2015 U.S. Open Championships - Women's Division Preview

Posted: July 1, 2015 12:26 PM


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The fourth-annual U.S. Open Championships are set to take place this weekend, July 2-5, in West Chester, Ohio.

Thirty-six teams across the men's, mixed and women's divisions will compete to take home the first leg of the 2015 Triple Crown Tour.

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Although some of the women’s teams heading to this year’s U.S. Open have played in early season tournaments, USA Ultimate’s international event will be the first true test for the elite teams in attendance.  The women’s division is the only one in which all eight qualifying Pro Flight teams from last year’s National Championships are set to clash in Cincinnati. What makes the women’s division even more intriguing are the off-season changes and roster shake-ups (see below) that have turned heads as each roster has been released.  Big names in the women’s game (and the mixed game, for that matter) are cleating up with new teams, changing the landscape significantly. Despite these moves, the teams at the top throughout the regular and postseason will be extremely familiar. The U.S. Open will be our first look at the fully reloaded rosters and how each will stack up against the next.   

Pool A

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  Brute Squad


Pool A has overall one seed and reigning national champion Scandal and last year’s regular-season champion Brute Squad, along with Showdown, Traffic, Heist and Winnipeg Fusion. In the first round, look for Brute Squad and Traffic to make some early statements against Heist and Fusion, respectively. Boston Invite champion Brute Squad has all the pieces of the puzzle – will their offense consistently score and allow their stingy defense to rack up breaks? In the same round, Scandal v. Showdown has the potential to be a little more exciting. Both teams will be working with some new personnel, and it will be interesting to see if Scandal can come out hot against the Texas women. In round two, the most telling match-up will be that of Brute and Traffic. This game will serve as a measuring stick of where the Vancouver ladies stack up. It also has the potential to be the game that determines who comes out on top in Pool A. Scandal will face off against Heist, and Showdown will battle Fusion in this round as well. In the final round of Thursday pool play, it is possible that all three games will be lopsided in favor of Scandal, Brute and Traffic. It will be interesting to see if Fusion, Showdown or Heist decides to make things interesting in this third round.

On Friday, Scandal will be tested by Traffic early in an Ultiworld-streamed contest. Look for Brute Squad to assert themselves against Fusion in this round while Showdown and Heist will likely battle for a spot somewhere in the middle of Pool A. In the final round of the day, look for more evenly contested match-ups as Scandal and Brute Squad, Showdown and Traffic and Heist and Fusion square off. The Showdown and Traffic game will be important in determining how this pool shakes out as pool play wraps up. Heading into bracket play, will Brute Squad harness their offensive power while applying defensive pressure? What will Scandal and Showdown look like? Can the Traffic women assert themselves at the top of the pool? Will Heist or Fusion surprise the higher-seeded teams in their pool? All of these questions will be answered as pool play unfolds.       

Pool B

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Overall two seed San Francisco Fury is joined by west-coast rivals Riot, Nightlock and Schwa as well as Atlanta Ozone and Raleigh Phoenix. The four west-coast teams in Pool B were in attendance at Eugene Summer Solstice a couple weekends ago, where Fury won round one in the 2015 edition of the storied Fury-Riot rivalry with a 16-14 victory. Nightlock had some surprising and uneven results in Eugene, losing to Portland’s Schwa 8-10 and finishing seventh while Schwa went on to take third at the tournament. How will Nightlock respond? In the first round, they will see a Phoenix team that is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2014 season. Can the new Raleigh faces make a statement in the first round? Elsewhere, Fury will battle Ozone while Riot will take on Schwa. Look for the San Francisco and Seattle women to jump out early and not look back. In round two, it will be much of the same for Fury and Riot against Schwa and Nightlock – it is hard to compete with the depth of the two top seeds in this pool. Also in the third round, familiar rivals Ozone and Phoenix will compete in a game that will be streamed by Ultiworld. Phoenix topped Ozone in two close contests at the Cackalacky Challenge in mid-June – can Phoenix hold off the Atlanta women for a third time in a row? The last round on Thursday has the potential for some much closer match-ups – Fury takes on Phoenix, Riot will face Ozone, and Nightlock will take on Schwa on Ultiworld’s livestream. 

On Friday, Bay Area teams Fury and Nightlock square off in round one. While they did not see each other at Solstice, look for Fury to take control early on. Also in the early round on Friday, Riot could be tested by a hungry Phoenix team while Ozone and Schwa should have a close contest. In the last round of Pool B, all eyes will be on Fury v. Riot. While Fury won the match-up at Solstice, Riot did make it interesting after going down big early, eventually pulling even with Fury before succumbing by a two-point margin. This match should determine who ends up standing at the top of Pool B. It is always a competitive game and should not disappoint those in attendance and those watching the Ultiworld stream. At the same time, Ozone will play Nightlock, and Schwa will take on Phoenix.        

Who’s Who (and Where?)?

After many years of dominating performances with Fury and Riot, Gwen Ambler was set to retire from elite club ultimate after the 2014 season. What a surprise to see her name once again on the already-loaded Riot 2015 roster. Riot also adds another Titcomb to their roster, as Qxhna Titcomb joins the team after a year with Brute Squad and will now line up next to her sister Rohre as well as fellow Riot rookies Paige ‘Diddy’ Soper, Lauren Sadler, Julia Snyder and high-school standout Jaclyn Verzuh.

Fury is also loaded once again.  They’ve picked up a strong rookie class including Marika Austin, Sarah Carnahan, Hannah Kreilkamp (formerly of Riot) and Steph Lim, who you may remember from this year’s College Championships where she took the field for Stanford alongside her Fury teammate Michela Meister.

Scandal will look a lot different than the two-time defending national champions we’ve come to know, as standout players Octavia "Opi" Payne, Ashley Daly Morgan and Crystal Davis have all made the switch to Denver Molly Brown, who is not competing at the U.S. Open. Additionally, veterans Alicia White and Anne Mercier are also missing from Scandal’s roster. While losing Payne and the others is a huge blow, there will be plenty of fire power as Jenny Fey, Sandy Jorgenson, Kim Beach, Alika Johnston and Allison Maddux all return for the D.C. powerhouse.

A team to look out for in particular is one that has had relatively low roster turnover. 2014 semifinalist Brute Squad brings back a ton of talent this year. Though they will miss Titcomb and deep threat Chelsea Witte-Garcia, they return Amber Sinicrope while also adding as a strong class of rookies including Bent’s Cassie Wong.

Atlanta Ozone should look pretty familiar, although adding Sophie Darch to the mix will help as they lose a few key players from last year’s roster. Vancouver Traffic has a roster that is always solid – Kira Frew has been an anchor for years. She and other Traffic veterans are joined this year by Kathryn Pohran as they look to break through to the top of the pack in 2015.

Showdown’s loss of Mariel Hammond is a gain for Raleigh Phoenix, who also adds Soper’s former Ohio State teammate and 2014 Callahan Award winner Cassie Swafford in a bid to return to Nationals in 2015. A team traditionally with a lot of turnover, Austin Showdown will look very different at this year’s U.S. Open and beyond than they did last year with double-digit departures/additions to work with.

Nightlock has made the most of their short tenure as a team, going toe to toe with the best teams in the country at the National Championships the last few years. After losing Marika Austin to Fury, they gain Loryn Kanemaru. Robyn Wiseman will continue to shoulder a lot of the load for Madison Heist, particularly after the loss of superstar Georgia Bosscher. While Portland Schwa loses Darch, they gain Oregon’s Bethany Kaylor, who joins familiar Fugue faces Julia Sherwood and Jesse Shofner, among others.

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