2014 Youth Club Championships: Day One Recap - Girls' Division

Posted: August 9, 2014 10:21 PM

Blaine, Minn. (Aug. 9, 2014) - Day one of the 2014 Youth Club Championships dawned warm and cloudy with very little wind – perfect playing weather. Rain threatened on and off throughout the day, but other than a few rogue drops, the dry air held. Teams started rolling up to the fields at the National Sports Center nearly two hours before game time, decked out in new team gear and excited to start competing for national titles.

Girls Cover Photo   Day 1 602x397
Photo by: CBMT creative

U-19 Girls

Raleigh, Cincinnati, Denver, Seattle. Teams from four cities are left to fight for the title in the U-19 girls’ division at the 2014 Youth Club Championships. After a full day of play in Blaine, the U-19 girls have already made their way through pool play, pre-quarterfinals and quarterfinals. Tomorrow morning, four teams will take the field with chances to advance to the championship game.

The girls were so excited to get going this morning that the first pull went up before the horn to start the round had a chance to blow. The Triangle Warhawks and DeVYL fought a tough one, supported by their counterpart U-19 boys’ teams, who started to pour in during their first-round byes. Fields were surrounded with friends and families, but the Colorado Cutthroat boys took the award for most enthusiastic cheering section.

According to coach Lindsey Hack, the Warhawks started out the day feeling nervous and just trying to really find their identity as a team – they just had to try and find it while playing DeVYL. After originally employing defensive  strategies focused on trying to take DeVYL standout Sadie Jezierski out of her normal game, the Warhawks decided to readjust and focus more on playing their own game instead of concentrating on how to affect DeVYL’s. The change worked. After being down as much as 6-2, behind great defense from Allison Bashford and Ashley Powell and the great cutting of Katie Cubrilovic, the Warhawks worked their way back and earned a double-game point victory, 9-8. That momentum carried them through another pool play victory and a quarterfinals win over Neuqua Valley to land them in tomorrow’s semis.

While the Warhawks were battling back, across the fields, the Colorado Cutthroat offense was looking smoother than what had already led them to the finals last year. The impact of Claire Chastain’s and Anne Pogoriler’s additions to the team’s coaching staff are pretty clear. Playing to the team’s strengths, the handlers drive the offense, while the cutters are vigilant about working for strong initiating cuts and maintaining open space downfield. According to Chastain, the team is particularly focused on playing shutdown defense; they "want to be that team." Well, they were that team when they faced Maine in the quarterfinals. Despite Maine’s possibly more obvious athleticism (and it’s not easy to look more athletic than anyone native to the Boulder/Denver area), Cutthroat was able to maintain pressure on the Riptide cutters and force difficult throws. Fortunately, in addition to their shutdown defense, they’ve also been working on mental toughness, so when they’re challenged, they can fight through. That work came in handy here. Points were traded throughout the game, without either team leading by more than one until the very end. Up 7-6, Colorado managed a break just after the hard cap horn sounded, sealing up the victory and a match up against the Warhawks in tomorrow’s semifinals.

As far as the favorites go, this year’s Seattle squad is different. They return only three girls from last year’s team. There is no doubt that the talent pool of youth ultimate in the Northwest is deep, but among the players who departed from the team this year are seven 2014 WJUC National Team members and one alternate. No matter what team you are, the absence of that kind of talent makes a difference. And Maine did their absolute best to take advantage of the roster turnover in their second-round match up. The aforementioned Riptide athleticism allowed them to run with Seattle, challenging their cuts and putting pressure on their throws. As a result, Seattle drops were more prevalent than in years past, giving Maine plenty of chances. While patient with the disc as they’re working it up-field, once they reached the red zone, Maine displayed a tendency to force tough throws, making it all the more difficult for them to topple the tower that is Seattle girls’ ultimate. After tying the game at 7-7, the pull went up, with Seattle on offense. Right after a turn, the hard cap horn sounded. Maine had the disc in hand with a chance to win, but it was not to be. Seattle’s Josie Gillett came up with a clutch hand block before eventually putting up the game-winning throw. With the help of a great catch in the end zone, made over the shoulder of a defender who was better positioned, Seattle retained their undefeated record. After getting the scare of their YCC lives from Maine, Cyclone went on to defeat Minnesota 13-2 in the quarterfinals, a score line they’re much more used to seeing.

Cincinnati Belle, possibly the least touted of the semifinalists, has the smallest roster of the remaining four but used the chemistry a smaller roster, and years of playing together, can provide to convincingly earn themselves a spot in the top four. Eight of the 13 girls on the Belle roster also play together for High School Central Champions Holy Family Catholic. These girls know each other well. To start the day, Belle pulled off an upset, according to original seedings, of Boston BUDA. BUDA tried to slow down Belle’s handler movement by using a zone defense, but the Cincinnati handlers were unfazed. Alora Reiff threw scoobers at will over the cup to keep the disc moving up-field – no doubt her tall 5’10" frame makes those throws a little easier than normal – while Katherine Fry was nearly always available as a reset. Notable play from her older sister Kjersti, including a number of impressive and difficult catches, helped Belle roll through pool play and their quarterfinal match up against DeVYL. They’ll face Seattle in the semifinal round tomorrow morning.

Spirit and the joy of play were high throughout day one. Brand new teams Atlanta and South Dakota played hard and were never devoid of energy.

Full results from day one and day two match ups can be found on the 2014 Youth Club Championships event page: play.usaultimate.org/events/Youth-Club-Championships.

U-16 Girls

Community. Collaborative competition. Those were the goals for the inaugural U-16 girls’ division at the Youth Club Championships. Competing together and respecting both your teammates and opponents by playing as hard as you can bring immeasurable worth to the sport. With that idea freshly reinforced for the nearly 50 girls gathered together, they started off the day with a combo clinic session. All three competing teams were learning together and playing together. Their own team coaches, with a special appearance from Ohio State women’s coach DeAnna Ball, set up three stations to work on different ultimate fundamentals and rotated cross-sections of the athletes through various drills before they split up and scrimmaged each other.

Everyone involved, from the athletes to the coaches to the supportive parents supplying sustenance and holding down the sidelines, enjoyed the opportunity to meet and play with girls from all over the country, while also discovering different playing styles and learning to adapt to different strategies and new people.

When the division’s first official game finally arrived, Cincinnati (Baby) Belle took on the Triangle Space Cats. Both teams were aiming to have fun and to really learn to play with each other in their first competitive game as teams. The Space Cats [and friends] added eight teammates from outside North Carolina’s Triangle Area, so they took the field together for the first time this morning. Belle knows each other better, but with only 12 girls on the roster, they practiced along with the U-19 Belles throughout the summer. Their first game today provided them an opportunity to make their own marks on the Belle name. Coach Kayla Fry wanted her team to focus on making their own calls and getting things moving for themselves, a new challenge for them after becoming accustomed to playing with girls several years older than themselves and with several more years’ experience.

At the end of the round, the Space Cats had claimed the first-ever victory in YCC’s U-16 girls’ division, but both teams felt they had accomplished their goals and were happy to have competed against and played ultimate with one another.

Seattle is in an unparalleled bubble of proliferation and support in the landscape of youth ultimate in the United States. When creating a U-16 girls’ team for this year’s championships, Heather Ann Brauer wanted to build a group that focused more on the community at large than the success of one team, a group with an "it’s about more than you" attitude. As a result, Seattle Uprising is a group of 20 girls – selected from a tryout that included more than 60 – that really owns the team philosophy. To make their way to Blaine, they hosted youth clinics, open to anyone age 16 and under interested in participating, and created a welcoming, supportive atmosphere amongst themselves. That same attitude spread through the rest of the U-16 girls here in Blaine. Friendship bracelets made by the Uprising girls are a common sight amongst their division counterparts; starting lineup arches included girls from whichever team wasn’t playing in that round; and new friendships were abundant by the day’s end.

By anyone’s definition, day one was a success.

Full results from day one and day two match ups can be found on the 2014 Youth Club Championships event page: play.usaultimate.org/events/Youth-Club-Championships.


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Photos (by CBMT Creative)

2014 YCC - Day 1 Highlights

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