The division continues to build on last year’s success, moving from 5 v. 5 competition to full 7 v. 7. The U-16 girls competed in pool play on Friday and even finished the day with a GUMMIT to close out day one on a spirited, fun note and encourage girls to watch women’s ultimate and share this awesome sport with friends.
The U-16 girls’ free agent team, Artemis, grew in size from last year, with girls mainly came in small groups from various cities across the country, so team chemistry had already begun to form before they arrived in Blaine. They used a side stack through most of their first game to help organize cuts and then switched to a vertical stack to figure out which would work best for the team. Artemis’ cuts looked good, but they struggled with drops against the Triangle Area Kitty Hawks. A few long points were traded back and forth in the beginning of the game before the Kitty Hawks were able to find their rhythm, smoothly working the disc down the field, to pull ahead and stay ahead. Near the end of the game, the Kitty Hawks started running a zone defense that startled Artemis and helped the Kitty Hawks close out their first game with an 11-5 win.
Maine Rip Tide began Friday morning with their toughest match up of the tournament against Seattle Hydra and the confidence that competition would be easier after facing last year’s undisputed champions. Rip Tide started the game with a zone defense in an attempt to shake up Hydra, but Hydra found the holes they needed to break the zone. Hydra returned the defensive challenge with a zone of their own, one that was hard for Rip Tide break. Rip Tide’s handlers had solid movement against the cup, but the poppers and wings struggled to get the openings they needed to advance downfield. It took a lengthy point, buy Rip Tide was finally able to get the score. Hydra returned to person defense for the rest of the game, and got the win 13-1.
Despite being the home team, Minnesota Superior came to YCC with a small squad and only a few returning players. They worked to find chemistry throughout their Friday games. Their first game against Bay Area’s Belly of the Beast! was a strong match up. Belly of the Beast! showed some nice handler movement, especially after a few quick turnovers. Minnesota Superior struggled to make effective cuts out of the stack, but had a way of finding quick connections in the end zone to keep the game close. Belly of the Beast! took half 7-6 by working the disc up the field with short passes before finally connecting on their looks deep. Minnesota Superior cleaned up their cuts as the game progressed to keep it close. But Belly of the Beast!’s cutting was slightly better. Along with their connections deep, Belly of Beast! pulled ahead and earned a 10-8 win.
Round two saw Artemis take on top-seeded Hydra. Hydra was quick to capitalize on Artemis’ lack of patience. Artemis had trouble keeping up with Hydra as they ran down well-placed long puts. Sydney Brewster of Artemis played gritty defense, unafraid to layout for Ds and then quickly hop right back up like it was nothing. Artemis’ defense forced some long points, but they were no match for the chemistry and skilled cutting of Hydra. Seattle got the win 13-0. Grace Patterson stood out for Hydra with her hard work turning into some tough Ds, layouts and cuts that were a key part of the win.
Rip Tide had a closer match up in round two against Cincinnati Baby Belle. Baby Belle had trouble finding their flow against the Rip Tide zone. But when Baby Belle was able to find a hole in the zone to throw to one of the wings, they easily worked the disc up the field for a score. Baby Belle’s handlers used creative throws, including scoobers and even hammers, to work around the tight mark of Rip Tide’s Sophie Marcotte and to make the cup really work for the disc. Rip Tide’s stack often broke down shortly after the play began, but Ayla Gunther could be counted on to make a fast break for the continuation cut, earning her a couple of goals. In a close game, Rip Tide’s strong zone and hand blocks from Kennedy McCarthy led to a 13-9 win over Baby Belle.
The strong handler movement of the Kitty Hawks’ offensive line was hard for Minnesota Superior to stop. Much of the Kitty Hawks’ handler action moved through Grace Conerly and Lanie O’Neill. You could also depend on Conerly for layout Ds, long throws and quick and easy give-and-go passes. As the game progressed, Minnesota Superior stepped up their defense to stop long hucks and look for the fast break deep. Most of Minnesota Superior’s offense ran through Doua Ci Lour’s deliberate handler cuts and good deep looks. The Kitty Hawks’ ability to work the disc up the field through their handlers and capitalize on turnovers got them the 13-7 win.
In their final Friday game, Baby Belle really found their flow against Belly of the Beast! to capture their first win 12-7. Rip Tide ended the Kitty Hawks’ win streak, defeating the North Carolinians 10-8.
Artemis got their first win of the tournament 5-4 over Minnesota Superior. The game was the most even match up of the day for the two teams. Both teams were really tired, especially Minnesota Superior with their small 12-person squad, and struggled with turnovers. During the game, Artemis also had to deal with a few injuries. Minnesota Superior set up their vertical stack well and did a nice job of clearing back into the stack. For Artemis, their chemistry only grows with each game. It helps when you have a solid handler like Claire Boggs through which the offense can flow. Returning free-agent player Lisa Speegle has improved as a player from last year and really contributed to the team’s success making strong cuts and difficult catches.
Day two will bring new pool play match ups and a fight for the division’s number two spot.