Monday, May 12, 2008

Westerns: Girls Official UPA Write-up

The UPA has released their official write-ups from the Western Championships. They are well written (in both the open and girls divisions). As I'm sure there are thoughts and feelings post-westerns, let each of these posts (one for the open and one for the ladies) serve as the place you can offer your feedback on the experience whether you were there or not...


Here is the official write-up of the 2008 Westerns Ladies Division according to Christina Wirkus.


Saturday welcomed 11 Western’s girls’ teams to Independence, MO with clouds, wind and a slight drizzle. Despite looming thunderstorms, these high school girls were excited to play and take on the competition in hopes for a Championship title.


The first round kicked off with the familiar matchup of Cretin-Derham and Minneapolis South. Cretin-Durham had lots of good hucks and their depth and athleticism proved to be a tough match for South. Emily Regan tried to make things happen for South on both offense and defense, but it was not enough to stop the solid handlers on Cretin-Derham and they closed it out effortlessly (13-4).

Nathan Hale emerged victorious over Alameda (9-6) with their tough zone defense taking away the easy dump. Alameda did a great job of swinging the disc but Nathan Hale showed their strong fundamentals were the key to their success.

In Pool A, Seattle Academy faced off versus Cathedral in a game of big hucks. Seattle was too quick on transitions for Cathedral to stop and Talia Shulman took the Cardinals to half with a huge layout score. Cathedral’s Cami Nelson also had some big catches in the air but Seattle had already found their flow and ended their first game of the day with an upset (11-4).

The Northwest School held seed over Hopkins with Sarah Benditt (NW) making plays all over the field. The Hopkins offense ran primarily through Erica Baken’s crisp and accurate throws. Both teams showed up with intense layouts on offense and defense but The Northwest School dominated HERt Force (12-4).

Lakeside beat Lakewood by playing intense from the start. Lakeside came out strong early in the game and kept the field spread out. Mackenzie Ruoff was a scoring machine and Sally Landefeld and Arianna Vokos came up with some big D’s. Christina Mickle was Lakewood’s go-to player, but she was not enough to stop the Big Cats as the marched on to a convincing victory (13-3).


In Pool B, Cretin Derham matched up against a frustrated Lakeside. Cretin Durham’s Kelly Wild ran down huck after huck for the score. Lakeside made a great run in the second half relying on the solid throws of Junior Lucy Williams. Raging Safari regained the momentum and came out with the win 11-7.

Nathan Hale beat Minneapolis South in this round by patiently working the disc right past their zone. Minneapolis struggled upwind and could not quite connect on their throws, falling 4-13 to the Raiders.

In Pool A, Hopkins eked out a win over Cathedral in a hard fought game. The wind was taking its toll on both teams but Hopkins’ Elise Rasmussen was open on her cuts all day. Ali Lanz of Cathedral had some huge hucks and proved her patient throws upwind could work. But the Crusaders could not get it together before hard cap and lost a heartbreaker 8-9.

Churchill came out against Seattle Academy in their first game of the day with a very dominant cup. Seattle had a hard time swinging the disc against Churchill’s zone, and relied on some big hucks by Senior Bailey Zahniser. The Lancers get their first W and end it 10-6.

Alameda versus Lakewood was fairly close most of the game with lots of hucks, and both teams relying primarily on advantageous field position. Alameda breaks to take half and won (10-6) with their offense this game running through Maya Chapman and Marisa Rafter.


In Pool A, The Northwest School and Seattle Academy faced off in a rematch from the State Championship this year. Seattle came out fired up, and traded points to tie it at 3-3. Northwest gained the momentum on a marathon point to go up 4-3, and could not be stopped the rest of the game. They didn’t let Seattle score again and won out (11-3).

Churchill faced off against Cathedral showing off their effective cup once again. Their crisp forehands in the wind and their quick high release backhands were too much for Cathedral to handle. Cathedral relied on their punts in an attempt to gain field position but Churchill’s handlers looked strong and their cutters looked quick as they dominated the field (15-3).


In Pool B, Nathan Hale beat Lakeside with their suffocating defense. Their experienced throws and calm in the wind was a tough match for Lakeside and the Raiders went on to win 11-7.

Cretin-Derham won out against Lakewood after coming out a little slow. They soon found their rhythm, using every player on the field. Molly Geske made some big catches to keep Raging Safari’s momentum. Lakewood’s Julieanna Rusnak had great D’s and Liên Hoffman had a huge sky in the endzone, but too many of their big hucks were not connecting and they lost big 5-13.

Alameda played Minneapolis South in an exciting game. Alameda went up 5-2, but Minneapolis answered back to tie it at 5’s. Alameda’s #9 made a big catch in the endzone under tough defensive pressure to start the second half. Sweet Meat finished the game with a tough layout catch by teammate Maya Chapman (10-6).


In Pool A, Churchill matched up against The Northwest School in a hard fought and highly-skilled game. Churchill’s upwind throws were solid, but The Northwest School played each point like they wanted to prove something. Defensively the teams were evenly matched, but Churchill won by capitalizing on all Northwest’s turnovers, turning nearly every one into scores, winning 11-5.

Seattle Academy surprisingly upset Hopkins in this round (4-11). Seattle was making big plays on both sides of the disc, playing with a tremendous amount of heart in a game with lots of long points. Hopkins had trouble finding their flow, and had no answer for Bailey Zahniser who was unstoppable with outstanding offense and defense.

Lakewood finally earned a win in their match up against Minneapolis South. Minneapolis’s Frieda Manthei had some great D’s and good cuts, but Lakewood capitalized on their turns and won the long battles. Lakewood’s tall receivers were also trouble for Minneapolis and the Tigers won soundly (13-5).

Lakeside held seed against Alameda using their four person cup to contest every throw. Neither team played timid upwind but Lakeside’s patience and swinging led them to victory. Alameda frequently held the disc for too long, waiting for a deep shot or a difficult break side cut to materialize and would usually result in a turn. The Big Cats go on to win 9-7 in hard cap.

The girls’ showcase game (Nathan Hale v Cretin-Derham) was rescheduled for bright and early tomorrow morning due to strong storms and intense lightning Saturday evening. Wet weather conditions should improve tomorrow but the wind will still remain a factor for the early morning pool play rounds.


Sunday morning kicked off bright and early with the showcase game scheduled for Saturday night’s last round. Nathan Hale and Cretin-Durham faced off on a muddy field in 20-30 mph winds. Cretin-Durham won the flip and chose to pull downwind. With the score tied 4-4, Nathan Hale patiently moved the disc upfield, bringing it within 15 yards of their endzone, but couldn’t convert. Nathan Hale was much more skilled at moving the disc upfield than Cretin-Durham, who just relied on hucking for field position in the downwind end zone. Cretin’s throws into the wind were really not impressive. Ultimately, this game was decided by the flip, with neither team being able to score upwind. (6-5) Cretin Durham wins in hard cap.


The final round of pool play was also played Sunday morning. The Northwest School played Cathedral in a game that started out with a lot of deep puts and zone defense. Northwest’s experience in the wind is not affecting their throws as much as Cathedral and they have no problem moving on with a decisive victory (12-3).

Churchill faces off against Hopkins and immediately puts an upwind score on the board, looking like they might run away with the win. Hopkins answers right back, and the teams trade upwind points to tie it 2-2, making things interesting. Churchill goes on a run proving their talent and sound fundamentals were too hard to stop and never look back (10-3).

The other three games paired up Nathan Hale versus Lakewood, Cretin-Durham versus Alameda, and Lakeside versus Minneapolis South. Each of the games were low scoring and the winner determined by who won the flip and chose to pull downwind. Although each of the teams came close to scoring upwind, the strong wind proved to be the dominating factor in these early rounds and was too hard to overcome. Lakewood, Cretin-Durham, and Lakeside all emerged victorious.


Seattle Academy had never looked more fired up to play against Nathan Hale in their first game of the qualifying rounds. Seattle pulled, got the D, and then scored upwind. They quickly repeated the same steps again downwind to bring the score 2-0. Nathan Hale finds their composure and takes the game back after a few points and take the lead 6-5. But the big hucks from Bailey Zahniser and big plays by Talia Shulman, Katie Reynolds and Sierra Evans are causing some problems for the Raiders and they had a difficult time shutting their connections down. Nathan Hale finally settles down and shows that their patience pays off, coming out on top (11-8).

Alameda comes out against Churchill showing a lot of patience upwind. However, Churchill’s Kimber Coles sneaks in and comes up with a big D. Churchill gets the first score downwind followed by an upwinder the next. Alameda’s freshman Marisa Rafter is playing amazing defense, but it is not enough to stop Churchill’s smooth O. Alameda’s Loren Diesi-Palmer finds some luck throwing blade hucks, but Churchill still dominates. Churchill’s tough man D posed problems for Alameda and Churchill easily wins 11-2.

Cretin-Durham plays Hopkins in a familiar matchup of last year’s state championship. Erica Baken is looking solid for HERt Force, but Cretin-Durham is contesting every throw on defense. Both teams are punting it downfield, but Cretin-Durham is finding more connections. The last point of the game lasts 30 minutes, through both caps, but Cretin Durham winds up with the win, final score 7-1 which earns them a spot in semifinals.

Last up, The Northwest School plays Lakeside and the score is soon tied 2-2. Northwest has some good opportunities upwind, but they just couldn’t convert. Northwest worked it patiently upwind, but get too excited just outside the endzone and their throws have too much on them. At 6-4 Northwest, Lakeside has a big opportunity to score upwind with the disc on their goal line. They turn it over on a missed throw and Northwest punts it downwind. Lakeside is being very patient with their upwind throws with the solid handling of #32, and is doing a great job of using everyone on the field. Northwest finally scores it downwind and wins the game, but Lakeside plays with immeasurable heart and refuses to give up. Score: 7 to 5.


The first semifinal pairs up Churchill and Nathan Hale. Churchill went up quickly on Nathan Hale, who seemed to be catching some unlucky wind gusts. Churchill is looking impressively crisp early on with only 10 players and comes out in a zone. They soon switched to man defense after Nathan Hale had no problem punching it through. A few turnovers later, Lisa Neyman puts a beautiful huck upwind to find CJ Jost in the endzone, bringing the score to 4-1 Churchill. Nathan Hale starts to get a little impatient after gaining a few yards and sends it upwind out of their receivers range. After another turn, Nathan Hale regains composure and scores upwind, bringing the score to 4-2. Hale gets another D and Zina Hurd throws the score downwind to Barbara Hoover in traffic, 4-3. Churchill turns up the heat as Claire Neyman has a sick tailing edge catch in the endzone to regain momentum. Nathan Hale loves throwing to space and keeps the game close but Churchill manages a 9-6 win and a chance for the [Westerns] title.

Cretin-Durham played The Northwest School in the other side of the bracket in what proved to be the most exciting game of the tournament. Northwest wins the flip, but the wind has started to die down. Northwest scores first and relies on the solid handling of Julia Snyder to run a successful zone offense, often finding Sarah Benditt as the receiver. Northwest’s Anna Reed is also all over the field, hungry for every disc on offense and defense. Cretin Durham has found their rhythm this game and Katie Godfrey’s backhand breaks are trouble for Northwest. Cretin-Durham scores a hard fought point to take the lead 5-4 with a huge upwinder, but The Northwest School answers back. They go on a three point run, and take half 7-5. Northwest is playing a stifling zone, but the game is far from over. Cretin-Durham starts the second half with fire in their bellies, and #32 has a nice layout grab in the endzone. Cretin scores again downwind to tie the game at 7s. Cretin gets the D and Natalie DePalma has a hot toe drag for her catch and converts it into a huge upwind score. Raging Safari regains the lead 8-7. Northwest turns it up and Julia Snyder finds Anna Reed for an upwind score. The game is now at universe point with Cretin-Durham going upwind and the cap on. Both teams have great opportunities to score, playing lights-out defense and neither is ready to give up anything. Northwest’s Anna Reed makes a huge layout catch and finds Lindsey Miller for the quick score. Northwest wins 9-8 and moves on to finals against Churchill.


The finals is a rematch of last year’s game with Churchill versus The Northwest School. Both teams have had long days and have to find that inner fuel for this game. Northwest seems to have the momentum in this game from their hard-fought semifinals game and gets a D in the zone as the[y] first step on the field, walking it in for a downwind score. Northwest is looking very composed hitting dumps, swings and then continue for a big upfield gain. Sarah Benditt connects with Angela Parisi for a sweet upwind score. It’s clear that Churchill could use some fresh legs as they aren’t looking as solid as they were earlier. Their small roster size was definitely wearing on them. Churchill tries to get her team back in a winning mentality with a nasty layout D by Claire Neyman. On a fast break, Churchill’s Lisa Neyman finds Kimber Coles in the endzone with a great toe drag catch. Northwest turns back up the heat and is fighting for every disc that goes up. The Northwest School is looking strong and deep and start to take over the game, abusing Churchill’s tiredness. The Lancer defense is not tight and most are jogging from fatigue setting in. A few easy passes later, Northwest’s Anna Reed is wide open in the endzone and catches the final score. Northwest wins, (15-4).


Mike Mullen said...

This and the boys write up are pretty solid. I also appreciate that they had them posted on the results page by the end of the day.


Lukester said...

I wanted to thank Alameda, Hale, and Northwest for incredible games in the Championship Bracket. It was an honor to be invited back to coach the high school girls team I had inherited in 2006.

Though my focus was on our girls team and how impressed I was in seeing how well they had continued to grow, I was more impressed with the level of girls ultimate that came this year.

After 4 years, it was finally time for Northwest to take home the gold and though their upperclassmen talent cannot be denied, it was their younger and less recognizable players that I was so impressed by.

The number of young girls who are deciding to be play ultimate may not seem as though it has increased since there were only 11 girls programs at Westerns 08, I have to believe with the new teams including Cretin-Derham, Cathedral, and Lakewood, there is growth taking place in this nation.

As I reflect upon the westerns experience, the goal of it I believe is to increase the exposure of youth ultimate, and my hope is that each of the women's programs who attended will return home and help not only build their own programs up with new recruits, but also help host some girls round-robins or full tournaments. This last spring there was a very limited number of opportunities for girls teams to get together and play.

More thoughts on this, but it looks like my flight is finally going to board. After sleeping in Kansas City since my flight to Chicago was canceled last night, I have had a lot of time to think about the growth of ultimate, especially in the girls division.

abrams said...

a little clarification about the Hopkins vs. CDH game..
the final score was not 7-1, it was i think 6-2... but I am positive that Hopkins got 2 points

and the final point was not 30 min... it was 55 min. We started the point with 1/2 hour until soft cap and then soft and hard went on during the point