February 10, 2014 by Erin Wiltgen in News, Recap with 2 comments
After a hyper-competitive weekend, #9 Ohio State Fever and #19 Northeastern Valkyrie stood undefeated and prepared to battle it out for the Queen City Tune Up title. The game quickly became a saga of unforced errors. Northeastern couldn’t control the drops and throwaways—nor could they stop the momentum of a red hot Ohio State.
Fever crushed the Valkyries 15-4 in Queen City Tune-Up’s 2014 women’s final, ending Ohio State’s weekend on a high note.
“I think the final was a tribute to the fact that we’re trying to improve our Sunday play,” Ohio State Coach DeAnna Ball said. “So the fact that we were able to come out strong at the beginning of the game—we faltered a little bit. We had some turns, but once we were able to clarify those turns, we got our legs underneath us and got moving.”
Top seeded Ohio State went up early, snagging a 2-0 lead before Northeastern battled back to tie. Both squads mixed up the defense, throwing both zone and man to keep the offenses on their toes.
After the first few points, OSU began to pull away, capitalizing on Valkyrie drops and using a clean, crisp offense whose seemingly perpetual motion eventually found the end zone.
Ohio State quickly retook the two-break lead to go up 5-2. Though Northeastern gained one back—using a poach D to regain an offensive point and prevent another break— Fever kept on relentlessly chugging.
“The game did not go very well,” Northeastern Coach Jason Adams said. “We really didn’t put our best foot forward in that game. We kind of ran out of gas a little bit. A lot of high-level play this weekend, which was awesome, but we didn’t quite have it, and Ohio State looked great.”
Fever had turnovers of their own, but each time, the Columbus women seemed to work even harder to get the disc back. OSU swung the disc around in the zone O, using poppers to split the wings and find openings behind the cup, up the sideline or in the middle of the field.
Three Northeastern throwaways in a row allowed Ohio State to put in a series of quick scores and take half 8-3.
The Valkyries had chances in the first half, generating turns of their own with run-through Ds and hard pressure, but they couldn’t convert the change in possession into a score, and Ohio State continued to chip away.
In the second half, Northeastern continued to look frazzled, running a cluttered offense that sharply contrasted with the seamless flow of earlier in the day. Several throwaways—either passes that sailed over receivers’ heads or discs shot into a poach—put the count at 11-3 less than 10 minutes out of the break.
Even when the Valkyries began to muster some offensive rhythm, Fever stepped up their defensive play. Another Northeastern drop led to another easy Fever score, widening the gap to 12-3, then 13-3.
Northeastern was notably stagnant downfield. The throwers were unable to break the mark to spread the disc, and Ohio State managed to poach off just enough into the lane of the vertical stack to create chaos. After a tipped dump pass generated another turn, OSU settled into its fast-break offense for another point.
Fever closed out the game with a series of easy breaks to win 15-4.
And Ohio State cruised the whole weekend, brushing through pool play with barely a dent. They breezed by Kansas in quarters, as well, but stalled a bit in the semifinals against Central Florida. The southern team gave Fever a run for their money, scoring eight before Ohio State managed to score on a break and secure a 10-8 victory.
Still, Ball said she hadn’t necessarily expected such smooth sailing.
“I would be lying if I didn’t say I was a little bit surprised,” she said. “It’s early, so we don’t expect to play so cleanly and go for that undefeated mark. But I’m really happy with the things we saw with our team this weekend. I think we saw some new things that we’ve been working on at practice but haven’t been able to test yet.”
For their part, the Valkyries were proud of their second-place finish—even though it’s never fun to lose. Their players overcame several obstacles, rising from a third-seeded team in a tough pool to oust both Carleton and Iowa State and snag the top spot. In quarters, Northeastern bested regional rival Tufts 12-10; Adams said that particular opponent has had the upper hand for the past few years.
In the semifinals, the Valkyries faced a wiped-out Virginia coming off a win over UNC-Chapel Hill on universe; Northeastern managed to take control early and seal the win.
“I thought we had a chance to play very well; I thought we had a good team,” said Adams. “But I didn’t expect to do this well.”