2011 D-I College Championships - Friday Women's Actions and Reactions

Posted: May 28, 2011 01:16 AM


2011 College Championships
Women's Division - Friday

Sunny skies and moderate winds greeted the competitors in the DI College Women's Championships in Boulder, CO today as all twenty womens' teams geared up to play two games of pool play.
Although there were certainly teams that did predictably well today--UC-Santa Barbara, Oregon, UNC-Wilmington, and Stanford, the teams seeded at the top of their respective pools, all went undefeated--pool upsets and unexpectedly contested games occurred all day.
Read below for a recap of some of the action--and reactions of players, coaches, and spectators attending the championships--that went down:
           2011 DICollege Logo cropped
2011 DI College D1R5 Leclaire (4)
Iowa State vs California-Santa Barbara
PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Leclaire [ultiphotos.com]




For some, first-day jitters.

As the day of pool play began at the early hour of 8:30 A.M., almost every team exhibited first-day tournament jitters: in the first few rounds, most teams seemed to be making an unusual amount of drops and throwing too-forceful hucks that tended to fly out of bounds with the wind. A small dose of initial nervousness certainly didn't stop teams from making big plays and coming out hard, however.

In the Carleton vs. UNC game, for example, both teams had difficulty maintaining possession of the disc at the start of the game: the powerful hucks of superstar UNC handler and Callahan nominee Leila Tunnell (#18) and Carleton's Anna Snyder (#23) proved difficult to receive, and the disc's unpredictable flight pattern made otherwise easy passes challenging. UNC took advantage of the early morning wind, throwing a zone that made Carleton's offense come to a screeching halt and allowing UNC to take half 8-6. Carleton fought back, however, intercepting the disc on defense and managing to hold on to it until completion, giving them a late-game lead. A well-placed put by Snyder to Liz Arakaki (#2) in the endzone won the game for Carleton 13-11, upsetting the pool and resulting in a very happy Carleton. 

The first game jitters also seemed to surface on the field next door. UW Element took down Ohio State Fever, but not after a fight. Long points, floaty hucks and battles in the air was the name of the game. "It was a fight back and forth. I think the altitude was getting to both teams," says Element captain Lindsey Wilson (#2). "[Fever] played really really well." Wilson jokes that the beginning of the game was characteristically Element. "People say that we can’t win a game unless we go down by 2 or 3 points in the beginning. I think that the next game should go much better. I’m looking forward to playing Wash U, especially because we have a Wash U alum on our team.

Iowa firing on all cylinders.


Not all teams suffered from initial nervousness, however: Iowa Saucy Nancy came out all cylinders firing and rattled off 6 points before Wash U could answer. Sophomore Liza Minor (#3) said she was surprised there were no first game jitters and that she felt really good from the first point on.

Grad student standout Robyn Fennig (#44) agreed, and said that Saucy "always talks about coming out strong and if we make mistakes to shake them off. We went into the first point confident because we knew we were a strong team with a lot of depth. Our sideline energy was up, and we were all really mentally focused." Liza Minor credits the first d-line with setting the tone. "That d was the energy for the rest of the game."

Wash U’s coach Abby Stephens was quick to compliment Fennig and her supporting cast after their 15-4 loss. "They are so quick on transition. Robyn has great full-field pulls and they come down hard every point. I’m not sure we were ready for their pace of game."

Regarding what their coach Mike Lun said in the half time huddle, Fennig noted that "Mikey is very quiet guy. When we need those words of wisdom he’s there to give them to us, but if we’re carrying with a strong momentum he just says to keep doing what you’re doing and to have some fun."  

Colorado College's tranformation.

Maybe the biggest, most exciting storyline of the day was Colorado College’s continued "Cinderella Story" season, transforming their team in two years from one with little competitive aspiration to one that can compete with--and beat--some of the best teams in the country. Starting off 15th overall and fourth in Pool C, Strata took down Southwest powerhouse Berkeley Pie Queens with their quick handler movement, strong, tall cutters, and ability to hold on to the disc in the wind. Initially down 3-6, Strata’s Coach Emily Anderson took a time out and refocused her girls to take half and eventually win the game. Claire Desmond (#51) of Cal was the favorite receiver for the PQ handlers, including a giant layout grab to tie the game at 11’s a piece. "I’m extremely excited and proud of my girls. This is huge for propelling us into the rest of the tournament." Anderson called Claire Jencks (#34) the standout player in this win. 
Colorado College upset their pool for a second time with a big win against University of British Columbia. Although UBC got lots of impressive Ds on Colorado with Catherine Hui (#90) leading their strong defensive game, Colorado College pulled ahead after taking half, their confidence and energy propelling them forward. Callahan nominee and ever-positive, intense Sophie Herscu's (#7) huge puts and refined handling skills dominated the field and the game, leaving UBC looking somewhat dejected after losing to the small school 11-15.  
In other action...
  • Washington Element coach Danny Karlinsky was excited about his team’s win in the Battle of the Washingtons. "[Wash U] came out strong. They seemed to have gotten their energy back from that nice little bye. Two games per day really helps teams recover. Our force middle defense worked well and we went on a 5-1 run to take half." Karlinsky was impressed with the Sam Huo (#23) - Kami Groom (#7) connection on Wash U. Rightfully so. Groom caught 9 of WashU’s 12 goals with Huo assisting in the majority. Lindsey Wilson (#2) agreed. "Number 7 is a filthy cutter. She’s been beating us deep so we had to force her under. Now she’s unstoppable underneath. Very talented player." 
  • Lindsey Gapstur (#2) of Iowa State was excited about Woman Scorned’s win over Tufts, but did not consider it an upset. "We were 1-0 with them on the season before this game started." When asked about plans for the evening to recharge their top line she was quick to comment that, "We don’t really have a top line. We have a roster of 16. We play pretty much all the way through." Gapstur credited Jasmine Draper’s (#12) and Magon Liu’s (#8) abilities to play both upfield and back behind the disc as one of the reasons their team is looking strong so far this weekend.

    Magon Liu’s brother was present on the sidelines. "It’s better on your stress level when you don’t have an ultimate sibling," he quipped.
  • On the showcase field, the overall fourth-seeded Stanford warmed up to take on the fifth seed, Iowa Saucy Nancy. "Stanford has a few strong players like Caitlin Rugg, but more so than other seasons they’re really the faceless army of ultimate in that they are strong top to bottom and use their legs very well." said Fennig of Iowa regarding the upcoming match up. "I think this will be a very good match up because I feel much the same." "We’ve been preparing for windy conditions for months," says Superfly captain Jen Schmerling (#13). "Every person on our team has strong throws in the wind which definitely works to our advantage." Coach Jamie Nuwer was excited for the upcoming match up as well. "We’ve watched a lot of video of them and tried to do some scouting. I expect it to be a very close, hotly contested game." The game certainly was contested: Stanford and Iowa traded points for the majority of the game, Stanford's quick cuts and patient handling proving to adequately challenge Iowa's well-timed puts and impressive grabs. In the end, however, Stanford's cool, focused offense won them the game 15-10, leaving them undefeated.
2011 DI College D1R3 Roeder (14)
North Carolina vs Oregon
PHOTO CREDIT: Scott Roeder
Watch out for some equally close games tomorrow: In the morning, undefeated teams Oregon and Ottawa will face off; later in the day, Colorado College will go up against UNC-Wilmington. Will Colorado College exceed everyone's expectations and continue to beat top teams? Will a team like Tufts upend UC-Santa Barbara's seemingly unstoppable offense? Only time will tell; more tomorrow!