Virginia Outlasts Dartmouth, Presented By Spin Ultimate

Hydra's story book run in Raleigh continues.

Dartmouth's Jaclyn Verzuh toes the line in a quarterfinal against Virginia. Photo: Kevin Leclaire --
Dartmouth’s Jaclyn Verzuh tries to toe the line in a quarterfinal against Virginia. Photo: Kevin Leclaire —

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Virginia outlasted Dartmouth 15-13 in the quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals for the first time in program history. You’d expect a close bracket game to feature huge, game-changing plays, but this quarterfinal was a chess match. Both teams picked at the other’s armor and tried to find the soft spots to exploit.

Virginia went up 3-0 to start the game in a downpour by converting Dartmouth’s mistakes into goals. Princess Layout fought right back with a four point run of their own, utilizing a zone defense to pressure Hydra into some drops.

Hydra began the game with person defense, but they quickly shifted into a loose zone. The zone closed down Dartmouth’s break side options, and Dartmouth handlers couldn’t hit the same over the top breaks they’d relied on to this point in the weekend.

“We had to make adjustments because Dartmouth is so good over the top, and we’re a small team,” captain Rebecca Meeker reflected. “We have short players, so adjusting for guarding spaces instead worked well for us.”

One of Dartmouth’s tallest weapons, Jaclyn Verzuh, threw several high release passes into seemingly open spaces only to discover a Hydra player ready to knock it down. Angela Zhu’s throws fared better, but the team couldn’t build on-field momentum when faced with a sentinel of Virginia defenders standing in space.

When Dartmouth did connect in the endzone, it was all through Zhu and Verzuh. Together they threw 12 of the 13 assists, and they scored 8 of the 13 goals. The rest of the Dartmouth roster could grind in the midfield, but the endzone belonged to this power duo.

Dartmouth tested a few defenses on Virginia, but they encountered the same problem Oregon had yesterday in pool play. Virginia doesn’t get agitated, and they don’t throw away the disc. If you want to take the disc from Hydra, you can’t play the waiting game, you have to make the play.

Late in the game, Dartmouth sophomore Julianna Werffeli started making plays to give Princess Layout a chance at a comeback victory. At 11-12, she got a layout block to earn Dartmouth the disc and the break to tie. She followed it with another layout D in the next point for another break, and Dartmouth took a lead for the first time since early in the game.

It was fitting that Virginia’s zone would decide the game. Virginia broke twice to win 15-13 because of two Dartmouth miscues: once Jaclyn Verzuh threw a high-release without seeing the defender in the cup, and Angela Zhu tried to thread the cup without success. Tess Warner found Keila Strick quickly, and Virginia made program history.

The game was surreal for this Hydra team, who walked into Nationals as the 13-seed.

“That took everything we had,” said Meeker after the game, “We were crying on the line sometimes, like, what are we doing here?”

  1. Katie Raynolds

    Katie Raynolds took a break from Seattle ultimate to test out the Midwestern scene, but now she's back in the Northwest to investigate this "bubble" she keeps hearing about. She played for Northwestern Gungho, two seasons with Chicago Nemesis, and now plays for Seattle Underground. Katie serves as Ultiworld's Women's D1 College Editor, and is damn proud to cover women's ultimate. You can reach her by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter (@kraynolds90).

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