High School Westerns: Tournament Recap (Girls), Presented By CUT Camps

Nathan Hale's depth prevailed in the heat.

Nathan Hale v. Corvallis in the HS Westerns' final. Photo: John King -- UltiPhotos.com
Nathan Hale v. Corvallis in the HS Westerns’ final. Photo: John King — UltiPhotos.com

This recap was written by Erin Maloney, the Oregon Competition Youth Coordinator. 

The article is presented by CUT Camps; all opinions are those of the author. Please support the brands that make Ultiworld possible and participate in CUT Camp!

CORVALLIS — The 2016 USA Ultimate High School Western Championships were held in Corvallis, Oregon, during the first big heat wave of the year. Temperatures hovered just below 100 degrees Fahrenheit and caused two different schedule adjustments. USA Ultimate staff met with coaches and team representatives to determine solutions that would work well for both divisions, which ended in shorter games (60 minutes) for the girls’ division and a late round pushed out of the late afternoon and into the evening for the boys’ division.

Saturday Pool Play

As a result of the weather, girls’ teams played four games to 11 on Saturday. Teams in Pool A included Seattle’s Nathan Hale, Oregon State champions Corvallis, Ingraham (Seattle, WA), Berkeley (San Francisco Bay Area), and Summit (Bend, OR). At first glance, this pool seemed to contain more power than Pool B, with the four western WJUC team members and an alternate spread across four teams. When asked about the pools, USA Ultimate Youth Competition Manager Connor Maloney joked, “Yeah, who seeded these teams?” He did! (Of course, the seeding was also based on input from the coaches).

Teams in Pool B included Colorado’s Monarch, South Eugene (OR), Crescent Valley (OR), Roosevelt (Seattle, WA), and Garfield (Seattle, WA). Conspicuously missing from Westerns this year were three powerful Seattle teams, including last year’s championship duo Lakeside and the Northwest School, as well as Franklin.

Nathan Hale went on to take the first seed in Pool A after Saturday, winning on double game point in their last game over Corvallis in the heat of mid-afternoon. With 21 players, the depth of Hale’s large roster helped them pull out the win over the Spartan Force. Berkeley High School, dubbed “California Roll” and led by WJUC player Chloe Carothers-Liske, lost to the pool’s second seed Ingraham in the second round, but won over Summit High School, 5-3. At the end of the day, Pool A results fell according to seed, with Nathan Hale as the frontrunner.

Pool B, on the other hand, proved much more interesting, as the pool’s second-seeded South Eugene (OR) fell to the fourth seed, Roosevelt (Seattle, WA), in the first round, 8-3. In the second round, the third seed Crescent Valley (OR) Raiders upset top seeded Monarch on double game point, 7-6. They went on to win over Roosevelt in the third round, 8-5. To cap off the drama, South Eugene also bested both Monarch (8-3) and their in-state rivals Crescent Valley (7-6) to produce a three-way tie between Roosevelt, Crescent Valley, and South Eugene at three wins and one loss each.

Crescent Valley was awarded the first seed based on point differential, followed by Roosevelt in second and South Eugene in third. 

Sunday Bracket Play

In bracket play on Sunday morning, the eventual finals matchup was slated to be a team from Oregon against a team from Seattle. On one side of the quarterfinals games, Seattle rivals Roosevelt (2B) and Ingraham (3A) faced off while Oregon rivals Corvallis (2A) and South Eugene (3B) battled on the other. While Roosevelt showed a strong horizontal offense supported by beautiful break throws from sophomore Stephanie Phillips as well as handlers Ada Wright and Abby Hecko, and savvy defense from sophomore Bailey Shigley, the Ingraham Rams, led by sophomore captains Kaia Roast, Cameron Jewett and Evelyn Reding, bested them 12-7. With sophomores and freshmen as the majority of players on both roster, each team will continue to be a challenger in the Pacific Northwest for years to come.

The Corvallis Spartan Force, led by senior handlers Makayla Wahaus and Bethany Llewellyn and WJUC player Clea Poklemba, easily took a 7-2 lead over South Eugene during the first half of their game. As a consortium team, South Eugene captains Yausi Khajavei, Skylar Roach, and Emma Thoennes were bolstered with talent from senior Sheldon High School players Taya Norris and Melissa Rice, and brought it the second half of the game, outscoring Corvallis 6-5. It was not enough, however, to make up the lost ground, and Corvallis advanced to semis with a score of 12-8.

Therefore, Ingraham faced Nathan Hale in semis and Corvallis played their cross-town rivals, Crescent Valley. While Hale quickly went up 4-1, several long points ensued with Ingraham fighting back. Hale eventually took half and took the W over Ingraham, 10-6. The Oregon rivalry was an exciting battle, with the Crescent Valley Raiders led by Ellie VanDevelder, Abigail Wenger, and Anya Wenger coming out fired up and taking an early 3-0 lead. Corvallis gathered themselves after a quick time-out and came back with four unanswered points, and from then the game continued with point-for-point scores against both teams’ zone defense until Corvallis took half, 7-6. With only a few more minutes to play after half, several CV calls and discussion on the field made Corvallis’ score out of half a crucial point, sealing their trip to the finals. They won 8-7 over Crescent Valley.

Corvallis met Nathan Hale in finals for the first time, though the two teams matched up against each other in 2015 in the quarterfinals with Hale winning by two points to face Lakeside in finals. This year, after a weekend of high heat and close games, Nathan Hale’s depth and break-mark throws were too much for Corvallis. Led by senior WJUC players Ruby Cassidy and Ally Constantino and senior captain Maya Powell, Hale cruised to a 12-8 victory as winners of the 2016, and final, USA Ultimate High School Western Regional Championships.

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