2016 National Championships - Women's Division Preview

Posted: September 26, 2016 03:27 PM
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Pool A

A1 A2 A3 A4
2015TCT Iris
San Francisco


Riot enters the National Championships as the number one overall seed for the first time since 2010. In the last five years, the number one team (and for that matter the number two and number three as well) has not been upset in pool play. Don't expect things to change here.

Riot has only two sanctioned losses this year, so expect the Seattle squad and their shiny new vertical stack and various defensive looks to keep them on top of Pool A. Any team would be lucky to have either Gwen Ambler or Andy Lovseth on their coaching staff but to have both? Quite the one-two punch!

Although the top seed looks upset-proof, that can't be said of the pool’s number two seed, Nightlock. They have a 2-1 record versus number four Heist this year, and two of those games were decided by one point. These two teams have tangled multiple times throughout the last few years and always play close games. Nightlock has one of the strongest rookie classes this season with Hayley Wahlroos, Sabrina Fong and Bethany Kaylor, and Heist has been graced with the return of Team U.S.A.'s Georgia Bosscher to complement the all-around game of Liza Minor. Expect fireworks in the first round of Nationals when they tangle at 9:00 a.m. CDT.

Iris is the number three seed, and the team from Quebec and looks to be bringing a full squad to Rockford. Last year, the team had a tough showing with a reduced/changed roster at Nationals, but that shouldn't be a problem this time around. With Marie Genest throwing to teammates like Genevieve Dufrense and Alexandra Picard, Iris was able to upset the Toronto 6ixers, who sat at number seven in the USA Ultimate rankings, twice during Northeast Regionals and will look to show what their full roster can accomplish on the national stage.


Pool B

B1 B2 B3 B4
2014TCTLogos BruteSquad 2016TCT Wildfire Showdown 2016TCT Rival
Brute Squad
San Diego


As stated earlier, don’t expect any of the top three seeds to fall in pool play. Brute Squad comes into Rockford with only three losses this year. Two were at the hands of the number one seed, Riot, while the last one came recently, in pool play at Northeast Regionals to New York BENT. A good team will take an upset like this and use it to resolve itself into a more focused group. Yes, that means a more focused Kami Groom, Laura Bitterman and Cassie Wong. That’s bad news for the rest of Pool B.

However, how the rest of Pool B shakes up is really anybody’s guess.

The number two seed in Pool B is Nationals newcomer San Diego Wildfire. They were able to take two early season tournaments and parlay them into a third bid for the Southwest Region. Wildfire has not played any of their Pool B opponents this year, but they do come into the tournament with quality wins over other Nationals qualifiers like Nightlock, Heist, Ozone and Phoenix. Look for Wildfire rookies Kristen Pojunis and Melissa Kan from UCLA to help San Diego veterans like Vivi Mai create some dynamic offensive plays.

Wildfire should play a very strong game against the pool’s third seed, Showdown, on Thursday. The team from Texas has pulled in a strong crop of young University of Texas Melee players this year and have also picked up some quality wins over Nationals qualifiers like Iris, Ozone and Nightlock. The Forth sisters and Sarah Levinn should provide a great counter to San Diego’s firepower.

While San Diego has benefitted from UCLA’s program and Showdown has benefitted from Texas’ program, Rival has benefitted from multiple midwest college powerhouses. Pool B has two teams that will be playing at their first Nationals, and Rival is the other team.

Coached by the great DeAnna Ball, look for this amalgam of University of Michigan, Ohio State, Case Western and Wisconsin (to name a few) players to bring a ton of enthusiasm and high-level experience to the club stage. Watch out for Stevie Miller, Becky Moore and Sara Scott amongst others.

At this point, look for Showdown to potentially take the second spot in the pool, due to their experience at Nationals, as a case of nerves may plague both newcomers – Rival and Wildfire – in pool play. The schedule has the two newcomers facing each other in their first game of pool play, and whichever team gets rid of the butterflies first may come out on top.

Pool C

C1 C2 C3 C4
2014TCTLogos MollyBrown 2016TCT Traffic 2015TCT Phoenix 2014TCTLogos GreenMeansGo
Molly Brown
Green Means Go


Molly Brown was able to keep a mostly stable roster this year and also added Lisa Pitcaithley from Fury. This means that the Denver squad has been able to enjoy a fantastic year, and they enter the tournament with two wins over Traffic and a win over Green Means Go during the season. There are so many players to watch, but definitely keep an eye on Claire Chastain, Opi Payne and Crystal Davis.

Molly Brown is likely to hold seed here, but beware of the Vancouver team who are coming off a tight game versus Seattle Riot at Northwest Regionals. Traffic also played Molly Brown tight at the Pro Flight Finale (13-10 final score) and would love nothing more than an upset for the pool crown. Traffic has also notched wins versus Fury and Scandal this year, so no one should be shocked if the Vancouver squad tallies a win over Molly Brown on Thursday. If you haven’t heard of their youngest player, Collefas Mot, yet, you will soon. She was near unstoppable during Team Canada’s run to the championship at the 2016 World Junior Ultimate Championships.

The pool’s third seed, Phoenix, has a number of good wins versus Nationals qualifiers, but they are winless versus anyone ranked higher than them this season except for their victory against Ozone at the Pro-Elite Challenge. The loss of Cassie Swafford to Riot did not hurt this team as much as prognosticators thought, and they enjoyed a solid regular season. Newcomer Erynn Schroeder has filled in very well as a strong handler for the North Carolina squad.

The final team in the pool is Philadelphia’s Green Means Go. They will have a difficult time breaking seed, but they have enjoyed some solid wins this season in games over Ozone and Schwa and have playmakers like Danielle Walsh and Amel Awadelkarim. They may be peaking at the right time, though, as they played a solid game versus Scandal, losing 11-15, at Mid-Atlantic Regionals.


Pool D

D1 D2 D3 D4
2014TCTLogos Fury Scandal 2015TCT Ozone 2015TCT Schwa
San Francisco
Washington, D.C.


The Pool of Danger (death seems much too strong of a word, seriously)! Quick history lesson – although the top three overall seeds have not been upset during pool play in the last five years, with the exception of last year, the fourth overall seed has. In 2011, Molly Brown was upset by Scandal. In 2012, Traffic went 1-2 in pool play, and the same thing happened to Nemesis in 2013. 

Fury seems to be well suited for this tough pool as they have two wins over the pool’s second seed. Fury has only lost one game this year to a lower-ranked team that is at Nationals (Traffic got that upset at the Pro Flight Finale), and this veteran squad will look to take their tested systems, poise and competitive greatness into a 3-0 record on Thursday. It also helps to have handlers like Anna Nazarov and Alex Snyder. Also watch out for cutter Darragh Clancy who sometimes goes unnoticed (how that happens while tallying eight point and 12 assists is anyone’s guess). 

Scandal will most likely offer the most exciting pool play game of the day when they take on Fury in the afternoon. Scandal lost Callahan winner Alika Johnston but re-loaded midway through the year with Ultiworld College Player of the Year Jesse Shofner. If other teams could be so lucky. Like Fury, Scandal has defeated every team ranked below them except Traffic. Scandal put up a close game against the pool’s one seed during the Pro Flight Finale where they lost by two. They will be looking for an upset in pool play, but look for both teams to be around for quarterfinals, if not more.

After losing at least three veterans to retirement, Ozone was able to reload with young players (many from crosstown rival Outbreak). They had a very successful Pro-Elite Challenge where three of their four losses came by a combined four points. It will be a tall task to look for an upset here, but the team from Atlanta has a great system and veteran leadership in Katherine Wooten and Mira Walker, so don’t count them out.

Schwa has faced all three of their Pool D opponents this season. Their closest game came against Ozone at the Pro-Elite Challenge where they lost by five. However, the new leadership on the Portland team has been working on one of the most unique offenses in women's ultimate (high motion), and it is running at a high efficiency as it puts pressure on opposing defenses. Jennifer Tibbals might be the most underrated cutter in the women’s division and will look to help Schwa break seed in Pool D.

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