2012 HS Northeasterns Girls: Day 1 Recap

Posted: May 13, 2012 08:14 PM

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Amherst Cruises, Mt. Lebanon Surprises
The higher seed beat the lower seed 20 times in 24 games Saturday at Rogers Field in Devens, Mass. Amherst cruised to a 4-0 record in pool play, as did Watchung Hills, and a girls’ High School Northeastern Championship match between them seems all but guaranteed.
Beyond the Hurricanes and Lady Warriors, plenty of players on lower-seeded teams made plenty of exciting plays. Here are seven – it’s Ultimate, after all – observations from the day.
1) All we are is discs in the wind
Only 25 percent of Saturday’s games ended with a team scoring the full 13 points. That’s a testament to the gusty, swirling wind that constantly shifted between a crosswind and a downwind.
"The wind’s an extra defender," said Haverford coach Tracy Berg.
Though few teams used zone exclusively, those with effective zones or other poaching defenses definitely saved themselves some energy by forcing turnovers. At least one game – Haverford upsetting PVPA – came down to one team winning an upwind point, then forcing the
issue on defense for the rest of the game.
2) Sarah Lynch and Gabriella Cincotta are all d, all day
The wind turned many of Saturday’s games into low-scoring, defensive battles. Perhaps no one enjoyed that more than St. Johnsbury’s Academy junior Sarah Lynch, who finished the day with 26 defensed passes, including 11 in a loss to Stuyvesant.
"We do a zone defense, and I’m always the deep," said Lynch, adding: "When the disc goes up, my key thing is I want to try to read where the disc is going to go."
Despite Lynch’s defensive prowess, the Hilltoppers went 0-4. Sparkle Motion of Columbia High School went 2-2, getting solid defense from senior captain Gaby Cincotta. Against Andover – her best game – she knocked down five.
"I love playing defense," Cincotta said, adding: "I like getting into the mindset that it’s my disc, and every time they catch, they’re taking it away from me."
3) Pioneer Valley Performing Arts have perhaps the best cheers in Ultimate history
No disrespect to anyone else, but no team cheers the way PVPA cheers. Their cheers feature terrific, Ultimate-themed lyrics, plus freestyle rapping, vibrato and multi-part harmony.
"We’re a performing arts school," jokes PVPA coach Brian Cook. "Every cheer has to be that good or [the players] get angry. Doesn’t matter the score."
A unilaterally positive team despite going 1-3, PVPA seems the odds-on favorite to win the Spirit Award.
4) With Amherst, the "J" in JVA is silent
Calling Amherst JVA a junior varsity team is unfair. Though lost 10-5 in their final game against Mt. Lebanon, this team can hang with most of the girls’ varsity teams out there.
"It’s a big testament to the work ethic of the people that want to play Ultimate at this school, and the depth of the program," said JVA coach John Bechtold. "I think people really care and really aspire to big things. We have a JV moniker, but I don’t think they really take that ‘J’ very seriously." 
5) Mt. Lebanon may come up one handler short
After upsetting Amherst JV in their final game Saturday, Mt. Lebanon plays bottom-seeded Andover Sunday morning for a shot at the championship bracket. Should the Wildhogs get into the semi-finals, they may find they don’t quite have the arms to hang with top seeds like the Hurricanes or Lady Warriors. 
Senior captain Jillian Virgi can run an offense with the best girls’ players in the tournament, but beyond her the Wildhogs lack depth.
While Virgi’s throws can chew up large chunks of field very quickly, Mt. Lebanon might not have enough time for Virgi to run and reset the offense. And if someone else has to make the pass, the team’s odds of scoring diminish significantly.
6) Defenses best beware Olivia Hampton and Janny Patzinger
After a nailbiting 9-8 win over Mt. Lebanon early, Watchung Hills didn’t allow another team more than four points Saturday, and their offense reached the full 13 three times – most on the girls’ side. Junior Olivia Hampton, a member of the USA Ultimate U-20 team, anchored the Lady Warrior offense, throwing 18 assists and scoring two goals in four games.
"A lot of times, like when it starts to break down, it’s all about taking a deep breath and knowing that you’re going to have other options," Hampton said. "It all comes down to what’s your highest-percentage throw."
Hampton’s patience helped Watchung Hills go 4-0. Pittsburgh Allderdice sophomore Janny Patzinger’s strong end zone presence, meanwhile, helped Ninja Samurai upset PVPA and finish second in their bracket.
Patzinger scored four goals and threw two assists in that game. She scored seven against St. Johnsbury’s Academy earlier, finishing the day with 18 goals and two assists.
"I usually trust myself [in the end zone], and I usually feel like I can make it happen," said Patzinger. "It’s all in the glory to be the one catching, but I feel like the throwers, they’ve got the mechanics, and anyone can catch it."
7) The Hurricanes are on a mission
Amherst Varsity went 4-0 by an aggregate score of 49-6. They jumped out early on every team but first-round opponent Allderdice, and from there they cruised. They play with a supreme confidence equaled only by their sizable talents.
"Every game is our game to lose, our game to mess up and make mistakes and be stupid," said Amherst coach Josh Nugent. "Even if we play it really well and score fast, it’s not that exciting."
Even when not executing perfectly – Nugent called the 11-2 win over Allderdice "the worst we’ve played all season" – the Hurricanes just have that extra gear that, once found, makes them nigh-unstoppable.
Amherst entered Northeasterns as the overall No. 1. So far, they’ve done nothing but live up to that honor.

Day 1 Photos by UltiPhotos.com