Thursday, May 08, 2008

Western Girls Division Prediction

Though the girls division write-up I completed last Saturday for Westerns has only generated 14 comments in comparison to the 75 comments the boys divisions has bloated to, the is little denying that the action will be sweet and the competition just as good. And even though the discussion has centered around the top 4 teams; Churchill, Nathan Hal, Northwest, and Cretin-Derham, these teams will be in a serious world of hurt if they look past the teams rounding out the remaining 7 spots...

With less than 48 hours before the first disc will be pulled in the little known city of Independence, what can we expect? What match-ups are going to be the ones to write home mom about? Though missing the high school scene for the first time in 4 years, I suspect I will get a bit of this wrong, but I'll offer my predictions none the less.

Please know that I offers these predictions as a way to generate a conversation. I come into this conversation with an obvious bias and that should be considered. Offer your thoughts as you see fit.

Round 01: Pool A - Northwest vs Hopkins
This game is going to be sweet. Both squads have been preparing not just this week, but have been thinking about having to play one another again. The last time they played was in the previous Westerns where Hopkins' run was ended at quarters of the Championship bracket 5-15. After taking their tournament last weekend in Minnesota, I'm sure Hopkins is looking to be the top team from the Midwest, but Cretin-Derham elected to stay home and play an easy game against Twin City Academy (15-0). Though Northwest has graduated some of their talent, you'd be an idiot to think they are not talented. That said, I give the edge to Hopkins in this match-up and see the game going 15-11 Hopkins for the first upset of the weekend.
(Score Reporter estimates 15-12.9 for Hopkins as well).

Round 02: Pool B - Alameda vs Lakewood
I had a hard time picking this round because the other 2/3 match-up between Cretin-Derham and Lakeside will be taking place. There is no question that the 2/3 match-up game will be crucial for Cretin-Derham as they make their run at upsetting the B pool, I believe that this game is heavily in their favor and thus it is the 4/5 match-up that will be the most exciting. Here Alameda will have rested nicely after a more than likely beating up by Nathan Hale. Lakewood will have just finished their closer game against Lakeside, and maybe, just maybe overcome the Seattle school to secure the second upset of Westerns (first was Hopkins in the 1st round). If Lakewood was even close in their first round game, I give the edge to them in their second round game against Alameda. Alameda will have had the most time to prepare and if they're smart they will have ventured over to field 6 to do a bit of strategy against Lakewood (and eventually for Lakeside). Though this game will be close, it won't go to universe point, and will end up in Lakewood's favor 13-11. This will be the second upset of the tournament.
(Score Reporter is way off on this one and put is as a 15-6.4 in Alameda's favor)

Round 03: Pool A - Churchill vs Cathedral
The entire B pool has a bye round and thus there are only two games to choose from here. The other is the 2/5 match-up between Northwest and Seattle Academy. But that game was already played two weeks ago at the WA State tournament and went in Northwest's favor 11-5. The Churchill game won't be anything amazing, but I do believe that Cathedral will bring some talent and get a couple points on the Eugene ladies. More than anything, this game will give the 6 B pool teams a chance to see both Northwest and Churchill in action despite it not being against each other. I see Churchill taking out Cathedral 15-7.
(Score Reporter gives Cathedral a few more points and puts the game at 15-10.2)

Round 04: Pool B - Nathan Hale vs Lakeside
The entire A pool has a bye round and thus the only three games to choose from are the 1/3, 2/5, and 4/6 games. I honestly think the closest game of these will be the 4/6 with Alameda and Minneapolis South in what I could see going to cap. But, it won't be the best game to watch as that will be reserved for the all Seattle action in the Nathan Hale vs Lakeside game. These two met two weekends ago at the WA State tournament where Nathan Hale took out Lakeside in the semi-finals 13-6. I'm sure that Lakeside is looking forward to this game and hoping for a much better showing. This showing will be so dependent upon the previous rounds, especially the Lakeside/Cretin-Derham game. If Lakeside manages to muster an upset win here, which is possible, but unlikely, then I would not be envying Nathan Hale in the fourth round. I give this game to Nathan Hale still, but with Lakeside forcing the game to be much longer and harder than Hale will have hoped for in a score 13-9.
(Score Reporter gives this game to Nathan Hale 15-9)

Round 05: Pool A - Churchill vs Northwest
In what could be the most anticipated game of the tournament, Churchill and Northwest have been imagining this game, in this setting, since last year's brutal final where Churchill emerged the new Champion of the west. Churchill has been thinking about this match-up, knowing full well that Northwest will be different and much, much more prepared. Northwest has also been thinking about this game more than I'm sure they'd admit. The loss they took in the finals the year before was as embarassing as South Eugene's loss on the open side, and those kind of games stick with a team. The interesting thing will be whether it has stuck to provide the necessary motivation to beat the defending Western champion. These two programs did see each other at the college PLUBBQ tournament earlier this spring, but that game was no where as close to as important as this one. And as I have things working out, Northwest will be entering into this game already with a loss to Hopkins and thus has the chance to force a three-way tie if Churchill would then take out Hopkins... But, enough about all the "what if's"... I see this game going 15-12 in the closest game Churchill will have had all tournament, but Northwest will again suffer the fate of losing to the Churchill program.
(Score Reporter has this game going 15-10.7 in favor of Churchill)

Round 06: B Pool - Nathan Hale vs Cretin-Derham
As this is the only round that is taking place, it WILL be the only game to watch, but it should be a great one. With all the talk that Cretin has gotten, I suspect that some of this talk is true (as risky as that can be at times). This will be their chance to make a name for themselves, but I'm confident that Hale will be more than ready. The crowd of people that could center around this game might be a factor against Cretin, as Hale is no stranger to the big stage. Though I see Hale as the obvious favorite, I see Cretin keeping this very interesting by forcing more than a few lead changes and big break points. As both teams will push the pace of this game, I see the game pushing past 13 as Cretin foces universe point. But in the end, it will be Hale punching it in for the 14-13 win.

Round 07: Pool A - Churchill vs Hopkins
As I see Hopkins getting the upset the day before on Northwest, this game will be for the number one see in the A pool and thus the number one overall. Hopkins will have their work cut out for them, but both teams are no strangers to one another. Most of these players met this last summer during the 2007 YCC tournament and even before that there was the crazy universe point game that these two played at the previous Westerns. Both teams will be rested, and this will serve as an advantage to Hopkins who could be easily argued as the most in shape team as so many of their players come from other sport backgrounds (and I suspect are varsity players on those other sports teams much like the Northwest girls and their soccer team). Though Hopkins will keep this game gritty and maybe even inch out an early lead, the depth and history of the Churchill program cannot be ignored. Sure the team no longer has the ridiculously talented Autumn Tocchi and Aubri Bishop, but those are the only two players who graduated. I see this game ending 15-11 in Churchill's favor, but it will not be easy.
(Score Reporter has this as a 15-12.4 win for Churchill)

Sunday Championship Bracket:
Quarter Finals
1) Churchill vs Lakewood
After their upset of Alameda, Lakewood earns the right to play into the Championship Bracket. This won't last though as they will be handled by Churchill 15-2 as Churchill gears up for another road to the finals.

2) Northwest vs Cretin-Derham
This will be the game to watch at 10:30am as both of these teams have something to prove and going out this early is not an option. As one of the hardest games to call, I put this game into Cretin-Derham's favor 15-13.

3) Hopkins vs Lakeside
I think the upset the previous day will give Hopkins the confidence it needs to push past Lakeside in convincing fashion 15-7.

4) Nathan Hale vs Cathedral
This game will be over after the first half as Hale cruises to a 15-4 win.

Sunday Championship Bracket: Semi-Finals
1) Churchill vs Cretin-Derham
I see this game being fierce, but in the favor of Churchill again as they will have played an easier game the round before. If Cretin has the kind of depth needed for the crazy 11 team format, then I see them keeping this game way closer than Churchill expected and nearly toppling the defending champion. But in the end I see Churchill taking the game 15-11.

2) Nathan Hale vs Hopkins
I see this game going to nearly universe point as Hopkins does everything in their power to stay with the highly talented and veteran Hale squad. I see this game getting capped at 16-14 in favor of the Hale girls.

Sunday Championship Bracket: Finals
This will be an amazing game... Of which I will offer no prediction.