Nathan Hale Wins the 2016 Westerns Championships in the Girls' Division
Posted: June 5, 2016 07:23 PM
Sunday morning came early for the student-athletes competing at the USA Ultimate Western High School Regional Championships. Each of the 10 teams in the girls’ division spent their Saturday running, cutting and laying out in uncharacteristically hot conditions. The physical exertions of ultimate combined with the weather kept the event’s athletic training staff busy on Saturday morning and afternoon. Thankfully, all of the athletes suffering from cramping and minor heat issues were renewed and ready for action on day two. Eight teams started their day at 8:30 a.m. for the championship bracket’s quarterfinal round and consolation bracket play. Players and fans found conditions to be much improved on day two.
"It's probably 10 degrees cooler than yesterday, and there's a little more breeze," said Corvallis head coach Colleen Llewellyn. "We're very thankful for that."
The early consolation games saw Berkeley beat Garfield and Monarch best Summit. The two winners faced off next. Berkeley defeated Monarch for their third win of the tournament. Meanwhile, Summit finally got off the schneid for their only tournament victory at the expense of winless Garfield.
The championship bracket’s morning slate featured Ingraham handily defeating Roosevelt 12-7. Kaia Roast added five more assists to her impressive weekend, and teammates Evelyn Reding and Ellie Sutphen scored two goals each. Corvallis took out in-state rival South Eugene 12-8. Clea Poklemba had a balanced stat line featuring three goals and six assists. Roosevelt then defeated South Eugene 7-5 to claim fifth place.
The semifinal on the top half of the bracket featured undefeated and dominant Nathan Hale against Ingraham. The showdown of Seattle schools ended with Nathan Hale emerging victorious by a tally of 10-6. Ally Constantino scored four goals in the win. Teammate Ruby Cassidy provided two assists and a pair of Ds. Evelyn Reding stood out for Ingraham with one D, four assists and two goals in the loss.
The other side of the bracket could have been called the battle of home teams or the mini Civil War. Corvallis and Crescent Valley were seeded in opposite pools to start the weekend and did not face one another until the semifinals. Uncharacteristically, Corvallis fell behind early and was forced to fight back from a 3-0 deficit. And they did. In one of their closest wins of the weekend, Corvallis defeated Crescent Valley 8-7. Spartan Force handler Clea Poklemba keyed the Corvallis offense with six assists, while Katie Moreno led her team in goals with three in the game. In keeping with the spirit of community, the teams ended their post-game huddle with a chant of "Hometown!"
The losing semifinal teams squared off in a highly contested game for third place. Ingraham defeated Crescent Valley 9-7. Ingraham led throughout but never built their lead to more than two goals. Evelyn Reding kept Crescent Valley at bay with an impressive seven Ds. On the other side, Gabrielle Vandevelder kept the game close with five Ds of her own for Crescent Valley, but in the end, the home team had to settle for fourth place.
Corvallis’ Coach Llewellyn was not surprised by her team's success. However, she was cautiously optimistic going into the final game against undefeated and better-rested Nathan Hale.
"There are a couple teams that didn't come (to the tournament). Given the teams that did come, I expected to be in the finals," she said of Spartan Force's tournament run. "Our top eight girls match well with Nathan Hale. Our struggle in this game is going to be legs for those top eight. We played two hard games. They played one probably a little easier game. So we're going into this game with two hard games behind us today, and that's going to be tough. So we're just glad to be in this and hope for the best. We'll see what happens."
Corvallis struck first, but Nathan Hale responded with five unanswered goals. By halftime, the game was all but decided. Corvallis never closed the gap any closer than two and ended up on the losing side of a 12-8 decision. Nathan Hale's Maya Powell dished out five assists in the win. Teammate Genisis Kommavongsa scored two goals and had one D. Corvallis' Clea Poklemba again led the way for Corvallis, scoring two goals, notiching five assists and earning two Ds in the loss. The senior handler and 2016 WJUC team member (one of only three 2016 members to make the team for a second time) ended the tournament with 35 assists, 13 goals and 18 Ds. Her teammate Katie Moreno had 17 goals over the weekend.
Nathan Hale had strong contributions from several players throughout the weekend. However, none of their players dominated the statistical categories. Thirteen players registered more than one D in the tournament. Twelve players scored multiple goals. Ten kicked-in with multiple assists. Nathan Hale beat their opponents and the elements through depth, endurance and teamwork.
After two days, 100-degree weather, dozens of new friendships and more cheers and handshakes than could be counted, Spirit of the Game won the day. In the end, SOTG prevailed over the blazing sunshine and heat. Doubtless discouraged by the mysterious lack of a lake at the Crystal Lake Sports Fields, dozens of players concluded festivities by plunging into the Willamette River to cool down before heading home.
And…the spirit award went to one-win Summit High School. Perfect.
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