Saturday, May 03, 2008

Westerns GIRLS Preview (updated)

Western GIRLS Teams
Previous Champions:
2007 - Churchill HS over Northwest - [15-03]
2006 - Nathan Hale over Northwest - [14-07]
2005 - Nathan Hale over York House - [15-05]

Churchill will be the team to beat this year. Though they haven't been able to get as diverse a tournament schedule as last year's team, they did attend PLU BBQ and ended up in the finals, or as close as could be determined to be the finals. It should be noted that they did have two non-CHS players with them on this weekend that included former CHS player Aubri Bishop now at OSU. But on Saturday because of a missing UO team, they played a mini scrimmage against the Northwest Girls team before the weather turned and got ugly. Though this game was only played to 7 and was done very early in the season, it ended 7-4 in the favor of the CHS girls team. This along with a single game at the Oregon State Championships against Summit that ended 15-0 in Churchill's favor are the only two HS girls teams the Eugene ladies have faced. CHS is led by senior phenom Kimber Coles (#5) who made the Juniors World's 2008 team. Christine Wilson (who made alternates), also helps lead this team, but she along with the others are so much more than just a supporting cast.

The number three overall will be the Northwest School who dominated well at the WA State Championships until the finals with Nathan Hale. This 7-10 lose to Hale is something I'm sure the Northwest program evaluated and disected and are determined not to let take place again. Last year the Northwest program was given the number one seed overall and in their pool who included Cathedral, South Eugene, SAAS, and Cretin-Derham, they allowed only 10 points in pool play when compared to taking 52. They handed Hopkins a 15-5 loss in quarters and then gave Nathan Hale a great game that got capped 13-10. This game has been given as a significant reason why Northwest entered last years' Western finals and was unable to score until the second half when they had their first rest in over 2 hours. In the same pool with Churchill, and having already had one small loss to them earlier this season, will NWS be able to perform the upset of the tournament and give the Churchill girls their first loss to a high school girls program since 2006? This game will take place at 4:45pm and will be one of the best games of Saturday to watch. They'll need to fend off a very hungry and tough Hopkins team in the first round though, and this could end up being the best game of Saturday in at least my opinion. NWS is led by Anna Reed, and Julia Snyder (little sister of Anna Snyder of Carleton College), all of whom have made the 2008 Junior World's team.

Hopkins will take the 6 seed overall, but they could be the best sleeper team at the tournament. With a solid returning squad, the Hopkins team has developed out of a great Minneapolis community of players with a tradition they are forming of excellence & toughness. They will be led by Erica Baken, who is one of the most talented HS female players to play the game thus far and also another Junior Worlds 2008 player. She will bring the Hert squad into each game with focus and desire that rivals nearly every squad playing today. Also on the Hopkins squad is Elise Rasmussen who turned some heads at Junior World's tryouts and earned a spot as well. Hopkins is currently at their own hosted Hopkins Hustle, that includes Cathedral who will also be present at this year's Westerns. Or are they at the 4th Annual East Invite? They are listed on both tournaments, and to my knowledge it is impossible to play in both MN and CO the same weekend...

Cathedral will take the 8 spot overall, and sadly have to be in the same pool with what I can only assume is becoming a rival in Hopkins. It will be interesting to see what scores come in this weekend from the
Hopkins Hustle and whether Cathedral is able to topple the mighty Hopkins who has earned a higher seed them at Westerns. The last time these teams played was at the MadisonMudBath, where they took Hopkins to universe point in the semis. Hopkins would lose horribly in the finals to Cretin-Derham (13-2), and it is a wonder if it was Cathedral who simple exhausted Hopkins too much for them to play all the way through to the finals.

The final team in this first pool is Seattle Academy, who lost in the semis of their States and thus tied for 3rd with Lakeside. They will have a serious challenge ahead of them on Saturday and will need to take their first round game against Cathedral if they want to build the needed momentum against Churchill, Northwest, and then Hopkins. But, no one should count out this program as they always come to play and as all Seattle programs, have fundamentals most teams haven't heard of. They also have the talented Bailey Zahnister who also made the 2008 Junior Worlds Team.

Some questions to consider for the A Pool:
Now in the A pool with longer games, will the Churchill ladies be able keep from letting teams like Nathan Hale and Hopkins get as close as they did last year in the dreaded B pool? Will the loser of the first round game between Northwest and Hopkins end up tanking it the rest of day? Especially if this is Hopkins, will they be able to rebound in the following round and be able to play against a talented and hungry Cathedral who will be looking to upset? And finally, what damage can SAAS do as the lowest seed?

Earning the top seed on the B side is none other than Nathan Hale. Earning this spot after taking down Northwest in the finals of the State tournament 10-7, Hale has a huge monkey on their back from the previous year's disappointing finish. Though Churchill has earned the 2 spot last year, they were considered an early favorite. In the last round of Saturday, they simply could not put the disc in and lost 8-9 to a very tired Churchill program. They then had to play Cretin-Derham the following morning and only nearly moved past them in a 12-13 game. They then had Northwest and couldn't topple that giant, but did take a huge bit out of them that helped contribute to NWS poor performance in the following final. This year is different though, and Hale will be looking to take the championship back as they had before.
Though they had none of their current players make the Junior Worlds 2008 team (Elizabeth Arakai is currently at Carleton), they are powerful and deep.

The next in the B pool will be Cretin-Derham, a highly talented program that nearly took out Hale at the previous year's Westerns. They will be remembering this match-up come the showcase game at 6:30pm on Saturday. This will be a game to watch and with no other games happening, it will be my guess that most following the girls' action will be on these sidelines. Cretin-Derham has gone 9-0 for the season with 3 wins over Hopkins and one over Cathedral (teams attending Westerns). They also are led by Emily Depalma who made this year's Junior Worlds Team.

Earning the 5th seed is Lakeside from Seattle. Going 3-2 at States with loses to Hale and Northwest put this Seattle school in the background once again. Lakeside will someday have their chance to take the stage, but it doesn't look like that will happen this year. But, that said, never count any school from Seattle out. They are simply too talented to ever give an inch to, as before you know it, they have broken you and you're looking at hole you cannot climb out of. Though no longer having the talented Maggie Fisher, they do have Sara Scott who also made the Junior Worlds Team this year.

Earning the 7th seed overall is Alameda, the only team from California in the last three years that anyone has heard of (sorry to those cali teams who we don't know about). Alameda is a K-12 school that is able to build talent at a very early age and this might be the year that Alameda is finally ready to take the stage and regain some confidence in the California programs that have always been second fiddle to Oregon and California as long as this writer has known of juniors ultimate. They are a smaller but faster squad than most people are ready for, and this could serve them well. They have zero games recorded this season and a very interesting roster that includes only 1 senior. This team could be very dangerous next year if they've been able to bounce back from a poor showing at last year's Westerns.

The 10th seed over all will be Lakewood from Denver, CO. In their first showing at Westerns, I hope that the Colorado ladies have a great experience with the best talent on this side of the Mississippi. Like Alameda, they currently have zero games recorded, but the 4th Annual East Invite is taking place this weekend that these ladies have chosen to attend.

The team earning the lowest seed will be the Minneapolis South girls who have thus far gone 5-4 before this weekend's Hopkins Hustle. They will have their work cut out for them, especially considering the B pool games are much shorter and give much less time for teams to work out a strategy to beat their opponent.

Some questions to consider for the B Pool:
Can Hale keep focus on the games at hand and not get too future focused on a finals with Churchill? Can Hale keep Cretin-Derham from making a name for themselves and upsetting the Hale giant in the 6:30pm showcase game? Can Lakeside come from behind the curtain and upstage Hale who has always handed them losses? Can Alameda do something this year, or are they doomed to be on the bottom because of low level competition (or none at all) from their region? Can new comer Lakewood generate some noise and start things off with an upset over Lakeside first round?

I will let the comments flow before I give my predictions, but for now know that I've got more than a couple upsets taking place and some giants falling...


Anonymous said...

booya go churchill

FNAM said...

Nice write up! One thing is that Nathan Hale is the public school powerhouse. NWS, Lakeside, and SAAS are all private schools.

Should be fun!


Anonymous said...

churchill is going to dominate this year, even though they lost two key handlers (Aubri and Autumn) they still have a solid line of girls, including Kimber (coles?) (WORLDS '08)and Christine(alternate'08)

There may be some close games between NHHS, NWS, and Hopkins but Churchill will remain solid.

Anonymous said...

Hopkins is for sure underseeded. I'd switch hopkins and lakeside.

Anonymous said...

I agree, the A pool is just ridiculously good.

Anonymous said...

Cretin Derham Hall is most definitely underrated. Look for some surprises if they are at full strength.

Anonymous said...

i think cretin is a little under seeded but anyone in pool a won't get any easy games in pool play

soulforce said...

aclc is a 6-12 school not a k-12 school. nonetheless the girls are ballers.


Anonymous said...

how could cretin possibly be under seeded, the only big name school they have played is hopkins, hale will crush them

Anonymous said...

What's the word on teams like Cathedral, South and Lakewood? Sometimes lesser known teams aren't so great one year, and suprisingly good the next... Anyone know how those teams are doing this year?

Anonymous said...

Cretin has one the state tourney the past 3 years in a row, and have never been at full at strength at any of the past Westerns tournaments. The group Senior girls have been playing together since they were freshman. I'm not saying they are gonna win it all, but they will compete.

Anonymous said...

Well what you are saying is that cretin will either beat NWS, Hale, or Churchill, if you believe they are under seeded, this wont happen. all three schools are too deep and have been playing together since middle school.

Anonymous said...

and i quote

"Cretin has one the state tourney the past 3 years in a row"

jesus, if you want to be taken seriously atleast spell WON correct.

Come on

Anonymous said...

who cares...

Anonymous said...

it matters because i do plan to have won westerns in a week not one it.

Anonymous said...

i think you are just playing to have won ONE game

Anonymous said...

The churchill ladies are going to get upset tomorrow. i heard they only have 9-10 girls showing up and will not be able to run past the second or third round. come sunday they will completely fold and fall to the more dominate and deeper Hale, Hopkins, and Northwest squads.

EXPECT the defending champions to choke!

Anonymous said...

I completely agree! They got lucky last year and were nearly taken out by both Hopkins and Hale the day before. Sure they won the thing, but it was only cause they had such an easy Sunday morning...

-not a west coast player

Anonymous said...

Wait lucky? soo 15-3 in the finals is lucky?

also not west coast player = crappy midwest ultimate player

-West Coaster

Anonymous said...

the midwest is going to be so much better than the west.

Hear this west coast:
This will be the year that MN takes WESTERNS!

Churchill, you're going down.

-midwest'better than west coast' player

Anonymous said...

I cannot believe this kind of talk. Let the results be settled on the field. If Minnesota is so good, then let them make some noise. They got 4 teams this year. If they cannot get it done in 2008, then so be it. Every year its different. If Seattle or Oregon think they are going to take it, then let them do it with solid play and less talk.

Someone is going to come out on top. I for one think it will be a Minnesota team. Cretin has looked so good this year. This isn't just hype, and I'm not trashing anyone else. I just think they are going to bring something special and surprise enough teams to be the next champion.

-MN player

Anonymous said...

huh... looks like churchill wasn't the chumps a few people thought they were.

Anonymous said...

08 westerns is in the books. Props to NWS for the win!

I would like to respond to an earlier comment though. I think that the comment about Churchill only winning 07 was ridiculous and unwarranted. CHS had to play two of their hardest games back to back at the end of Saturday, and they still managed to pull out a win on both. The CHS vs. Hale and CHS vs. Hopkins games were well played by both CHS and their opponents. When it comes down to it though, CHS just fought harder, plain and simple. No luck involved. As far as Sunday goes, they had an easy Sunday morning because they had worked so hard the day before. They earned everything they got.

Anonymous said...

correcgtion- (*only winning because of luck)
my mistake.

L said...

It seems as though MN wasn't all that they were cracked up to be...and Churchill, who was supposedly going to 'choke', made it all the way to the finals with their line of only 10 girls.

Congrats to NWS. You guys definetly deserved your win.