Can UBC slow down Texas' deep attack?
May 25, 2017 by Daniel Prentice in Preview with 0 comments
Ultiworld’s reporting on the Women’s 2017 D-I College Championships is presented by VC Ultimate as part of their season-long support of our women’s coverage. All opinions are those of the author. Please support the brands that make Ultiworld possible and shop at VC Ultimate!
When earmarking pool play games, the #4 vs. #5 seed game is always near the top of the list. In theory, it should be the best game of all of pool play, featuring two closely matched teams with aspirations for playing at least until Sunday. We’ve seen some recent classic, including an epic, double game point thriller between Central Florida and Whitman last season.
This year, that game will be played by Texas Melee and the British Columbia Thunderbirds. Both teams have been at the top of the division all season, with Texas having reached #1 in the Ultiworld Power Rankings, and UBC having peaked at #3.
The teams don’t stand out as natural rivals, but this will be the fourth time the teams have faced off in the last three seasons, which includes a 15-4 British Columbia victory in pool play of the 2015 College Championships.
There will also be plenty of star power on display. For UBC, watch for Ellen Au-Yeung, Naomi Morcilla, Victoria McCann, and Laurel Oldershaw. Texas also has a deep set of stars, featuring players like Dre Esparza, Julia Schmaltz, and Domenica Sutherland.
One development to keep on eye on will be how British Columbia’s deep defense copes with Texas’s deep attack. Texas is one of the most dangerous long ball offenses in the country, with a wealth of strong deep throwers complemented by several potent deep threats. When they’re on, they can cause trouble for even the best downfield defenses.
Schmaltz’s elite height and athleticism make her the most dangerous of the Texas cutter corps, and she’s already wreaked havoc on UBC once this season with a monster game in the semifinals of the Stanford Invite. But Melee has other players capable of winning in the deep space as well. Sydney Overman and Marissa Land are also exceptional cutters.
British Columbia was hurt by strong deep games later in the season too. Against Notre Dame at Northwest Challenge and Whitman in pool play of Northwest Regionals, UBC again suffered defeats due to their struggles to slow down deep offenses.
They aren’t the tallest team, and that is part of the issue. But the team has also suffered from the loss of long time deep defender Mira Donaldson last year. Her experience patrolling the deep space was just as valuable as her height and UBC has been unable to fully replace either this season.
UBC, though, breaks the mark well and could challenge Texas’ defense. When they’re at their best, they’re efficient on offense; if you see quick scores from them on offense early in the game, that could foreshadow a UBC upset.
Still, Texas is the favorite. UBC will need to find a way to limit the Melee deep game, perhaps with a zone, to take pole position in Pool D.
Watch the livestream of this game on the Ultiworld Live page Friday afternoon at 4:30 PM Eastern/1:30 PM Pacific.