2010 Westerns Sunday Championship Play - Girls Division

Posted: May 9, 2010 09:14 PM

Sunday Elimination Play
Every team has a fresh chance on Sunday morning. Following pool play and a cross over game on Saturday afternoon, the schedule starts Sunday with play-in games to the semi-finals. The pool winners, Northwest School and Cathedral, get to sleep in. Cross town rivals Lakeside and Seattle Academy are warming up on the east field while Nathan Hale refocuses after a close Saturday afternoon loss to Cathedral to take on Alameda.

Nathan Hale v. Alameda
As homage to the vampires of Twilight, or perhaps just an outward reflection of their positive attitudes, Alameda busts out the cans of sparkle on Sunday morning, and full of glitter and gusto prepares to take on the deep Nathan Hale roster. The game kicks off in Hale’s favor, as Alameda looks a tad off and gives up two scores to let Nathan Hale take the early lead. It’s a long weekend, and neurons aren’t quite up to firing speed just yet, as Alameda has some trouble holding their forehand force, possible due to confusion from Hale lefty #6 Jesse Thoreson’s great backhands. While Alameda gets on the board, Hale would break again to go up 4-1. Hale’s #7 Naima Antolin gets two back to back blocks at high stall counts against Alameda rock star Marisa Rafter, while teammate Barbara Hoover reels in a tough over the head snag to take the lead to 5-1.

Alameda is not going down without a fight. Marisa and Natalie McKee start connecting and put in back to back scores before Hale can take half 7-3. Alameda regroups at half time, and comes out in their three-cup. #10 Maxwell gets multiple blocks in the cup and Alameda puts two more points up, 7-5. Hale Coach Chris Forsberg puts in his star handling line and shreds the Alameda zone, 8-1. Not to be outdone, Hale then answers back with their own four-cup, but Marisa doesn’t blink and looks big to Natalie down the line. They connect the first time, but the second shot to Natalie in the endzone is covered and results in a turn. Alameda goes straight into their zone and gets the disc back on the goal line. #49 Francesca Nannivzi to #14 Sarafina Angstadt-Leto on the open side and the score is within two at 6-8.

A parent commented that Alameda’s breakfast is finally set in, pumping much needed sugar into the blood stream, and that certainly looked to be the case. Alameda hangs with Nathan Hale through the last quarter, but the cap goes on at 11-8 and Hale is able to close out the game at 13-9.

Seattle Academy v. Lakeside
The comment early on was that both Seattle teams, unaccustomed to the bright sun beating down, had applied too much sun block and now have slippery hands. Early morning jitters resulted in long points with some uncharacteristic drops by both teams. SAAS is able to reel it in first and goes up 3-1. Lakeside then answers with a first possession goal to go 3-2, then comes out with a zone that SAAS handlers shred through to score on their first possession, 4-2. Lakeside finds their fire, and perhaps a bit of their confidence, and slaps on a straight up mark and flusters their opponents and gives them a three point run to go up 4-5. In response, SAAS throws a tight 3 person cup that snacks on the high release throws. The teams trade points to 6-5 and a few quick passes give Lakeside the half at 7-5 after an extremely long and hard fought point. The cap goes on immediately after half, and it’s a game to 9. Lakeside is able to keep trucking and take their first win of the season, 9-6.

The Semis.
Northwest v. Nathan Hale
Whereas the morning air was still and warm, in the second round a breeze comes up. Typical to the Skagit River park field site, it’s not coming from any one direction but at times is a crosswind and at other times a up/down wind.

The semi finals pitted Nathan Hale against Northwest School and Lakeside School v. Cathedral. Both games were hard fought, but with very different looks and feels. Nathan Hale and Northwest School know each other very well. As players, many of the girls join together to play at the Youth Club Championships each summer. As cross-town rivals, these teams both envision a target on the other’s back each time they meet.  The game starts out with a quick Nathan Hale score and a rousing cheer as the larger roster rushes the field. Coming out of a first round game, Hale appears to be more awake and focused and breaks to go up 2-0. Savvy Northwest coaches Vida Towne and Ava Segal call a time out to get their team focused, and it’s a step in the right direction with Northwest working it past half field, but then a high release misses it’s mark and gives Hale possession. Digging deep on defense, Northwest gets the disc back and puts in a goal, 2-1. The wind pulls a switch-a-roo, and Nathan is able to capitalize right away, and puts in their offensive point upwind, 3-1.

The intensity and focus of the Northwest School girls is noticeably improving and Michaela Fallon’s hucks are hitting their targets. Julia Snyder splits two defenders, so that a huck from Michaela can quickly turn into a score as #12 Kate Benjamin is alone in the endzone, 3-2. Hale receives the disc off the next pull and comes out gunning but Northwest gets a big block and huck to #2 Julia Bladin, with Kate Benjamin again wide open for the continue. A few swings later and Northwest is able to tie it up at 3s and then 4s. Riding their momentum, Northwest gets a break and goes up 5-4, taking their first lead of the game. A big pull from Michaela deep into the Hale endzone, and the Northwest boys show up on the sideline to show their support – and provide a little more energy to the field. Hale’s Barbara Hoover puts up a big flick to number one scorer Naima Antolin but there is confusion with multiple receivers and it’s incomplete. Northwest marches the disc down the field and Julia again sees Kate for the break, 6-4.

Both teams are battling it out. The sidelines are loud with parents and players and the feeling is of a marquee match up that could still go either way. Northwest has multiple chances to take half but Hale isn’t giving up that easily. Finally, Michaela rips a gorgeous flat flick across the field that looks like it’s to no one but a wide open and racing Julia Bladin is there to take the goal and half at 7-4.

Northwest comes out of half and ups their lead to 9-4. The points start to become a little more rushed with a few more turnovers as Northwest starts to get impatient, wanting this game to be over and on to the next. Hale steps it up and starts to close the gap, but it’s not enough, too late in the game. At 11-5, Hale gets a break to bring the score to 12-7 but can’t get past a big Northwest zone and has a turn on the goal line. Northwest takes the game, and another spot in the finals, 13-7.

Cathderal v. Lakeside
Unlike Northwest and Hale, Cathedral is facing a new match up in a team that has started to see the pieces fall together over the course of the weekend. Lakeside can best be characterized as “the little team that could”, improving in leaps and bounds thanks to the coaching of Jinny Eun and Kathryn Lawson. With their confidence soaring after the upset win in the first round, Lakeside is ready to see where else they can go with their quick passing and gritty drive.

The game itself was a battle of the hucks. As the wind starts moves from a gentle breeze to the occasional small gust, both teams start out punting and hoping. There are fantastic catches and great D’s. Cathedral scores first, but Lakeside answers back, 1-1. #0 Xuny Haley of Lakeside makes a textbook endzone away cut and Claire Revere hits her in stride with a spot-on outside in flick for the break, 2-1. A quick score and Cathedral ties it up at 2s. Utilizing a trap zone, Cathedral gets Lakeside stuck on the sideline and forces a turn on the goal line. #3 Grace Balfanz has a gorgeous lay out for the score, and Cathedral is up one, 3-2. Lakeside patiently works the disc down and ties the game at 3s. The teams continue to battle it out, trading leads, and Lakeside pulls ahead 5-4. The teams trade downwind goals, including a precision pass from Lucia Childs-Walker to #88 Jordan Palmer (6-5).

Lakeside is still using the straight up force that got them the win in the last round against Seattle Academy, and it’s working for them. On defense, Lakeside is taking their chances going up and over Cathedral’s cup. If they can get free of the cup, they are off to the races. Just as often, Cathedral is ready for the floaty throws and is able to go up strong and come down with the disc. Cathedral is able to score downwind and then get the big break to take half 7-6.

The breeze picks up, and Lakeside’s high releases over the cup become increasing difficult to complete. Cathedral coach Quinn McCloughan is a calming force for his players, and they clearly listen closely and work hard to follow his directions. Cathedral is able to run away with the second half, capitalizing on Lakeside’s red zone turns and holding the team to one point in the second half. Final score is 13-7 in the cap.

Fifth Place
The game for 5th place was being played at the same time as the semis and Seattle Academy is determined to end on a win. Facing off against Alameda, SAAS quickly jumps to a 5-2 lead, only to have Alameda bring it back to 5s. SAAS ends the run, and the teams trade downwind points until SAAS takes half 7-6. The second half is a battle, with long points and lots of “grr” from both sides. Alameda manages to get up 10-9, and the following point is so long that both the soft and the hard cap are set to go at its conclusion. It’s a must win point for SAAS to force the game to double game point, but dynamic duo Marisa Rafter and Natalie McKee are having none of it, as Marisa hits Natalie in the endzone just barely out of reach, forcing Natalie to bid and snag the disc one handed for the win, 11-9.

Third Place
The finals teams get a round to rest before the big game while Lakeside and Nathan Hale battle it out for third. Lakeside continues to exceed even their own expectations and goes up 6-5 on Hale in the first half. Realizing that they have to come out of the fog if they want to win this game, Hale scores their offensive point to bring it to 6-6, then throws a zone and gets the disc multiple times on the downwind endzone. The zone is a bit too close, but Lakeside gets around it anyway, making the tough passes and crashing effectively, only to miss on the easier throws downfield. Hale is eventually able to take the break, and half, 7-6. Lakeside is a bit slow to come out of the second half, but their will and heart is strong, and they pull within two as the round comes to an end. Though Lakeside is able to put in the last point, the hard cap had passed and Nathan Hale takes the 3rd place spot, 11-10.

The Finals
Northwest School has been to the finals before. Many times. This is Cathedral’s first trip the finals of HS Westerns, but you wouldn’t know it from the focused intensity on the faces of the players.

There is still a light breeze, enough for zone to be effective, but not so strong that most handlers would even notice a difference. Northwest starts the game with a one-two punch and goes up 2-0. Cathedral is playing a four cup that denies the dump and is doing a good job of forcing harder swing throws, earning themselves turns. Getting the jitters out, Cathedral puts in a goal but isn’t able to immediately stop Northwest from answering back, 3-1. Not wanting to give up another break, Cathedral marches the disc down and goes up aggressively in the endzone. While the goal is caught, #19 Anne Johnson from Cathedral and #2 Julia Bladin from Northwest hit hard, and #19 Anne Johnson has to go to the hospital to get stitches for a gash in her cheek, while #2 Julia Bladin tends to what appear to be teeth marks in her elbow. Both teams take a few moments to regroup before getting ready for the next pull.

Northwest receives and calmly works the disc down against a seemingly shell shocked Cathedral line. Coach Quinn calls a timeout to calm the anxiety, and it does the trick. Cathedral receives and scores, keeping the game within one, 3-4. At this point, the teams start to trade points, usually with both teams needing to make defensive blocks to deny the other. #10 Hanna Detra on Cathedral is giving her team lots of field to defend with her long pulls, but the defense isn’t covering right away, and Northwest is again able to pull away and take half 7-4.

Cathedral is starting to look gassed and potentially on the road to frustrated but never did they appear to be giving up on the fight. Coming out of half, Northwest is playing hard person D and when a defender and offender have to lay out together for a pass, Northwest takes advantage of the turn and goes up 8-4. Transferring her big pulls into big hucks, #10 Hanna Detra finds teammate Kelsey Jackson in the endzone, 8-5.

Revving up their deny-the-dump 4 cup, Cathedral #3 Grace Balfand lays out in the cup and gets a block on a swing, but a rushed huck intercepted by defender Julia Snyder gives Northwest back the disc. #2 Julia Bladin on Northwest has the calm composure to patiently move the disc to the endzone, and #10 Alea Christanson catches a score in traffic, 9-5. Cathedral is earning their blocks left and right, but needing to take a moment to breath in order to complete the passes to capitalize. A well played time out, and Cathedral does just that, scoring two in a row to bring the game to 9-7.

Julia Snyder had been handling for Northwest for much of the weekend, but is now playing downfield, proving she’s a threat anywhere on the field. Cathedral’s #12 Kelsey Jackson is not fazed and gets a big block. The disc makes it way upfield for what is an important point in Cathedral’s come back, but Michaela Fallon gets a run through D and Northwest scores, 10-7.

The Cathedral boys’ team is right on time for a little pick-me-up. Their sideline cheers of “huck it to Cami”, complete with rhythm and chorus line dance moves was more than entertaining, it was inspirational to the players on the field. Cami Nelson goes up big in the endzone but it’s a tough read and Michaela is able to get a piece of it. It’s okay, because Cathedral gets it back again, and puts the disc in the endzone, 10-8. 

It’s nearing the end of the round, as well as the end of the Cathedral boys’ list of cheers, and Northwest is feeling how close they are to a victory. Michaela digs deep to save an errant pass, and #5 Emily Buckner hits #9 Addy Borges for the score, 11-8. Both teams are stepping up their defense – layout blocks on floating dump passes, #3 Grace Balfand from Cathedral sees a wide open swing but NWS #12 Kate Benjamin gets a handblock. Cathedral gets the disc back to make it 11-9, only to let Northwest score and get to game point, 12-9.

Cathedral receives the pull and #12 Kelsey Jackson looks to huck it, only to have the pass get hand blocked right at midfield. Cathedral gets it back on D and makes a run for the endzone, eventually scoring, to bring the game 12-10, Northwest. In a fitting finish, Northwest moves the disc down the field and #3 Lani Nguyen finds an open Julia Snyder in the endzone, 13-10.