South Central Women’s Regionals Preview

2013 College Series

Perspective dictates how one would view the season the South Central, as a whole, has put together. For some, they see the single bid to the College Championships, Colorado’s Centex results, and Texas’s Music City performance. For others, they see Texas A&M’s Conference Championship win, Kansas’s Midwest Throwdown victories, and Texas’s Centex rebound. It is a tale of adversity and of opportunity. Dramatics aside, tensions will be high in Kansas City, MO. Colorado is the early favorite going into the weekend, having proved themselves capable of being one of the nation’s elite, but a few teams are nipping at their heels. A few more teams may be unlikely to win the bid, but have what it takes to spoil it for someone else. The South Central is historically volatile, with four different teams having played in the past two Finals.

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

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

Pool A: Colorado, Texas, Kansas, Colorado College, Saint Louis, North Texas

Pool B: Texas A&M, Colorado St., Missouri St., Wash U, TCU, Rice

Teams must make the top four of their pool to qualify for the Championship bracket.

Pool Play

Pool A

Without a doubt, Colorado Kali is the favorite at this tournament, but by how much is up for debate. They only have one elite win this season – 15-13 over Iowa at Centex – but almost all of their losses have been close, and all are against nationals-level competition. They are undefeated IR, going 11-10 over Texas, 15-9 over Texas A&M, and 12-10 in the Rocky Mountain Champies Final against Colorado College. Those tight games may be cause for concern, but the Colorado leadership is using it for motivation, with Captain Megan Good telling me, “We’ve had close games this season…it will be exciting to play [those teams] again this weekend”. Kali had a down year last year, finishing 5th at Regionals, but expectations are obviously different with their talent level. Senior Amanda Good is the star of the show, but her supporting cast includes the very talented senior Megan Cousins (both are U23 team selections), as well as Christina Mickle and Natalie Plaza.

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

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

Texas Melee has proven to be one of the nation’s most enigmatic squads. After an undefeated January win at Houston Antifreeze (where they beat both Rice and A&M), they lost 10 of their next 16 games, including games against Illinois and San Diego State. Since then, they are 11-3, including a victory against Pittsburgh and a blowout over Colorado College. A 6-10 loss to A&M at Texas Conference Championships cost them and does still give reasons to wonder what Melee will really do. Their 11-10 loss to Kali from Pres Day shows they are capable of competing with the top of the region. They’ll need strong weekends from senior veterans Kayla Ramirez and Diana Charrier, along with downfield playmaking from senior Sharon Tsao and sophomore Lauren McKenna, to win the bid.

The Kansas Bettys could be a dangerous team from the three seed. A strong Fall foreshadowed some good results in the Spring, most notably their 10-6 win over Wisconsin in the unpleasant weather of Midwest Throwdown. At that same tournament, they lost 10-15 to Iowa State and by two to Notre Dame, respectable results. However, they struggled at the Chicago Invite, where I’ve heard they were very short on bodies. Their two Saturday morning losses at Ozark Champies (12-14 to Oklahoma and 8-10 to Wash U) also demonstrate that they are susceptible to lapses in play. With so little room for error in Kansas City, they’ll need to find the consistency they’ve lacked. Kat Songer was one of the best handlers I saw at Midwest Throwdown, but she’ll need support from her Betty teammates if they want to break seed.

Colorado College Lysistrata’s Tools (or Strata) is probably the most underseeded team coming into South Central Regionals. Strata has wins over Northeastern, Whitman, and Florida State. They played to within two points of Colorado at their Conference Championships, but also fell to Colorado State in a placement game. That followed a first round matchup with CSU that they won by only a point. They were a point away from making the game to go last year, after winning the Region outright in 2011. They have a penchant for playing tight games, though they don’t always come out on top. With five Pool Play games, that could be a dangerous habit, but this is also exactly the kind of team that could get hot – riding the dynamic play of senior Captain and former Junior Worlds player Taylor Kanemori and tall receiver Lisi Lohre – and play spoiler.

Saint Louis’s season lacks for big wins, but a strong Conference Championships showing means they have momentum going into their biggest test. They are 0-3 against the field at Regionals, but none of those games were blowouts. If the breaks fall their way, they could upset a team looking ahead a bigger fish.

North Texas opened the season with an undefeated tournament win at Big D in Little D, and followed that up with a 4-3 record from Music City. Their Centex and Conference tournaments weren’t ideal, but they played to within a point of Texas. In fact, they’ve only lost two games by more than 5, even against stronger competition. Don’t expect them to roll over for anyone.

Pool B

Texas A&M Stacked has been a team on the rise. The prospect of coming in the #2 seed has to be exciting. At last year’s Regionals, they broke seed in a major way, going undefeated Saturday and making it to Semis on Sunday. While they struggled at Midwest Throwdown, dropping a 10-11 game to Saint Louis, they are coming in hot from Conference Championships, where they upset Texas 10-6. Earlier in the year, they beat Michigan and lost to Texas 8-9. In reality, it is hard to predict how well they’ll perform Saturday, particularly against Colorado State, who seems roughly their equal. If they’re playing well, that almost certainly means senior Captain Brittaney Abney is cutting up a storm and continuing the disc downfield for them. It could also spell trouble for the traditional powers of the region.

The Colorado State Hell’s Belles have a season very similar to TAMU’s, having notched a big win in the winds of Midwest Throwdown (10-7 over Northwestern), but struggling against tougher competition at Stanford Open. Their Conference Championship win over Colorado College bodes well and breeds confidence. They are a gritty and hardworking team that is capable of winning long points. If you’re turning the disc over against them, Sarah Stamper has the playmaking throws to make you pay for it. Seeing them battle with Texas A&M should be interesting.

Missouri State Barely Legal is a bit of a mystery. Their only results before the Series are from unsanctioned Mardi Gras, where the went 6-2, with both losses to Illinois and no notable wins. However, at Ozark Conference Championships, they went undefeated, not even playing tight games. If they are peaking coming into the Series, they can catch the inconsistent teams above them napping and take advantage.

Wash U WUWU’s season has been a disappointment, when you look at their results. They took on a brutal tournament schedule, with QCTU, Midwest Throwdown, and Centex. Their best result is a 10-11 loss to Iowa State. However, this does mean they are battle tested, having competed against some of the top teams in the country all year. This probably helped them beat Kansas on Saturday at Ozark CCs, but they did also drop games to Kansas and Missouri State. The offense flows through senior Captains Danielle Blatt and Katie Walker who can use strong throws to work the disc to the break side effectively.

Texas Christian University’s season has been successful, with a nice W-L record, but they haven’t faced many strong teams. On the few occasions they have, they haven’t been able to keep up. You get the sense that their record shows who they are pretty well and while they don’t get blown out often, they also haven’t demonstrated a high ceiling. That makes it tough to predict them to break seed.

Rice Miss Red’s highlight for this year has to be winning Division III at Centex. Taking down MIT, Harvard, and USF in a row was pretty impressive for the growing program. They also have a close loss to Florida to their name. Unfortunately, they are 0-3 vs. TAMU (with none of those close) and were racked by TCU twice at Conferences. I feel like this is a team that could surprise, but those TCU losses do not engender confidence that they’ll get any wins in pool play.


Pool Play

Pool A: Colorado, Texas, Colorado College, Kansas, Saint Louis, North Texas

Pool B: Colorado State, Texas A&M, Missouri State, Wash U, TCU, Rice


Colorado over Wash U (closer than expected)

Colorado College over Texas A&M

Texas over Missouri State

Colorado State over Kansas (extremely close)


Colorado over Colorado College, behind a strong second half

Texas over Colorado State


Colorado over Texas

Final Thoughts

I like the strength of Pool A, in part because I like the big game experience Colorado, Texas, and Colorado College bring to the table. While I think Colorado State and Texas A&M are both capable, I’m not sure they have the dependable playmakers that those other three do. Texas has been playing better lately and they do have the horses to outrun opponents if they can keep their heads on straight. Look for Rice to break seed if they play out placement games. In the end, I don’t think it’ll be easy for Colorado, but I do feel confident they’ll emerge from the Region unscathed.

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.