Amherst coach Josh Nugent said that he had been really worried about the finals for the past week, after winning Amherst Invite on May 6th. "There was a bit of a letdown after beating Watchung Hills [on Saturday] and winning Amherst Invite, but I knew that we still needed to come out at 100% to win." He described Watchung Hills as a great team, well-coordinated, with some really talented players.
The first half was very back and forth, with Amherst breaking twice to start, only to have Watchung score and break back twice, to put the score back on serve. Each time got another break, leaving a score of 6-5 in Watchung Hills’ favor. On what looked to be just a short pass upfield, there was a commotion, and Olivia Hampton, Junior Worlds player and star of the Watchung team, was down with an injury. Amherst scored that goal, and put in the break for half, with Hampton out. Before the injury, Watchung was relentless throughout the first half, often coming up with seemingly 50-50 discs and constantly pressuring on defense. The trio of Hampton, Julie Park, and WH5 ran the show, and it looked like they couldn’t be stopped on offense. The wind initially seemed to throw Amherst a bit, but they found their legs toward the end of the half, and started getting more open on both in and out cuts.
The second half was an entirely different story, as Amherst only let up one goal, after their opening score, to make it 8-7 Amherst. Olivia Hampton tried to play a few points, but she was clearly injured, and her not playing hindered Watchung’s offense to an almost standstill. 14 and 11 tried to help fill her handling role, but they could not shoulder the load that their teammate usually carried. This, like most tournaments, showcased Amherst’s depth and legs, as they began to dominate. Amherst started completing more hucks, smothering Watchung Hills with person defense, and breaking the mark to set themselves up for easy throws. After scoring for 9-7, Amherst broke 4 times for the win and the Northeastern championship.
• The 10-15 mph wind seemed to really affect every team this weekend, causing everyone except the top two seeds to play considerable amounts of zone. From the beginning of the day, it seemed that a good zone was the key to winning for most teams, but no zone contained the skilled throwers of Watchung and Amherst.
• Nearly all of Sunday was dominated by the stars, as each team’s best fought gainst each other in tight games throughout the day. Two standouts who led their teams into the semifinals were Steph Hosan from Haverford and 14 from Mount Lebanon.
• Each semifinal finished within an hour, leading to nearly 3 hours of rest before the finals. The losing semifinalists, Mount Lebanon and Haverford were both running short rosters, and though they played incredibly earlier in the day, the lack of depth led to their exit in semis.
• With zone on display all weekend, there were some excellent displays of both deep defense and zone handling. In particular 12 and 5 from Allderdice each showed off their blades, 10 from Columbia showed off her patience and throws, and the top two teams routinely put on zone offense clinics, attacking their opponent’s zone.
• The first game of the day, which was the last game of pool play, featured two universe point games on fields right next to each other, each one for 2nd place in their pool. Though Haverford jumped out to a 6 point lead at one point, Allderdice fought back, tying the game at 8’s before hard cap went on. Allderdice received, and after a series of turns, Haverford got a point block near their attacking end zone and punched in the goal, assuring themselves a shot at the championship.
• On the field right next to it, Columbia held a lead all game against Mount Lebanon, and they were receiving the pull at 10-9 when hard cap came on. After a long point, 12 of Mount Lebanon pulled down a huck, sending the game to universe. A very exciting universe point featured a number of athletic D’s, but Mount Lebanon got the better of the point, completing a 30 yard huck for the win and a spot in the championship bracket.
Day 2 Photos by UltiPhotos.com