September 19, 2013 by in Preview with 4 comments
North Central Regionals is a two horse race, with one bid on the line, and a clear favorite. Madison Heist, in their second season, looks primed for a shot at the quarters at the Club Championships.
Just five games stand between them and a spot in Frisco. Two of those games are likely to come against their toughest challenger: Minneapolis Pop. The athletic #2 seed has some dangerous weapons on their roster, but it will take a supreme effort — and perhaps some good luck — for them to top Heist.
Madison comes into the weekend with high expectations. They are 14-5 through the regular season, with three of those losses to Chicago Nemesis and the other two to top 10 opponents. However, while they haven’t been blown out, they haven’t really rocked many teams either. In fact, while they’ve beaten Pop twice, the scores were 14-8 and 12-9. Last year, Heist had no problem with the Minnesota crew in pool play and managed a 15-11 victory in the final.
The strengths of this Heist squad lay in their grittiness and blend of offensive starpower and defensive role players. Robyn Wiseman and Georgia Bosscher are a do-it-all duo that challenge even the best defensive matchups. Rebecca Enders, Laurel Schmidt, and Biz Cook also contribute offensively. The defensive group battles hard, with Sara Scott, Arthi Padmanabhan, and Kayla Emrick grinding their way to Ds and breaks.
For Pop, they’ll need to play at their highest level in order to steal the bid, but there are pieces there. Megan Molteni is the centerpiece of their offense. Her versatile skillset allows her to always remain active, getting lots of touches and advancing the disc. Their breakout stud is Sarah Anciaux, an imposing downfield presence who can make huge plays out of bad opportunity. A player like that can tip the percentages on any disc. Anna Reed and Julia Snyder both provide additional firepower on both sides of the disc.
The season has been a battle of consistency for the Pop ladies. Wins over New York Bent and San Diego Safari show a lot of potential, as do close losses to Nemesis and Heist. Conversely, ugly blowout losses to Seattle Underground, Bay Area Nightlock, and a double game point loss to Houston Inferno show that there are times when games get far away from them. Fortunately, with only five potential games on the weekend and only one that should really matter — the final — they won’t need consistency to pull this off.
Series teams Iowa City Monium Ibex and Minneapolis Wolfpack: The Secret Essence and their complex names round out the smallest Regionals field in the women’s division.
There’s a chance for Heist to position themselves well at the Club Championships with a strong weekend. It is well within reach. Pop, however, knows the format benefits them, with just one game to build to that could make their season. Cedar Falls, Iowa, won’t host a lot of women’s Ultimate this weekend, but there’s one game definitely worth keeping an eye on.