Day two of pool play for the U-16 girls continued with Seattle Hydra’s dominance and the heated race for second by nearly every other team.
True to their form, Hydra had no problem taking their time against Bay Area Belly of the Beast, setting their trademark zone and waiting for Beast to make a mistake. On offense, Hydra shows just how fast they really can be, sprinting to an early 7-1 lead. The second half was more of the same, with Beast outmatched and outrun as Hydra's Gabriella Payoyo and Angelina Jeantette-Coca worked the end zone for a decisive 13-2 victory.
Second seed, Cincinnati Belle, met their match in North Carolina’s Kitty Hawks, struggling for most of the game to connect their handlers. The Kitty Hawks matched Belle's zone point for point and went up two breaks. Belle, however, would have none of that and capitalized on their solid cutter line, forcing double-game point in hard cap. With the game on the line, both teams traded big defensive plays before Belle's Ella Enders connected deep with her sister Therese Enders and Amy Friemoth in a double catch to secure the win 9-8.
After a double upset yesterday, Maine’s Rip Tide made short work of the free agent team, Artemis. Rip Tide came out strong for a 7-1 lead with Artemis slow to start and lacking Rip Tide's handler chemistry. Artemis' cutters made a big showing in the second half, putting up four quick points, but Rip Tide’s defense adapted quickly and continued to dominate, leading to another clear Rip Tide win.
In round two, Hydra continued rolling the pool with a clear victory over the Kitty Hawks, completely shutting them down in the second half with the impeccable consistency of their zone. Belle also came out strong against Minnesota Superior in a much-needed 10-3 win. Artemis attempted to hold off Belly of the Beast but had trouble finding their rhythm and team chemistry, leading to a dominant Belly of the Beast win, 13-4.
While Hydra continued their sweep with a shutout over Superior and Belle remained consistent with a 10-3 victory over Artemis, the must-watch game of the round was Rip Tide attempting yet another upset against Belly of the Beast. After an early Beast break, Rip Tide fought back using the amazing chemistry of handler Kennedy McCarthy and cutter Anna Briley to take a commanding 11-6 lead. Belly of the Beast, however, refused to be another notch on Tide’s upset belt, scoring five unanswered points to force double-game point in hard cap. While Rip Tide had the advantage, the wind and Beast’s well-tuned zone defense forced an earlier turnover and a quick point resulting in a Belly of the Beast win 12-11 against a hurting Rip Tide.
Going into the last round of pool play, Belle, Rip Tide and Belly of the Beast were all fighting for the second spot in the pool. Belle need to be the first to upset powerhouse Hydra or risk dropping to third, but once again Hydra would let no team stand in its way and all but ruled out holding seed for Belle with another crushing 13-2 win.
Rip Tide made short work of Superior in the first half of their final game, but underestimated Superior’s determination to not be shut out totally in pool play. With only nine active players, Superior picked up the pace, hoping to out-run Rip Tide in each match up. Minnesota handler Doua Ci Lor worked her mark to repeatedly find open hands in Georgia Langer and Channa Overland, but in the end, their limited line could not withstand the depth of Rip Tide. As Superior’s legs grew more and more tired, they found themselves unable to break through Rip Tide’s tight cup, and their up-field zone took care of the rest. Rip Tide’s Sophie Marcotte made a name for herself in the second half, scoring or assisting on a total of five of Tide’s 13 points. Rip Tide rode to yet another victory 13-6.
Belly of the Beast looked to put the Kitty Hawks away quickly for a chance at a three-way tie for second place, but was rebuffed by the Kitty Hawks’ impressive zone, something they had struggled with in earlier games. The Hawks must have learned a thing or two from Hydra’s zone. As the Beast handlers would swing back and forth, waiting for an opening, the Kitty Hawks’ cup would bide their time while their zone shut down the cutters. On the rare occasion that Belly of the Beast made it into the red zone, the Kitty Hawks’ defense would quickly transition to man and ruthlessly dominate their match ups. For their hard-to-beat defense, though, the Kitty Hawks had a hard time converting upwind, and the game went nearly point for point to 8-7 with the Kitty Hawks up by one. With hard cap looming, Belly of the Beast continuously sent it deep as soon as they forced a turnover, resulting in a hurried exchange as both teams attempted to take and maintain the advantage going into cap. The Kitty Hawks found themselves taking a timeout going upwind with only 30 yards between them and the end zone, a situation they had not excelled at in this game. Having calmed down, the Kitty Hawks checked in the disc and put away the goal to make the score 9-7 only moments before the hard cap went on, sealing their inevitable upset and keeping Belly of the Beast out of contention for second and themselves in the championship bracket.
Hydra held the top seed with an impressive 6-0 run, amassing a staggering (and perfect) 78 points in pool play, while only allowing seven goals. This should come as no surprise for the returning champs, a team whose entire roster either threw or caught a score in their first six games. Players to watch tomorrow as they defend their title include Grace Patterson and Hazel Ostrowski, both of whom posted double-digit points for Hydra already this year.
While Belle and Rip Tide both finished 4-2, Rip Tide did beat Belle on Friday and so gets the second seed, although they will play each other in the semifinals tomorrow to determine who gets to try to take down Hydra. Hydra will have to first go through the Kitty Hawks, although they demonstrated their dominance with a win over the North Carolinians this afternoon 13-2.
Minnesota Superior, Artemis and Belly of the Beast will start Sunday off at 8:30 a.m. with a round robin to decide fifth, sixth and seventh place, having all been knocked out of the championship bracket today.
Semifinals start at 10:30 a.m. with Hydra v. Kitty Hawks and Belle v. Rip Tide. The U-16 girls’ championship game starts at 2:30 p.m.