and FUEL walked from there, winning 9-5. The game to go saw the Florida ladies bidding for everything and giving what they had, but some bad luck and tired legs might have been too much to get past with Central Florida on the opposite sideline. They are likely pleased with the weekend, however, and proved they have the young talent to be in the picture again next year.

The other side of that is Florida State Seminole Ladies Ultimate team, who have to be pretty beat up physically and emotionally. Hard hit by the postponement, they were missing two of their top five players on Saturday and some other rotation players. They barely got by FUEL in round one, couldn’t hold on against Central Florida at the end of Saturday, and were put down by Georgia despite a full FSU effort. They did get back Lauren Collins, SJ Campbell, and some other notables on Sunday, which I thought would lead them to more success. Their fumbled game against Florida must have left them feeling helpless – oddly enough, Emory had some of those exact issues against Florida State in the round prior – and frustrated. No doubt, they didn’t expect their season to end where it did. However, there are some good signs for this group’s future.

I think most people didn’t know what to expect from Emory Luna, and they made a strong impression without making any real impact. They didn’t have any trouble with shorthanded Georgia Tech or Vandy squads, making them perhaps look like they belonged in the top five rather than the bottom three. They gave Georgia easily the toughest test of the weekend, battling every step of the way, but ultimately fell short, 11-13. The letdown carried over to the FUEL game, where they never really got their footing under them. They were pretty helpless against Central Florida’s zone and transition offense combo on Sunday, but then fortune smiled on them. Florida’s loss to Vandy meant if Emory beat Florida State, they would break seed and be in contention. That obviously didn’t work out, but they played better against FSU than that score indicates. An oddly successful weekend for them considering they went 2-5 (forfeiting their 5th/6th game against Tech to go study for finals).

I’m afraid we won’t really know what Georgia Tech or Vanderbilt were capable of. Tech had eight players Saturday, with some very notable absences, including Leah Tsinajinnie (graduation). Vanderbilt had only nine. Both made their mark on Sunday, but ultimately, weren’t able to show their full arsenal.

Reactions

Georgia and Central Florida both have the makeup and resume of teams that should be middle of the pack at the College Championships. I’d be very surprised if they finished near the bottom but equally surprised if they made a run deep into the tournament. I still have concerns about Georgia’s health, as they seemed to be nursing injuries throughout the weekend. Amble Johnson will have them very prepared for the competition, but he’s not a magic healer. Central Florida has shown the capability to beat top teams but some consistency issues have plagued them. I do have questions about how they match up defensively when forced out of their very strong zone defense; their transition offense coming out of that zone is incredibly effective. I’ll probably do a more detailed analysis in the coming weeks.

Looking even further into the future, it is really hard to say what the Southeast will look like next year. I’m no Southeast historian, but there is a massive amount of talent leaving – possibly the strongest class ever. Georgia’s group of seniors could probably win the region by themselves, as much a comment on their ability as their numbers. Central Florida will still have Katie Fox and Amy Price, but that’s a far cry from the trove of talent they have now. The Fane/Dahl era of Fuel will end, and that’s a tough adjustment to make for a young team. Florida will still have a strong stable of downfield playes, but can Alana Hardeman shoulder the throwing load?

A lot (or all?) of these Dawgs have played their last Southeast Regionals…but their last games for Georgia will be in Madison.

For those outside of Regionals, I’m sketchy on details, but I believe all of the Gulf Coast’s major players are losing their stud handlers that power their offenses (Tulane’s Stephanie Hurwitz, Vanderbilt’s Emily Dayton, Alabama’s Abby Sedlacek, Auburn’s Katie Cuson) and South Florida also has a large senior class, featuring Teal Dabney and Tessa Walter. Georgia College’s and Tennessee’s small rosters are seeing their top players move on as well.

Super early, mostly baseless, prediction is that Florida State is the team to beat next year. Kristin Lloyd will probably be the best player in the region come spring, and they’ll have Kari Tomarelli, Skylar Taggart, Kearstin Rew, and Alleigh Grover in big roles. Tomarelli, in particular, is one of the region’s rising stars. Georgia Tech has added so much young talent and, after Tsinajinnie, their handlers are all returning. They’ll come into the year with a trio of handlers ready to go and Donnya Ajdari downfield, and could threaten to win SAPP. Emory’s status is also up in the air, and with so much uncertainty for them and Georgia, it should be noted that the SAPP should be really interesting.

Advertisements

Southeast Women’s Regionals: 7 Stars Line

7SL

We survived another year of Southeast shenanigans, and one of the most challenging Regionals setups yet, including the painful round robin pool play format. It is a shame some of the Region’s other talent was not able to be on display, whether it was because their team had to drop or because they had other commitments that forced them to one or no days of play, or because the Sunday conditions were such a mess.

All caveats aside, here are the seven best performers I saw this past week, making up Southeast Women’s Regionals 7 Stars Line, presented by Full Field Hammer:

Emily Lloyd (Georgia): With all due respect to Mariel Hammond, Lloyd is the best cutter in the Southeast region. This was on display throughout the weekend, as she was able to use her initial bursts and smart timing to open up the deep lanes for the Dawgs. On the other side of the disc, she and Julia Fuster typically take the opponent’s top cutter, or top two if they are both on, meaning Emily has a lot demanded of her by her team. She was the premier playmaker I saw this weekend, whether it was in the air, coming under, and laying out for jaw dropping plays, like her performance against UCF.

Sunny Harris (Central Florida): I’ve exhausted enough keystrokes on Sunny’s passion and fire, but her play was speaking very loudly this weekend. Her huck game was on point, forcing teams to find a way to get someone in front of her and her receiver after a turn. She made some big grabs and got up for some big Ds, particularly in the Sirens vaunted zone. Harris has been a huge part of their run this year (this is her second 7SL selection) and was one of the weekend’s top performers.

Kari Tomarelli (Florida State): The Seminole Ladies have a pretty lengthy list of top contributors, which can make it hard to identify them, but Kari can be hard to miss. She’s the highlight reel factor on this Seminole Ladies team, always good for a massive layout each game. Her cutting continues to grow and this was a breakout tournament to cap off a breakout year. Next season, expect her to be one of the region’s top players.

Kari Tomarelli gets up for a score against Fuel at Conference Champies

Kari Tomarelli gets up for a score against Fuel at Conference Champies

Emily Dayton (Vanderbilt): Dayton was a force this weekend for VUDU. Even with teams knowing full well she was the top threat, she was able to get off a lot of great hucks this weekend, able to get necessary resets, and get some big play Ds. With a nine woman roster, there were few breaks for Dayton, who also often tasked with matching up with one of the best players on the line. Gotta recognize a big final weekend for this senior.

Abbey Hewitt (Emory): After the weekend she had, I’d insert her in the conversation with Hammond and Lloyd. Hewitt missed most of the season due to school and foot surgery early this Spring, but once she found stride with her teammates, she became dominant. An aggressive cutter with elite agility and sticky hands, she came up with big play after big play for Luna. Defensively, she racked up Ds in the lanes, but is most at home sending dumps scurrying downfield for fear of getting the disc stalled out.

Abbey Hewitt snags a tightly contested disc at SAPP Conference Championships

Abbey Hewitt snags a tightly contested disc at SAPP Conference Championships

Morgan Hartmann (Florida): The diminutive Hartmann, a.k.a. MoMo, had a pretty big weekend for Fuel. Particularly Saturday, before the mud neutralized some of her quicks, MoMo was making her mark, scooting around unders and outs, getting dirty with some nice layouts, and consistently getting open when the offense got a little tied up. Fane and Dahl are the stars, but without Hartmann, Florida doesn’t put up the showing they did.

Hannah Leathers (Georgia): I struggled picking this last one, as I kept thinking it should be Georgia’s Margie Quinn here, but Leathers’s defensive play made the difference for me. While she had a lot of pretty hucks this weekend, Hannah had a number of great defensive plays, coming up big for Dawgma in some of those tight games. The other thing she did extremely well was being deadly efficient in the red zone. Few college players have the ability to see the right shot down near the goal line, but Leathers has a knack for knowing when it is time to strike.

Leathers lets go of a flick against Tufts at QCTU (Credit Liz Crosby)

Leathers lets go of a flick against Tufts at QCTU (Credit Liz Crosby)

Honorable Mentions

Margie Quinn (Georgia) is where I obviously have to start, Dawgma’s primary handler. Slowing down her hucks and break throws is a real challenge, because she has a difficult release point and delivers it quickly and with precision. She’s also an important vocal leader for the Southeast Champs.

Kristin Lloyd (Florida State) lives up to the hype. With the dearth of talent exiting this year, Lloyd may very well be the best player in the region next season.

Zina Stavitsky (Emory) is the future of that team. Developing into a very pure handler, she was a dangerous threat on Luna’s 12 lady roster.

Julia Fuster (Georgia) is always a great defender and continues to emerge as an offensive playmaker as well. Some big layout grabs from her this weekend.

Jessica Chau (Georgia Tech) was playing very well for Wreck when I saw them. Putting her downfield, she was able to use her quickness to get a lot of yardage gaining unders and make some very very impressive grabs.

Mariel Hammond (Central Florida) may feel like an obvious pick, but if you watch her play, she’s hard to miss. It could be because she’s constantly open, especially when the Sirens are in the red zone.

Jenna Dahl (Florida) is another usual suspect, but her ability on both sides of the disc is what makes her hard to omit. Big puts, consistent resets, but their zone D basically functions on forcing the defense to throw the disc in her general vicinity so she can layout D it.

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

Southeast Women’s Snapshot: Southeast Hate

College2011_Southeast

As the season draws to a close, the Southeast remains one of the most exciting regions in the country. There will be two bids to the College Championships up for grabs in Tupelo, and that number was very nearly three. With The Big Three (Georgia, Central Florida, and Florida State) looking a cut above the rest, it gets difficult to predict how the rest of the standings will shake out at Regionals.

While the mantra for many Southeast teams this season has been “Southeast love” (and the lovely #southeastlove hashtag that started the regional love twitter trend), for the next month, alliances are off the table. With the bid picture finalized, teams will be scratching and clawing at each other to win their Conference. Florida, Southern Appalachian (SAPP), and Gulf Coast each hope they can do as much damage at the Southeast Regional Championship as possible. Teams are likely to root for their respective Conference representatives to do well at Regionals. Only after that, once the Southeast’s national squads are picked, will the Southeast Love be back in full effect.

Historically, the Florida Conference has been the bid hog, snagging the most bids in both of the years since the redrawing of the Regional boundaries. In 2011, Florida had seven bids, meaning every team at their Conference Champies qualified for Regionals. However, two didn’t accept, and an extra bid went to Gulf Coast and I think the other went to SAPP, but nobody claimed it, so nine teams went to Regionals. Of those, five were from FLA, two from GC and SAPP. In 2012, it was 5-4-1, with the one being the GC. The same numbers will apply this year, with five bids for Florida, four for Southern Appalachian, and just one for the Gulf Coast.

To understand how we arrived at this number, I’ll explain. First, each region gets one bid to start. That’s 3/10 available to Regionals assigned. From there, the highest ranked team from each Conference earns a strength bid. If there are not enough teams for this to assign all of the bids, it will go to the largest Conference and so on. GCSU, who is going D-III (and is one of the top ranked D-III teams!), does not count in these allocations. As it is, seven of the bids went to the next ranked teams, so every team that got in 10 sanctioned games earned their Conference a bid. I’m personally happy to have my Conference (SAPP) have four bids, but I feel for the Gulf Coast. They have plenty of teams who would be very interesting to have at Regionals, but unfortunately, not a single one of their teams locked up 10 sanctioned games. If Terminus had happened, we could be looking at very different bid allocations. Accordingly, those teams have my sympathies.

The Big Three

Georgia Dawgma (14-5)

Rankings: #10 USAU, #15 Skyd, #19 Ultiworld

Key IR Wins: UF x3, FSU x2, UCF

Key IR Losses: FSU

Key OR Wins: Ohio State (13-9), Michigan (12-8)

Key OR Losses: Ohio State (6-14), Tufts (5-11), Northwestern (7-10)

It is unfortunate that Terminus’s weather cancellation took Georgia’s opportunity to rack up some more wins and make sure the rest of the region – who hasn’t really seen much of them – wasn’t getting any ideas. They didn’t get the opportunity to smash up teams or develop their chemistry and depth. Meanwhile, both Florida State and Central Florida were able to get in their reps at Centex and the gap is closer for it. I think everyone still sees them as the team to beat, but a two bid region is a lot more comfortable for them. Their season, on the whole, has shown they have a group that can compete with elite teams. The only teams to open up on them are teams that could be considered Championship contenders: Tufts and Ohio State. What concerns you are losses to Florida State and Northeastern, though both were close and fairly early this season, and a history of talent not equating to Natties berths. They should expect little resistance on their way to the SAPP Championship.

Central Florida Sirens (16-11) 

Rankings: #16 USAU, #16 Skyd, #16 Ultiworld

Key IR Wins: Florida

Key IR Losses: FSU x2, UGA, UF

Key OR Wins: Wisconsin (9-6), Northwestern (9-3), UNC-Wilmington (12-11), Pittsburgh (15-0), Michigan (12-7), Stanford (15-10), Cal (12-4)

Key OR Losses: Ohio State (4-15), Carleton (5-13), Minnesota (7-15), North Carolina (6-9)

Central Florida’s weekend in Austin gave them mixed results, but not too unlike their coming out party at QCTU, they showed the capacity to keep up with the best or fall flat. When this team is clicking, they can control a game against Stanford, dominate Cal and Pittsburgh, and nearly beat Tufts. When they aren’t, they struggle to keep up with Minnesota or even score points against Carleton or Ohio State. While I have the utmost respect for Coach Tilley to reign in the team, at some point, you start to think that they are who they are. There isn’t a team in the country that they can’t beat, but they could also be in for a disappointing ending for the second straight year.

Florida State Seminole Ladies (17-8) 

Rankings: #20 USAU, UR Skyd, #18 Ultiworld

Key IR Wins: UF x2, UCF x2, UGA, Tulane (13-1)

Key IR Losses: UGA x2

Key OR Wins: Michigan (13-7), Western Washington (12-3)

Key OR Losses: Ohio State (8-9), Northeastern (6-10), Virginia (6-9)

The other team to make a showing in Austin, expectations and opportunity were lower for the Seminole Ladies, who were placed in a still very competitive Division II. They totaled up five wins against lower ranked competition (although UC-SD and Western Washington are both nice Ws to add) and a pair of close losses to solidly ranked teams (UCLA and Colorado College). Their loss against UCLA kept them from getting games against the D-I elite, and while it was a solid weekend, it could have helped push them off the fence and into the third bid if they had notched another win. Still, they will push on into Florida Conference Champies looking to set themselves up for success at Regionals, and they’ll likely get some important tests in games against a South Florida team looking to make a name for itself, a Florida team that they always seem to play close, and of course against the Sirens. Their best showings against elite competition have been close losses, suggesting a team that has yet to get over the hump, though they have three wins against the other members of the Big Three. Those may be from the early season, but they inspire some confidence.

The Field

The threshold to be ranked increased to 10 sanctioned games, making a lot of teams NR.

  • 4. Florida (39)
  • 5. Tulane (NR)
  • 6. South Florida (83)
  • 7. Georgia Tech (73)
  • 8. GCSU +1 (56) *going D-III this season
  • 9. Auburn -1 (NR)
  • 10. Emory (93)
  • 11. Tennessee (116)
  • 12. Alabama (NR)
  • 13. Vanderbilt (NR)
  • 14. Georgia State (NR)
  • 15. Vanderbilt NEW (NR)
  • 16. LSU (NR)

I brought Florida down to the field. Previously, they were in their own separate category – a tier of their own, where they had separated themselves, while not quite being with the Big Three – and I hold to that idea, but for organization’s sake, they are being slotted here.

Tulane, after some drama, managed to get into Terminus, which was then promptly rained out, keeping them from their 10 game threshold. I heard they were here, playing some scrimmages to get some reps, at least. Their solid 13-7 win over GCSU, an OR drubbing of South Carolina, and win over ‘Bama make them a favorite in the Gulf Coast.

South Florida took an adventure all the way to Austin. They’d go undefeated in Division-III Saturday play, beating pretty decent competition. It would result in them getting a crack at Division-II, where they were roughed up by Wash U. It is a bit of an ugly loss, as I’m not sure Wash U is much better than Tulane is. They’d add another loss, by a point to eventual D-III champ Rice, but probably a big growth weekend for Scalley.

Georgia Tech solidly remains in their 7 spot, winning their three games at Freaknik, including 13-8 over a good Clemson squad. They have added depth to their roster and have put together a strong season: a 15-3 record, with all three losses coming against solid teams, and only one of them by more than a point. It has been somewhat quiet, but they have positioned themselves as one of the region’s top teams.

GCSU vs. Auburn is tough. Auburn has their head to head, but GCSU has a stronger resume. This is just one of many things Terminus’s games could have helped suss out. It would have been great to find out more about Auburn. They also pulled out of the Kentucky Classic, but I don’t think that tourney would have told us too much, anyway. GCSU got in their Southerns games and had a good showing, losing only once in a close game to eventual tourney-winners, Carleton Eclipse. In their other games, nobody scored more than three on ’em. That’s enough to move them up.

After that, everything else remains the same. Emory went 1-2 at Southerns, losing two close games and winning another by a lot, and then having to forfeit their additional games. Georgia State is the only other team to have played, going 1-2 at Freaknik, beating SCAD but struggling against GT Wreck and Clemson. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Alabama, Vanderbilt, and LSU play well at Gulf Coast Conference Championships and push for the lone bid.

This week, we will take a look at each Conference’s Championship tournament, talk about favorites, contenders, storylines, and the players to watch. It has been a heck of a season. The Series is here.

Women’s Bid Watch: First Looks

The much anticipated first USAU college rankings (Open, Women) came out yesterday afternoon, giving us our first taste of not only the national picture, but perhaps more importantly, which regions had earned bids so far and what teams were in position to move those bids around. Let’s take a look at the Top 20 (chosen because that’s the number of bids), the bid picture, and what to expect moving forward.

Top 20

  1. UBC (NW)
  2. Oregon (NW)
  3. Washington (NW)
  4. UCSB (SW)
  5. Carleton (NC)
  6. Victoria (NW)
  7. Colorado (SC)
  8. Iowa (NC)
  9. Whitman (NW)
  10. Stanford (SW)
  11. Sonoma State (SW)
  12. Colorado College (SC)
  13. California (SW)
  14. Western Washington (NW)
  15. Tufts (NE)
  16. Virginia (AC)
  17. UCSD (SW)
  18. MIT (NE)
  19. Ohio State (OV)
  20. Minnesota (NC)

Regions not represented here are the SE (#21 Georgia), GL (#30 Valparaiso), and ME (#60 Ottawa). The Ohio Valley and Atlantic Coast regions had one team each in the Top 20 and they were both in the bottom 5. The Northwest and Southwest dominate these rankings, with the North Central falling just behind that. However, if you look a little closer, almost every team has only one tournament’s worth of sanctioned games – the majority of them either from Pres Day or the SB Invite for the west coast or Queen City for the east coast – and a few have some other scattered wins.

Bid Watch

Here’s a breakdown of, if the season were to end today, how the bids would shake out, with strength bids in parentheses and the teams earning those strength bids.

  • AC (0)
  • GL (0)
  • ME (0)
  • NE (0)
  • NC (1): #8 Iowa
  • NW (5): #2 Oregon, #3 Washington, #6 Victoria, #9 Whitman, #14 W. Washington
  • OV (0)
  • SC (1): #12 Colorado College
  • SE (0)
  • SW (3): #10 Stanford, #11 Sonoma State, #13 California

It isn’t hard to see how those Top 20 rankings translate into the Northwest and Southwest hogging all of the bids! This isn’t unusual. Last year – the first year of this bid system – there were five regions with no strength bids when the first rankings dropped. In 2011, if I correctly applied the current bid system to their rankings, it would have been another five 0 bid regions in the initial rankings. For reference, 2012’s final rankings had six regions with no strength bids (New England, Metro East, Great Lakes, South Central, South East, and Ohio Valley) and 2011 would have had four regions (ME, NE, OV, SE) with no strength bids. From what I see, it looks as if typically the bids spread to the regions already holding a bid, so you end up with a few 2/3 bid regions and one region with 4/5.

Looking at a few results, there are couple of things that could have made these rankings look different. Three teams (well, four, but one could have been either way) jump out at me as teams that could have changed the early bid picture: Texas, Iowa State, and either Central Florida or Florida State. Texas Melee’s location means they actually have seen a bunch of the Southwest teams ranked ahead of them at Pres Day. Of their five losses this season, three are at the hands Southwest teams, most notably a 7-12 loss to bid-holding California. If they beat USC, California, and keep it close with Oregon or UCSB, it wouldn’t surprise me if hold a bid, but alas. Iowa State Woman Scorned is a weird one to call out, because they are 12-2 with losses only to top 20 North Central teams. The issue, as far as rankings go, is that they are completely content to spread playing time and win games 15-13 and 13-11, even against lower ranked teams. Of their 12 wins, only three have come by six or more points (Maryland, Emory, Colorado St.) This lack of dominant wins hurts their numbers, keeping them from pushing high enough to take another bid for the North Central. Finally, the Southeast is a mess, as Georgia, Florida State, and Central Florida have beaten up on each other. If Central Florida only loses to Georgia at FWC and puts up those good scores at QCTU, they position the SE for another bid. The same is true of FSU, except they were a step away at QCTU. Georgia gets a pass for being the top ranked SE team.

The question at this point is what we should expect moving forward. Competition between the coasts kicks off this weekend with the Stanford Invite, where Carleton, and more importantly, North Carolina and Wisconsin – two teams not yet factoring into the bid picture – will compete with Northwest and Southwest teams. How these teams fare against the Southwest strength earners (California, Sonoma, and Stanford) will be important and I would be surprised if North Carolina didn’t yank a bid for the AC. The more important tournament is Women’s Centex in a couple of weekends, where the strength earners of the Northwest and Southwest will be attending and will see the top teams from pretty much every other region. The bid picture could change dramatically in Texas, where a Florida State, Pittsburgh, or Wash U could take extra bids off the hands of the evil empire of the NW and SW.

Keep tabs with the #BidWatch hashtag on twitter.

Southeast Women’s Snapshot

College2011_Southeast

The Southeast Region seems to be growing more and more competitive, on both sides of the gender gap. The Women’s side has a number teams vying for what could wind up being one or two bids to Nationals. Traditionally a one bid region, it’ll be a fight all the way, and last year showed you can’t take anything for granted into those fateful days of the Series. Here’s a brief look at how the region stacks up, topped off by the Big 4: UGA, UCF, FSU, and UF.

Georgia Dawgma (9-4)

Key IR Wins: UF x2, FSU x2, UCF

Key IR Losses: FSU

Key OR Wins: None

Dawgma opened the year strong, coming off of a fall where they dominated Southeast competition and won a double game point finals victory at CCC over Texas. They could really use that out of region win on their record now. They were by far the strongest performing team at Florida Winter Classic, which allowed them to assert themselves over the in-region competition and stake out a nice win %. Unfortunately, they disappointed at QCTU, failing any marquee wins (their best win was a 15-5 win over Wash U, a team UCF beat 11-2) and losing their first in-region game to Florida State, 11-10. The talent is there for this team and they were battling health issues at QCTU, but we’ve heard this song before. This is the most talented team Athens has fielded in a while and excuses are not calculated in the ranking algorithm. A rebound performance at Music City Mash-Up would be huge: there’s a rematch of that glorious CCC Final against Texas and a competition for the top spot in the SE against UCF on the docket. They need to get a big out-of-region win – probably two – if they want to reestablish themselves.

Central Florida Sirens (8-6)

Key IR Wins: Florida

Key IR Losses: FSU x2, UGA, UF

Key OR Wins: Michigan (12-7), Wisconsin (9-6), UNC-Wilmington (12-11)

UCF’s start was the exact opposite of Georgia’s: unimpressive Florida Winter Classic, where they took some tough losses to the SE’s top competition, and then a huge showing at QCTU against out of region competition. They carry virtually every big Southeast win against competition from the rest of the country. This break out performance makes them a team to watch. Michigan had a really poor showing at QCTU, but that win over Wisconsin stands out as a big one and is a sign anybody sleeping on the Sirens may not get to wake up at all. A chance to add to their resume with a game against Texas is good, but for UCF, beating Georgia – the team who tore up their ticket to Nationals last year – will be more than sweet revenge, but a statement about who really runs the Southeast.

Florida State SLUT (7-6)

Key IR Wins: UF x2, UCF x2, UGA

Key IR Losses: UGA x2

Key OR Wins: Michigan (13-7)

This has been coming for a while. FSU has been knocking on the door and they have finally broken through as one of the region’s elite. They put up solid showings are both FWC and QCTU, getting wins out of every other team in the Big 4. Beating UGA at QCTU was huge for the Seminole Ladies, as it was a sign that they have the talent and ability to beat anyone in the Southeast and a legitimate shot at the crown. While they will not be at Music City, they will be hosting Tally Classic (side note: great tourney for mid-level SE teams) where they will look to score decisive wins over next tier SE talent (GCSU, Alabama, USF) and some similarly seated talent from other regions (Notre Dame, Purdue). They’ll have to wait for Centex to get their shot at adding some more big wins to their list and proving their mettle.

Florida FUEL (6-8)

Key IR Wins: UCF

Key IR Losses: FSU x2, UGA x2, UCF

Key OR Wins: None

Florida had a tough start to the Spring, coming away from their home tourney FWC with just one notable win to show for it. At QCTU, they did give Pitt a tight game and had a five point loss to eventual winner, Iowa State, with a pair of wins against a short-rostered Maryland team as well. It was definitely a sign of progress for a team that I expect to come on much stronger and surprise some folks at Centex. Right now, you have to put them at the bottom of the pile. Music City offers a chance to stake their claim and prove they are still Southeast elite. Unlike UCF and UGA, they’ll draw three opponents where any win would be the highlight win to jumpstart them (Pittsburgh, Ohio State, and Michigan). Opportunity is staring FUEL in the face.

The Field

To start the spring, it seemed the most likely threat to challenge the Big 4 was Emory, the most recent Southeast team that was in the club. However, they stumbled through an awful FWC, failing to grab a single victory. While they rebounded with wins over Bama (x2) and USF at a very windy and unsanctioned Flick’N Nuts, they will need a strong showing at next weekend’s Midwest Throwdown in order to push back up in the middle tier – for now, they are in the backseat. South Florida notched a pair of wins over the aforementioned Emory squad at FWC and played Florida tight, and also made finals at Flick’N Nuts. I’d say they reside in the shotgun spot at the top of the middle tier. If they can take down the other SE middle tier teams they see at Tally Classic and/or beat FSU, they will be in a great position.

GCSU’s performance at their home tourney, Flick’N Nuts, gets them mention. They won the tournament despite a short roster. In fact, with a solid group of girls that relies on no stud to bail them out, they might even be better with a short rotation where they all know each other well. Their Tally Classic will be our first chance to see what they really look like. Georgia Tech has a solid record and will get some shots at Music City, so keep an eye on that one. Wreck has arguably the region’s best player, and despite losing some of their best cutting talent this Spring, has cultivated the depth to keep winning.

Bama and Tulane have both been pushing to finally give the Gulf Coast strong representation.T-Throwdown was a chance to finally find out more about these teams, even as an unsanctioned event. Tulane went undefeated on the way to winning the tournament and I’ve heard they were by far the strongest performing squad in Tuscaloosa. Auburn also had a strong weekend, making the finals. Alabama struggled through a disappointing weekend, with a winless Saturday, which definitely surprised me to hear. A rebound at Tally Classic will shoot them up the rankings.

As I see it? Just for the time being, and almost entirely based on known Spring results:

  • 5. USF
  • 6. Tulane
  • 7. GCSU
  • 8. Georgia Tech
  • 9. Auburn
  • 10. Emory
  • 11. Alabama
  • 12. Georgia State

What to Watch

3/2-3/3: Midwest Throwdown (Emory)

3/9-3/10: Music City Mash-Up (UGA, UCF, UF, GT), Tally Classic (FSU, USF, Bama, GCSU)

After that, Centex, Southerns, and Terminus will be on deck. I’m not sure where Tulane or Auburn are headed next, but obviously, keep an eye on where they are.