Fury vs Riot for the Women's Title

Posted: October 29, 2011 06:33 PM


2011 Club Championship Day 3 Recaps:




Today’s quarterfinal matchups actually proved to be more exciting than the semifinals, mostly because two of the quarterfinal games resulted in major redemption: Phoenix and Capitals, expected by their previous records to lose in the quarters, came out with big wins against geographic rivals and moved on to semis.

Traffic, the second seed overall at Club Nationals, beat Capitals, the tenth seed, 15-11 in pool play; however, they had lost to Capitals in the finals of the Canadian Ultimate Championships and were looking for another big win against the team to make it to semis. Capitals, the third seed in their pool, wanted to redeem their previous status as the premiere Canadian women’s team by beating Traffic. It was clear from the first point that Capitals were burning with desire for a win, and Traffic knew it: their faces registered serious worry after Capitals secured an early 4-1 lead, with players like Malissa Lundgren(#55) intercepting most of Traffic’s deep looks and Elizabeth Love (#44) getting a huge hand block. Although Traffic had some great moments on defense—Rachel Moen’s (#42) spectacular diving defensive layout in the end zone, for example—they were no match for Capitals’ energy. Capitals finally managed to wrap up the game after a series of somewhat messy throws and unexpected drops because of the misty rain, with Lundgren throwing a short past to Erica Tucker (#91) for a huge 15-7 win.

Club11 D3R1 Wu (2)
[PHOTO CREDIT: Brandon Wu, facebook.com/ultiphotos (full coverage)]

Phoenix, having lost to Scandal in the finals at Mid-Atlantic Regionals, was equally as invested in redemption as Capitals. The team came out exceptionally strong, using their height, across-the board athleticism, and great deep looks to punch in some quick scores and gain an early lead. Scandal seemed a bit frustrated, but channeled their negative emotion into playing great defense. The team put a very tight and effective cup on Phoenix, slowing Phoenix’s game down significantly and forcing some key turnovers (although Scandal’s cup was no match for Leila Tunnell’s (#18) high-release backhands). As Scandal regained confidence, their game drastically improved: the team managed to even the score with Phoenix at 14s, game to two, Octavia Payne (#9) scoring with a huge, arcing forehand to the back of the end zone, which was received by Manu Argilli (#88). After Phoenix’s Melissa Gannon (#74) caught the disc in the end zone to raise the score 15-14, Scandal came out on offense a little too eager, putting the disc far in front of the farthest girl. Phoenix quickly capitalized on the turn: Kelly Tidwell sprinted into a sliding catch on the right sideline, and then immediately flick-hucked it to Kate Morrison (#84) in the end zone for the win, 16-14. Phoenix had redeemed themselves as the Mid-Atlantic champions and advanced to semis.

Club11 D3R2 3 Wu (19)
[PHOTO CREDIT: Brandon Wu, facebook.com/ultiphotos (full coverage)]

The semis were not quite as close or as interesting as the quarters. In the Capitals v. Fury game, it seemed as if Capitals had already achieved their tournament goal—to beat Traffic and make it to semis—and perhaps felt like the task of beating Fury was too impossible to consider seriously. As a result, their game against Fury was somewhat lackluster on both teams’ parts. Capitals had a bit of a hard time holding on to the disc at first, with an unusually high amount of missed passes occurring; Fury also had an unusual amount of drops for them, although they also had some incredible Ds to make up for it (Manisha Darayani (#71) had a fabulous layout D in the cup). It was clear after about two minutes that Fury, in typical Fury fashion, was going to run the show: the team won 15-10 after letting Capitals go on a four-point run at the very end.

Club11 D3R2 3 Wu (10)
[PHOTO CREDIT: Brandon Wu, facebook.com/ultiphotos (full coverage)]

Riot v. Phoenix was also a slightly messy game, mostly due to the blustery wind that picked up at its beginning, although there were certainly spectacular plays made.  The teams traded points at the beginning, mostly because it became difficult to work the disc upwind. After half, Riot got two break points in a row, with Gwen Ambler (#3) getting the disc to Kathryn Lawson (#38) after some patient handling, and established their dominant offense. After some extremely long points and some great plays—Janna Coulter’s  (#7) break IO forehand to Lindsay Hack in the endzone, and Shannon O’Malley’s (#11) massive flick huck—O’Malley put it to Nora Carr (#55) after some patient handler movement for the win, 15-9. Riot and Fury are set to match up in the finals again, for the third time in five years.

Club11 W3


Who will be the big winner in 2011, Fury or Riot?

Some reflection: Firstly, Fury’s game is unsurpassed.  Their technical skills are incredibly developed: these women almost never drop the disc, and their throws are, across the board, unbelievably accurate and well timed. They are also very smart players: if you listen, you can hear that the Fury women are troubleshooting and discussing strategy on the sidelines, trying to intellectually parse out their next move while watching what’s going on, on the field. Lastly, the team is incredibly even-tempered, which gives them a huge advantage over mental teams. Fury players do not lose their heads; other teams scoring on them—in fact, even when Riot beat them earlier in the tournament—didn’t seem to make a dent in their upbeat mental attitude.

Then again, Riot—as we’ve seen once already at this tournament—really wants to win, and that burning desire might be able to overcome Fury’s skill set. If Riot’s defense and overall attitude looks like it did yesterday against Fury—which was, in two words, incredibly intense—Riot could very well win, since Fury seemed unwilling to quite match their intensity level. Fury’s even-temperedness, then, might end up holding them back the most. Will Riot light Fury’s fire tomorrow?  Stay tuned to find out more.