2016 Youth Club Championships - Day 1 Girls' Recap

Posted: August 12, 2016 11:53 PM
2016 Youth Club Championships - Day One Recap
U-19 Girls' Recap (full results)
There is a pretty stark divide right now between the upper and lower halves of the U-19 girls’ division. The pool’s one and two seeds will face each other tomorrow, and each got a couple games against teams in their pool’s lower spots today, so score differentials were pretty significant for much of the day.

Pool A
As usual, Seattle sits atop the U-19 girls’ division, having won their 11th straight YCC championship last year. They’re still the powerhouse of girls’ youth ultimate in the U.S., and they’re still the favorite here in Blaine. Below them in the pool sits the Triangle Area Warhawks. The Warhawks and Cincinnati Belle have been thought of as the biggest potential threats to the Seattle dynasty for several years, and both came out of the gate with strong performances on day one in Blaine. The Warhawks started the day with a big win 15-5 over the hometown Minnesota Superior and continued to roll through their next two games. In the last couple years, the Warhawks have had impressive top-end talent but not quite enough depth to get them past the top teams. This year might be a different story. They definitely still have all-stars like Kate Lanier, but they also draw strength from some lesser-known players like Nola Kim-Mayer and Beth Manturuk. The Warhawks’ offense is smooth and disciplined, with continuation cutters doing a good job of timing their cuts and plenty of resets and dump-swings used to set up their deep looks. Assuming they keep playing their brand of patient ultimate, expect them to make a deep run this weekend.  
Minnesota Superior and Texas Tango both had tough schedules on day one – each taking on Seattle and the Triangle and getting a win a piece – Superior over Maine Rip Tide and Tango over Atlanta cATLanta. The Rip Tide v. Superior game was a grinding affair with both teams using forms of zone and junk looks to limit deep shots. Maine often ran a more standard zone, forcing sidelines – trying to use the sideline as an extra defender. Eleanor Heberlin stood out for Superior, doing a good job of moving the disc from the handler spot and cycling downfield to work as a cutter, generating additional yards for her team and popping through the Maine cup when movement stagnated. Minnesota should have two good games tomorrow to finish out pool play. Texas Tango had a similar day and should also have a good second day of pool play ahead of them. Tango has a lot of potential and a strong coaching staff that will undoubtedly get the best out of them this weekend. Caroline O’Connell is a tough mark for everyone as a 6’0" center handler, and Tanika Graham is fearless on both sides of the disc. 
Nimbus and the Warhawks will almost certainly still be in the one and two spots at the end of the day tomorrow, but the third, fourth and fifth spots are still totally up for grabs. 
Pool B
As in Pool A, the top two seeds, Boston BUDA and Cincinnati Belle looked almost head and shoulders above everyone else in their pool on day one. BUDA was one of just three teams in the division to play four games on day one, and they looked imperturbable in each of them. Clara Stewart and Josephine Coppinger led the way behind the disc for BUDA, while Kendra Griesman always seemed to be open in the end zone. For Cincinnati, the 2016 incarnation of Belle is full of experience. Cincinnati has sent a U-19 girls’ team to YCC every year since 2007, and they’re often in the hunt. Belle finished fifth in 2014 and third last year, and all but three of the girls on last year’s semifinal squad are back in Blaine again this year. They faced Washington, D.C. Justice in their first game of the weekend, a first-year YCC team. The Belle junk defense – with mid defenders facing downfield to take away any under cuts and one woman (someone like Maddie Samson) hanging in the deep space – flustered the new team. And the explosive Belle offense led them to an easy 13-2 win. Similar results came for Belle against Pittsburgh Moxie and Delaware Valley DeVYL. At least one of the Samson sisters is nearly always on the field for Cincinnati, and with good reason. Between them, the seemingly always sticky hands of Cara Sieber and the height of Abby Swensen (along with several other outstanding athletes), Belle looked nearly unstoppable all day.
DeVYL had a good day as well. They ended up at 2-1 after earning wins against D.C. Justice and Colorado Cutthroat. Their one loss came against Cincinnati Belle, but DeVYL managed to put up more points against Belle than anyone else on day one. Jessie Sun and Kate Stoll anchor their offense, and their quick offensive movement often keeps opposing defenses one step behind. Their second win of the day against Colorado also gave those at the National Sports Center a second glimpse of what Cutthroat is capable of. After getting off to a slow start against BUDA this morning, Cutthroat picked things up in the second half. They put together a similar showing against DeVYL. Marlee Akerson was all over the field for Cutthroat, taking over points and getting nearly every other throw when she decided to. Ellie Cameron was the most likely to put up their deep shots, often looking for the tall Stacy Gaskill downfield. Cutthroat was on a bit of a roller coaster throughout the day, showing some great flashes – like their gritty 11-10 win over Neuqua Vally Daydream. It may not happen this year, but when they can turn up the dial a bit on their defensive intensity and give their offense a chance to string together a few more of those flashes, Cutthroat will be a force to be reckoned with.

Looking Ahead
Things are sure to heat up as competition continues in Blaine. Pool play concludes tomorrow for the U-19 girls’ division, with all eyes expected to be on the 1 v. 2 match ups (Seattle v. Triangle Area and Boston v. Cincinnati) during Saturday’s last round. 
Although each pool’s top two spots (and therefore the division’s semifinalists) look to be all but sewn up, there are sure to be plenty more good games on day two. 

U-16 Girls' Recap (full results)
The division continues to build on last year’s success, moving from 5 v. 5 competition to full 7 v. 7. The U-16 girls competed in pool play on Friday and even finished the day with a GUMMIT to close out day one on a spirited, fun note and encourage girls to watch women’s ultimate and share this awesome sport with friends. 
The U-16 girls’ free agent team, Artemis, grew in size from last year, with girls mainly came in small groups from various cities across the country, so team chemistry had already begun to form before they arrived in Blaine. They used a side stack through most of their first game to help organize cuts and then switched to a vertical stack to figure out which would work best for the team. Artemis’ cuts looked good, but they struggled with drops against the Triangle Area Kitty Hawks. A few long points were traded back and forth in the beginning of the game before the Kitty Hawks were able to find their rhythm, smoothly working the disc down the field, to pull ahead and stay ahead. Near the end of the game, the Kitty Hawks started running a zone defense that startled Artemis and helped the Kitty Hawks close out their first game with an 11-5 win.
Maine Rip Tide began Friday morning with their toughest match up of the tournament against Seattle Hydra and the confidence that competition would be easier after facing last year’s undisputed champions. Rip Tide started the game with a zone defense in an attempt to shake up Hydra, but Hydra found the holes they needed to break the zone. Hydra returned the defensive challenge with a zone of their own, one that was hard for Rip Tide break. Rip Tide’s handlers had solid movement against the cup, but the poppers and wings struggled to get the openings they needed to advance downfield. It took a lengthy point, buy Rip Tide was finally able to get the score. Hydra returned to person defense for the rest of the game, and got the win 13-1.
Despite being the home team, Minnesota Superior came to YCC with a small squad and only a few returning players. They worked to find chemistry throughout their Friday games. Their first game against Bay Area’s Belly of the Beast! was a strong match up. Belly of the Beast! showed some nice handler movement, especially after a few quick turnovers. Minnesota Superior struggled to make effective cuts out of the stack, but had a way of finding quick connections in the end zone to keep the game close. Belly of the Beast! took half 7-6 by working the disc up the field with short passes before finally connecting on their looks deep. Minnesota Superior cleaned up their cuts as the game progressed to keep it close. But Belly of the Beast!’s cutting was slightly better. Along with their connections deep, Belly of Beast! pulled ahead and earned a 10-8 win.
Round two saw Artemis take on top-seeded Hydra. Hydra was quick to capitalize on Artemis’ lack of patience. Artemis had trouble keeping up with Hydra as they ran down well-placed long puts. Sydney Brewster of Artemis played gritty defense, unafraid to layout for Ds and then quickly hop right back up like it was nothing. Artemis’ defense forced some long points, but they were no match for the chemistry and skilled cutting of Hydra. Seattle got the win 13-0. Grace Patterson stood out for Hydra with her hard work turning into some tough Ds, layouts and cuts that were a key part of the win.
Rip Tide had a closer match up in round two against Cincinnati Baby Belle. Baby Belle had trouble finding their flow against the Rip Tide zone. But when Baby Belle was able to find a hole in the zone to throw to one of the wings, they easily worked the disc up the field for a score. Baby Belle’s handlers used creative throws, including scoobers and even hammers, to work around the tight mark of Rip Tide’s Sophie Marcotte and to make the cup really work for the disc. Rip Tide’s stack often broke down shortly after the play began, but Ayla Gunther could be counted on to make a fast break for the continuation cut, earning her a couple of goals. In a close game, Rip Tide’s strong zone and hand blocks from Kennedy McCarthy led to a 13-9 win over Baby Belle.
The strong handler movement of the Kitty Hawks’ offensive line was hard for Minnesota Superior to stop. Much of the Kitty Hawks’ handler action moved through Grace Conerly and Lanie O’Neill. You could also depend on Conerly for layout Ds, long throws and quick and easy give-and-go passes. As the game progressed, Minnesota Superior stepped up their defense to stop long hucks and look for the fast break deep. Most of Minnesota Superior’s offense ran through Doua Ci Lour’s deliberate handler cuts and good deep looks. The Kitty Hawks’ ability to work the disc up the field through their handlers and capitalize on turnovers got them the 13-7 win.
In their final Friday game, Baby Belle really found their flow against Belly of the Beast! to capture their first win 12-7. Rip Tide ended the Kitty Hawks’ win streak, defeating the North Carolinians 10-8. 
Artemis got their first win of the tournament 5-4 over Minnesota Superior. The game was the most even match up of the day for the two teams. Both teams were really tired, especially Minnesota Superior with their small 12-person squad, and struggled with turnovers. During the game, Artemis also had to deal with a few injuries. Minnesota Superior set up their vertical stack well and did a nice job of clearing back into the stack. For Artemis, their chemistry only grows with each game. It helps when you have a solid handler like Claire Boggs through which the offense can flow. Returning free-agent player Lisa Speegle has improved as a player from last year and really contributed to the team’s success making strong cuts and difficult catches. 
Day two will bring new pool play match ups and a fight for the division’s number two spot.

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