Lakeside Wins the 2015 High School Western Girls' Championship

Posted: May 31, 2015 10:26 PM
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After seeing the play at last year’s final day of Westerns, one would insist it would be hard to produce a day with the same intensity and heart-stopping action. One would be wrong. Teams from all around the West topped themselves once again, making for another unforgettable day of ultimate.

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Quarterfinals and Semifinals

The Northwest School and Roosevelt were two of the eight teams in this year’s championship bracket, and their quarterfinal game was just a glimpse of the good things yet to come. Northwest showed consistent, disciplined handling that served them well throughout the day, provided primarily by Josephine "Josie" Gillett, Audrey Neubauer and Rose Soiffer-Kosins. Roosevelt played a tough game, but untimely turnovers and a few almost-scores that went just beyond the end line cost them some valuable scoring opportunities. Roosevelt was consistently able to move the disc but failed to convert enough times that they couldn’t overcome the steady disc control of the Northwest School, who came out on top, 13-7.

In another quarterfinal match, Franklin faced Ingraham in a game that started out in what could have been titled "the hucks that went nowhere." Both teams tried for the quick, easy score, perhaps hoping to conserve energy for the long day ahead. After seeing that strategy fail, Franklin shortened up their game and took some of the Ingraham turnovers and parlayed them into quick scores, which led to Franklin’s 7-2 halftime lead. In the second half, Franklin’s overall team speed and some tenacious defense from Samiya Ismail proved too much for Ingraham to overcome. Ingraham offered a comeback bid, with particular help from the strong offense and defense (and some emphatic sideline support) provided by Evelyn Reding. And although they weren’t able to mount a comeback in this game, take a look at their roster - with a team composed of nearly 90 percent freshmen, one might speculate that their comeback could be in 2016 or 2017.

So the semifinals pitted the Northwest School against Franklin, and in some ways, it was Northwest’s disc control offense against Franklin’s overall team speed and deep bench. Despite losing two players to injury in the quarterfinal and one within the first five minutes of the semis, Franklin still had more players exiting the field after a timeout than those remaining. The game was back and forth nearly all the way. Franklin would be able to capitalize on their speed, sometimes their cutters flatly outrunning the opposing defender.  But then Franklin’s mishandling would turn into easy scoring opportunities for the Northwest School. This back and forth resulted in a 7-5 halftime lead for the Northwest ladies. After the half, Franklin attempted a zone defense which, at first, confused the steady handling of Northwest, and Franklin was able to pull to within a point at 8-9. At this juncture, with just five minutes before the hard cap, the Northwest coach called a timeout, trying to rally his team for a final point. The Northwest School was able to score just as the final horn sounded and went into the championship game with a hard-fought 10-8 semifinal victory.

True to the seeding, the quarterfinal match up between Nathan Hale and Corvallis proved to be the toughest of them all. Hale capitalized on early Corvallis turnovers, taking a commanding 6-2 lead. The inspired two-way play of Ally Constantino gave the Raiders their advantage, but it wouldn’t last for long. After being down by three at the half, Corvallis came out of the break strong with two quick hucks for scores from Clea Poklemba to Joanna Lyle. However, the Raiders continued their strong defense and smart decision making, giving them a 10-7 advantage with 15 minutes to go until hard cap.  After a timeout, and what must have been some pep talk, the Corvallis Spartans responded with a crazy 3-0 run to knot things up at 10. With heat and urgency in the air, Hale used their stifling zone to make one last run in a game defined by them. Going up 12-11, one more huck was pulled down by the Raider ladies, handing Corvallis an 11-13 defeat, and Nathan Hale advanced to the semifinals.

Top-seeded Lakeside faced the Berkeley High California Roll in their quarterfinal game. Not intimidated by the number one next to the Lakeside Lions’ name, the girls from the Bay Area came out strong, making bold decisions that paid off early. In return, Lakeside used sharp and accurate throws to gain a 5-2 advantage. Hallie Dunham established herself as a force to be reckoned with, whether she had the disc or not, making pinpoint-accurate throws and playing staunch defense that pushed the Lions into the half up 7-3. The second half was almost a repeat of the first, with California Roll scoring early, but the sharp Lakeside ladies responding with crisp disc movement resulting in scores. The Lions rolled to a 13-6 victory, but Berkeley High showed a desire for the disc that will serve them well in the future.

That set up a battle between Lakeside and Nathan Hale for a spot in the championship game, but the earlier match ups would have more of an impact than one might think. Clearly still recovering from their grueling game with Corvallis, Hale had trouble moving the disc early, and Lakeside capitalized with more efficient disc movement. Up 6-0, the Lions were clearly in control of this one. The Raiders grabbed a point via a great garbage dive, but that was all they could muster point-wise in the first half. After a break for Lakeside (playing with no coach and only three subs), things didn’t change much in the second portion of the game. Hale could only grab one more, and Lakeside coasted to a 13-2 victory. Although they didn’t know it yet, the Lions had earned a game against the Northwest School in a final that would pit two teams with similar styles against each other.


With the sun high in the sky, and anticipation even higher, Lakeside and Northwest met for the final in the 85-degree heat that just added one more element of intensity to this match up. Lakeside opened with a score on their first possession, but Northwest set the tone for the rest of the game by matching Lakeside’s goal with a methodical score of their own where it seemed like everyone wearing black touched the disc. Shaping up to be the tight game everyone wants to see in a championship final, the teams traded scores for the next six points, tying the game at 4-4. Then, using a few deep throws and big plays on defense, Lakeside seemingly broke the game open with three straight goals to take them into half. Vying for their second straight championship at Westerns, the Northwest girls wouldn’t be beaten this early.  They showed some major heart in a 4-0 run that tied the game at 8-8 with 10 minutes left, setting the stage for yet another grand finish in the girls’ division. Lakeside came out of a timeout and scored in calm, steady fashion, picking apart the Northwest zone, waiting until an open look presented itself.  They now held a 9-8 lead. Due to the patience displayed by the Lions, the next point began with about a minute until hard cap. The horn blew as Northwest had the disc, a reminder of just exactly what was at stake. After a turnover by each team, an errant huck by Northwest gave Lakeside good field position and a chance to win the game. After a few swing passes, Hallie Dunham tossed a throw into the end zone that was dropped, then emphatically saved by the Lions’ Claire Trop who dove in for the garbage and the winning score. It was one of many sweet grabs for Trop whose athletic play helped push the Lions toward a victory, and ultimately, a Western Championship.

Congratulations to Lakeside and Northwest for their first- and second-place finishes and to all who participated in this weekend’s games. The displays of teamwork, heart and spirit were a gift to all those watching and all those involved. It was a thrilling two days of ultimate and set a precedent that should lead to another great year of Westerns in 2016.

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