Women’s Prequarters Recap: 2013 D-I College Championships

Washington takes on Minnesota in the prequarters of the 2013 USA Ultimate D-I College Championships
Photo by Alex Fraser — UltiPhotos.com

Four very exciting prequarters matchups provided a preview of the stellar Championship bracket play set for tomorrow. Here’s a look at each of the games.

British Columbia v. Iowa State

The 2B-3C prequarter matched up British Columbia and Iowa State. Expectations were for British Columbia’s speed and aggressiveness to overwhelm a drained ISU team coming off a double game point victory just minutes before the round. However, solid execution and some positive momentum allowed the high flying Woman Scorned offense to strike hard and fast.

No team throws to space better than the Iowa State and that was on full display as Cami Nelson, Magon Liu, and Becca Miller launched large gainers to the break side. UBC was up to their usual aggressive offensive tactics, but found it tough to connect; they often did not get the disc back. They’d go into half down 6-8.

However, the second half saw a switch to zone looks that slowed down their opponent’s downfield flow. As the game wore on and quick scores became hard to come by, Iowa State’s fatigue began to creep in and UBC’s depth began to shine. Even an injury to Callahan nominee Catherine Hui would not knock UBC down, with Crystal Koo – who always seems to light up the stat sheet in the second half – catching fire, taking difficult shots downfield, and often connecting on them. British Columbia wrangled control of the pace of the game and locked in to leave Woman Scorned helpless. For a third straight season, Iowa State’s season would end in the Prequarters while UBC would advance to take on Oregon. The final score was 15-12.

Virginia v. Northwestern

The 2C-3B prequarter pitted Virginia against a surprising Northwestern team. Each team would lean on the fantastic play of their hardworking star: Virginia on Alika Johnston, who is having a breakout tournament, and Northwestern on Lien Hoffman.

The first half belonged to a patient and confident Gung Ho group. With their handlers working the width of the field well, Virginia had trouble forcing the kind of mistakes they typically get run through Ds on. Alex Chudler and Angel Li controlled the early flow, which helped Northwestern roll out to an 8-5 halftime lead.

Virginia, much like they had against Iowa State earlier in the weekend, came out in the second half with a much more focused and energetic effort in their zone defense. Northwestern’s struggles with zone continued — both UCSB and UBC had used them with impressive results. With Hoffman no longer able to isolate cutting spaces and spending most of her time handling, Gung Ho’s best weapon was neutralized.

Johnston was everywhere on both sides of the disc and Katrien Hinderdael and Theresa Hackett were important defensive cogs. UVA dragged themselves back into a tight game. Johnston, between each point, looked as if her body would give out, but once they were on the line, reverted to the impact player Hydra needed. The surge was enough to win the game, 13-11, and send Hydra to the Quarterfinals to face Iowa.

Tufts v. Wisconsin

In a round of close matches, the first half of the Tufts and Wisconsin prequarter, between 2D-3A, didn’t disappoint, although it was not the most entertaining brand of Ultimate.

A packed sideline cheered on the hometown Wisconsin, but Bella had trouble containing the deliberate and efficient Tufts offense. Ewo was content to find unders, uplines, and resets to eat up yardage and wear down Wisconsin’s defensive groups. Bella’s offense struggled against Tufts’ zone looks – a theme for Bella’s weekend was difficulty stringing together long offensive possessions – but they settled in late in the half and were able to keep it close going into the second half. Bella would not be able to close the gap and Tufts, a deeper team better able to execute offensively, pulled away. They’d wrap up their berth to the Quarters 14-8, knocking out the hometown Wisco team and earning a shot at a red hot Ohio State team.

Washington v. Minnesota

The most exciting game of the round – and arguably the game of the tournament so far – saw Washington and Minnesota face off in a hotly contested game. The teams traded blows on the showcase field, with Washington fairly fresh and Minnesota feeling the effects of a double game point win.

“They look tired, so we expect to grind them,” Element Coach Kyle Weisbrod mentioned prior to the opening pull, saying to expect hard man defense against the biggest Ninja threats.

Washington executed the coach’s gameplan, with hard running handlers and Alysia Letourneau’s deep cutting taking advantage of Minnesota after the turns to open up an early 3-0 lead.

A Minnesota timeout was just what they needed to collect themselves and fire one another up. Their deep game began to click, with Sarah Meckstroth proving a tough cover for Lucy Williams of Washington and Natalie DePalma able to find some great deep looks in transition, and they’d go into the half down a pair, 6-8.

In the second half, Minnesota stunned Washington by snapping off a series of breaks, with Emily Regan and Emily DePalma stepping up to contribute offensively with more long range bombs and well timed deep cuts. Reeling and down 9-12, Washington’s leaders stepped up. Lucy Williams and Shira Stern tirelessly worked handler cuts and Alysia Letourneau found open space after open space for her handlers to hit.

Minnesota stuck with their deep game and Washington focused more on working the unders, contrasting styles both finding success with big plays coming in bunches. On double game point, however, Minnesota would just barely miss a layout D as Washington snuck through their zone defense. Washington would punch it in after a timeout with a lefty backhand from Letourneau. Washington took it, 15-14, advancing to Quarterfinals to face Carleton.

[LISTEN: The coaches of each team speak after the game.]

See more photos from the College Championships on UltiPhotos.

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