A Northwest Final: Women's Division Day 3 Recap

Posted: May 27, 2012 12:25 AM


Patient handling and gritty man defense helped 16th overall seed Tufts defeat #6 North Carolina 14-9 and advance to semifinals. Led by Claudia Tajima, Hailey Alm, and Hannah Garfield's handling, Tufts shredded the Pleiades' zone defense with quick shots to poppers Emily Shields and Qxhna Titcomb, who never let the cup reset. On defense, straight up marks and tight D on Shellie Cohen and Lindsay Lang frustrated the North Carolina stars into many deep turnovers. Tufts was stingy with the disc and swung it easily, opening up lots of space for cuts out of their disciplined vertical stack, reminiscent of Boston club teams like DoG and Lady Godiva.

Washington coach Danny Karlinsky set the tone for their game early on, telling his players on the line, "When I yell 'Jack it!' everybody go deep."  Texas attempted to play a possession game, but unforced turnovers gave Element lots of short fields to work with.  Washington broke three times to open the game, fueled by two big layout D's from Sarah Davis.  Texas was able to break back to tie the game 6-6, using hammers from Janel Venzant to break through Washington's zone.  The rest of the game was all UW, as big pulls and hucks from Lucy Williams gave UW the advantage in field position.  UW went on to win 14-9 to advance to the semifinals against Tufts.

Ohio State found themselves in the quarterfinals matchup against Michigan. Flywheel had a bye into this round, while Ohio State had faced off against Iowa State the day before. Michigan effectively employed their fresh legs and roster depth to score quickly, taking an early lead on Ohio State. Paige Soper of Fever had to match up with Paula Seville and Marisa Mead, playing almost every point of the game. Cassie Swafford also had some fantastic plays on both sides of the disc. Ohio State had found their match: Michigan took the game 15-7 with time to rest; the girls took advantage by resting in the shade and taking naps to gear up for their semifinals matchup against Oregon.

In the closest quarterfinal of the round, Iowa came out on fire against Oregon, controlling the tempo of the game. Michelle Cartier was an unstoppable force, making huge plays for Saucy all game. As the wind died down a bit, Oregon clawed back, with Fugue earning back a few breaks to tie it at 14's. After several turns by both teams, Jesse Shofner hit Bethany Kaylor for an upwind break to win on double game point 15-14.


In one of the most thrilling games of the weekend, Tufts Ewo nearly came back from a three break deficit in semifinals against Washington Element, only to fall short on the endzone line on double game point. After winning ugly against Texas Melee in quarterfinals, Element started out semifinals playing the same way and Tufts made them pay. Tufts shot out to a three break lead at 4-1, punishing huck turnovers with clinical offense out of their vertical stack. 

But Washington coach Danny Karlinsky rallied his troops and Element began to reign it in, using their excellent handler corps of Leah Williams, Cailey Marsh, and Leah Fury to swing the disc and attack the break side, and they had Tufts defenders chasing them all around the field. At the end of the first half, Washington's aggressive man and zone defenses put pressure on the Tufts handlers, who resorted to the same style of huck and play D that doomed North Carolina earlier and had put Washington in an early hole.

Washington surged out to an 8-5 halftime lead, but Tufts emerged a different team after the break. Hannah Garfield's Callahan to make it 8-6 energized the Ewo sidelines, and the Tufts offense was once again swinging the disc and getting wide open looks. However, Washington easily worked the disc down the field against the Tufts zone, penetrating into the cup with their handlers until Tufts was at their own endzone line, then simply swinging the disc for scores. An untimely hammer drop from Element let Tufts back in the game, and Claudia Tajima's huck to Olivia Rowse toeing the back of the endzone gave them back a break.

Tufts pushed it to universe point, with Hailey Alm coming up huge twice, and Qxhna Titcomb getting a universe point block on an IO break throw from Lucy Williams into the endzone that would have ended the game. Tajima hucked to Alm, who skied her defender and called timeout, then hit Tajima on an upline throw just in front of the endzone. Tajima's throw was just a little too far for Emily Shields, and Washington punished on the break, finishing with a huge huck from Leah Fury to Margo Kelly to end the game.

The other semifinal matchup featured Oregon Fugue and Michigan Flywheel, a rematch of last year's semifinal where Michigan had defeated Oregon. This year, the tables were turned. Mainly, the wind was incredibly gusty, blowing up to an estimated 30 mph. This made it practically impossibly for both Michigan and Oregon to play the way they had the rest of the tournament in better conditions. 

Oregon came out firing right away, shooting discs deep. Sophie Darch and Bailey Zahniser played an integral role in the offense, frequently hucking discs at low stall count to get in a better position. Michigan played right into this strategy as multiple mistakes on short throws gave Oregon many chances at breaks.

On the other hand, Michigan stuck to their normal game, working it with skillful throws and in cuts. Oregon, afraid of the deep shot, was giving Flywheel under cuts for the majority of the game. The best, and fastest, point in the game was Michigan's response to Oregon's first score, moving the disc expertly upwind to score in under two minutes. While two minutes might seem like a long time, it was actually more indicitive of Michigan's patience. To add further perspective, the average time for points must have been about 8-10 minutes, with some lasting almost 20.

Eventually, Oregon took half 8-6 with a break, and maintained the lead from which Michigan could not fight back. Oregon went on to take a few more points, and with soft cap on at 9-6, we saw a game to 11. Michigan knocked in two last points as time ran down, scoring the last point of the game. The final score was 10-8, and Oregon will move on to face Washington in the finals.


CBS Sports Day 3 Recap:



Sunday photos by Ultiphotos.com