2011 YCC Girls Division Champs - DiscNW
Posted: August 15, 2011 01:18 PM
YCC 2011, Girls Division
At day 2 of the girls division at YCC, the picture of the finals was clear from the get-go. With only the top two seeds after pool play qualifying for the championship game, the 4-0 Toon Squad of Seattle and 3-1 Boston BUDA seemed like a lock to play for the title game. BUDA would have to lose to the troubled Minnesota girls, who simply didn't have enough depth to hang with them. It became clear within the first half that BUDA would not be upset, going up 7-3 and taking the game easily 13-5.
Across the way, Seattle was facing off with Cincinnati. The Belle girls were showing once again that their offense could only be slowed, not stopped, as they played even with the Toon Squad to 2-2. Everything Cincy was doing started with #24 Bethany Kaylor, who’s all around game was clearly on the all-tournament level. As soon as Seattle went up a break, however, they didn't need to stop Cincinnati. As long as the tough Seattle zone slowed the Cincy girls enough, they would find themselves winning a capped game, which they did 11-5.
With both favorites winning their first round games, they officially locked up their spots in the championship game with 1 round of pool play to go. As Seattle and BUDA each began their final round of pool play -against PHUL and Cincy, respectively- it became clear that each team would rather burn hard and gain momentum going into the final game than conserve energy. The girls of Cincinnati and Pittsburgh seemed to be of the same mindset, refusing to let an altogether meaningless game dampen their competitive spirit. Pittsburgh's length on the mark was clearly a defensive force against Toon Squad early on, but as soon as Toon Squad got up a break they put their ever-present zone out to slow the game down to their pace. They would cruise to an 11-4 victory and await the finals.
The sideline energy for Toon Squad all game was looser than they had had the rest of the tournament. With the game in the bag and finals a lock, I had a chance to socialize with a very relaxed Seattle assistant coach in Lisa Niemann. After generating a bit of rapport in a good-natured argument about whether Minneapolis or Seattle is a better hipster city, I decided my game needed improving. I set about attempting to convince her to hook me up with free throwing lessons from Toon Squad's veritable full-field flick-machine Savanna Ryan, but to no avail. I don't have the hair for it, apparently.
In contrast to Toon Squad's easy win, BUDA found themselves going point for point with a revitalized Cincinnati team. Belle would make BUDA work for everything they got. With a small roster, and a general reliance on hard man defense throughout games, BUDA seemed as though they might be wearing themselves thin before the championship game. I got a chance to catch up with BUDA coach Claudia Tajima after the game to ask her if she had concerns with BUDA's energy for the final. For a second I thought all I was going to get was a cold, one word answer of “No” but after a pause she went onto explain that BUDA's style is not incidental. They know that they're going to be sending a small squad (only 14 girls) and those girls train hard to play as many points as they do.
The atmosphere became rowdy near the finals field as the girls from BUDA and Toon Squad warmed up. With the open final and the girls final on neighboring fields, fans loaded up the sideline between the two to get a view of both games. Seattle would receive the pull to start the game, and found themselves making crisp throws all the way downfield against a flat BUDA defense. Not to be outdone, BUDA's O-line saw #8 Hannah Yee come up with a heavily contested under, and complete a successful huck to a streaking Kathryn Hopkins McGill. Over the next three points, Toon Squad got separation with the most efficient ultimate they played all weekend. At 2-1, two defensively solid, turnover free points by Seattle put them up 4-1. As we saw all weekend, Seattle sent their zone out on the field after going up a break or two. It would seem once again that Toon Squad would have the luxury of playing at their own pace. The girls from Seattle were starting to get some major swagger going as they neared half, as evidenced by a gutsy cross-field hammer from Savanna Ryan to Nina Finley, who layed out to grab the hammer for a score. BUDA was in serious need of some momentum, and they got it in the form of a crucial layout D near their own end zone from Gabrielle McNamara. BUDA quickly converted on a layout grab in the end zone by Hannah Yee. At 6-3 Seattle, a marathon point ensued, prompting Toon Squad to take their first timeout. It would seem that the break helped BUDA more than Toon Squad, as they came out mistake free. Relying on Angela Zhu to move the disc up field with huge break throws and intelligent swings, BUDA would score and start to really build up some steam as half drew near. Toon Squad had other plans, sending a huck deep to Sonja Haroldson, who made a fully-extended layout grab in the end zone to take half 7-4.
After half, BUDA came out of the gate looking like they were ready to finally dethrone the long-standing champs. They came out on an O-point and committed zero turnovers to narrow the lead to 7-5.
Toon Squad seemed to have the drop on the BUDA defense, until a tenacious mark by Angela Zhu near the end zone gave BUDA the only chance they would need to punch the disc into the end zone. 7-6 Toon Squad. Soft cap went off during the point, making it a game to 9. During the next point, Seattle worked the disc down near the end zone, where Hannah Yee appeared to come up with a monster D on an under, but an uncontested foul was called and the disc stayed with Seattle. They would convert to go up 8-6. The first game point was underway, and it was apparent that Toon Squad had an insatiable hunger for victory. The zone was no more, they would play hard man defense late in a game for the first time all tournament. The team defensive effort was inhuman. BUDA made some smart decisions, but ultimately there were simply no open players to throw to, and Lani Nguyen of Toon Squad would get the D. Wasting no time, Savanna Ryan picked up the disc and threw her patented flick huck to Nina Finley in the corner of the end zone for a final score of 9-6. With their hunger for victory sated, the girls of Toon Squad returned to human form in the spirit circle for some whooping, hollering, and of course, dancing with the BUDA squad.
I left this tournament with the utmost respect for the girls of YCC. The talent pool across the country is tremendous. Cities all over the country are cranking out girls with perfect throws, immaculate fundamentals, and defensive energy you just don't see everyday. A weekend of watching them makes you feel inadequate, as if every highlight reel D or perfect huck were meant as a statement of their superiority. I can only be thankful that I get to play men's division in college.
Steve Kotvis [f/go]
1 - Seattle
2 - Boston
3 - Denver
4 - Pittsburgh
5 - Cincinnati
6 - Minnesota
7 - Seattle U-16