Recap: 2011 College Women's Regionals (Northwest)

Posted: May 11, 2011 11:18 AM

Women's Division

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Regionals Recap
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Oregon over Washington 15-8 to win.  UBC over Western 15-6 to take the third bid.  Perhaps not too surprising, but the path to get there was a confused, nail-biting mess....

With only seven teams accepting bids to Regionals, we played a very odd format; kind of an ECC-style with a dirt road attached on the bottom of it.  The Big Three (UW, U of O and UBC) were all hoping to make the finals and avoid the dirt road and the inevitable game-to-go against Western.  Western was hoping to make it through the seven games before the game-to-go with enough legs to challenge for a spot in Boulder.  Here are those stories in order...

Washington v. Oregon. 
This game went back and forth the whole way.  Washington rolled through the Oregon defense throughout the middle of the game.  Washington was getting what they wanted going over the Oregon zone and getting resets off of the back of the stack against man-to-man.  Element took half and held a lead late, but it wasn't enough.  The Oregon man-d stiffened up and took control of the game late.  With the game tied at 12s and one point to play, Julia Sherwood put up a huge huck that was blocked just short.  Three passes later, UW left a leading pass a half step behind and it was dropped.  Sherwood picked it up and hucked it again, this time connecting with Aubri Bishop toeing the sideline.  13-12 an inch.

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Washington throws a swing pass into the path of poaching second year Oregon player Ann Sublette.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Minderhout

Oregon v. UBC. 
This was two games really.  Oregon rolled to half 8-3.  UBC was making unforced errors and Oregon's size in the deep game was tough for the T-birds to handle.  At half, the Canadians refocused and the Oregonians unfocused.  A couple points were traded and then UBC scored four in a row to tie the game at 10s.  Oregon gritted her teeth and scored two more to make it 12-10, but the rest was all UBC.  Lead by the tough cutting of Hannah Epperson and Andrea Cheng, UBC scored 4 of 5 to win 14-13, with Erika Tucker again (just like Conference) catching a little break mark in the front of the endzone to end it.

The difference between the halves for UBC was execution: their timing was on, their throws were on target and they minimized unforced errors.  The difference for Oregon was a coaching experiment (O and D lines) gone haywire.  As the O line struggled, the team was unsure how to right the ship...and didn't.

UBC v. Washington. 
Going into this game certain things were clear: if UBC won, they were in the finals v. Oregon.  If Washington won by two or more, they were in the finals against Oregon.  If Washington won by one, no one knew what was going to happen because the pool would go to total point difference.  UBC controlled the bulk of the game, going up early and holding a two or three point lead most of the way.  But at 12-10 UC, game to 13, a strange feeling came over the field.  Everyone (waiting Oregon, UBC coach Tasia, UW, UBC..) could feel the three point UW run coming.  The first point was a near miss.  UW was going downwind and took five tries to score.  Finally, a mere 30 seconds before the hard cap went on (which would have ended the game) Leah Fury snuck a little backhand around into the endzone.  12-11.  Then Tucker overthrew Epperson for the game winner and UW went 70 to make it 12s.  Double game point.  UBC could hardly move it against the stifling UW defense and turned it over about 20 yards out.  An errant UW inside-out went over everyone's head and floated and floated before settling into the arms of Kirstin Gruver.  13-12 UW!

Going into the last round, UW, UBC and Oregon knew things were going to come down to total point difference since the three-way tie point difference was dead even.  UW was in the best spot at +36 playing UW-B.  Oregon was at +38, but playing Western.  UBC was at +31 and playing Victoria.  UW confidently rolled their B-Team 15-2, securing a spot in the finals with a +49 point differential.  Oregon (with a bit of bad math) thought they could only yield 4 to WWU to guarantee a spot in the finals and they got it at 15-2.  Their +51 point difference won them the pool.  Coming off the DGP loss and looking at an uphill battle in points, UBC played a frustrated and ugly, but ultimately lopsided game against neighbors Victoria.  Their 13-6 victory left them with a +38 point differential and on the dirt road. 

Finals: Oregon v. Washington
The first half of this game was just like the first.  Back and forth, back and forth.  A hellish point at 6-5 Oregon saw five turnovers on a side with Element pulling it out.  It was a turning point for Oregon as they would yield only 2 more points the rest of the way.  Two quick scores took half 8-6 and receiving.  UW broke downwind anyway to make it 8-7 Oregon.  Oregon scored and went back to their zone.  Without star handler Lindsey Wilson (family, not injury) Washington struggled to move it.  Then, Oregon started landing all their hucks and the game ran away from UW.  Fittingly, the game ended with a Sherwood to Bishop forehand blade in transition.  15-8 Oregon.

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Oregon senior Katie Craley comes from the weak side to make the play on a floating huck.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Minderhout

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Oregon senior Aubri Bishop goes up on defense in Oregon's 15-8 victory over Washington in the NW Regional finals.
PHOTO CREDIT: Kevin Minderhout

Dirt Road: 
First, a comment about the format.  It was a very nice format for the top teams.  They got to all play each other and in the end, the tournament was fairly decided.  For a team like Western, who rely on three stars (Mah, Miller and Gilluly) and field only 13 players it was an impossible to overcome.  First, they have to struggle through 7 games then play in the game-to-go.  The situation wasn't helped when UBC's first opponent on the dirt road, Whitman, forfeited, handing UBC a bye to rest and refocus.  It was too much for Western to overcome and they fell to UBC 15-6.

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Final Standings:

1 - Oregon
2 - Washington
3 - British Columbia

4 - Western Washington
5 - Victoria
6 - Washington-B
DNF - Whitman



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